Short Stories » Smut

NOW, this story is quite true. Once upon a time there was a cat called Mr. Puff; he lived in a grand house, quite close to the Turkish Embassy. A lord and a lady 'and several servants lived with Mr. Puff; he was very kind to them, letting them do in all things as they liked, and never sending them away or keeping the house to himself. One day Mr. Puff, being out in the rain, found a poor little kitten, covered with mud, and crying bitterly : so Mr. Puff took the kitten between his teeth, carried it home, and set it down on the drawing-room hearth-rug. The lord and the lady had the kitten washed, and gave it food, and called it Smut. Then Smut went and sat him down on the lord's writing-table.

When Smut grew to be a cat, but before he was yet a large one, the lord and the lady thought awhile, and spoke, " We have a dear friend," they said, "and he is catless; therefore, if Mr. Puff will agree, we will take Smut to him as a present." And Mr. Puff agreed. So Smut was put into a birdcage, for there was nothing else to serve him for a travelling carriage, and taken to the dear friend's house. The dear friend had a little girl with golden hair, and when she saw Smut, she cried out for joy, and said, “Never before did I see a dicky-bird with a furry coat, a long tail, and little white teeth." But Smut shook his head, as if to say, “I am not a dicky-bird, sweet maid, but only a four-legged cat;" then they opened the birdcage door, and he walked out, waving his tail.

Now, when Smut grew up, his gravity and dignity made all who knew his history wonder, and few could believe that he had once been a dirty kitten, covered with mud, glad to accept the charity of Mr. Puff. When a year had gone, or perhaps even a longer time, there was a great war in Turkey, and terrible battles were fought. Then Smut looked very anxious, and went quite bald, and his coat fell off in little patches; but none could tell why. At last he died, and the little girl wept sorely, and all who had known him grieved and lamented.

And when Smut had been sleeping only a little while beneath the lilac tree, accident revealed that, instead of a lowly foundling, he had been of high degree, for the little vagrant Mr. Puff had found was no less a person than the Turkish Ambassador's coachman's wife's cat's kitten.

International Short Story Writing Contest for School Children