Hard on Kitty

"I don't believe he likes it," said Lotty doubtfully.

"Marion, pushing the cat's forepaws into a white dress, was too busy to answer then, but after she had him securely fastened in and buttoned up the back she considered the question.

"Oh, I think he likes it all right," she declared. "He isn't used to it, that's all. Doesn't he look cunning, Lotty?"

The poor cat may have looked cunning, but he didn't look happy. His eyes were half-shut and his tail beat up and down angrily.

"Isn't that one of the baby's best dresses?" asked Lotty, critically. "Did your mother say you could have it to play with?"

Marion seemed uncomfortable.

"No, she didn't say I could have it exactly," she admitted. "But, then, she never said I couldn't. It's the only one that would really fit Thaddeus."

Thaddeus was the cat, and he was a handsome one, large and yellow striped, with clear amber eyes when he was happy, and an immaculate white vest. This vest was now covered with a hand-embroidered dress that belonged to Lotty's baby brother. The baby and Mrs. Mother were spending the day in the city with Grandmother Ridler.

"Now you hold him," directed Marion, tying a pink sash around Thaddeus, which completed his misery. "I'm going to get down the doll coach and we'll take him out. I guess we'll have to tie him in to make him stay."

Lotty held the cat while Marion brought out the doll carriage and arranged its pillows and white pique spread. Then, with their combined efforts, they managed to put in the cat so that he was half smothered, but securely fastened. His cap was over one eye, his pretty feet doubled up, and the sash was so tightly tied around his tummy that he could hardly breathe. Yet Lotty and Marion were not unkind; they were exceedingly fond of Thaddeus, and Marion never forgot to give him his saucer of milk every night with tid-bits for "dessert."

They walked down the street wheeling their new doll, and just as they reached the corner they saw a crowd. Lotty hoped it was a fire, and Marion was sure someone had something to sell. They were both curious and went as close to the group as they could, dragging the doll carriage with them.

It wasn't a fire and no one had anything to sell, that is, not the usual kind of thing to sell. To be sure an old organ grinder was playing and a monkey, all dressed up in a red coat and hat, was gravely holding out a tin cup for pennies -- so Marion argued that she was right. They edged in to see better, and, goodness, didn't Thaddeus chose [sic] that opportunity to leap out of the doll carriage -- where he should have been most comfortable, Marion said -- and go running down the street, twisting himself curiously in the dress as he ran.

"We'll have to catch him!" Marion exclaimed. "That's the baby's best embroidered dress Aunt Frances made for him. Hurry, Lotty, and we can get him."

They raced madly after the cat, the doll carriage bumping and banging over curbs and cracks in the sidewalk. Thaddeus was a good runner and he was more than a little terrified by his hampering skirts, so he ran even faster than usual. Down the block, around the corner, up the avenue, he shot, two small girls and a doll coach tearing after him. People stopped to laugh, and, indeed, Thaddeus in a white frock was a sight to astonish all beholders.

Finally the poor kitty scrambled up a high board fence, caught the dress on a nail on the top and hung there mewing piteously.

"We can't climb that fence -- we'll have to ring the doorbell and ask them to unhook him," said Lotty.

Which they did, and very much surprised the dignified butler was who came to the door. They had some difficulty in making him understand what they wanted, but at last he understood and went out into the yard with a short stepladder and lifted Thaddeus off his nail.

Alas, the dress was sadly torn and soiled, and there was no way to mend it so it would not show. Marion was very sorry, but that didn't mend it, and she had to wait for her own new white dress nearly two weeks while Mrs. Mother made the baby another dress to take the place of the one that had been ruined. And for almost a month Thaddeus ran whenever he saw either of the girls coming toward him. He had his own feelings about that afternoon.

--unsigned [Josephine Lawrence?], Newark Sunday Call, 2 May 1920

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