“Isn’t Tarlequin real good, mamma,” said Alice one day, as she saw her pet frolicking with the two kittens, “to let poor Topsy help bring up her babies?”
“Yes, indeed,” said mamma; “and I wonder if there was ever a family of kits before that had two mothers at the same time!”
IV. TOPSY’S HIDING PLACE.
All around the kitchen they went, playing hide and seek. Topsy hid under the stove, Alice hid in the cupboard; Topsy hid behind the wood box, Alice hid under the table; Topsy hid in the corner back of the coal hod, Alice hid in the folds of mamma’s big apron hanging behind the kitchen door; but they never failed to find each other and always had a great frolic after each one’s hiding place was discovered.
At last the play was over and Topsy went fast asleep, lying on her back in the doll’s cradle. She looked very funny, with her paws sticking straight up in the air.
Soon Alice wanted to put dolly to bed; so Topsy found another nice resting place, stretched out in mamma’s workbasket, with her front paws lying on the pincushion; but when mamma came for thimble and thread kitty was forced to move again.
“Meow! meow!” she said. “I will get out of every one’s way, and go where I can sleep as long as I please without being disturbed!” So Topsy sprang upon the table, then upon a tall folded screen near by, and, with a big jump, landed at last on the very tiptop of the china closet. No one saw her. She crept far back against the wall and was soon fast asleep, lying in a nice warm corner, just under the ceiling.
After a time Alice grew tired of playing with her doll and looked about for kitty, but kitty was nowhere to be seen. The little girl went to the door and called, “Kitty! kitty! kitty!” but no kitty came. She called again, but no shrill meow answered her. She called again and again, but still no Topsy was to be heard or seen.
“Oh, mamma, where can kitty be?” said Alice, with tears in her eyes. “I am afraid she is lost. I haven’t seen her for ever so long.”
“Have you looked in all the hiding places? Perhaps she has gone fast asleep somewhere and doesn’t hear you call,” said mamma.
So Alice began to search for her pet, but though she looked everywhere no kitty did she find. She called and called again, but all in vain; no Topsy answered her.
“Never mind, little daughter,” said mamma, “kitty has probably gone off hunting and will surprise you by and by with a big fat mouse.”
So Alice was comforted; and though she felt very lonely with no furry ball snuggled in her lap and no bright-eyed playmate scampering at her heels, she tried to be happy playing with her dolly and looking at her new picture book.
At last the long day was over and night came. It brought no Topsy, but it did bring papa from his work. When Alice saw him coming, she ran out to meet him and, throwing herself into his arms, poured out all her trouble: “Oh, papa, Topsy is lost! We can’t find her anywhere! She has been gone all day long! I have looked and looked, and called and called, but she doesn’t come!”