The Kitchen Cat And Other Stories Part 5
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"Look there!" she cried, holding up her net triumphantly.
"Oh!" screamed Kitty, "you _are_ lucky. _Do_ let me try," and she rushed up to Betty's side and seized hold of the net. But this was too much.
Betty let go of the handle and said indignantly, "I shan't fish any more. You're so unfair; you always are!" And she walked away in a rage.
"Kitty is more tiresome than ever," she said to herself. "She spoils everything. I wish she would go away!"
All that day she preserved an attitude of dignified sulkiness in spite of Kitty's frequent attempts to make it up. When she came and threw her arm round her, Betty shook it off impatiently.
That evening the three little girls were in the woods with dear Miss Grey and baby Susie, who was just three years old. Betty was walking a little behind the others with her eyes fixed on the ground. It was damp and mossy, and there was a thick growth of ferns and underwood at the side of the path. Suddenly she saw something move quickly through this, and disappear down a hole. She stopped and moved aside the ferns and moss. What do you think she saw sitting comfortably in the hole and staring at her with its moist bright eyes?
A large speckled toad!
"Look, look, Miss Grey!" she cried, and everyone gathered round to see what she had found. Even Susie peered into the hole, and poked a bit of fern gently at the toad, which sat there gazing quietly at them.
"What a jolly little home he's made for himself!" said Martha. "All soft and moist, and just exactly to fit him."
"He can't see out much," said Betty as she put back the moss gently over the top.
"I don't think he wants to," said Miss Grey. "He is quite satisfied, like many other people who live in holes."
The children ran on through the wood, except Betty, who kept back and took hold of Miss Grey's hand.
"What do you mean about living in holes?" she asked presently.
"Well, you know, we all live in holes of one kind or another. Some are rough and some smooth, some fit us exactly, and some don't fit us at all. Some are softly lined with all sorts of comforts, and some are full of pricks and troubles. And it is always very difficult to see out of them."
"Why?" asked Betty.
"Because, like the toad's hole we saw just now, our own lives are so near us and surround us so closely, that it is only by making an effort that we can get out of them and understand other people's lives at all.
The only thing that can really make us do that is sympathy."
"What does that mean?"
"It is that which makes us able to put ourselves in thought into other people's holes, and feel what it is like to live there. When we do that it makes us remember to be patient and gentle with our friends and companions, for if they live in uncomfortable holes it must be difficult for them to be unselfish and amiable. If we had their troubles and vexations we might not be half so pleasant as they are."
Betty was silent.
"Do you think Martha's hole and mine is nicer than Kitty's?" she said at last.
"Well, I think in some ways it may be. At any rate you know Kitty has no sisters to play with, and very little of this country life you all enjoy so much. While her holiday lasts I should try to make it as pleasant as possible for her, if I were you."
"I do," said Betty, "generally. Only sometimes she makes me feel so cross."
At this moment up rushed Kitty, and elbowed Betty away from Miss Grey's side.
"You've had her long enough!" she shouted. "It's my turn now!"
And Betty was thinking so much about the toad in the hole, that she did not even frown.
The Kitchen Cat And Other Stories Part 5
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The Kitchen Cat And Other Stories Part 5 summary
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