The coming of Topsy


One night, when Alice was a very little girl, her papa came home early
from the office. He carried a small basket in his hand, but when he
saw Alice he put the basket behind his back; his eyes twinkled as he
did so.

“Guess what I have brought you, little daughter,” he said. “Something
to play with.”

Alice ran and caught fast hold of her papa’s knees with her two chubby
arms, and her eyes grew big and bright as she peeped around at the

“Oh, what is it, papa? Do let me see.”

“You must guess first,” said her papa; “such a fine plaything.”

“I know; it’s a dolly!” cried Alice.

Papa laughed. “No, it’s ever so much better than a dolly, for it’s
alive,” he said.

“Oh, then it’s a bird,” cried the little girl.

But her papa only shook his head.

“Maybe it’s a bunny, then,” said Alice.

“No, no, you will never guess right,” laughed papa, “so I will have to
tell you. Just listen a moment,” he said, as he held the basket close
to Alice’s ear.

The little girl stood on her tiptoes and fairly held her breath. Soon
she heard a faint sound: “Meow! meow! meow!”

“It’s a kitty! It’s a kitty! Do open the basket quickly, papa,” cried
Alice, dancing up and down and clapping her hands. Then she tried to
push her fingers under the cover.

Sure enough, when the basket was opened there lay a tiny kitten.

“Oh, isn’t she black!” cried the little girl.

“Yes, indeed, she is,” said Alice’s papa. “I should call her Topsy.
There isn’t a white hair in her whole glossy coat, from the tip of her
little pink nose to the end of her little black tail.”

“What big yellow eyes! And oh, look! look! what funny feet she has!
Why are they so large, papa?” asked Alice.

“That’s because she is a seven-toed kitten, little daughter. I expect
that she will catch a great many mice with those big feet of hers, when
she grows to be a cat.”

Alice turned one of the funny front paws over. “One, two, three, four,
five, six, seven,” she counted. “Yes, there are just seven toes here,
but look, papa, there are not so many on her hind feet. I wonder if
she is hungry. May I feed her, mamma?”

Mamma brought some milk, and soon Topsy seemed to feel quite at home.
She lapped the milk with her little red tongue, until there was not a
drop of it left in the saucer. Then she began to purr and to rub her
face against the hand of her new mistress. Finally she curled up in
Alice’s lap until she looked like a shiny black ball, and began
blinking at the fire with sleepy eyes.

Alice was sleepy, too. She curled up in papa’s lap, just as kitty had
done in hers, and soon Topsy and she were both fast asleep.