voices from the past


The Clever Cat

by Mary Hannay Foott (1846-1918)

Australian writer

The italicized words in the poem are just the way the story appeared in The Queenslander on Saturday 26 November 1887. Mary Hannay Foott was a contributor to Australian newspapers. The Queenslander was the literary edition of the Brisbane Courier (now The Courier-Mail). The weekly literary summary was published in Brisbane, Queensland from 3 February 1866 to 22 February 1939.

There was a cat called William—
The poorest ever seen;
He would not go a mousing —
    He played the tambourine!

His family would not feed him —
    This lazy little cat —
And out of doors they turned him —
    (They saw no way but that).

So on and on he wandered
    Till he to Catland came;
And there he met a Princess —
    Felina was her name.

She had the loveliest whiskers,
    Her eyes were emerald green;
She fell in love with William —
    All for his tambourine!

For her delight was dancing,
    And there was none to play —
"Strike up!" she straight commanded
    When William came that way.

All day she danced. At sunset,
    Poor William at her feet
Knelt down and said, " Pray may I
    Have something now to eat !"

"To eat! Of course! What ho, there!"
    (Felina had no bell;
But when she called her servants,
    Her sweet voice did as well.)

Then tortoiseshells and tabbies
    Tripped o'er each others' tails;
All scurrying from the kitchen
    With cream-cakes and stewed snails.

Now half a dozen dinners
    Were brought him every day —
And "mouse" was never mentioned —
    His brothers came to stay

(For they had heard of Catland,
    Where William's word was law);
And by-and-by Felina
    Bestowed on him her paw.

There is a cat called William —
    The fattest ever seen;
He need not go a-mousing —
    He plays the tambourine!

About the Author

See our page on Mary Hannay Foott. Includes a linked list of all her writing available on our website.

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