Dick and His Cat - An Old Tale in a New Garb
by Mary Ellis
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An Old Tale IN A NEW GARB.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.



The story of "Dick Whittington and his Cat" has so often amused the little ones, who never wearied of its repetition, that the author of the following version thought she might extend the pleasure derived from it by putting it in language which they could read for themselves.

No word contains more than four letters, and none is over one syllable in length, so that any child who has the least knowledge of reading will be able to enjoy it for himself.



Once on a time, a poor boy was seen to go up and down the side-walk of a town, and sob and cry. At last he sat down on a door-step. He was too weak to run more. He had had no food all the day. It was a day in June. The air was mild. The warm sun sent down its rays of love on all. But poor Dick had no joy on this fair day.

He laid his head down on the step, and took a nap; for he was sick and weak for want of food. As he lay, a girl came to the door. She saw the poor boy lie on the step; but he did not see her. She went in, and said to a man who was in the room, "A poor boy has lain down on our step to take a nap."

The man came to the door to see the boy. He said, "This boy does not look nice. His hair has not seen a comb all day; his face and feet are full of dirt; and his coat is torn."

The man did not like such a mean boy to be at his door. But when he saw the lad's thin, pale face, as he lay at his feet, he felt sad for him.

Just then the boy woke up. He went to run off when he saw the man and girl at the door, but they made him stay.

"Why did you lie down here?" the man said to the boy.

"I was weak and sick."

"Have you had no food to eat?"

"I have had no food all day."

Then the girl went in and got him a roll and a mug of milk. The boy ate so fast and so much that they had to wait till he was done, to talk to him more.

"Have you no pa nor ma?" said the man. A tear fell from the poor boy's eye, as he said, "I have no pa, and my ma they took from me, and I can not find her. She was sick a long time. I used to sit at her side and lay my head on her knee. Once she said to me that my pa had gone home to God, and that she must go too. Then she got too sick to rise from her bed. One day they put me on the bed by her side. She laid her hand on my head, and she said, "I pray Thee, O God, take care of my poor boy."

"Then she shut her eyes and grew so pale, and her hand got so cold, it made me cry. But she did not move, nor turn her eyes on me. They took me off the bed and sent me out to play. But I sat down at the door and wept for my ma.

"The next day I saw them lay her in a long box of wood and take her off. I have run up and down all day to find her. Do you know what they have done with my ma? Oh! tell me, if you can." Then the poor lad wept so hard that the man and the girl felt sad for him.

"How old are you, my boy?" said the man.

"I was six last May."

"What is your name?"


"Well, Dick," said this good man, "you may come in here, if you like, and stay till you can find your ma. I will give you food to eat, and you can help me to work. When your ma does come for you, you may go home with her."


Dick soon made up his mind to live with this kind, good man. The man was not rich. He had to work hard, and Dick was made to work too. But he did not mind that.

But the girl was not kind to Dick. She gave him a box on the ear when he did not do as she bid him. She did not let him sit down to eat till she had done, and all that she gave him was the bits that she had left. She made him a bed of a pile of old rags, at one end of the loft.

Dick had no one now to show him how to be good, and he soon got to be a bad boy. He told lies, and when no eye was on him, he took what was not his. He did not know God saw him. He used a bad word now and then, and did not work so well as once he did.

The man who took Dick to live with him was sad to see him such a bad boy, and did not know what to do with him.

Dick had now no joy in life, for no bad boy can be gay and glad. But he did not like to feel that he was made sad by his own bad ways. He said it was the way he had to live that made him bad.


Poor Dick had now no one to love him but a cat. One day, when he was out at play, he saw some boys pelt a cat to kill her. He did not like to have them kill the cat, so he ran to her, took her up in his arms, and took her home. The girl let him keep the cat, for she kept off all the rats and mice. She was a gray cat. She had fine soft fur, and a long tail. When Dick had done his tea, he took puss on his knee to pat her on the head, and talk to her, as if she knew all that he said to her.

She then did rub her head on his arm, and purr, and lie down on his knee and take a nap. She had her bed on his heap of rags.

Once when Dick had felt bad all day, he lay down on his bed. He said to puss, "No one is kind to me but you, puss; no one has love for me. I will run off. I will not stay."

Dick did not shut his eyes, but when it was yet dark, he got up, and went out of his room, down to the door. He put his hand on the key and gave it a turn. He felt the cold air on his face when he went out. But he ran on fast, till he was so weak, he had to stop.

Just then a big bell near him rang out loud on the air to say that day had come once more. It made Dick turn his eyes to see this bell, and as it rang, he felt it say to him,

"Turn back, Dick!—Turn back, Dick!—Turn back, Dick!"

Dick did not move. He did not know what to do. His eyes were on the bell as it rung out,

"Turn back, Dick!—Turn back, Dick! Turn back, Dick!"

It put him in mind of the time when his ma had laid her hand on his head ere she went to God, and said, "O God, take care of my poor boy!" It put him in mind what a bad boy he had been, and how he had made his life a hard one by his ill ways. He made up his mind to go back. But then he said, "If they find out I have run off, they will beat me." This fear made him run so fast, that he got home and back to his heap of rags ere the man and the girl were up.

As Dick lay on his bed, he made up his mind to be a good boy. He knew his ma used to pray to God to make him good, so he bent his own knee to pray, and said, "O God, make Dick a good boy."

Just then the girl came to the door, and said, "Dick! Dick! get up! It is day!" So Dick soon went down and was so kind and good, they did not know what to make of it. But Dick went on day by day, and soon he saw that when he was kind and good, they were kind and true to him.

It was hard work for Dick to give up all his bad ways. But each morn and eve he went to God, to ask Him for help, and he did not ask in vain. By-and-by the girl let him sit with her. She made him a good bed. Miss Puss yet kept her seat on his knee, when he sat down to rest, and all was love and joy.


One day a man, by the name of Jack, came to see them. He was to go on the sea in a big ship, to a far off land. He had come to say good-bye. He said to them, "The land that the ship will sail to, is a far off land, and the men who live in it are not like us, and do not know our ways. They do not eat or wear what we do. Now what you give me I will take with me, and sell it for you, and when I come back I will pay you what I get for it. It may be that I will get much gold for it; for the men in that far off land like what is made here, more than what they have at home."

So the man and the girl were glad, and gave him much to sell for them. Poor Dick sat, with his cat on his knee; a tear was in his eye, for he too felt the wish to have some gold. The man saw him look sad, and said, "Well, Dick, my son, and what will you send?" Dick wept. "I have but my cat," said Dick. "Well, send that," said Jack; "it may be she will sell for more than all the rest." They all had much fun at this, and Dick had to join in. He took puss up in his arms. He gave her a kiss and a pat on her head. He felt her soft fur. It was hard for him to part with her, for she had been his pet for a long time. But at last he set her down. He got a big bag. He put puss in it. She did not like to be thus shut up, but Dick tied her in.

So the man took the bag in his arms, and went to his ship. When he got to the ship, he let the cat out of the bag. She was glad to be free once more, and ran to find Dick. But poor Dick was at home, sad; for he knew that he had seen his puss for the last time.

The ship was full of rats and mice, and puss had a fine time. She made them fly, and soon no more rats and mice were to be seen in the ship. The men were glad to have the cat, and gave her food and milk, so that she was well off.


The ship went on her way. It was more than a year when they got to that far off land.

The man who took the cat, had, as was said, the name of Jack. He left the ship when he got to the land, and went to see the king. The king was glad to see Jack, and told him, he must stay and dine with him.

When they went to the room to dine, they saw that rats and mice were in it too, and had eat much of the food. They saw the rats and mice jump down and run when they went in the room.

The king was in a rage, that he had lost his meal. Jack said to him, "Why do you let the rats and mice do so?" "I do not know how to help it," said the king. "I will give a pile of gold to one who will rid me of them."

Then Jack was glad. He said to the king, "If you will give me a pile of gold, I will rid you of the rats and mice." The king said, "You are in fun. You do not know how to get rid of them." Jack said, "We will see." So the next day, he put the cat in a bag, and went with the bag in his arm to the king. Puss did not like to be shut up in the bag, and made much fuss.

The king was glad to see Jack, and said, "Let me see what you have in your bag." But Jack said, "Not just yet; wait till we see the rats and mice."

So they went to the room to dine. The rats and mice were at the food just as they had been. Jack took the cord off the bag, and took out the cat. The king did not know what a cat was; for he had no cats in his land.

Jack held her in his arms till she had lost her fear, and then set her down with the rats and mice. She soon made them know what a cat was, and put them in such fear that they all fled. The king was so glad that he did not know what to do.

They sat down to dine. Not a rat came out of its hole. The king ate his meal with joy, and puss sat on his knee and fed out of his dish. The king told Jack he must let him keep the cat. Jack said, "I will give her to you, but you must give me the pile of gold." The king was glad to keep the cat and pay the gold. So Jack put the gold in the bag that had held the cat, and went back to the ship.

A year more went by, ere Jack and his ship came back to port. He soon went to see Dick, with the bag of gold. The man and the girl were both glad to find that Jack had sold what they gave him, and that he had got a good deal for them. But when Jack told them of the cat, and took out the bag of gold, they did not know what to say. And when poor Dick was told that it was all for him, he had to cry for joy, and all the rest wept with him, for they were all fond of Dick now, he had come to be such a good boy.

"Well, Dick," said Jack, "what will you do with all this gold? Let us see what will be best." So they all said much, and sat up till it was late, to talk of Dick and his pile of gold.

At last Dick said, "I will give some of it to each of you, who have been so good and kind to me. I will take part of the rest and lay it out upon my mind, that I may be wise when I grow to be a man. And what is left I will lay up, so that when I am a man, I will have it to work with, that I may grow to be rich; for to be good, and wise, and rich, is what I wish."

They all said Dick knew what was best. So that is what was done with the pile of gold that the king gave for the cat.

Transcriber's Note:

Minor punctuation errors have been amended without note.

The frontispiece illustration has been moved to follow the title page.


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