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Little Muck

” Little Muck told her how hard it had gone with him since his father’s death, and entreated her to let him dine, that day, with her cats. The old woman, on whom the frank relation of the little fellow made quite an impression, permitted him to become her guest, and gave him abundance to eat and drink. When he was satisfied and refreshed, she looked at him for some time, and then said:—

“Little Muck, remain with me in my service; you will have little to do, and shall be well taken care of.” Muck, who had relished the cat-porridge, agreed, and thus became the servant of the Frau Ahavzi. His duties were light but singular: Frau Ahavzi had two male, and four female cats; every morning Little Muck had to comb their hair, and anoint them with costly ointment. When the Frau went out, he had to give them all his attention; when they ate, he placed their bowls before them; and, at night, he had to lay them on silken cushions, and wrap them up in velvet coverings. There were, moreover, a few little dogs in the house, on which he was obliged to wait; but there were not so many ceremonies gone through with these as with the cats, whom Frau Ahavzi treated as her own children. As for the rest, Muck led as retired a life as in his father’s house, for with the exception of the Frau, he saw every day only dogs and cats.

For a long time it went very well with Little Muck; he had enough to eat, and but little to do; and the old woman seemed to be perfectly satisfied with him. But, by-and-by, the cats began to behave very badly; the moment the Frau went out, they ran around the rooms as if possessed, threw down every thing in confusion, and broke considerable fine crockery, which stood in their way. When, however, they heard their mistress coming up the steps, they would creep to their cushions, and wag their tails, when they saw her, as if nothing had happened. The Frau Ahavzi always fell in a passion when she saw her rooms so disordered, and attributed all to Muck; assert his innocence as he might, she believed her cats who looked so demure, in preference to her servant.

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