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... the damp squishy feeling between the toes.


Every time she took a step her feet sank into the soft fabric and before long her legs began to feel rather tired.


‘I do hope that I catch up with Kitty soon,’ she thought, ‘or my legs will go to sleep on me!  Then I will have to pick up my feet and carry on with them in my arms until they have rested properly.  And just imagine if they refuse to continue on once they have rested.  “No, Alice, we have had quite enough of this nonsense.  We shall stop here and there is nothing that you can do to make us go further!”  Why, I might have to carry them around with me for the rest of my life and what a sight to see, that would be!


‘Then again,’ thought Alice, ‘I might try to tempt them with the promise of a brand new pair of boots.  That might just do the trick but then we will have to decide whether we get smart new boots with front laces or with side laces.  But, oh, what will we do if one foot wants front laces and the other one wants side laces?  I am sure that it will never do to walk abroad with odd boots on!’


By now, poor Alice was in such a quandary that she had quite forgotten how tired her legs were.


‘Front or side?  Front or side?’ she kept asking herself until at last she spied the kitten up ahead of her and then even thoughts of the new boots faded quickly from her mind.


When Alice reached her, the kitten was sitting on her hind legs, waiting patiently.

‘Now Miss Alice,’ she said, as she looked sternly at the girl.  ‘The first thing that you must remember, if you are going to be a cat, is to Keep clean and wash regularly,’ and with that she licked a paw and rubbed it briskly across her face.

‘Thank you, I will try to remember that,’ said Alice, licking the back of her own hand and rubbing it over her cheek.

‘It is very important,’ continued the kitten, ‘that you do this whenever you can.

‘Not only does this keep you clean and well groomed,’ she added, ‘it will also provide welcome relief in the event of any minor mishap.  Now don’t forget, Miss Alice, the approved action is lick, wipe, rub in that order.’

‘Yes Kitty,’ said Alice, trying to comply as best she could.

Indeed, Alice found this to be a relatively easy lesson to complete, despite her tongue feeling so dry.


‘If all the lessons are like this,’ she thought, ‘then I shall be a cat in no time at all!’


After a few more minutes of grooming, the kitten suddenly turned tail and ran off again into the gloom.


‘Really!’ thought Alice, as she got up to follow the fast-disappearing shape.  ‘Kittens do seem to do an awful lot of running around!  Or at least, they do when they aren’t eating or sleeping.’

Before long, Alice found the kitten again, waiting for her to catch up.

‘Don’t be tardy,’ she cautioned the girl.  ‘There is always something to chase and you should be ready to go at a moment’s notice.’

‘Yes Kitty,’ said Alice, meekly.

‘Now that you are here,’ continued the kitten, ‘we can attend to the next lesson which is How to catch your own tail.’

Alice nodded in anticipation.                

‘To start with, you have to realise that your tail isn’t actually part of you at all,’ said the kitten.  ‘In reality, it is a foreign appendage whose sole purpose is to test your feline powers of pugenacity and reflaction.  I will begin with a simple demonstration.’

‘Please Kitty,’ said Alice, interrupting the kitten.  ‘What are pugenacity and reflaction?’

The kitten sighed and put a soft paw on Alice’s knee.

‘So much to learn,’ she purred, ‘for those not blessed by being born a cat.  Pugenacity is pugnaciousness and tenacity.  Reflaction is reflexes and action.  Simple isn’t it?’

‘Thank you Kitty,’ said Alice, feeling so much better in the knowledge that she now understood what the kitten had said.

‘Then let us begin,’ said the kitten.  ‘Quite often you will be minding your own business when your tail will start to test your respawsfulness (that is, responsiveness and resourcefulness).  First, it will start to twitch slowly from side-to-side.  If you ignore it, it will begin to waver more and more violently until it is positively thumping to get your attention.  At some stage you will have to deal with this irksome object by seizing it between your paws and biting it soundly.  Exactly when you do this is up to you, but I always prefer to do this sooner rather than later.  Let me demonstrate.’


With that, the kitten turned a back somersault and deftly caught her own tail between both front paws.


A moment later, the tail was in the kitten’s mouth where she gave it three quick chomps for good luck.


‘That,’ she added, with a contented smile, ‘is about all that there is to it.  Now, let me see you do that.’


‘Why Kitty,’ said Alice, with disappointment in her voice.  ‘I don’t think that I can, as I don’t have a tail to catch.’


‘Indeed,’ said the kitten, drawing a sharp breath between her teeth.  ‘That is a problem.  Let us progress to the next lesson in the meantime and we will worry about that later,’ and with that she skipped off into the distance again leaving poor Alice to follow as best she could.


When Alice caught up with the kitten, she found the young cat sitting beside a very large ball of brightly-coloured wool.


‘What took you so long?’ asked the kitten, as she flexed her claws in anticipation.


‘I am sorry Kitty,’ said Alice, in a most apologetic voice, ‘but you do run so very fast on your four legs and ...

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‘… I am sitting on the hearth in front of a warm fire …’