Originally published in the Philadelphia North American, January 22, 1905.
Tim Nichols was not what you could rightly call a bad boy, because he was obedient to his parents, attended school regularly, got his lessons, and submitted to the Saturday night bath with remarkable courage and good nature. But there was a streak of boyish cruelty in his nature that crept to the surface now and again, and permitted him to do such naughty things as to tie a can to a stray dog, stick bramble burrs in the calf’s tail, or chase the chickens until they were wild with terror. But the thing he most delighted to torment was a cat, and the big gray pussy, named “Peggy,” that belonged next door, lived in deadly fear of her life every moment that Tim was around. To be sure, she had a habit of sitting on the woodshed roof to utter strange cries at the dead of night, and as Tim’s room overlooked the woodshed, he usually carried a number of sticks and stones to his room, so that he could hurl them at Peggy when she became noisy. Sometimes they would miss fire, but often they struck the cat and tumbled her from the roof, and after such an event she would keep quiet until morning. But right after breakfast Tim, still relentless, would hunt her up and chase her with stones and clubs, until she hid herself, and so managed to escape the torment.
This state of affairs attracted the attention of our queer visitors from the Land of Oz, and after a consultation they decided to perform a little magic. So, through their efforts, all of Tim Nichols, except his body, was transferred into the body of the cat Peggy, and all of Peggy, except her body, was transferred into the body of Tim Nichols.
This happened just before supper, as Tim was entering the house. His parents only noticed that Tim ate as if he had not been fed for a week, and afterward curled himself upon a rug before the fire, and went to sleep, so that they had to shake him hard at 9 o’clock to arouse him and send him to bed in the little room overlooking the neighbor’s woodshed.
As for the cat, she sat upon the back fence, blinking in a very disturbed manner, for Tim’s spirit, inside the fur body, was wondering how on earth he ever came to be a cat!
He smelled supper, and crept toward the kitchen hungrily, but Eliza scared him away with a broom stick, and he ran behind the ash barrel and hid until the moon came out.
Then, scarcely knowing why he did it, he jumped to the roof of the woodshed and eyed the moon with as much content as a hungry cat can possibly feel. Bye and bye a strange feeling came over him, and, for the first time since he could remember, Tim yearned to sing. So he lifted up his voice, and in a long “Ker-r-r-o-mee-ow-w-w!” sent a wailing cry soaring toward the moon.
Bang! came a big stone, bounding over the roof and just escaping his left ear.
Tim reflected. “It’s that confounded boy up in the room there!” he growled. And then it struck him as curious that the boy in the window wore the body he used to own.
Chug! came a heavy piece of wood, striking his front leg a blow that made it tingle as if a thousand needles had pierced it.
“Why can’t that brute leave a poor cat alone?” he grumbled, when the pain would let him think. And then, to relieve his anguish, he again lifted up his voice.
“Cuth-er-a-mee-ow! — ow! — ow!”
A second stick, hurled from the window, caught him unawares. Plumb against his lean body it crashed, and sent him sliding from the roof, to fall headlong upon the ground below. For a time, he lay quiet, unable to move. My, how it hurt! Would the awful pain ever cease?
No more singing to the moon tonight. After a time the stricken cat, breathing slowly, and with dulled eyes, recovered sufficiently to crawl to a refuge behind the ash barrel. And the boy went to bed and slept.
Early in the morning the people from Oz completed the magic charm, and transferred Tim back to his own body, and Peggy back to hers.
At breakfast, the boy was very thoughtful and sober, and soon afterward his mother found him sitting on the back steps and feeding Peggy out of a big bowl.
“What do you mean by giving that horrid cat all my nice cream?” demanded Tim’s mother, reproachfully.
“Well,” said Tim, “the poor old thing don’t have much fun in life, I guess. So I’m goin’ to see that Peggy has a square meal, once in a while, if I have to do without myself.”
And, while Tim’s mother stood by in silent astonishment, the cat lifted her face from the bowl and eyed the boy gratefully.
The autumn in Supposyville
Is quite a joyous season,
With visitings and frolickings;
Indeed, there’s always reason
For happiness, and gathered ’round
The firesides ’tis so cozy
It almost makes me sometimes wish
That I were a Supposy!
The cats purr loudly on the hearths,
The dogs stretch out at ease;
The boys and girls bend o’er their books,
Contented as you please;
The smell of roasting apples steals
Sedately on the air;
Chestnuts sputter, kettles splutter
When folks are not around the fires
They’re off to wood and hill,
For everybody plays outdoors
In old Supposyville;
And that is why they are so well
And merry; I declare,
There’s not a doctor in the place,
No reason for one there!
For health is mostly happiness,
And happiness is health;
And who has these has found, I guess,
The finest sort of wealth;
And just at present every one
Is busier than ever,
And happier, if possible, because—
Well! Well! I never!
They’re all invited to the palace
For the jolly masque
Giv’n by the Queen each Halloween;
And what a jolly task
The costumes are. Now if you’re
Very extra, awful good
I’ll tell you ’bout the party.
I ‘spose, of course, you would
Prefer to hear about it now,
But that I cannot do;
You see, it hasn’t happened yet,
So how could I tell you?
But hold yourselves in patience
And next week I’ll tell you all
The things they wore, and oh, lots more
About this gorgeous ball.
Copyright © 2021 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.