The Baker's Cat

Once there was an old lady, Mrs Jones, who lived with her cat, Mog. Mrs Jones kept a baker's shop.

Every morning, Mrs Jones got up early, and made dough, out of flour and water and sugar and yeast. Then she put the dough into pans and set it in front of the fire to rise.

Mog got up early, too, to catch mice. When he had chased all the mice out of the bakery, he wanted to sit in front of the warm fire. But Mrs Jones wouldn't let him, because of the loaves and buns there rising in their pans.

Then Mog went to play in the sink. He liked to sit by the tap, hitting the drops with his paw as they fell, and getting water all over his whisker!

Mrs. Jones said, 'You are shaking water all over my pans of buns, just when they are getting nice and big. Run along and play outside.'

Mog was affronted, he put his ears and tail down (When cats are pleased they put their ears and tails up) and went out. It was raining hard. Mog sat in the water by the rushing rocky river and looked for fish. But there were no fish in the river, and he got wetter and wetter. At last, Mrs. Jones put the buns in the oven, opened her door and let Mog come inside. As Mog sat down by the fire he sneezed nine times. He caught a cold.

Mrs. Joes dried him with a towel and gave him some warm milk with yeast in it. Yeast is good for people when they are poorly. Then Mrs. Jones went out shopping.

As Mog sat dozing in front of the lovely warm fire he was growing bigger and bigger, because the yeast was making him rise.

First he grew as big as a sheep, then a donkey, a cart-horse,and a hippopotamus!

By now he was too big for Mrs. Jones's little kitchen, or to get through the door neither. He just burst the walls. When Mrs. Jones came home with her shopping-bag, her whole house was bulging, swaying. Huge whiskers were poking out of the kitchen window, and a paw came out of one bedroom window, an ear out of the other. Then the whole house fell down.

The people in the town were very astonished. The Mayor gave Mrs. Jones the Town Hall to live in, but he thought Mog was too big, and might not be safe. He let Mog live outside the town, up on the mountain.

Mrs. Jones was very sad. She began making a new lot of loaves and buns in the Town Hall, crying into them so much that the dough was too wet, and very salty.

Mog walked up the valley between the two mountains. By now he was bigger than an elephant - almost as big as a whale!

It had been raining for so long that the river was beginning to flood. Mog thought, "If I don't stop that water, all these fine fish will be washed away." So he sat down, plump in the middle of the valley, and he spread himself out like a big, fat cottage loaf.

The people in the town had heard the roar of the flood-water, they were very frightened. They all rushed up the mountain, saw Mog sitting in the middle of the valley. Beyond him was a great lake.

The Mayor let the best builders make a great dam across the valley, while other people took turns tickling Mog under his chin with hay-rakes and brought Mog all sorts of nice thing to eat, so they can Mog stay there till they built a dam across the valley.

Mog saved the town, and won a badge which was on a silver chain to go round his neck.

So Mrs. Jones and Mog lived happily ever after in the Town Hall.

(by Joan Aiken)

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