Naughty Nasna by Laura E. Richards

Nasna was a coati-mondi, a cousin of the raccoon family. She was about the size of a cat, with thick, coarse fur, brown on the back and sides, and shading from yellow to orange underneath. She had a head and four legs, and a fat body; but the two most important parts of her, in her own opinion at least, were her nose and her tail. The tail was certainly very handsome, long, and bushy, with black and yellow rings round it. The nose was long, too,—long and sharp, and always poking, poking itself everywhere. There never was such an inquisitive nose. Now it was lifting the lid of a pot on the kitchen fire (for Nasna was tame, and a great pet of her master's), and scalding itself with the steam; now it was sniffing at a bottle of strong ammonia, without seeming to be troubled in the least by the smell; now it was in her master's pocket, trying to find out what it was that went "Tick! tick!"

But what do you think the nose did one day? oh! what do you think it did? You never could guess, and so I must tell you.

The old cat had been asleep beside the kitchen fire. She had had a long, long nap,—the sleepy old cat,—and when she woke up she felt that she needed a long, long stretch before she was quite herself again. Now, the way in which the old cat stretched herself was this: she put her four feet close together, and humped her back just as high as she could possibly hump it; then she stretched herself, and opened her mouth to its fullest extent, and said, "Mu-aw-yu-aouw!"

This was a singular performance. Nasna had never seen it before, and when she saw the red mouth open, wide, wider, widest, she immediately said to herself, "Dear me! how very odd! I wonder what there is inside that red cavern? I'm going to look!" and the next moment the long, velvety nose was poked right into the old cat's mouth, and almost down her throat.

Did the old cat shut her mouth? She did, indeed, my child; and who can blame her for doing so? But there was a sound of woe in the air, and a squealing as of a coati in despair, and the next moment Nasna was crouching in the farthest corner of the room, holding her wounded nose in both hands, and sneezing violently.

But do not think that this was a lesson to Nasna; nothing of the kind! The very next morning she managed to find her way into the dining-room when the master and mistress were at breakfast. She climbed up at once into the mistress' lap, and poked her nose at the shining coffee-pot. Ah! it was hot. Pop went the nose into the cup of coffee that was steaming beside the mistress' plate. Oh! that was hotter.

"I won't stay here any longer, to be treated so!" cried Nasna; and down she jumped to the floor.

Buzz! buzz! what is that by the window? Something small, flying about, with a black and yellow jacket on. See, now it is crawling on the floor, and Nasna can catch it. Nasna does catch it, putting her soft paw on it. Mr. Wasp extends his sting, as the utmost he has to offer. Nasna squeaks wofully, but does not understand yet, so puts her nose down instead of her paw. This time there is no doubt about the matter, and she retires in great anguish to the kitchen.

One day as she was playing about, tettered by a string to a chair, her master took an egg and placed it on the floor, at a very provoking distance. Nasna could just touch it with one paw, but could not get hold of it. She tried with fore paws, she tried with hind paws; but all in vain: she only succeeded in rolling the egg a little further off. What was to be done? She sat down and looked at the egg long and thoughtfully. At last she put her head on one side and winked: she had an idea. She turned her back on the coveted treasure, and backed towards it as far as she could. Then she grasped her tail with one paw, stiffened it and curved the tip almost into a hook, and, touching the egg with this hook, slowly and cautiously rolled it round in front of her, till she could reach it with her fore paw. Then, in triumph and much pride, she sat up on her haunches, cracked the egg, and sucked it, without spilling a drop. Clever Nasna! I think she deserved a good breakfast, don't you?