Women On Adventure is a blog by K.L. Webber exploring our rich shared history of women's adventure writing. This curated collection of quotations showcases the opinions and experiences of influential female travellers in their own words.

"Tell papa what the moo-moo cow says!"

I have always confessed that I like to sleep in the morning as well as I like to stay up at night, and to have my sleep disturbed makes me as ill-natured as a bad dinner makes a man. The fond father of these children had a habit of coming over early in the morning to see his cherubs, before he went to his bath. I know this from hearing him tell them so. He would open their cabin door and in the loudest, coldest, most unsympathetic voice in the world, would thoroughly arouse me from my slumbers by screaming:

"Good morning. How is papa's family this morning?"

A confused conglomeration of voices sounded in reply; then he would shout:

"What does baby say to mamma? Say; what does baby say to mamma?"

"Mamma!" baby would at length shout back in a coarse, unnatural baby voice.

"What does baby say to papa? Tell me, baby, what does baby say to papa?"

"Papa!" would answer back the shrill treble.

"What does the moo-moo cow say, my treasure; tell papa what the moo-moo cow says?"

To this the baby would make no reply and again he would shout:

"What does the moo-moo cow say, darling; tell papa what the moo-moo cow says?"

If it had been once, or twice even, I might have endured it with civilized forbearance but after it had been repeated, the very same identical word every morning for six long weary mornings, my temper gave way and when he said: "Tell papa what the moo-moo cow says?" I shouted frantically:

"For heaven's sake, baby, tell papa what the moo-moo cow says and let me go to sleep."

A heavy silence, a silence that was heavy with indignation and surprise, followed and I went off to sleep to dream of being chased down a muddy hill by babies sitting astride cows with crumpled horns, and straight horns and no horns at all, all singing in a melodious cow-like voice, moo! moo! moo!


Nellie Bly

Malaysia - Singapore, 1889


Source: Nellie Bly, Around the World in Seventy-Two Days, New York: The Pictorial Weeklies Company, 1890

Further links:








"The bread was half mildewed and scarcely eatable."

"Everybody gives an opinion here. "