Friday, March 29, 2013

Welcome back.  If you've been following the adventures of Scat, Cat well here is Chapter 7.  Perhaps he has finally found  a home and family that will give him the love he craves.  But what of the strange Cat that he saw in the window?  Perhaps his welcome will not be as warm as he hopes.

So here it is:

Chapter Seven: Faith and Trust

Hunter hurried back through the tall grass to see where the Little One was going. He stopped and peered out at the house where it, no, Hunter decided that this Little One was definitely a she, was headed. A Big One with long dark fur on its head came out the door and gathered the Little One up in an embrace. They talked for a while and then wandered through the grass, picking flowers as they went. Hunter could hear the words “Sophie” and “Mommy” being used many times in their conversation.
Well,” thought Hunter, I do believe I have learned some important information. The Little One must be named Sophie and the Big One is definitely Mommy. I think I remember that Mommy is another way of saying Mother, and I can tell that these two love each other very much. How lucky they are. I hope they realize and appreciate what they have. There are so many in this world who would give everything to be like them. My heart seems to tell me that those who love one another so much have hearts big enough to love others. I hope there is room for me.”
As Hunter continued to watch Mommy and Sophie, he heard a sound coming up the path. A Rumbler came into view and pulled into a building with odd moving doors. Soon another Big One came out and Sophie ran to his side, calling out in a laughing voice, “Daddy!” The Daddy Big One gave her a hug and put his arm around Mommy. Then the trio went into their house, with much eager talk that Hunter couldn’t understand. What he did understand was that this was a family, exactly what he had been yearning for and perhaps now within his reach.
I must have a plan. I just can’t go rushing up and expect them to welcome me with open arms. First I will make myself as clean and tidy as possible. I must groom out all the sticky seeds till my fur is glossy and sleek. I need to take special care of my eye. It seems to be leaky all the time, so maybe I can fix that a bit. Then I will wait till the moment is just right to make myself known. So, it’s back to find a secure hideout to complete my grooming and still be able to keep an eye on what is going on with Mommy, Daddy and little lovable Sophie.”
So Hunter searched until he found a spot where the branches of a cedar tree hung to the ground. “Perfect! I can crawl inside, not be seen, but see what needs to be seen.” In his tiny green-shaded sanctuary he proceeded to really spruce himself up. No detail was overlooked: fur, ears, tail, bottom, belly, hair between the toes, toenails, and eyes, they all got a thorough going over. He discovered that he really couldn’t fix his leaky eye, but that if he gave it a good rubbing it felt better and looked more presentable, he hoped. Washing-up done, Hunter decided he felt safe enough to take a short catnap and found himself dreaming about what life would be like with this promising family. When he awoke, he saw Sophie skipping off toward the tree with the strange seat. Quickly, he scampered to his other observation post to see what she was up to. As she entered the clearing and prepared to sit on the seat, Hunter decided to make his move. He crept slowly from the bushes and rolled on the grass and put on his most appealing expression. “Mew? Meow?”
Sophie immediately stopped in her play and looked at Hunter. She knelt down, extended her hand and began speaking in a soft gentle voice. “Kitty, kitty, kitty?”
Somehow, Hunter was sure these words were directed to him and that Sophie wanted to make friends. He crept a little closer and began sniffing the air. “Mew?” he said again.
Kitty, kitty, kitty,” crooned Sophie and made her way toward Hunter. He let her get just close enough so he could sniff her offered hand but suddenly lost his nerve and dashed back into the bushes. He heard Sophie running toward the house calling for “Mommy” and wondered if he had somehow frightened her.
Now what have I done? I don’t want Sophie to be afraid. I wonder what she’s saying to Mommy about the strange acting Cat? I’m just so nervous about making a good impression, I can’t seem to think straight.”
Hunter moved back to his other hiding place to watch what was happening at the house. Soon Mommy and Sophie came out, headed back toward the swinging seat. They were each holding a bowl and there was a familiar tantalizing aroma coming from the one that Sophie carried.
Ooh,” mewed Hunter. “I smell something yummy! I guess Sophie wasn’t frightened after all. I’ve got to get back to her swinging seat as quick as I can. C’mon paws, make tracks!”
When Hunter reached his opening in the bushes, Mommy and Sophie were placing the bowls on the ground just a few cat lengths away. Then they went back toward the swinging seat and lowered themselves to the ground. Hunter waited to see what else they might do, but the scent of the food was just too compelling. Out he came and went straight to the wonderfully fragrant bowl. He made sure it was safe and then proceeded to eat like the starving little creature he was. He stopped only to take a few sweet laps from the water bowl and glance gratefully at Sophie and Mommy. When he had finished the food and licked the bowl meticulously, he politely washed his face and paws and looked up at his two new friends. “Purrow?” he said in gratitude, and waited for their reply. He didn’t have long to wait.
Kitty, kitty,” said Sophie, with a cheerful invitation in her voice. Mommy held out her hand in welcome and Hunter knew that finally his dream was about to become reality. He bravely approached the two seated on the grass until he was right in front of them. He rubbed his head against Mommy’s hand and as she caressed his head, he knew that she would never hurt him. Then Sophie reached out and began to rub behind his ears and under his chin, his absolute favorite spots to be rubbed. His motor began to hum and soon the three were becoming well acquainted. The warmth and love that emanated from their hearts captivated Hunter and he sensed he would become a willing captive.
When Mommy and Sophie stood and walked back toward the house, Hunter followed them willingly and joyfully. The rest of the afternoon, Sophie and Hunter had splendid games of tag and follow the string in the yard. They even helped Mommy pick some strange plants from a special plot of ground.
As they were playing, Hunter happened to look up at one of the windows of the house. In the window sat the most mysterious Cat that Hunter had ever seen. The Cat was slender and sleek with lovely light colored fur and a dark mask on its face. Most remarkable were the two startling blue eyes watching him with an inscrutable expression.
How astonishing! What an exquisite creature. If I become part of this family, how will this other Person feel about me? Will she like me, or be angry that she has to share the affections of Mommy, Daddy and Sophie?”
Hunter’s thoughts were interrupted by the sound of Daddy’s Rumbler, rolling up the path. He was unsure of what to expect.
Now I have to worry about what Daddy thinks of me, too. Maybe he doesn’t want a poor stray Cat like me.”
The Rumbler pulled into its house and soon Daddy came into view. Hunter was sitting next to Sophie and tensed his muscles, preparing to take flight if things took a sudden turn for the worse. One look was all Hunter needed to know that Daddy was delighted to see Sophie and Hunter together. Daddy came over and knelt down, extending his hand to Hunter. Hunter rubbed his head against Daddy’s hand and then to his own surprise, began rubbing his little Cat body around Daddy’s legs and against Sophie’s lap. When Mommy came over and gently picked him up and held him in her arms, he felt he might burst from happiness. “A family,” he purred. “A family of my very own!”
As twilight began to creep in, Mommy and Daddy began moving things into the Rumbler house: boxes, blankets, bowls and other mysterious things. Finally Sophie came and picked Hunter up and carried him into the Rumbler house. Hunter didn’t know what to think, but stayed quiet in Sophie’s arms while he took in this new situation. The Rumbler was quiet now, just sitting on one side of its house. The other side held all the things that had recently been carried in. Daddy closed the door and Sophie lowered Hunter to the floor. Everyone took a perch in some funny metal seats and Hunter decided it was time to investigate.
The first thing he did was to go to each member of his new family and mew an inquisitive mew, asking their permission to explore. They were all smiling at him, so off he went. His perceptive nose led him to a bowl of cat food next to another bowl of water. He looked back gratefully at his Family and continued on. He found a litter box, which he was very thankful for, too. No one likes to hunker in the dirt to relieve himself. It’s much too embarrassing for one of the People who has been raised with the Big Ones. (Just imagine… a modest, well-mannered Cat, digging a hole and squatting out in plain sight of Bast and everyone, to fulfill his bodily functions!) Next he stepped on a yielding colorful path that led to a box filled with snuggly soft material. Hunter stepped in and turned around two or three times, kneading a comfortable spot in the center with his paws. He lay down to try it out for size and found it very snug, indeed. He jumped out and found some strange furry objects that looked like Squeakers, but were definitely harder and certainly not going to run away. He pushed at one with his paw and to his delight it bounced along the floor.
What fun!” This must be what they call a plaything. I can have some splendid times chasing this around. Altogether, this spot is not too bad, especially compared to some of the places I’ve had to stay.”
He walked over and jumped up on Sophie’s lap. She began to caress him softly and hum a little tune that was most pleasing to Hunter. Mommy came over and held out a damp cloth for him to sniff. Then she gently rubbed the sticky goo from the corner of Hunter’s eye.
That feels ever so much better. How marvelous it will be to stay here with such caring Big Ones.”
Eventually, darkness fell and Mommy and Daddy spoke to Sophie as they all stood up, preparing to leave. One by one, they gave him a pat and walked out the door. Daddy was the last to go and leaving the door ajar, just a crack; he spoke encouragingly to Hunter and headed for the other, “real” house. Hunter jumped up to a perch where he could see out a window and felt a tiny twinge of sadness settle around his heart as his new family left him alone in the dark.
Why are they leaving me out here? I want to be with them and I thought they wanted to be with me.” He looked around at what they had prepared for him and decided to make the best of it. After all, he had a warm place to sleep and food and water to sustain him.
I must have faith in this good Family. I don’t know why they left me here, but I must believe that it was for a good reason. I WILL have faith. I WILL have trust.” With these thoughts echoing in his head, Hunter had a little snack and a sip of water. He then made his way to his snuggly box and prepared for the night. After a hasty wash-up, he realized how sleepy he was and soon nodded off, again to dream of his Mother’s song about the brave and clever Cat.
The sun was barely up when Hunter awoke to a confusing cacophony of jarring sounds. He jumped to the window and looked out. In the nearby bushes was Beechnut; seemingly unable to move, and hopping on the grass was a large dark Flyer, moving closer and closer to Beechnut. In a nearby tree sat Bob, frantically chittering and bobbing up and down. Another of the dark Flyers was also in the tree, cawing encouragement to the one below.
Hunter rushed to the door and yelled out. “I’m coming, Beechnut! Hang on!” He pushed on the door, but instead of opening, it ominously began to close. Studying the door, Hunter realized his mistake and stuck a paw underneath it and pulled. “Thank Bast I learned about doors while I was a Kitten,” he thought as he tore across the grass toward the Flyer, yowling as ferociously as he could. The Flyer didn’t seem to notice until Hunter made a leaping pounce and rolled the large Flyer away from his friend. To his astonishment, the Flyer didn’t fly, but only hopped a few cat-lengths away and turned to face him, its shiny black eye cocked in Hunter’s direction.
“By Morrigan’s Wing, you are a brave but foolhardy young one. Why do you act so rashly? Do you want this chattering morsel for yourself? Or is it battle that you seek?”
“Get away!” cried Hunter, back arched and claws at the ready. “That ‘morsel’, as you put it, is my friend and I will not let you harm him!”
“Your friend? Since when do the People make friends with their natural prey? This mystery I must solve. Calm down, Master Cat. Let us talk and learn from one another. I will not harm you or your friend, for this puzzles me greatly and I do not like to be puzzled. My kind are very knowing but also curious. Will you speak with me?”
“I will,” said Hunter. “But only if you let me tend to my friend first. If he is injured, I will do more than speak to you.”
“Bravely and justly spoken, little one. See to your friend, so that we may have a more polite discussion.”
Hunter ran to the bushes where Beechnut was still clinging, shivering with fear. “Beechnut! Are you hurt? What has happened here?”
“Oh, Hunter, I never thought I would be so glad to see a Chk-Chak in my life. Help me get untangled from this vine. My greed for one more chk-berry was almost my undoing.”
“Stay still for a minute, so I can see where you’re tangled. Ah, here’s the spot. Don’t be afraid, now. I’m going to use my claws to tear the vine. I may have to use my teeth, too. You’ve gotten yourself in a nice mess.”
Hunter very gently pulled at the vines and unwrapped poor Beechnut’s tail so the frightened Squirrel was able to wriggle free.
“My everlasting thanks to you, Hunter, but I will not stay to chk-chat. This adventure is now officially ended!”
With that, he raced up the tree, chking and buzzing. Bob was waiting anxiously, and within seconds, the pair had disappeared into the forest.
With his friends safely away, Hunter turned to the Flyer and sat down in the grass. “Now we can have that discussion, sir. I am convinced that you did no harm to my friend. My name is Hunter. I have wandered far and long, and hope to make this place my home. Would you kindly tell me who and what you are? I am unfamiliar with any Flyer as large as yourself, and I, too, am curious.”
“My name is Sir Midnight and I am a member of the proud and noble family, Corvidae, which the common folk call Crows and Ravens. We are the most clever of all that take wing in the azure sky. My mate, the Lady Lenore, sits in yonder tree and would also wish to make your acquaintance. May she approach, brave Hunter?”
“She may, Sir Midnight. It will be my pleasure to greet her.” Hunter found himself falling into the rather flowery speech pattern of the Corvidae and somehow it didn’t seem a bit strange.
As the Lady Lenore settled gracefully next to her mate, Hunter continued his address. “Greetings to you, Lady. May good health and happiness be yours, and may you be always welcome at my dwelling.”
“What a courteous speech, Master Hunter. I will think more kindly of your People from this point forth.” She then gave a slight nod of her head, as if of approval.
Hunter then returned his attention to Sir Midnight. “I think, Sir, that your family has a very fine opinion of itself. Can all you say be true and not just a boast? And who is Morrigan whose name you use so dramatically?”
“The shame of a braggart is not mine, young Hunter. We of the Dark Plumes know many things that other wild creatures do not.”
“Please enlighten me of your many talents, Sir. I am most eager to know of your accomplishments.”
“You speak most sarcastically for one so young, Master Hunter. Do not be so eager to belittle those you do not know. We Corvidae have many talents. We can fashion and use implements to help us obtain food. We are adept at borrowing objects that we find useful or that have beauty. We take but one mate for all our lives and live in family groups to better care for our treasured young. However, our greatest and most amazing talent is the use of the speech of Humans, those you common folk speak of as the ‘Big Ones.’ Yes, it is indeed so. We not only speak the Common Tongue of Nature's children, but also a fortunate few have developed the ability to speak in the Human Tongue! Close your mouth, Master Hunter. Your jaw is about to become unhinged. I see by your expression that you think me not only a braggart, but also a prevaricator. We do not boast, nor do we lie! Do you require proof, if indeed my word is not good enough? Then listen well, Sir Doubter, for now I shall demonstrate. I know several words of the Humans, but above all, this is my favorite… ‘Sophie.’”
Hunter’s jaw nearly did hit the ground when he heard the word, “Sophie,” for it was not in the common speech of the Animals, but an almost perfect duplication of Mommy’s voice.
“My apologies, Sir Midnight. You are without doubt, the most clever creature I have ever met. I am astounded to hear the name of my beloved Sophie in the Human speech. I hope that my rudeness has not diminished me in your regard. I would like very much to become better acquainted with you and your lovely mate, the Lady Lenore. I’m sure you could teach me much of the ways of the Human world.”
“Morrigan be praised. In truth, I was at first inclined to dismiss you as just another ignorant Cat, but you have convinced me of your sincerity. Come forward, Master Hunter. We will make the formal bows to seal our friendship.”
Hunter walked over to Sir Midnight and Lady Lenore. They began a curious bow, beak to ground, that was repeated three times. Hunter bowed his head in the same manner and the two Corvidae seemed pleased, if somewhat amused. With the ritual complete, Hunter had one more question to ask.
“If you please, Sir, twice you have invoked the name of ‘Morrigan.’ Would you kindly tell me who Morrigan is and her relationship to the Corvidae?”
“Indeed, Master Cat. As Bast is to your people, Morrigan is to mine. She is the Goddess of Battle and can often be seen above the arena of combat, hovering in the form of a Crow or Raven. May Her blessings be upon you.”
“My thanks, Good Sir. May the blessing of Bast be on you both.”
At this point, the door of the house began to open and Hunter’s two new friends rose gracefully into the air, circling overhead. As they flew higher and higher, Sir Midnight called down to Hunter.
“Farewell, good Hunter. We shall speak again on the morrow if all goes well.”
“Farewell, my friends. Return soon, for we have much to discuss.”
Hunter turned toward the house and saw Sophie and Mommy coming toward him. He was very excited to see them and began trotting toward them, mewing a welcome. He stopped suddenly, when he saw that Mommy was carrying a strange box with odd windows and a door. His worries seemed justified when Mommy picked him up and placed him in the peculiar box. To his horror, they then went to the Rumbler house and Mommy put him inside the Rumbler. Sophie sat on the seat beside him and Mommy brought the Rumbler to life.
“This is terrible! It’s as if my worst fears are coming true. I can’t believe that Mommy and Sophie would abandon me. They’re nothing like Hey You and Old Lady. I MUST have faith. I WILL have faith.” Hunter kept repeating his mantra while the Rumbler moved down the path. Sophie was talking reassuringly to him, but unwilling sad meows kept escaping from his mouth. Finally the Rumbler stopped moving and became quiet. He felt himself being carried, and through his small wire window he could see they were headed toward a white building.
“This is even worse than I thought,” cried Hunter. White houses are very bad luck for me. What sort of Big Ones live here and what kind of punishment will they dream up for me?”
Soon they were inside the building, and a mixture of terrifying odors assaulted Hunter’s nose. There were definitely Barkers here, along with other Cats and the aroma of many unknown creatures. A strange pungent mixture filled the air, and mingled with it was the overwhelming stink of fear.
Hunter didn’t know what to think or feel. Mommy went up to another Big One and talked. Hunter heard the word “Boots” mentioned, which sent little shivers down his spine and puzzled him even further, for he had a deep connection from earliest Kittenhood with the word, “Boots.”
Hunter didn’t have long to worry about his current situation, for soon he was carried into a small room and his box was placed on a high shiny table. A Big One wearing a white coat and round shiny coverings on its eyes, opened his box and pulled him out. He found himself being petted by this new Big One and again he heard the word “Boots,” spoken in a kindly way, seemingly directed at himself. While Mommy and Sophie watched, the Big One began to probe and poke all over Hunter’s body. His ears were checked, his teeth, his eyes, his tummy and even some parts that no one had dared to check before. Mommy talked to the Big One, whose name seemed to be Doc, and would occasionally give Hunter a comforting rub behind his ears. Doc was very gentle and his voice was deep and relaxing. Just as Hunter was calming down somewhat, Doc pinched some of Hunter’s skin together and there was a sharp sting, like that of a bee; then another sting. Next, to Hunter’s consternation, Doc forced his little Cat jaws open and popped something small and hard down his throat. Hunter automatically swallowed the something, wondering what on earth it had been. Finally, Doc wiped Hunter’s sore eye and put a squishy substance on the lids. Hunter was then allowed to return to his carrying box and lie down.
“I’m not sure what just happened to me, but I have a feeling it was all good. My eye certainly feels better and because I’m back in my box, I just might be going home. I WILL have faith! I WILL have trust!”
In just a few minutes, they were all back in the Rumbler, heading somewhere that Hunter hoped was Home. Soon, the house came into view and Mommy steered the Rumbler back into its own odd house. There was a strange, clashing, rolling sound and then silence. Mommy carried his box from the Rumbler, put it down and opened the wire door. Hunter poked out his head and saw his familiar sleeping spot and bowls.
“Well, at least I’m back where I started, and not by the side of the path somewhere. This is a very good omen. I was right to have faith in these good Humans. Maybe now that I’ve been to see Doc, I’ll be able to go into the real house and not have to live here with only the smelly Rumbler for company.”
Mommy gave Hunter a comforting pat on the head and went out the small door, saying words that made no sense to him, but that Sophie seemed to agree with. Once more he heard Sophie utter the word, “Boots.” A purr of anticipation began in his throat, becoming stronger and louder, until his entire body was practically quivering with excitement. Sophie sat in one of the metal seats, looked at Hunter and patted her lap. Miraculously, she crooned to Hunter, “Boots. Here, Boots.”
Hunter gladly jumped up to her lap and rubbed his head against her small hand, still purring with all his might. Sophie continued to caress and sing to him, saying over and over, “good Boots, good kitty.” Hunter curled into a ball and despite his best efforts, felt himself drifting off to sleep. After all, it had been quite an exciting day.
Hunter was awoken by the entrance of Mommy and Daddy. He stretched luxuriously and gave them a welcoming “mew.” Daddy sat down and Hunter decided to have a little snack and answer the call of nature. It was a little embarrassing in front of his new Family, but he didn’t have much choice. Everyone seemed enormously pleased with his use of the Litter Box and Hunter was certainly amused by their enthusiasm.
“Why would they think that what I just did was worthy of praise? Any self-respecting Person would use what was provided. They certainly didn’t think I would just go off in a corner and do my business on the floor! Yes, Humans are definitely remarkable creatures.”
At this point, Mommy and Sophie left the Rumbler house and went on their way. Since Daddy had stayed, Hunter decided to try out his lap, to test it for a proper fit. Daddy’s lap was indeed large and comfortable, not to mention, warm, so Hunter decided to get better acquainted. He rubbed his head against Daddy's hand and was rewarded with a lovely scratch behind the ears. Hunter began to purr with appreciation and found Daddy to be a most agreeable companion.
So, the rest of the day passed in much the same fashion. Mommy, Daddy and Sophie taking turns rubbing his favorite spots, playing his favorite games and of course, providing laps for napping. All during this pleasant time, his Family always addressed him as “Boots.”
I do believe that I’ll have to start thinking of myself as ‘Boots’ now. How odd that the Humans would pick a name that means so much to me. It is the same as my favorite song from Kittenhood, the one my Mother used to sing. Oh, how I loved that song of ‘Puss In Boots!’”
While Hunter-Boots was completing one of his frequent wash-ups, he noticed that his legs did indeed look like he was wearing boots… his front legs were mostly white, but his back legs were white on the top half and black on the bottom half. “I wonder why I never made the connection on my own? Although to be fair, my life has been a little hectic lately, too hectic to think of much but finding someplace safe and something to eat. Yes, ‘Boots’ they are and ‘Boots’ I shall become. It’s a wonderful name, and every time I hear it, I will think of my Mother and her wonderful singing.”
As darkness fell, Boots again found himself alone in the Rumbler house and this time all the doors were tightly closed, with no exit to the night outside.
So here I am again, excluded from the rest of my Family. I don’t know why, but I WILL have faith and trust. I WILL!”
Boots counted seven more suns and seven more darks that passed in the same way. His Family would visit him many times a day, and Mommy would wash his eye and apply the squishy stuff to his lids. His eye felt better everyday, and the good food and attention he was receiving made him feel more energetic and more like “himself”. Often, when he was on his own in the Rumbler house, he would watch out the windows. Sometimes Beechnut and Bob came to eat seeds and their yum-chk, but Boots was unable to play with his newfound silly companions. He even saw Sir Midnight and Lady Lenore strutting rather clownishly through the grass, on the alert for a tasty tidbit of some sort. Again, he had no chance to further his education with the Corvidae. But it was when the darkness came and he was left alone in the Rumbler house that the doubts returned and his faith began to waver. All he could do was repeat and repeat, “I WILL have faith, I WILL have trust!”
Finally there came a day when Mommy, Daddy and Sophie came to the Rumbler house with the strange carrying-box he had traveled in before. As they placed him in the box and the Rumbler began moving, he became very agitated and began to cry, even though he wanted to be brave.
When the Rumbler pulled up to the same white building where Doc lived, Boots was somewhat reassured even though it was undeniably a very scary place. Again, he was carried inside, taken out of his box and placed on the slippery table. Doc picked him up and spoke to the Family in his deep kindly voice. Mommy, Daddy and Sophie each gave Boots a soft little caress and then walked out the door.
Where are they going?” cried boots. “Why are they leaving me here with Doc and all these strange animals and smells?”
Boots didn’t have long to think about his predicament, for Doc carried him to a brightly-lit room and placed him on a different kind of table. He felt the strange Bee sting again and then felt himself falling, falling into darkness.

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