Story by Richard Barnum.
Now we can talk nicely,” said Don, as he walked along beside Blackie, when she had jumped from the tree. “Come over here in the shade and I’ll tell you about my adventures.”
“I’ve had some adventures, too,” spoke the cat. “Not as wonderful as yours, perhaps, but still they were quite some for me. I never thought, when I started out, that I would meet a dancing bear and Tum Tum, the jolly elephant. And I’m very glad I met you too, Don, especially since you are so good to me.”
“Oh, don’t mention it,” went on Don. “I’m sorry for what I did first. Now I’ll begin.”
So Don told Blackie of his many adventures. But as I have written a book especially about them, where you may read them for yourself, I won’t put any of them down here.
“My! You had a perfectly wonderful time!” exclaimed Blackie, when Don was finished.
“Tell me about yourself now,” invited the big dog. And Blackie did. She told how she had gone wandering off, so that she might learn to become a fine fence-jumper, how she had gotten on the roof of the house, how good Mrs. Thompson had taken care of her and brought her to the country, and how, finally, she had gotten lost.
“And I am lost yet,” went on the black cat. “I don’t know where to go or what to do, Don. I thought I would find a place in this house to stay, but you tell me they don’t like cats.”
“They don’t,” Don said. “At least they never kept a cat where I live now, and I am sure that shows they do not like them. For if they kept one I would be friendly with her and not chase her as I did you. But for now on I’m not going to chase cats. I never knew before how nice they could be. I thought they always scratched and bit. And many a time I’ve had cats crook up their backs at me, make their tails big, and hiss like a snake.”
“That is our way of scaring dogs,” said Blackie. “You see most dogs are bigger and stronger than we, and the only way we can scare them is to fluff out our fur, and make believe we are twice as big as we are. Then we hiss like a snake, or steam like a steam pipe, and that scares the dog more. But I was so tired and frightened that I didn’t try to scare you, Don.”
“I’m glad you didn’t. Now we’ll be friends. But of course if you see some other dog running at you, why you’ll scare him, I suppose, Blackie.”
“Yes, I guess I will,” answered the black cat, sort of smiling.
The two new friends talked for some time longer and then, all at once, Don said:
“Oh, Blackie! I forgot! You said you were hungry, didn’t you?”
“Yes, Don, I am hungry. But you say they don’t like cats in your house, so I don’t see how I am going to get anything to eat there.”
“Oh, don’t you worry about that,” said Don with a laugh. “I’ll fix that all right. Just you leave it to me. Now I’ll tell you what you’ll do. They feed me pretty well at this house, for they like me. They bring out nice bones and bits of meat, bread with gravy on and—”
“Oh, don’t talk about it!” spoke Blackie quickly. “It makes me hungry to hear about all those good things!”
“Well, you’ll be having some soon,” said the dog, “for they’ll be bringing out my dinner directly. I think it will be chicken today.”
“Oh, my! Chicken!” meowed Blackie, putting out her red tongue. “How good that sounds!”
“It will taste good, too,” said Don.
“How do you know you will have chicken?” asked the black cat.
“Well, I always have the same thing the family has for dinner,” Don said, “and I know they are going to have chicken today for I saw the butcher bringing some. The butcher’s boy always sets his basket down on the back step when he rings the bell, and I can look in it.”
“Do you ever take anything out?” asked Blackie, sort of smiling.
“I did once, when I was a little puppy,” Don said, “but I knew no better. I was whipped for it, so I never did it again. But now I’ll tell you what to do, so you will have a good dinner.”
“And will you have one too?” asked Blackie.
“Oh, yes indeed. Don’t you worry about me. Now you go hide in my house and when they bring me out my dinner I’ll give you all you want.”
“Will there be enough for both of us?” asked Blackie.
“Oh, yes. They bring me plenty of dinner. Look out, here they come with it now. Into the house with you!”
Blackie looked and saw, coming down the back stoop, a cook. In her hand she carried a dish, and even as she ran into the dog’s house Blackie could smell that it held something good.
“I believe it is chicken,” thought the black cat. “Oh, how nice!”
Don stood in front of his housel, as Blackie ran inside and along came the cook.
“Here’s your dinner, Don,” said the cook. “I brought you plenty this time, ’cause I thought you’d be hungry. And I thought I saw a cat ’round here a while ago, but I guess maybe I was mistaken, because you wouldn’t let a cat stay in your yard; would you, Don?”
Don barked and wagged his tail. Just what he said to the cook, she, of course, did not know, for she could not understand dog language. But Don was sort of laughing to himself. There was a cat in his house all the time and the cook did not know it!
“Here’s your dinner now, Don. Eat it,” she continued. “I’ll get you some fresh water, too.”
And when she had set down the dish of chicken, which was left over from the family dinner, and had given Don some fresh water, the cook went back in the house.
“Are you there, Blackie?” asked Don, in a dog whisper.
“Yes, I’m here,” answered the cat from inside the house.
“Then come on out and have some dinner.”
I think you can guess how good the chicken dinner tasted to poor, hungry Blackie. She ate so much that she was afraid she would take more than her share, and not leave enough for Don.
“But don’t you worry about that,” said the dog kindly, when Blackie spoke about it. “You eat all you want. I’ll have plenty, and anyhow I can get more later.”
So Blackie had the first really good meal she had eaten since she had left Mrs. Thompson. And when she had taken a good drink of water she felt much better.
“Now you can go to sleep in my house,” said Don, “and no one will disturb you. I always like to sleep after a good meal.”
“So do I,” said Blackie.
For several days Blackie lived with Don in his house, keeping out of sight of the people in the house. I don’t really suppose they would have minded Blackie, only they had gotten out of the habit of keeping a cat, so Don imagined they did not like such animals. Anyhow, he and Blackie thought it would be best for the black cat to remain quietly in the house, and she did.
“Well, I think I’ll be traveling on,” said Blackie one day.
“Traveling on?” asked Don. “Where are you going, back to the circus?”
“Oh, no,” answered Blackie. “I don’t belong there. I am going back to the home where I lived with the little boy and girl, Arthur and Mabel. I am lonesome for them, and I am sure they miss me.”
“Do you know how to find your way back to them?” asked Don.
“Well, no, not exactly,” replied Blackie. “But I am lost anyhow, and I can’t be any more lost than I am now, no matter what I do.”
“No, I suppose not,” Don said.
“So I am going to wander on, over the fields and through the woods, until I get back to the city where Arthur and Mabel live. Then perhaps I can find their house.”
“All right. I am sorry to have you go,” Don said, “for I have come to like you very much.”
“And I like you,” Blackie spoke politely.
“I never knew how nice cats were before,” went on the dog. “And if you meet Tum Tum, the elephant, or Dido, the dancing bear, on your journey give them my love.”
“I shall,” said the cat.
Then she told Don good-by, and the two rubbed noses together, and Blackie started over the fields and through the woods.
She had so many adventures that I can not get them all in this book, but I will mention a few before I come to the big adventure by which Blackie finally found her home again.
Once as she was sleeping in the woods she heard a hissing noise like a steam radiator, and she jumped up in time to see a big snake crawling along, his tongue going in and out as fast as anything.
“Oh!” exclaimed Blackie. “Are you going to bite me?”
“No, indeed!” answered the snake. “I don’t bite cats unless they scratch me, and you haven’t done that. I am on my way to find a hen’s nest.”
“Are you going to bite a chicken?” asked Blackie.
“No, but I am going to eat some of her eggs,” and away crawled the snake.
“I’m glad I am not an egg,” thought Blackie.
Another time Blackie had a nice adventure. She was walking along a country road, and she was quite tired and warm, for the sun was shining brightly. Blackie was hungry too.
All at once she heard a horn blown:
“Toot! Toot! Toot!”
“Ha! I wonder if that can be Dido, the dancing bear?” thought Blackie. “He told me when he went around doing his tricks his master blew on a horn. Perhaps Dido has come out of the circus and is going around dancing as he did at first.”
But Blackie soon saw that it was not Dido’s horn that was being blown. The sound came from a man who was riding on a wagon, and from the wagon came a nice smell of fresh fish.
“Oh, how hungry I am!” thought Blackie. “How I wish I had a piece of fish.”
And what do you think happened? Why, when the wagon came up to Blackie, the man on it stopped tooting his horn and said:
“Hello, kittie! Would you like a nice fish head?”
“Meow!” answered Blackie, which was as near as she could say to “yes” in our language.
“Here you are,” the man said, and he tossed out on the grass a nice fish head, which cats like almost better than anything else.
“Meow-meow,” said Blackie, which was her way of saying “Thank you!”
Then she ate the fish head, while the kind man drove on, blowing his horn:
“Toot! Toot! Tooti-ty-toot!” That meant he had fish to sell.
For several days Blackie traveled on, eating as best she could, and getting water to drink at wayside brooks. But she could not seem to find her home, where Arthur and Mabel lived.
One day Blackie was going along a street where it was nice and quiet. She looked up at the houses, wondering if she could go up to one of them and beg for something to eat, or some milk to drink.
All at once Blackie heard a dog barking, and she saw one run down off the step at her. He was only a small dog, and instead of running away, as she might have done, Blackie thought to herself:
“Here is where I scare that dog. I’m going to crook up my back, puff out my tail and hiss like a snake. I’ll see what he does then.”
As soon as the dog got close to her, up went Blackie’s back, until it looked like a hill of black fur. Her tail grew twice as large as it usually was, for she made the fur stick out straight, and oh! how she hissed!
“Wow! Yow! Yip! Yee!” howled the dog, and he stood still and barked hard at Blackie, but did not come near enough to bite her.
“Hiss! Hiss!” went the black cat.
“Wow! Wow! Yip! Yip!” howled the dog, and then he was so frightened that he turned around and ran up the stoop.