Story by Richard Barnum.
That’s the time I scared a dog!” said Blackie to herself, laughing. For she had not hurt him, and she had stopped him from biting her, which was a good thing. I suppose it would be nicer if dogs and cats were more friendly, but they never seem to be that way—at least not very often.
Then Blackie saw something strange. Up on the stoop was what seemed to be a little baby girl, lying down. The dog ran up to the baby and began barking at her.
“My goodness!” said Blackie. “He’ll bite the child, that dog will. That must not be! I will stop him. I’m not afraid of him.”
Up the stoop ran Blackie. The dog was barking so hard at the baby that he did not see or hear Blackie. She went close up behind him, and cried, in cat and dog language:
“Here, you let that little baby alone, if you please!”
“What’s that? Are you talking to me?” asked the dog, as he began to turn around, not knowing who was speaking to him.
“Yes, I am,” answered Blackie. “Go on, now! Run away, and leave this child alone!”
“I will not!” said the dog, and then he turned all the way around and saw the big black cat. Up went Blackie’s back again, her tail grew as large around as a big brush, and how she hissed! “Hiss!”
“Oh, yow! Oh, wow!” howled the dog. “It’s that cat again! She’s after me!”
Away he ran, down off the stoop, and Blackie could not help laughing at him, for she had not hurt him at all.
“I guess I made him leave that baby alone,” thought Blackie. “Don’t be afraid, little one,” said Blackie, though she knew, of course, that no child could understand cat-talk.
And then, to her surprise, Blackie saw that it was not a live baby at all, but a large doll, such as Mabel used to play with.
“Well did you ever!” exclaimed Blackie. “I thought it was a real child! It looks so natural. What will that dog think of me, taking a doll for a baby? He must be laughing at me.”
But the dog was too frightened then to laugh, though later on, when Blackie had gone, the dog came out from under the stoop where he had gone to hide and as he looked at the doll, which lay where the little girl-mother had dropped it, that dog said:
“Huh! That cat thought she was smart, driving me away because I was barking at a doll! I wouldn’t hurt it!”
As Blackie stood on the stoop, looking at the doll, the door opened and a little girl came out.
“Oh, you nice, big, black cat!” exclaimed the little girl. “Did you come up on the stoop to look at my dollie?”
Of course Blackie could not tell why she had come up on the stoop, for the cat could not speak girl-language. But Blackie meowed, and rubbed up against the little girl’s legs, purring, for the little girl was almost like Mabel, and quite as nice.
“Oh, I just love you, Kitty,” said the little girl. “I’m going to get you a saucer of milk.” And she did, still leaving her doll on the stoop. But the doll did not seem to mind.
“There you are, nice, black cat,” the little girl said, as she came out with the milk. “I guess you are thirsty.”
And Blackie was. She drank up all the milk, and wished there was more. She felt much better after that. The little girl watched the cat drinking the milk and said:
“I’m going in and ask my mother if I can keep you for my own. You’re alive, and I like you better than my doll, though she is nice too.”
Into the house hurried the little girl, leaving her doll on the stoop with Blackie. But the black cat, though she liked the little girl, did not want to stay and live in that house.
“I want to go on to my own home,” thought Blackie. “I want Mabel and Arthur. Besides, if I lived here that dog and I would be always having trouble, I’m afraid. He is not like Don. I’m going to travel on.”
And while the little girl was in the house, asking her mother if she could keep the cat, Blackie ran down the stoop, laughing in her own way, as she looked at the doll, and thought of how she had mistaken it for a baby.
The dog came out from under the stoop where he had run to get away from Blackie and he was up beside the doll again when the little girl came out once more.
“Oh, where is that nice black cat?” asked the little girl, looking all around. “Where is he, Fido? Mother said I might keep her, but she is gone. Do you know where she is?”
“Bow wow!” barked Fido. “I’m glad she is gone. I don’t like her, for she scared me. I’m glad she isn’t going to live here.”
Of course the little girl did not know that her dog Fido said that, but he really did. She was sorry, the little girl was, that the cat had gone away. But it was best in the end, for I suppose Blackie and the dog would not have gotten along well together.
Down the street trotted the black cat, feeling not so hungry now. But she was still far from home, and she did not know when she would find the place where she used to live so very happily.
“I’ll never run away again,” Blackie said. “I have had enough of it. I have had adventures, it is true, and I am a good deal better fence-jumper than I used to be, but I have had a hard time of it. I will have many things to tell Speckle when I see him. And I wish I could see him right now, for then I would be home.”
The next day when Blackie was traveling through a woods, and hoping that on the other side of it she might find the city where her house was, she saw a funny animal hopping along over the dried leaves. The animal looked like a cat, for it had fur, only it was white instead of black. And the animal had pink eyes and a pink nose.
“How do you do?” asked Blackie politely, for she saw that the animal was not going to hurt her.
“I am pretty well,” answered the white animal. “How are you and what is your name?”
“Well, I’ve seen the time that I felt better,” answered Blackie, and she told her name, and mentioned that she was a cat.
“Oh, a cat; eh?” exclaimed the white animal. “Well, I’m a rabbit, and my name is Flop Ear. They call me that because one ear flops or falls over, see.”
Flop Ear stood up on his hind legs, as easily as Dido, the dancing bear, could have done, and while one of his ears stood up straight the other one sort of leaned over, or flopped.
“Oh, I see how it is,” spoke Blackie, laughing, for Flop Ear was a funny little rabbit. “Do you live here in these woods?”
“Yes, with my father and mother, and some brothers and sisters and also Lady Munch.”
“Lady Munch?” exclaimed Blackie. “Who is she?”
“She is my grandmother,” answered Flop Ear. “And we all like her very much. But excuse me, I must hurry on.”
“Where are you going?” asked Blackie.
“Over in the field to get some carrots for dinner. Do you like carrots?”
“I never ate any,” Blackie answered. “I am a cat, you know.”
“That’s so, I forgot about that,” spoke Flop Ear. “I was told never to play with cats or dogs, as they might bite me.”
“I would never bite you,” said Blackie. “I think you are very nice, and your fur is like mine. I will go along with you and help you get the carrots, if you want me to, though I don’t eat them.”
“What do you eat?” asked Flop Ear, as he hopped along beside Blackie.
“Oh, meat and milk, and fish, when I can get them.”
“Why can’t you get them now?” the white rabbit wanted to know.
“Because I am a lost cat,” answered Blackie. “I ran away from home, you see, to have adventures, and to learn to become a good fence-jumper, but it is not so easy to get things to eat when you are lost.”
“I am sorry for you,” said the white rabbit. “I never was lost and I am never going to run away from home.”
“You do not need to learn to jump,” Blackie told Flop Ear, “for you are a good jumper now.”
“Yes, all rabbits are good jumpers,” said Flop Ear, “but I never tried to jump over a fence. And I am never, never going to leave my home.”
“No, don’t,” advised Blackie.
But you just wait and read, in the next book after that, what happened to Flop Ear.
Soon Blackie and Flop Ear came to the field where the carrots grew. The white rabbit nibbled one, and told the cat to taste. Blackie did, but said:
“Eww, I don’t like carrots. They might be good if cooked in milk, but I do not like them raw.”
“That’s strange,” replied Flop Ear. “They are best raw, I think.”
The rabbit and the cat talked together a little longer, and then Blackie said she thought she had better travel on, and try to find her home.
“For I am tired of being a lost cat,” sighed Blackie.
That night Blackie slept in a field under a pile of hay. There were some little mice who had made a nest there too, but Blackie did not touch them, though she liked to eat mice.
But for her supper that night Blackie had found a piece of meat in front of a butcher shop, and as she had eaten that she was not hungry. So she let the little mice alone, and I guess they were happy about that.
But oh! how lonesome Blackie was for her own home! She thought about it very often that night as she cuddled down in the hay.
“If I don’t find my home before Winter I don’t know what I shall do,” thought Blackie. “It isn’t so bad sleeping out in Summer, but in the Winter it is going to be dreadful! I simply must find my home.”
For two days more Blackie traveled on. She came out of the woods, she left the fields, and then she found herself in a city. She walked through the streets. Sometimes boys would chase her, or throw stones at her, and sometimes dogs would run after her. Once or twice Blackie had to go up a tree to get away.
And then, one day, Blackie found herself on a street that she seemed to know. She looked up at the houses, hardly believing it at first, and then she saw that she was really right on the street where she had lived.
“Oh, why! I do believe I’m back in my own city again!” said the delighted Blackie to herself. “Yes, I know these houses, and there is the one I live in! Oh, how glad I am!”
Blackie ran up the front steps. But, somehow or other the house did not seem to be the same as when Blackie had lived there. The step was covered with dust, and it was never that way as long as Blackie could remember, for Mabel used to sweep it off every morning.
“This is strange,” said Blackie. “I’ll go around to the back.”
The back door was closed, and so were the windows. Blackie ran all the way around the house, meowing. No one came out to let her in.
Blackie looked up at all the windows. They were closed down, and the shades were drawn.
“Why—why the family must have moved away!” thought Blackie, and she was very sad. “Oh, dear! After my long journey, and my many adventures, to get home and find the house locked up and the family gone! Oh, isn’t it too bad! What shall I do?”
Blackie was very sad. She felt all tired out and lonesome. She would have cried real tears had she been a little girl or boy, I guess. But, being only a cat, she could do nothing but meow.