Story by Richard Barnum.
Well,” said Blackie to herself, after walking up and down the dusty porch, “I can’t get in the house, that’s for sure. But I simply can’t go away from it again, even if the family has moved away. If I stay around here perhaps Arthur or Mabel will come back. They may have forgotten something, and if they do come back, and see me, they’ll take me to the new home with them. Yes, I shall stay here.”
“But wait a minute. I’ll go next door and ask Speckle where my folks are. He may know.”
But alas for poor Blackie! The house next door was closed too, and Speckle was not around. And Blackie did not feel like asking the dog who lived in the other yard.
“I’ll just have to stay here,” thought Blackie. “I’ll go under the stoop where no stray dogs will see me, and there I’ll stay.”
Under the stoop of the house where she used to live crept Blackie, not exactly a lost cat any longer, but still a cat without a home to go into.
“And I’m hungry, too,” thought Blackie. “I wish I had something to eat, or some milk to drink.”
Blackie stayed under the stoop all that day. Late in the afternoon she looked out, wondering where she could go to get something to eat or drink. And, as she poked out her head a milkman, driving his horse and wagon down the street, saw Blackie.
“Hello!” he exclaimed, stopping his horse. “The family that lives in that house is away, and that cat must be hungry. I have a little milk left in one of my cans. I’ll give her some.”
The kind milkman got out of his wagon, and with some milk in the top of one of his big cans, brought it over to Blackie. The black cat was not afraid of him, for he spoke so kindly to her.
“Here, kitty!” said the man. “Here is some milk for you. What shall I put it in? Ah, here is an empty sardine tin, that will hold it nicely.” He poured the milk in the tin. Oh! how good that milk did taste to hungry and thirsty Blackie! She just purred, she was so thankful to that man.
He watched her drink the milk, and patted her on the back, even rubbing her under the ears a little, and Blackie liked that.
“If you’re here to-morrow I’ll give you more milk,” said the man. Blackie wished he could speak her kind of talk, so she might ask him where Mabel, Arthur and the rest of the family had gone, but she could not do that.
“Well, I feel a little better,” said Blackie to herself, as she licked the milk off her whiskers with her red tongue. “I can sleep to-night I hope.”
Blackie curled up under the stoop and got ready to go to sleep. It was not yet night but soon would be. Now and then Blackie heard the dog in the next yard barking, and once another dog came snooping along the stoop where the black cat was hiding. But Blackie arched up her back, made her tail big, and hissed like a snake.
“Wuff!” barked the dog, as he ran away. “Wuff! Wow!”
“Well, I learned how to scare dogs even if I can’t jump fences as well as Speckle can,” thought Blackie. “Now I won’t be so afraid of the dog next door. Maybe I can scare him, and, if I can, life will be easier for me and Speckle, so I will have learned something by having run away and been a lost cat.”
Blackie went to sleep for a while, but suddenly she was awakened by a strange sound. Someone was running up the steps over her as she lay under the porch. Then she heard voices.
“Oh, Mabel!” cried a boy. “Aren’t you glad to be home again?”
“I guess so, Arthur,” answered a little girl. “But it was nice in the country on our vacation. Oh, if only we had Blackie back I would be happy.”
“So would I. I looked for her in the country, but I didn’t see her. Look, the people next door aren’t home yet.”
“Wait a minute, children, and Daddy will open the door for us,” said a lady’s voice.
Blackie was wide awake now.
“Why—why—!” exclaimed the black cat. “The folks have come home! That is Mabel and Arthur! I wonder where they have been? Oh, how glad I am! Now I am all right.”
Blackie heard the front door of the house open. Then she heard the children run inside.
“Here is where I surprise them,” thought the black cat.
Out from under the stoop crawled Blackie. Up the steps she went, and in through the open front door. She could hear the children in the kitchen now, getting drinks of water, and Blackie walked toward them, hoping there was something to eat in the house.
The gas was lighted in the kitchen. Mabel and Arthur stood near the sink, drinking. The little girl was the first to spy Blackie, who walked in, her tail held up straight like a fishing pole. “Why—why!” cried Mabel, rubbing her eyes to make sure she was wide awake. “Why, look, Arthur! There’s Blackie!”
“Right here. Oh, Blackie, you’ve come back to us; haven’t you? Oh, how glad I am!” and Mabel caught Blackie up in her arms.
“Oh, you dear Blackie!” cried Arthur, rubbing the cat on the head. “Where have you been all this while, and where did you come from? Oh, how glad I am, and happy.”
“Purrr-r-r-r!” said Blackie, and that was her way of saying that she, too, was happy.
“Look, mother!” cried Mabel. “Blackie is back!”
“You don’t mean it!” said the lady. “Why, isn’t that strange!”
“She ran away just before we went on our summer vacation,” said Arthur, “and now when we have come back she is here to meet us.”
Then Blackie understood. The house had been closed because the folks were away in the country for a vacation. And she had reached home the very day they came back. Wasn’t Blackie a lucky cat?
Well, you can just imagine how glad Arthur and Mabel were to see Blackie. They took turns holding her and petting her, and when their father came in, a little later, with the bags and bundles from the train, he, too, pet Blackie.
“My, but how thin and poor Blackie has grown,” said Mabel’s mother. “She must have had a mighty hard time while she was on her vacation.”
“Oh, mother! Cats don’t have a vacation!” laughed Arthur.
“Well, I guess Blackie did,” said the lady. “She must have had many adventures.”
And Blackie had, as you can tell by this book. Of course Blackie herself could not tell them about her own adventures, as she can not write or talk our language, so I have written them down for her.
Blackie was given a fine supper and then she washed herself and went to sleep on her own soft cushion again. And oh! how good it felt after her nights of sleeping under haystacks, and among boxes and barrels!
In a few days Blackie began to get fat again and soon she was like herself. She even dared get up on the fence and make faces at the dog next door, and he was so surprised at seeing how brave Blackie was that he forgot to bark.
Blackie was lonesome for Speckle, the other cat, as she wanted to tell him some of her adventures, but he was not home, nor were the people who lived in the house. But one day Blackie heard a noise in the next yard. She heard a door in the house open.
“Oh, perhaps that is Speckle coming back!” Blackie thought.
She gave a jump, and easily went over the fence, and there, surely enough, in the yard, was Speckle.
“Why, how well you jumped that fence!” said Speckle.
“Yes, I learned that on my journey when I was lost and had so many adventures,” cried Blackie.
“That’s right, you did go away,” said Speckle. “I had forgotten.”
“Where have you been?” asked Blackie.
“Oh, off in the country on a vacation with my folks,” answered the other cat. “I had a fine time, too. Did you?”
“Well, no, not all the while,” Blackie answered. “But I think the trip did me good. I met Dido, a dancing bear, Tum Tum, the jolly elephant, and Flop Ear, the rabbit!”
“My! You did have some time!” meowed Speckle. “You must tell me all about your adventures.”
And Blackie did, especially about Flop Ear. And as that little chap had many things happen to him I am going to put them in a book so you may read them. It will be called: “Flop Ear, the Funny Rabbit; His Many Adventures.”
“Yes, you certainly had quite a time,” spoke Speckle, as Blackie finished telling him of her journey.
“And I learned how to scare dogs, too, as well as how to jump fences,” said Blackie. “Come on over and I’ll show you how to scare the dog next door when he barks at us.”
And the two cats went up on the fence and made funny faces at the dog, which so surprised him that he crept into his house, and did not even growl.
So having brought Blackie safely home again, I will tell her good-by for all of you.