Story by Richard Barnum.
Shut up as she was in the basket, Blackie could see little of what was going on about her, or where she was being carried. There were little cracks in the basket, to be sure, but one can not see much through such cracks, especially when being carried along, and bobbing up and down.
“Oh, dear!” thought Blackie. “This isn’t at all nice. It’s like the time when Arthur and Mabel brought me away from the farm. They put me in a basket then, I remember that very well, though I was only a little kitten.”
Blackie could tell that Mrs. Thompson was carrying the basket, for, every little while the lady would speak to the pet cat.
“Don’t be afraid now, Blackie,” the lady would say. “You’ll be all right in a little while. Nothing shall hurt you.”
And Mrs. Thompson spoke in such a gentle voice, just the kind that dogs and cats like to hear, that Blackie felt better.
“I guess it will be alright,” thought the black cat. “I’ll try to go to sleep, and when I wake up I may be in the nice country.”
Blackie curled up in a little ball in the basket, and tried to go to sleep. But it was hard work. The basket kept bobbing up and down, and then, after a while, Blackie felt herself being set down, basket and all. Then followed a strange rumbling sound, like distant thunder. Blackie remembered that, for she knew what thunder showers were, and she did not like them, nor rain.
“Oh, dear!” thought the black cat. “I hope it isn’t going to lighten. I can’t bear that. Still it can’t hurt me in the basket.”
But it did not seem to be a storm. The low, rumbling noise kept up, and Blackie felt herself, basket and all, being gently “jiggled,” as she said afterward. Then Blackie began to feel sleepy.
“Oh, I know where I am now!” she suddenly thought. “I’m on a railroad train! Just as when Arthur and Mabel brought me from the country!
Mrs. Thompson has brought me to the railroad car in the basket, and that’s what makes the rumbling sound. It’s the car wheels. Now I can go to sleep in peace, and when I awaken I’ll be in the nice country.”
How long she slept Blackie did not know, but when she did wake up she found herself being lifted up in the basket again.
“I guess we must be in the country,” she thought. “Now I shall have some nice milk, and perhaps I may see my brothers and sisters.”
Blackie felt herself being carried out in the air, for she could feel the gentle Summer breeze blowing on her through the cracks in the basket. Then she heard a lot of strange noises which frightened her. There were shouts and yells, the puffing of engines, the ringing of bells and the blowing of whistles.
“Oh, dear! What can this be?” thought Blackie. “I guess it must be the railroad station where the ‘choo-choo’ cars stop, as Mabel used to call them when she was a little girl and I was a little kitten.”
And that is where Blackie was. The train Mrs. Thompson had taken had reached the station, and she had gotten out with her cat in the basket.
“My, I did not know the country was as noisy as this,” thought Blackie. But she was not quite in the country yet, you see. Mrs. Thompson had to take a wagon to get to her country place.
Blackie felt her basket being set down and she heard Mrs. Thompson talking to some man about trunks and boxes, and about bringing up a carriage, and things like that.
Then, all at once, Blackie noticed that the cover of her basket was loose. There was a hole out of which she could put her head.
“I guess I’ll get a breath of fresh air and look around,” said Blackie to herself. Out of the basket she popped her head, and she saw Mrs. Thompson standing a little way off, on the station platform, talking to the baggage-man. On the track, to one side, was the train which had brought Blackie and Mrs. Thompson to the country. The engine was puffing, and the bell was ringing, for the train was about to start off again.
All of a sudden there was a dreadfully loud noise, almost like a gun being fired, and then followed a loud whistle.
“Oh, my! Oh, my!” cried poor frightened Blackie to herself. “This is dreadful! It must be a terribly big dog after me! I’m not going to stay in this basket and be bitten!”
With that Blackie gave a sudden jump, and out of the basket she went, knocking it over. The whistle of the steam engine, and the loud noise, which sounded like a gun (but which was only the locomotive giving a strong puff of steam to get started) all these noises kept getting louder and louder, and Blackie was so scared that she ran along the station platform until she found some boxes and barrels, and in among these she ran to hide.
“At least the dog can’t get me in here,” thought the black cat. “I am safe for a time. Oh, what a lot of adventures I am having! I guess even Speckle would say these are enough to make one a good fence-jumper. I jumped out of the basket, anyhow.”
Hidden as she was behind the boxes and barrels, Blackie could not see Mrs. Thompson now.
“I’ll just stay here until everything gets quiet,” thought Blackie, “then I’ll come out and go to Mrs. Thompson’s country house. For I like her and I’ll stay with her a little longer before I go away again, and make a journey back to Arthur and Mabel.”
Blackie did not stop to think that perhaps she might not be able to find her way to Mrs. Thompson’s country house, which the black cat had never seen. All Blackie thought of was hiding away from the noise.
The train puffed away, and it grew more quiet about the station, but still there were quite a number of sounds. Men and boys walked up and down the platform, whistling and calling one to another.
“I won’t walk out yet,” thought Blackie.
Meanwhile Mrs. Thompson, having finished telling the express-man about bringing her trunks to the country house, looked around for the basket with Blackie in it. She saw the basket turned on its side, but no cat in it.
“Oh, dear!” cried Mrs. Thompson. “Where has Blackie gone? Blackie! Blackie! Where are you?”
But Blackie did not mew or purr in answer. She did not even hear Mrs. Thompson calling, for just then a baggage-man wheeled a rumbling truck along the platform, and it made a great noise.
“Oh, where can my nice cat have gone to?” asked Mrs. Thompson. “I must find her. Did anyone see her?”
“I saw a black cat jump out of the basket just as the engine whistled,” said a man.
“That was Blackie,” said Mrs. Thompson. “Which way did she run? I’ll give a dollar to get her back.”
“She ran down the platform,” spoke another man. “I’ll see if I can find her for you.”
“And so will we,” said two or three boys. They would have been glad to find Blackie to get the dollar, I guess. Then began a search for the black cat. But no one found her, for Blackie knew how to hide well in among the boxes and barrels.
“Well, I guess she has run away,” said Mrs. Thompson, at last. “I’ll have to go on to my country house alone. If any of you men around the depot find her, please save her for me.”
“We will,” said the railroad men.
Mrs. Thompson drove away in a carriage, taking the empty basket with her.
“I’m sorry I had to run away from such a nice lady,” thought Blackie, in her hiding place. “I’ll go back to her after dark.”
Blackie was not hungry, for she had been well fed before being shut up in the basket. She curled herself snugly up and waited. Pretty soon the men and boys stopped looking for her, and, after a while it grew more quiet about the railroad station.
“I guess I can come out now and look around,” thought the black cat. “I’ll start off in the country, and I ought to be able to find Mrs. Thompson’s house. I think she must live in a quiet place, for she was so quiet in her city house, living all alone except for me.”
Blackie stuck her nose out a little way from in between two barrels. She sniffed the air, and she smelled no danger. Then she looked around and came out. She ran down the platform a little way. There were no trains at the depot now, for which Blackie was glad.
“Now for a nice trip to the country,” thought Blackie. She looked across the road and saw that the station was near a little country town. There were wagons going up and down the street, but not as many as in the city where Blackie had come from.
“I wonder if I can get a drink anywhere around here?” thought Blackie. So she sniffed the air hard, and she smelled some water. She went toward it and saw, not far away, a drinking-fountain for horses. Some of the water dripped down and had made a little puddle on the ground.
“I’ll get a drink there,” thought Blackie, and while she was drinking something else happened to her.