Story by Richard Barnum.
Blackie soon grew tired of running, and slowed down into a walk.
“It doesn’t really matter much what I do, as long as I keep on going away,” thought the black cat. “I can walk or run, so Speckle said, and he ought to know, for he has run away a number of times.”
Blackie walked on and on, down the city street. Soon she came to a corner, and she stood there a moment, looking up and down, wondering which way she had better go. She had come past many houses, and had passed many persons in the street, mostly women and men, for all the children were at school. No one did more than look at Blackie, for they were all too busy, I suppose.
As Blackie stood on the corner she saw a cat on the porch of a house nearby. Blackie knew this cat a little, for once the cat, whose name was Muffins, had come walking in Blackie’s yard. And, once or twice, Blackie had been as far as this corner herself. So she knew Muffins a little.
“Hello, Blackie!” meowed Muffins. “You’re quite a stranger. I haven’t seen you in some time. Where are you going?”
“I’m running away,” answered Blackie.
“Running away! You surprise me,” cried the other cat. “What is the matter? Did they treat you badly at your home? Didn’t they give you enough to eat?”
“Oh, yes, plenty,” said the black cat. “And they treated me very kindly, too.”
“Then why in the world are you running away?” Muffins wanted to know.
“I want to have some adventures, as Speckle did.”
“What are adventures, and who is Speckle?” asked Muffins.
“Adventures are things that happen to you,” replied Blackie, “and you never can have them happen as long as you are around the house. You have to run away to get them. That’s why I’m running away. And Speckle is the cat who lives next door to me.”
“I don’t know him,” spoke Muffins.
“He just moved there,” went on Blackie, “and he was only just let up out of the cellar.”
“Hum!” said Muffins. “Well, run away if you like, but, as for me, I can find plenty of adventures around the house. Why, only a little while ago, the cook dropped a bottle of cream and spilled it on the kitchen floor. I was there and I licked up all the cream. Oh, it was so good! I’d invite you in to have some, only it’s all gone now. That was an adventure, I can tell you!”
“Yes, cream is good,” said Blackie, “but I don’t call that an adventure.”
“No?” asked Muffins. “Then, tell me, what is an adventure?”
“Oh, when a dog chases you and makes you jump a higher fence than you ever before leaped over,” said Blackie. “That is an adventure.”
“Yes, I should say so,” agreed Muffins. “It’s a kind I shouldn’t like to have. I’d rather have our cook drop another bottle of cream.”
“Oh, well, of course all adventures that come to you when you have run away aren’t dog-chasing ones,” said Blackie. “I only spoke of that one because Speckle told me. I really never had any adventures myself so I can’t tell you about them. But, anyhow, I am running away. Would you like to come along?” asked Blackie politely of Muffins.
“No, thank you. I’m going to stay here. Home is good enough for me. But where are you going to run to, if I may ask?”
“Oh, not any special place,” answered the black cat. “I am just going to run, that’s all.”
“What? And not know where you’re going? That’s strange. I should think if you ran away you’d have to have a place to run to.”
“Not at all,” said Blackie. “Speckle ran away many times, and he never said anything about going to a special place.”
Muffins shook her head. “It doesn’t seem right,” she said. “I’d want to know where I was going, even if I ran away.”
“That’s part of the adventure, not knowing where you’re going,” said Blackie. “Now I can go up the street, or down the street, just as I please. If I had picked out a place to run to I’d have to go there whether I wanted to or not. No, it’s best to run away just as Speckle did, and then see what happens. So you won’t come with me?”
“Thank you, no.”
“Then I must go alone, I suppose. Well, when I come back I will tell you all my adventures,” Blackie promised.
“Yes, do,” invited Muffins. “I shall like to hear about them, even if I can not go myself.”
Then the two cats said goodbye, in cat-talk, and Blackie turned down the side street. She had never been there before. It was like going to a new world for her.
“Now my adventures will begin!” thought the black cat.
She went slowly along the street, keeping close to the fences, for this street was a bigger one, and busier than that on which Blackie lived. There were trolley cars on it, and many wagons, also.
Once Blackie saw a boy going along with a basket on his arm. From the basket came a lovely smell of meat, and, what Blackie liked best of all, liver. She ran toward the boy with the basket, thinking he might give her a bit, as Arthur often did.
But when the butcher-boy saw the cat he cried: “Scat!” and looked around for a stone to throw.
“My, you’re awfully stingy with your meat,” thought Blackie, as she ran behind a tree so the boy could not hit her. “I don’t see why you wouldn’t give me a bit.”
But of course the meat in the basket was for the family that had bought it, and the boy could not give any away. If Blackie had gone to the butcher shop the man there might have given her a bit of liver.
“Scat! Scoot!” cried the boy, as he ran up to the tree, and he made a hissing noise through his teeth. Blackie was afraid he would hurt her, so she climbed up the tree as fast as she could, knowing quite well how to do that with her sharp claws.
“Ha! Go up a tree, will you?” cried the boy. “If I had time I’d make you come down! Trying to get my meat! The idea!”
“Oh, I never tried to get any of his meat!” thought Blackie, for she heard what the butcher-boy said. “But you might have given me a little.”
However, Blackie was now safely up the tree, and she stayed there until the boy went off whistling down the street. Blackie was about to come down when she happened to see a dog on the ground below. The dog did not look to be a kind and gentle one.
“I guess I’ll just stay up here until he is gone,” Blackie said to herself. “Safety first!”
The dog sniffed around the tree a little and then, as he saw another dog down the street, ran away.
“Now is my chance,” thought Blackie, and down she came, running along close to the fence as she had done before.
“Well, that was two little adventures,” the black cat said after a while, “being chased by the butcher-boy up a tree, and seeing a dog under me. Though I suppose Speckle would not think much of them. Still I may have other things happen to me. I must keep on.”
By this time Blackie was getting hungry and thirsty, so she looked around for something to eat. She saw no nice saucer of milk, as she would have seen had she been at home, for one can’t find saucers of milk in the street. Nor was there any nice liver, or bit of fish, lying around.
“Still one can’t have everything one wants when one runs away,” Blackie said.
The cat came to a fountain in a little park, and there she drank some water. But before she had finished along came a dog, and chased her away. Blackie ran into the bushes. “Oh, dear!” she thought, her heart beating very fast. “Running away isn’t as nice as I thought it would be. Still it may be nicer later on.”
Farther on down the street walked Blackie, looking from side to side for something to eat. But though she passed butcher and grocery stores she did not feel like going in and mewing to show that she wanted to eat.
“I ought to have asked Speckle what he did for food when he ran away,” thought Blackie. “I forgot about it. I may find something soon.”
A little later Blackie passed a house that had the door open.
“That looks inviting,” thought the black cat. “I am sure kind people must live there, or they would not leave a door open for cats or dogs to go in. I’ll go in, and maybe they’ll give me something to eat.”
Blackie looked all around, to make sure there were no dogs about, and then she went up the front steps. In through the front door of the house she went, and there she saw something that surprised her. There was no furniture in the house, and no one was in sight.
“Nobody lives here,” said Blackie. “But perhaps they are just going to move in, as Speckle’s folks did. I’ll wait a bit. That’s what must be going to happen. They had the door open to bring in the furniture. When the people come they’ll give me some milk, I’m sure.”
Blackie walked through the empty rooms of the house. She went out to the kitchen, and no one was there. Then she went up to the second floor, no one was there.
While up on the second floor Blackie heard the front door being shut with a bang.
“Oh, perhaps that’s the folks moving in,” she meowed. “I’ll run down and see.”
Down the stairs scampered the black cat, but there was no one in the house. The front door was shut, and Blackie, of course, could not open it. “Well, I wonder what happened?” thought Blackie. “Perhaps the wind blew the door shut.”
She jumped up on a window sill and looked out. She saw a man going down the front steps of the house.
“He must have shut the door,” thought Blackie, and the man had. He owned the house, and he had come that day to see if it had been cleaned when the people moved out. He had opened the door, gone in and looked about. When he came out, to look around the back yard, he left the front door open. It was then that Blackie went in. Then the man, not seeing the cat in his house, shut the door, locking Blackie in, and he went away.
“Well, if I can’t get out the front door I’ll go to the back,” said Blackie. She ran to the back door. That was locked too, and all the windows were closed.
“Oh, dear!” thought Blackie. “I guess I’m in trouble. I’m locked in an empty house!”