Story by Richard Barnum.
Blackie, who had walked from the sitting room, where the old lady had been reading, out toward the hall, heard voices as the front door was opened.
“Come in,” invited Mrs. Thompson.
“I just thought I’d step over to see how you were,” spoke a strange voice.
“That isn’t Arthur or Mabel,” thought Blackie, for she knew the voices of the children.
“I thought perhaps you might be lonesome,” said the visitor.
“Well, I was lonesome,” said Mrs. Thompson, “but, a little while ago I heard something up on the roof. I went up, opened the scuttle and what do you think I found?”
“Not a baby! Don’t tell me it was a baby!” exclaimed the other voice, which was that of a lady.
“No, it wasn’t a baby,” spoke Mrs. Thompson, with a laugh, “so of course I’ll not tell you it was. Come in the sitting room and see.”
“Oh, what a fine big black cat!” cried the other lady, leaning over to pet Blackie. “Where did you get her? Oh, isn’t she a beauty!”
“That’s what I found up on the roof,” explained Mrs. Thompson. “It was the cat I heard walking around, and I brought her down to my house with me.”
“How did she get on the roof?” asked the other lady.
“Why she got out through that vacant house where the family lived that moved away. I don’t know their name, as they did not stay in this block long. But they must have left the cat behind, and she made her way up to the roof.”
“No, I don’t believe those people had a cat,” said the other lady. “So I don’t believe they left this one behind. I would have known if they had a cat, for they lived right across the street from me. The cat must have come from somewhere else.”
“Of course I did,” said Blackie to herself, as she listened to this talk. “I ran away from a good home, but I think I have found one almost as nice, though I shall miss the children. But I don’t know how long I shall stay here. I may run away farther. I wish I could tell these nice ladies some of my adventures. But of course I can’t, for they don’t understand my language very well.”
The two ladies talked more about the black cat, wondering where she had come from, and all that, and, every once in a while one of them would lean over and pet Blackie.
“I wonder if she will let me hold her in my lap?” said the lady who had come to pay an evening visit to Mrs. Thompson. “I hope she will, for I love cats.”
“Try it,” said Mrs. Thompson. “Blackie seems very kind and gentle.”
The other lady picked Blackie up.
“My! How heavy she is!” she exclaimed.
“Yes, she is a big cat,” spoke Mrs. Thompson.
Blackie was very willing to be held in the lady’s lap, for Arthur and Mabel often pet Blackie that way. The lady stroked Blackie’s fur and rubbed her ears, and, as the cat liked that, she purred.
“This is the nice part of my adventures,” thought Blackie to herself. “I guess I rather like running away after all. But perhaps something else will happen in the morning.
“I won’t go back home, at least not for a day or two, and by then I may have many more things to tell Speckle. Maybe he will not think getting locked in a vacant house much of an adventure. I must have more exciting ones than that to tell about.”
The two ladies talked for some time longer, taking turns patting Blackie, until it was time for the lady visitor to go home.
“Good night!” she said to Mrs. Thompson. “I shall come over often to see your new cat. I hope you can keep her, and that no one comes to take her away.”
“So do I, though of course I would give her to whoever owned her. If I had a nice cat I wouldn’t want anyone to keep her from me,” Mrs. Thompson said.
“No, I wouldn’t either. Well, good night. Oh, when do you go to the country?”
“In a few days now, I think.”
“And will you take Blackie with you?”
“I will if no one comes for her before I go.”
Then the two ladies said good night again (ladies always say it three or four times, somehow or other) and then Mrs. Thompson locked the front door.
“It will soon be time to go to bed, Blackie,” said the lady. “I will get out the cushion my white cat used to sleep on, and you can use that.”
Blackie wondered what had become of the white cat who used to live with the kind old lady. Mrs. Thompson brought out the other cat’s cushion. It was nice and soft, and Blackie liked it.
In the morning Blackie, who had slept well, was given a good breakfast of milk and oatmeal. Mrs. Thompson seemed to know just what cats like.
“I wonder if you would run away if I let you out into the yard for a while?” spoke the lady, looking at Blackie. “It is not good for cats, or other animals, to stay in the house all the time, especially in Summer. I think I’ll let you run out in the yard a bit.”
She opened the back door, and Blackie, after sniffing a bit, to make sure there were no dogs about, went out on the back steps. The yard was not as large as the one where Mabel and Arthur lived, nor did it have in it a grape arbor.
“It doesn’t matter,” thought Blackie. “I shall not stay here very long, especially if I go to the country with the lady. I will be glad to be on a farm once more. Wouldn’t it be strange if she took me to the same farm where I used to live? I would like to see my mother, and my brothers and sisters once more. That little Scratcho was a strange cat!” And Blackie thought of one brother who was named Scratcho because he used to scratch his ear in such a funny way.
Blackie sat on the back steps and looked around Mrs. Thompson’s yard. The cat saw no dogs, nor any other cats, and then, thinking there might, perhaps, be cats in the yards on the other side, Blackie went down the steps.
“Now don’t you run away!” called the lady, playfully shaking her finger at Blackie.
“Me-o-w!” said Blackie, which, I suppose, might be her way of saying that she would not run off.
Down the walk she went, and she looked up at the fences on either side.
“I wonder if there are other cats over there?” thought Blackie. “That fence doesn’t look any higher than mine at home. Perhaps I can jump to the top. I’m going to try.”
Blackie gave a little run, and then jumped for the top of the fence. To her delight she found that she could reach the top, where she clung with her sharp claws.
“Now that isn’t so bad!” she told herself. “I am getting to be a better jumper. Running away did that, I think, just as Speckle said it might. I’m glad I left home, though I do miss those children. Never mind, I shall go back to see them some day.”
Perched on top of the fence, Blackie looked down in other yards. She hoped to see another cat with whom she might talk, but none were there. Blackie did see something which she did not like very well, and that was a big dog asleep in front of his kennel.
“Hum!” thought Blackie. “He seems to be a savage looking dog. I hope he doesn’t get after me. It’s lucky he’s chained. He doesn’t look as though he liked cats.”
Just then, from behind her, on the fence at the other side of the yard, Blackie heard a voice saying, in cat language:
“Hello, Blackie, where did you come from, and how did you get here, if I may ask?”
Blackie turned and saw a yellow cat sitting on the other fence.
“How do you do?” asked Blackie politely. “I just happened to come here, but how did you know my name, and what is yours?”
“I guessed your name was Blackie because you are so black,” said the other cat. “My name is Topaz, for I am colored like a yellow topaz stone, you see. I live here. Do you live there?”
“Well, I am staying with Mrs. Thompson for a while,” Blackie answered. “I ran away from my own home. Did you ever run away?”
“Never!” exclaimed Topaz. “I’d never dream of doing such a thing.”
“Did you have any adventures?” asked Blackie.
“No, I never did—”
“Well, that’s because you never ran away,” went on Blackie. “You have to run away to get adventures. I’ve had two or three already, and I’m expecting more. I’ll come over and tell you about them.”
But just then something happened. The big dog in the yard woke up, and seeing Blackie perched on the fence, up he jumped with a growl and a bark, and made a rush for the black cat.
“Oh, my goodness!” cried Blackie, jumping down quickly and fairly scooting into the house. “Oh, if that dog should get me!”
“Don’t be afraid!” called Topaz. “That dog is a bad one, but he is chained.”
Blackie had forgotten about the chain when she leaped off the fence so quickly.
“He might break his chain and then he’d get us,” said the black cat, when she was safely on her own back step once more.
“He could not get over the fence,” Topaz said. “Don’t be afraid. He always barks at me, and tries to get me when I go on his fence.”
“I don’t like that kind of a dog,” said Blackie, who was breathing fast. “I’ll never go on his fence again.”
“Come over and talk to me,” invited Topaz. “There are no dogs here.”
So Blackie went over and had a nice talk with the yellow cat. Blackie told her all about her adventures, and how she got on the roof and was taken in by Mrs. Thompson.
“Yes, she is a good lady, and kind to cats,” said Topaz. “I go over to see her once in a while, and she gives me nice things to eat. She had a white cat once.”
“What happened to her?” asked Blackie.
“Oh, while Mrs. Thompson was out one day a bad boy tied a tin can to the white cat’s tail, and it frightened her so that she ran away, and never came back. We never saw her again.”
“That was too bad,” said Blackie. “It was an unpleasant adventure.”
“It’s best to stay home,” spoke the yellow cat. “No adventures for me!”
“If you don’t have adventures you will never be a good fence-jumper,” Blackie said. “Speckle, the cat who lived next door to me in my other home, told me so.”
“Well, jumping fences isn’t all there is in life,” said Topaz, as she washed her face with her paw.
“Here, Blackie! Blackie!” called Mrs. Thompson, from the back step. “It’s time for your dinner. Come and get it!”
“Excuse me,” said Blackie to the yellow cat. “I have to go now. I’ll see you this afternoon.”
That afternoon, and several other times later, on different days, Blackie and Topaz met on the black fence and talked. Blackie was getting to like it more and more in her new home. But still she was thinking that she did not have enough adventures.
Every once in a while she would get up on the fence to look at the big dog, and whenever he saw her he barked and growled, and tried to break his chain to get loose. But he could not.
One day something new happened to Blackie. Mrs. Thompson had been very busy packing trunks and getting ready to go to the country. And this day she said:
“Come, Blackie. If you are going to travel with me I must put you in a traveling basket, so I can take you on the train.”
She lifted Blackie up in her arms, and the next thing the black cat knew was that she found herself in a basket, with a cover shut tightly over the top.
“Well, this isn’t so very nice,” thought the black cat. “But still if we are going to the country it may be all right. It’s part of the adventure, I suppose.”
Then Blackie felt herself being lifted up and carried along.
“I wonder what is going to happen now?” thought the black cat.