wildforce71: (triskell)
[personal profile] wildforce71

Trotting along the dusty road little Gobbolino wondered what adventures awaited him. He had been born a witch's cat. Only yesterday he had been happy to be a kitchen cat. Now he had to find some other kind of life.

By evening he came to a busy town. The lights in the windows winked at him like yellow, friendly eyes. In a hundred happy homes fires crackled and fat, comfortable cats dozed under chairs. But Gobbolino belonged to nobody... and nobody belonged to Gobbolino.

He jumped on to a window-sill and he peeped inside. All the way round the room were dozens of large cages. And in each cage, sitting on a blue velvet cushion, was a cat.

An old man stood at the table cutting up meat on to twelve blue plates. The cats' coats were glossy, their eyes bright, their whiskers clean. Gobbolino could hear them purring, even through the window. "They look very content and cared for," he thought. "But nobody who has so many cats can possibly want another."

The next minute the door opened wide and a voice called: "Pussy! Pussy! Pretty pussy! Come here!"

"Oh! He really is calling me!"

The old man picked up Gobbolino and put him into an empty cage with a velvet cushion and a plate of meat. After a while Gobbolino spoke to the cat in the next cage. "What are we all doing in cages?"

"Don't you know?" she sneered. "You're a show cat now."

In the morning the old man brushed and combed his cats one by one. He was a little surprised by the coloured sparks that flew from Gobbolino's coat, but he did not stop telling him how beautiful he was. "Such fur! Such a tail! Such colouring! And such beautifully blue eyes!" The other cats growled.

"Ha! They're jealous," said the little old man as he tied a red ribbon round Gobbolino's neck.

"What's all the fuss about?" Gobbolino asked the cat next door.

"Don't you know?" she said scornfully. "Tomorrow is the Cat Show and we're all going."

Long before they arrived, Gobbolino could hear the mewing of hundreds and hundreds of show cats - big cats, little cats, black cats, white cats, tabby cats, Persian cats, fat cats, thin cats, handsome cats, ugly cats... and all the old man's cats. And Gobbolino the witch's kitten, with his beautifully blue eyes.

The other cats began to whisper. "Who's that odd-looking black cat? He wasn't here last year."

"No, he's new. To tell you the truth..." Though Gobbolino could not hear what she said, a kind of hiss went around the cages. "Gobbolino! Gobbolino! Gobbolino!"

The judges went past looking at the cats. After a while they brought coloured cards and pinned them onto the cats. The one next door to Gobbolino had a red card with "FIRST PRIZE" written on it. The cat opposite had a blue one. The old man trotted among the cages stroking his prize-winners and promising them all kind of good things for supper. Then the chief judge stood up to name "the best cat in the show". It was Gobbolino!

For a moment there was a silence, then a hissing, then a spitting, then a howling. The angry cats yowled on and on, till one great roar arose from every cage: "Gobbolino is a witch's cat!" Round and round the cages ran the angry murmur: Gobbolino is a witch's cat!

At the sound of the hissing and spitting the judges turned pale.

"Why, oh why was I born a witch's cat?" said Gobbolino, cowering in his cage. "I don't want to win prizes! I only want a home. What's going to happen to me now?"

The old man was told to leave at once and take his cats with him. Outside he opened the door of Gobbolino's cage and dropped him into the road. "Miserable creature! Be off with you. I don't ever want to see your face again!" He put all the other cats on to his cart, whipped the scraggy pony and galloped away in a cloud of dust.

Gobbolino was not sorry to see him go. He had not really enjoyed being a show cat and living in a cage had become very boring. "I'm sure there's a home somewhere where I'll be welcome," he thought.

Leaving the town far behind him, Gobbolino trotted south towards the sea. He passed through towns and villages, past cottages and farms. But there was no welcome anywhere for Gobbolino. So his heart bounded when he saw the silver sparkling sea and the ships with their brown sails. He sat on the quay in the sunshine, watching the ships and the gulls and the sailors. Presently a mouse ran out of a pile of ropes. With a pat of his paw, Gobbolino killed it.

"Well done!" said a voice behind him. And there was a young sailor watching him with a friendly smile. “There are a lot of mice on my ship, the Mary Maud, and we haven't got a ship's kitten. Would you like to come and catch them for us?"

"At last! Here's somebody who really needs me," he thought. "I'm sure I'll be happy at sea! Gobbolino the ship's cat!"

They sailed through sunny oceans, past islands, coral reefs and clear lagoons. But one morning the sky darkened. Wind rippled the calm blue water. The shadow of a sea-witch was crossing the sun. The sailors saw her flying up in the sky, but thought she was a seagull.

By nightfall a storm was raging and the waves were as high as mountains. The Mary Maud plunged up and down while the wind shrieked and the timbers creaked. The seas crashed on to the decks. Twice Gobbolino was saved from being washed overboard.
At night the storm grew louder and fiercer. "Oh! Will it never end?" thought Gobbolino as he rolled from side to side.

In the morning the storm was still raging. But now Gobbolino heard a new sound - the song of the sea-witch:

"I'll send her down, the Mary Maud
And every man on her aboard.
For not a sailor here can tell
The way to break a witch's spell!"

An old memory stirred in Gobbolino. He remembered long, long ago, lying in his witch's cave and hearing the words: "There's only one way to break a witch's spell. You must pounce on her shadow and shout Fiddlesticks!"

Nobody saw the little cat climb up the ship's ropes to the crow's-nest. He had to hang on very tight. Showers of spray soaked his fur and filled his eyes.

Great clouds covered the sun - so the sea-witch cast no shadow! Suddenly, the clouds rolled back and the sun moved into a patch of blue sky. The sailors caught sight of Gobbolino high up above them and heard his voice. "Mistress! Oh, mistress!" he cried above the storm. "Don't you know me? I'm Gobbolino, the witch's kitten. Don't leave me here to drown on this miserable ship!"

The sea-witch heard him. "Is it true? What are you doing on board the Mary Maud?"

"The sailors took me aboard. I couldn't escape!"

"Witches' kittens can swim like seals!" said the sea-witch as she crept nearer and nearer the ship. "Jump into the sea and swim. When the ship has gone down, I'll pick you up on my broomstick and take you home again."

"It's so far and so deep!" sobbed Gobbolino. "I'm afraid! I'm falling!"

"Oh all right, all right," snapped the witch. "Be ready to jump on to my broomstick as I pass."

Just as the sunlight began to fade, the sea-witch swooped past. Her shadow fell for one moment on the deck. Gobbolino sprang - not on to her broomstick - but right on to her shadow, shouting loudly Fiddlesticks! as he landed.

With a shriek of rage, the sea-witch disappeared. "Traitor! Traitor!" she cried, as the wind swallowed her up. Suddenly a dead calm fell on the sea. The Mary Maud was safe.

But the sailors did not understand. They whispered together about Gobbolino.

"It wasn't a seagull. It was a witch!"

"He was talking to her! I heard him!"

"He said he was a witch's kitten."

"No wonder she followed the ship!"

So they stared at Gobbolino, and none of them wanted to pick him up or stroke him any more.

The cat sat on the deck, lonely and sad. At midday, the captain came to talk to him. "Gobbolino," he said kindly, "I'm afraid we must say goodbye. My sailors refuse to work until you leave. It's just unlucky to have a witch's cat aboard a ship."

Gobbolino nodded and the captain himself rowed the little cat ashore. The sailors gave Gobbolino a cheer, but he could not bear to look back and see the Mary Maud setting sail without him.

So, he hurried bravely along, thinking to himself, "Never mind, someone is bound to want a little Gobbolino soon."

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wildforce71: Takeru smiling. Sort of. A bit. (Default)

March 2017


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