What is the difference between fiction and historical fiction? As I pondered Jacob’s Choice, I remembered that I had written an unpublished story for children that was based on actual persons and events. It was centered around a cat, a little girl, my wife, our son and me. All characters were real, and the events were real, but written in a style that was novel.
After the eventful day, I happened to be home alone. That evening I wrote this story as you have it here. I gave the script to the teacher of my granddaughter Belinda’s first grade class at Sarasota Christian School. Without my permission, the teacher cut the paper into sections and gave them to her students to illustrate. Then they invited me to visit the class for an author’s day. They showed me the book and then sat around me as I read the story to them and they showed me their art work.
I retrieved the book from its place on a shelf here in Goshen and read it to My Joy. She liked it with special appreciation for the art work of the children. So I took pictures of each page and put it together as a post on this website. If you click on the first picture you will see it as a part of a slide show. Look at the cat’s tail.
Cover illustrated by Tenton Evans and other illustrated by Belinda and her class members
The Cat had a basic white coat with a black blotch above each eye and a black tail with faith white rings hinting the colors of a raccoon’s tail. She lived in a home where the humans were a father and mother and a Little Girl who loved the cat and named her Crissy. But one day disaster came. The cat’s family had to move from Florida to Texas, and they made plans for everything but the cat. The White Cat with the black blotch above each eye and the raccoon tail was left behind, homeless.
And who knows what would have happened to the cat, if it had not been for a little girl cousin of the girl who moved to Texas. That girl cousin picked up the cat, took it home, and demanded that she be allowed to keep the White Cat with the black blotch above each eye and the raccoon tail. But it could not be
For the family lived in a rented house with a contract with the landlord which read, “no pets allowed’” And the little girls’s father explained that “no pets allowed” meant that they could not under any circumstances keep the White Cat with the black blotch above each eye and the raccoon tail. No, she could not keep it, not for one night.
“The landlord would throw us all out on the streEt, and we would all be homeless, like that cat.” declared the father. The Mother said, We’ll just call the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and give them the cat.” That did not make the little girl happy.
Finally she rang the doorbell of a house where an Old Man lived with his wife and son. The Old Man opened the door and looked at the eager face of the Little Girl holding the White Cat with the black blotch above each eye and the raccoon tail and called, “Wife, come see what’s at our door.”
The Little Girl asked the Old Woman who didn’t look as old as her husband, “Do ya happen to want a cat?” And the old man’s wife said, “No, we don’t want a cat. We already have a cat, and one cat is enough.”
And the Little Girl was troubled. The sun was going down, and she knew she should be going home. The tears began to run down her face, and her lip quivered. “Could ya keep the cat over night? Plead the Little Girl. “Then tomorrow I can find a home for her.”
The Old Man looked at his wife, and his wife looked at him, and the Old Man said gently, “No, we can’t keep the cat overnight. We hope you can find a home for her.” And the Old Man closed the door. And the Old Woman, who didn’t look as old as her husband said, “I thought that little girl’s tears were going to get to you.”
A few minutes later the Old Man went out the front door of his house to take some mail to a neighbor’s house. While he was ringing the doorbell he heard a little girl voice calling, “You don’t happen to want a cat, do ya?” The Old Man looked up, and there was that Little Girl with the White Cat with a black blotch above each eye and the raccoon tail, standing in the middle of the street and looking right at him.
It was now almost dark, The Old Man went to the Little Girl, and she remembered him. “O please,” she said. “”Won’t you please keep Crissy for one night. I can’t find anyone who happens to want a cat, and if I take her to my home my father will be mad at me and my mother will call that Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. And even if I do go home without the cat, I’m really gonna catch it any way cause I’m out so late.”
“Well,” the Old Man reasoned. “If you can’t find a home for the cat, and you can’t take her home, just put her down.”
“Oh no,” cried the Little Girl, “I can’t put Crissy down. I can’t put her down.”
So, the Old Man reached for the White Cat with the black blotch above each eye and the raccoon tail and took her in his arms. You must come back at five o’clock tomorrow evening for this cat,” “I will, I will,” promised the Little Girl.
So the Old Man walked home slowly. He knew the Old Woman who did not look as old as her husband did not want the cat, not even for one night. He went in, carrying the white cat with the black blotch above each eye and the raccoon tail. The Old Woman said, “Whatever do you have there?”
The Old Man stroked the cat’s short white hair, and the cat began to purr contentedly. The Old Man sat on the sofa, and set it free. The cat jumped down from the sofa and crept under it.
Now the Son was a grown man with stubby whiskers on his face and thick strong arms and his body was smelly from working as a carpenter all day in the Florida sun, but he took that little cat and held it, and gently stroked its fur, and it began to purr. Then he lay on the floor and played with the cat.
After listening to the plight of the cat, the Son said, “There is no reason why we can’t have two cats.”
And the Old Woman who didn’t look as old as her husband said firmly, “No, we cannot have two cats.” And the Old Man and the Son knew she meant it.
But when the Old Woman sat down in her rocking chair, her son put the cat on the Old Woman’s lap, and the White Cat with the black blotch above each eye and the raccoon tail nestled down and went to sleep and purred till the Old Woman said, “I can feel her purring through my apron.” And the Old Man and the Son said, “See, that cat likes you.
That night the Old Woman said to the Old Man, “What are you going to do with that cat. She can’t stay in this house.
So the Old Man put her in the laundry room. The next morning the Old Man found the cat sleeping on the freezer. When they both were about to go to work the Old Woman said, “What are we going to do for that cat? We’ll both be gone from the house all day?”
So, the Old Man got some sand from his garden and put it in a box in the laundry room. He put some cat food and water in two bowls and set them beside the box with the sand in it.
That evening the Old Woman came home first. And there, waiting at the door was the little girl and three of her girlfriends. The Old Woman gave the White Cat with the black blotch above each eye and the raccoon tail to the little girl. And the Little Girl was happy.
“I’ve thought of several more homes that might happen to want a cat.” She said. And she left.
Soon the Old Man came home, too, and the cat was gone. He examined the laundry room. The cat food had been eaten. And the sand had been disturbed. The cat’s paw prints in the sand showed how the little cat had kept the laundry room clean by putting her dirt in the sand.
The Old Man said to his wife, “I like the White Cat with the black blotch above each eye and the raccoon tail, but I like the little girl more. I like the way she cared about that cat. I like her because she never gave up. I liked her when she cried. But especially, I like the way she kept her promise. She was here at five o’clock just like she said. I like her very much. I’ll bet she finds a good home for that cat.
And the Old Woman who does not look as old as her husband and the Old Man were both happy.