Tuttut was in trouble. Poor dear. Two weeks of life, never without mum, meant she was certainly not prepared for life on her own. The old woman was nice enough, and Tuttut enjoyed the attentiveness, the endless treats and the back rubs while the two of them sat and listened to the most glorious music.
Life had changed very quickly and abruptly. First mummy took the nipple away. Every attempt to get back to suckling was met with a sneer and a swat from mum. Tuttut was not sure why. She had done nothing wrong, and at other times mum would lavish her with attention. The very same treatment was given to her two brothers Inky and Jeepers. Tuttut from the very beginning was the most rambunctious of the three earning her the name Tuttut because the whole family was forever saying tut tut when she got herself into one pickle after another. Inky was covered all over with big black blotches on his otherwise white body, and Jeepers had a knack for getting underfoot, especially in the dark. Life is pretty confusing for a six week old kitten suddenly on her own.
Mrs. Lloyd had come to the house and there was a lot of excited chatter. Tuttut had been only slightly aware of humans at this point. Her time was spent with mum. Occasionally mum would take her from the brown cardboard box that was home to her, and by the scruff of the neck carry her to another room. It was very bright in there and all Tuttut could make out were shadowy figures making shrill excited sounds. Mum dropped her on the floor and left to get her brothers. For a while Tuttut scrambled about discovering all manner of new things. Tuttut got better at walking and jumping very swiftly and except for butting her head into coffee table legs had a pretty good time. All the while her brothers were somewhere in the room playing together, she could hear them making hissing noises. Exploring was what Tuttut liked best. New places, new playthings. The world is a very, very big place for a six week old kitten.
The women were now hovering over her. Tuttut rolled over on her back and gave the ladies her most devastating pose. Her little paws shadow boxing the air, she mewed coyly. The new lady kneeled down beside Tuttut and waved her finger near her little face so, naturally, Tuttut pawed the finger, but being new at virtually everything had not withdrawn her claws. She felt her claw sink into the lady’s finger. Tuttut thought how odd it was, expecting the covering of fur that her mother had.
“Ouww”, the woman, yelled out. Tuttut scrambled to get away but before she could Mrs. Brown had her scooped up by the scruff and she found herself dangling just inches from Mrs. Brown’s massive face. “Tut tut, you mustn’t scratch”. The very next moment the new lady had her in her hand and she was softly caressed. She felt the woman’s breath over her, Tuttut tightened up in a ball feeling terribly frightened. She had nothing to worry about, the lady planted soft kisses on her little head and little paw. “Never you mind little one”.
“Alice, this one goes home with me” the strange lady yelled to Mrs. Brown who was assembling a massive tray of tea and cake. Tea in the afternoon was a ritual among the older women in the valley, nearly every afternoon someone was having tea together with a friend, or several friends.
“She is feisty, probably a good mouser” and with that Tuttut’s life changed completely. No more mother’s milk, no more playing with her little brothers. Still, being softly caressed and lightly kissed was very good too, and Tuttut found she like cake crumbs very well and at tea time there were so many of those.
The first few days at Mrs. Lloyd’s were spent inside, learning the rules mostly took all Tuttut’s energy. At least a hundred times a day she would wag her bandaged finger and say, “tut tut, you can’t do that”. Mrs. Lloyd also treated her royally with fresh cream and little fish which she cooked up with parsley and a little garlic just for her. Tuttut had her own soft velvety pillow with her name embroidered on it, a pretty blue pillow to show of her red stripes. Life was good, and only rarely did she think of her brothers anymore. Occasionally she wondered where they had gone to, surely they too had been given to someone to take home at tea time.
Several days into her new life the weather outside had become a great deal warmer and Mrs. Lloyd was spending more and more time in her herb garden. Mrs. Brown grew herbs for the entire community, there were vast bushes of lavender, thyme, rosemary, borage and coriander as far up the hill as you could see. time after time Tuttut had tried to follow her outside but the woman whose name she had now heard was Anne, would quickly push her away with one foot while closing the door swiftly to keep Tuttut inside. Anne, understandably was only worried that Tuttut would stray too far and be lost, as happens to little kittens. Behind the herb garden were woods, where, according to Anne, animals and other creatures roamed that might harm a little kitten. Even large birds of prey had been known to snatch a newly born kitty now and again.
Tuttut had not been discouraged. As they days passed she had become obsessed with knowing where her brothers were. Sitting on the window ledge she spotted a large Catalpa tree, it was very tall, and looked easy enough to climb. It was early spring and it was just now beginning to bud. She watched for hours as birds of all kinds perched in the tree and seemed to taunt the little red kitten on the window ledge.
The moment came early one morning. Anne was about to take her freshly laundered linen out to the clothesline. She shared the clothesline with a neighbour and the two would chat and laugh while hanging the laundry and later taking it down. Anne’s hands were full with the basket heaped with linen, she could not see the little kitten down by her slipper, waiting. The door opened and out ran Tuttut, into the front yard and straight to the catalpa tree.
Goodness, Tuttut marvelled at how tall the tree was when you got close to it. She had to know where her brother were. That was most important of all. So Tuttut packed her fears away and started up the tree. Sparrows flitted branch to branch above her head, chirping away excitedly, no doubt chatting about the little kitten trying so hard to climb all the way up. Tuttut wasn’t bothered by the sparrow, she had plenty to eat and rather chased balls of yarn and not birds. Up she climbed, branch after branch. Finally she had come to a point where the entire valley was within her view. Now she would watch until she saw her brothers.
Hours passed she hadn’t spotted her brothers and was getting just a bit hungry. Even the sparrows were starting to look pretty darn good to her. The sparrows must have sensed that and moved to the smaller maple tree a little further to the road. Anne was taking down the sheets and the neighbour was laughing very loudly. Further to the hills there were clouds, dark one coming slowly closer and the sunlight was fading. There was less laughing now as the women hurried to take down and fold the laundry before it rained. There, there, right by the neighbour’s row of red tulip were her brothers playing in the grass with a ball of blue yarn. Imagine that, her brother were right next door. Tuttut was so excited by this that she mewed loudly and the effort of it threw her balance and kitty fell off the very high branch. Tuttut cried out, and both women came running to the tree as kitty fell from branch to branch trying desperately to catch just anything to stop falling. She did. The terrifying moments while falling had scared her so that she was convinced that coming down from the tree was not at all possible. As the women below chattered and called out “kitty, kitty” and “Tuttut, Tuttut”
Maybe it was that the sun was going down, and she saw much better our of the sun, but besides the birds that hopped from branch to branch there were small lithe figures with gossamer butterfly-like wings one some of the branches and it seemed they were all coming closer to the very frightened kitty.
Oh, and how hungry Tuttut was by this time. Others had come to the big tree also, a few of the local children, and Big Slow Fred who had been fishing in the small lake by the Meeting Hall. He caught a few fish and had intended to give some to Anne for her new kitten.
The scent of the fish was travelling up and Tuttut could smell them. She had to come down from the tree. Big slow Fred had gone into the house with Anne. The small winged creatures, which later she was to learn were called fairies, were sitting beside her now, assuring her she would not fall, they would not let that happen. The small crown was making little noised and yelling “kitty, come here kitty”. “Well” thought Tuttut, “I would if I thought I could”, and mewed a frightened mew.
Oh, how wonderful he smell, the aromatic fish and garlic, oh, how heavenly. She was so hungry. So hungry now that all other fears and thought were banished and getting out of the tree would happen if she had to hit every branch on the way down. Big Slow Fred was holding the small plate of fish which Anne had swiftly prepared. Just then, a terrifying crash which threw Tuttut forward and out of the tree. A bolt of lightening had hit the Maple shaking all the sparrows all over the yard, some staggering with surprise, especially those who had fallen along with the big branch that the lightening had dislodged.
Tuttut was caught by a couple of the winged creatures and supported until nearly by Big Slow Fred’s outstretched and enormous hand. Kitty was safe. Anne was at the door “Come in” she yelled and the small crowd ran for the door as torrents of rain cascaded from the clouds quickly making large puddles on the main road.
The women all prepared a very large tray of tea with lots of cakes and sweets, Big Slow Fred built a fire to warm everyone. and Tuttut was contented to eat the fish by the fire and e the centre of everyone’s attention. The neighbour had come to, and to Tuttut’s delight had brought her two brothers over to play with her. They did play, and ate all the cake crumbs that fell, and all three fell into a much needed catnap on Tuttut’s velvet pillow.