SNOWKAT AND THE SEVEN MICE

Once upon a time there was a kind old Kingkat who had a beautiful daughter, Princess Snowcat. Her fur was fluffy and white, her eyes were beautifully sky blue, and she was as sweet as she was beautiful.

Snowkat was her father's chief delight, for her mother had crossed the Rainbow Bridge to the next life when her beautiful little girl was born. Kingkat worried about his motherless princess, fearing she would need, and miss, the guiding touch of a mother. So he married onne of the eligible and noble lady cats who constantly threw themselvees at him. After the wedding, Kingkat said to his new bride, "I am so happy --" which made her smile -- "to find such a good mother for Snowkat."

The smile vanished as Queenkat thought, "I see I'll have to get rid of the brat before I can take my rightful place as top cat around here." The next day she called one of her favorite tomcats to her side and whispered softly, "Take Princess Snowkat out into the woods -- and don't bring her back. Get it? There's a bale of prime catnip in it for you if you do a nice, quiet job." The queen winked.

Catching on, the big, gray-striped tomcat nodded, and winked back. "Consider it done, lady. You know how fast snow melts on a warm day like this." Soon, the tom was walking with Snowkat into the forest. He told her there was a special surprise waiting for her there. Hoping it was the pony she had been pestering her father about, Snowkat hurried along, happily and unsuspectingly. When they were so deep into the thick forest that he knew Snowkat could never find her way out again alone, the tomcat said, "Wait here. I will go and get the surprise."

Snowkat smiled and sat down to wait, wrapping her fluffy tail around her dainty paws. She waited and waited and waited. She waited so long she fell asleep. When the princess awoke, night had fallen. Strange noises came from the forest all around her.

"Hello?" called Snowkat, timidly. "Hello? Is anyone here?"

An owl hooted. A wild dog barket. Snowkat realized her plight. "I have been abandoned to die here in the forest," she concluded, glumly. She cried pitifully, for a few moments.

Something scuttled by Snowkat in the grass. "Eeeeeek!" she yowled, and dived into the nearest hole in the roots of a nearby tree.

"Eeeeek!" "Eeeek!" "Eeeek!" "Eeeek!" "Eeeek!"' "A cat! Help!"

Little voices chorusing in the dark startled Snowkat, and then she realized she had frightened whoever was in the hole. "I'm sorry," she meowed as softly as possible, so as not to frighten the creatures further. "I didn't mean to scare you. Something scared me, and this was the first place I saw to hide."

Now her eyes werre adjusted to the dark, and Snowkat could see seven little field mice huddled together, shaking like seven little leaves.

"Please don't be afraid," Snowkat said. "I won't hurt you. Really, I promise."

"Yeah," said one of the mice. "We can see you're a cat. You can see we're mice. You know the traditions."

"Don't be silly," said Snowkat, with a silvery little laugh. "I wouldn't abuse your kind hospitality that way. Besides, I had a huge lunch before I left home. I'm not the least bit hungry," she lied. "I am very tired, though. I just want to take a nap. I hope that's okay." And without waiting for possible disagreement, Snowkat curled up into a small, white, fluffy ball, and was asleep.

The mice looked at each other. "Whaddaya think?" asked one.

"Well, she's between us and the door," another observed.

"I guess she stays," another sighed.

"I guess we do, too, at least until she moves."

"Well, it is our house."

"Yes, there's that."

"You want to go over there and tell her about it?"

Soon they were all asleep.

Next morning, the mice showed Snowkat a nearby brook where she caught enough tasty fish for her entire day's menu. Then she scampered up a nearby tre and shook its branches so many seeds fell to the ground, providing a feast for the mice.

In this way, many happy days passed. Snowkat learned to know all the friends of the forest. She enjoyed scampering in the trees with the lively squirrels, touching noses with the gentle deer, and playfully chasing chipmunks around the treetrunks -- but she always let them win the races. She even met the handsome young bobcat whose visits to the clearing with the hollow tree roots became more and more frequent.

Then one day Snowkat was surprised to see the tom who had brought her to the forest. He strode into the clearing, saw Snowkat, and smiled.

"Hey," he said, "I'm so glad to see you. Yourour father is really worrid about you. He found out about what they queen did to you. Somebody blabbed, I guess," he said, with a knowing grin. "Your dad ran her out of town. Then he put up a huge reward for whoever finds you."

"Indeed?" said Snowkat, seating herself and wrapping her tail around her feet.

"Oh, yeah, and whoever finds you gets to marry you and gets half the kingdom -- you know, the usual lost princess reward stuff."

"Indeed," Snowkat murmured. "How delightful."

"Really?" purred the big tom, his eyes sparkling happily. "I, uh, thought you might be, well, you know, like, uh, mad, or something."

Snowkat laughed a delighted, purring laugh. "Mad at you? No, no. I'm mad for something -- or should I say, someone?" She turned and called into the forest, "Bobby? Bobby, are you there?"

A handsome young bobcat stepped out of the underbrush. "You called meeeeeeow?" said the spotted wild cat.

"Yes, Bobby, dear. It seems there is a big reward for whoever finds me and returns me to my father. Of course, you were the one who found me, and now I want you to return me to my father, so you will qualify for the reward, if you would want it."

"Mmmmmmmmm...." rumbled the muscular wild cat, his big, golden eyes fixed on Snowkat. "What is the reward?"

"Half the kingdom, and....me," said Snowkat, with a playful smile.

"Never mind half the kingdom," said Bobby. "You are all I want." He smiled. Then he glanced at the gray tom. "And who is this?"

Snowkat, still smiling, said, "This is the cat who brought me out here to lose me."

"Ah," said Bobby, smiling a strange smile. "I think he deserves a reward for his actions, don't you, my dear?"

Snowkat smiled and nodded.

Quick as -- well, a cat -- Bobby pounced on the now- wailing gray tom, delivering his reward over the next several minutes which probably seemed much longer to the tom.

The mice, peeping out of their home, squeaked with laughter.

The gray tom finally fled into the forest, never to be seen again.

Snowkat and Bobby were married at the palace with suitable splendor and lived happily ever after, while Kingkat beamed happily.

The ex-queen was never seen again, although there were rumors that she and the gray tom met and joined forces, to spend the rest of their lives fighting with each other about who was most to blame for the failure of their plan.

The mice also lived happily ever after, as national heroes. They received a safe conduct for their visits to the palace as often as they wished, where they could eat all the mouse treats they wanted, visit Snowkat and Bobby, and carry home all the yummies they could lift.

x-x-x

This story is taken from a book, "Cats Rule the World...?" available HERE

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