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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
The La-Di-Da Cat

It was a lovely summer day. The sun was high in a perfect blue sky with only a cloud or two puffing up here and there. Cockles was playing with his blue ball, rolling it through the flowers with his nose. Mussels was doing all he could to get the ball away from Cockles, as usual. The ball went rolling into the tall grass in the back garden and Cockles ran toward it. He bumped right into something soft and fluffy. "Excuse me!" a large gray cat said.

Cockles looked at the cat. At first he wanted to growl and chase it, but it just sat there, unafraid. Mussels came running up. "Hey, Cockles. Whereís yourÖ.?" He stopped when he saw the cat. "Who are you?" he asked, "and what are you doing in our back garden?"

The cat didnít move. "My name is Kenneth. Iím afraid Iím rather lost. My master, William, brought me with him to visit some old friends and I went for a little walk. The next thing I knew, that sausage dog bumped into me."

The La-Di-Da Cat

"Sausage dog? My nameís Cockles, if you donít mind," Cockles snarled.

Cockles and Mussels werenít sure what to do. They both wanted to chase it up the nearest tree but the cat was a visitor to their island, Barra and they should show him some hospitality.

"Why on earth are you chasing that blue ball?" Kenneth asked. "Itís so, oh how should I say it, primitive."

Cockles was getting angrier and angrier. Who was this cat anyway to insult him? Mussels, noticing, invited Kenneth to join them. "Itís a lot of fun chasing balls. Have you ever tried it?"

"Heavens no. I donít do things like that," Kenneth replied.

"What do you do then?" Mussels asked.

"I lie on cushions and sit on Williamís lap," he answered.

Cockles started to giggle. Mussels then said, "Why donít you come and chase the ball with us and give it a try. By the size of you, I think you could use the exercise."

Kenneth was insulted. "Why, I neverÖÖ."

"Come on," Mussels said and rolled the ball towards the cat.

Kenneth hit it with his paw and it went rolling to Cockles. Cockles used his tail and hit the ball across the back garden. Mussels ran after it and pushed it with his nose to Kenneth again. They did this over and over again until one time Kenneth used his nose and pushed it. He decided it was rather fun playing with the ball. Soon the three of them were running around and snatching the ball away from each other.

Kenneth grabbed the ball in his mouth and ran into the front garden with it. The two dogs chased him, barking loudly. ARF! ARF! ARF! He did something that the dogs couldnít do. He ran up a tree. The ball was still in his mouth.

"Hey, thatís not fair. Dogs canít climb trees," Cockles whined.

"Come down, Kenneth. We canít get the ball if youíre up there," Mussels added.

Kenneth sat on a branch of the oak tree and held the ball with one of his paws. He reached over and pulled a few acorns off the branches and tossed them down on the dogs. "Ouch!" shouted Cockles. "Stop that, Kenneth."

Kenneth kept on throwing them and laughing. "Ouch!" shouted Mussels. An acorn hit him on the nose. Seeing that Kenneth wasnít going to come down, Mussels whispered, "Cockles, come here." Cockles trotted over to Mussels. "Weíve got to get that cat. Heís making me very mad now."

"What can we do?" Cockles said softly.

"See that branch heís sitting on? It stretches all the way over to the side of the house. Iíll sneak around back and grab the end of it and start shaking it up and down and hopefully the cat will fall, or at least the ball will," Mussels plotted.

"Good idea. Iíll stay here and get ready to catch it," Cockles agreed. Mussels ran around the back of the house.

"Hey, sausage dog, where did your friend go?" Kenneth meowed.

"He went for a drink of water and will be right back. Please throw me my ball," Cockles pleaded, trying to distract the cat.

"You mean this ball?" Kenneth taunted, holding it up. "Sure, here you go," he said and pretended to throw the ball but instead threw another acorn.

"Ouch! Stop that," Cockles said, holding his ear. "That hurts you know."

Just then the branch started to move up and down. "Whatís going on here?" Kenneth said, having to hold onto the branch so he wouldnít fall. The ball fell out of his grasp and right into Cockles paws.

"Iíve got my ball," Cockles shouted.

Mussels kept shaking the branch and soon Kenneth was unable to hold on any longer. He fell to the ground, landing on a pile of hard acorns, the same ones heíd thrown at the dogs. "MEOW! MEOW! MEOW!"

Just then William came into the front garden. "Kenneth, my poor cat. What are you bad dogs doing to him? Is this showing Barra hospitality?"

Tom Maxwell came out of the house. "What seems to be the problem here?" he asked William.

"Your dogs have attacked my cat, Kenneth. Look at him. Heís covered with bumps and scratches and his fur is all messed up," William complained.

Tom looked at the dogs, who sat with angelic looks on their faces. "Sorry about that. Itíll not happen again," Tom said. "Cockles, Mussels, go in the house." They walked around back with their tails between their legs and went in through the doggie door. They lay on their blankets and waited for Tom to come and scold them.

A few minutes later, after apologizing to William and Kenneth, Tom came into the back room. "Well, lads, I see you had some fun with Kenneth. Hee hee, did you see the mess the catís fur was in? Good lads, good lads," he said and petted the two dogs. Both Kenneth and his master, William, are a couple of stuffed shirts. Why donít we go outside and Iíll throw the ball to you."

Cockles and Mussels were delighted. They thought they were going to get a scolding! Tom and the dogs played catch with the blue ball the rest of the day and never had to see Kenneth, the big gray cat again.

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