The Cat Who Had No Home

Long ago, when the air grew cold at the bitter exhale of the gods’ breath and sweet at their inhale, there lived a cat who had no home.
            In the cold of winter, the best it could do for shelter was to curl up against a pine tree and hope that, come morning, it would find itself still living.  The heat of summer was equally cruel, for the cat would have to search from morning until night for a trickle of water to wet its tongue and sustain its body.
            One day it passed a man, upright with a golden flask upon his hip and the finest linens draped about him.  The cat brushed against the man’s trousers, with no particular want but that of companionship, for it had known loneliness and sought its remedy.  But the man tsked at the cat.  ‘Get off,’ he said.  ‘Be gone with you.  Can’t you see that your fur is shedding on my fine clothes?’  And with a kick, he sent the cat away.
            On another day the cat came upon a woman, who stood in front of a grand house with a watering can, drenching the soil about the stems of the most beautiful rose garden the cat had ever seen.  The cat, in awe of such loveliness, brushed its body against the woman's skirts in appreciation.  But the woman said, ‘Shoo, you mangy beast.  Get away.  I will not have filth of your kind around the splendor of my roses.’  And then, with a kick, she bade the cat be gone.
            And so the cat, bereft of companionship and of beauty, continued to walk the world weary, hungry, and tired, until one day it could walk no more.
            By chance, perhaps—or perhaps not—a small child, a pail full of water swinging from his hand, found the cat collapsed and alone.  The child lay the cat’s head upon his lap and helped its tiny tongue to lick droplets from his fingers.  When the cat could manage, the child carried it home and fed it meat and cream until the cat was well enough to brush against his legs.
            ‘Stay with me, little cat,’ the child said, in hopes that he would not be parted from his friend.
            And so it was that the cat found a home.

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