Chapter 9

The beginning of fall marked one year since I had arrived on this backwater planet. Just because I had been here for a year didn’t mean I liked it. Look at it this way:

First of all, I had to pretend to be one of the primitives. While I didn’t eat mice, I began chasing them just to satisfy the humans (I rationalized this as “contributing to the security of the business” – the mill ground grains, which attracted mice, which would eat the grain, etc. – a horde of hungry mice would destroy the product – plus it was another source of exercise).

Second, I hadn’t had a conversation with a living being since Jacob’s death. Sure I’d talk to the cats, the donkey, and the horses, but they couldn’t talk back to me. My tongue was sore from all the times I had to bite it to keep from speaking my mind… which was becoming more and more frequent.

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Things did begin to change at the mill. Neither Henry nor William seemed to be welcomed into the house for anything other than meals. Anne took over all of William’s “domestic chores”. Don’t think that left the boy free to study… far from it. While Anne did the cooking and cleaning, William came home from his classes and went right to work helping Michael in the mill. Normally this would have been Henry’s job, but the middle brother started coming home less and less.

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Chapter 7

The young men began working hard to fill their father’s wishes.

Michael, when not running the mill, began actively courting Anne Baker. When Michael got up the nerve to finally ask for Anne's hand in marriage, it was greeted with enthusiasm… and one stipulation. Both Anne and her mother believed that the actual house was too small (I have to admit… I always wondered how Jacob and his wife managed living in the one room house… AND had three children). As part of Anne’s dowry, Mr. Baker would call in favors from some carpenters to add a second floor to the main house.

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I spent the next few weeks trying to find out any tidbits of news I could about “the ogre”. Unfortunately this village was far from the center of action. Occasionally I would follow Henry into town to the tavern (much to his chagrin… particularly since when I was there, Molly Flowers chose to lavish me with attention instead of him) where I would overhear news from a traveler who had been near Carabas.

So far, the only things I had discovered was that the ogre had all of Carabas in a state of fear, and that no one truly knew what the ogre looked like – it reportedly could take the shape of any man or beast.

News of the ogre, however, was not what turned my new life upside down.

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Chapter 5

After four months at the mill, I was starting to feel a bit… well… aimless. By following William to school each day (to the amusement of Brother Bartholomew and the other students at the school), I developed a fairly good grasp of this land’s written language. I also continued to practice speaking to the donkey and the horses… which could have rather amusing results.

One morning I was sitting and talking to the donkey when Henry walked in on me. As soon as I saw him I stopped talking. “Who is there?” he demanded. Briefly he glanced at me, then proceeded to search the stable for the source of the voice. I innocently played “cat” and pretended to wash myself (a disgusting habit of the primitive cats, which is why I usually bathed in a stream I discovered in the woods beyond the mill). Henry took a long stick and poked into the hay. It was all I could do not to laugh. He left, muttering to himself that someone had slipped past him.

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I had been at the mill for nearly three weeks when I finally had a break in the tedium. Jacob turned to William that morning and said “Well, now, William, your friend appears to have made a full recovery. Tis time to start seein’ if there be someone searchin’ afore him.”

“But Father,” began William. I suspect he was as surprised as I was.

His father held up his hand to cut off his protest. “Puss be a fine cat, but somewhere there must be a family lookin’ for him. And as fine a cat as he is, there may be a reward as well. Take him with you to church, then into town and ask around.”

“Yes, Father.” William hung his head in defeat. “Come on Puss,” he said to me as he took his lunch from the cabinet.

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Chapter 3

Daylight returned, waking the inhabitants of the hovel as this planet’s sun began to peek over the horizon. William was up first. He went outside and quickly returned, arms full of firewood. The cats returned as well, following him inside and mewling.

Stretching, I climbed gingerly off the grass bed. I was still sore, but lying around all day would get me nowhere. I pretty much summed up life inside the hovel. Time to check out the surroundings.

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