My Cat is a Magician
by Frank Thomas Smith
One morning when my mother woke me up I saw her looking at the foot of my bed. I followed her gaze and saw a beautiful white cat observing me with its yellow eyes. The cat yawned and walked lightly over the bed towards me. I didn't dare touch it until it reached my hand and rubbed against it with its delicate head. Then I stroked it.
Daddy came into my room and asked me if I liked Merlin the cat.
Oh yes, very much, I said.
Daddy said that Merlin was mine and if I gave him a lot of love and affection he would be happy with us. I was also very happy and I thanked my parents.
But why is his name Merlin? I asked.
Daddy explained that Merlin had been a magician in King Arthur's court, and as this cat was pure white, without even a spot, and had such a pretty face and mysterious look, it reminded him of Merlin the Magician.
Maybe it is Merlin, I said, -- enchanted.
No, I don't think so, Daddy said, but he might be a magician, we'll have to wait and see. He didn't mean it seriously though.
One day the pencil my grandfather had given me disappeared. It was a very good pencil that wrote in three colors at once: red, blue and green. I looked everywhere for it and Mommy helped, but we couldn't find it.
While we searched for the pencil Merlin watched us from his favorite armchair.
Come, Merlin, I said. Help us look for the pencil. But he didn't move.
Finally, when I had given up hope of ever finding it, I sat on the floor of my room and held my head in my hands. Merlin came and rubbed against my leg. Then he went to the closet and scratched at the door.
Merlin likes to hide in my closet and I let him even though Mommy says I shouldn't because if I forget he's there and close the door he wouldn't be able to get out. In fact it happened once. I forgot that Merlin was in the closet and closed the door before we all went out. When we returned, hours later, I heard Merlin meeow from inside the closed closet. I opened the door right away and he came out calmly, yawned and cleaned his face with his paw as he always does when he wakes up. I had the impression that it hadn't bothered him to be locked in the closet for such a long time, maybe because cats sleep a lot and like dark places.
Anyway, when he scratched at the door I opened it and he jumped inside and went to the back of one of the shelves, lifted one of my shirts with his paw and picked up the lost pencil in his mouth. He jumped out and laid the pencil at my feet.
Merlin, I cried, you're a magician!
That night, when Daddy came home from work, Mommy and I told him how Merlin had found the missing pencil.
Merlin is a magician, isn't he daddy?
Without a doubt, Daddy said. It seems he not only makes things appear, he also makes them disappear.
Since that day when we can't find something we ask Merlin and he finds it. If he also makes things disappear I don't know, but I do know that he is a magician.
If you don't believe me, listen to this:
One day Mommy and I returned home from my grandmother's in a taxi. We got out and as it drove away Mommy realized that she had left her knitting bag on the seat. In it was an almost finished, beautiful wool sweater she was knitting for Daddy. She had been working on it for months. She waved and ran after the taxi, but it was too late. Mommy was so sad she almost cried. Her name wasn't in the bag, so there was hardly any hope of ever seeing the sweater again.
That night when Daddy came home we told him what had happened. Mommy said she was sorry and that she would start over on the sweater. Daddy kissed her and said she shouldn't be sad, that worse things could happen. Then, as a joke, he looked at Merlin, who was resting in his favorite armchair, and said, Merlin, can you find Mommy's knitting?
Merlin looked at him with his wise face and said, Meeow, meeow! as though answering: Yes, why not.
Daddy and Mommy laughed and I hoped that made Mommy feel better, but I didn't think it was funny. I said, Merlin will find your bag, Mommy, don't worry. She hugged me and I felt one of her tears touch my cheek.
Merlin yawned, meeowed again and walked out of the room into the kitchen. We thought he'd gone to his water dish, but when he didn't return I went to the kitchen to look for him. He wasn't there so I knew he had gone out into the garden through his window over the fridge. I went into the garden and called him, but he wasn't there either. That didn't worry me though, for he often takes walks at night.
The next day was Saturday and I had no school so I could sleep late. But at the usual early school hour Merlin licked my ear and purred. I opened one eye and was about to tell him to let me sleep when I saw that he had a short length of dark-blue wool in his mouth.
Merlin, I cried, Where did you find Mommy's wool? I had no way of knowing that it was Mommy's wool, but I was sure it was anyway.
Merlin meeowed and jumped off the bed and went to the door. I pulled on my clothes and followed him. He went into the kitchen and out his window. My parents were still asleep and I decided not to wake them. I took a key from the hook, opened the door and went outside. Merlin was waiting for me at the front gate.
I followed Merlin, who walked along with his white tail straight up in the air, which meant that he was happy. He still had the piece of wool in his mouth. We walked for a long time and I counted the blocks because I didn't want to get lost. After we had gone twenty-one blocks, Merlin stopped in front of a small house with a pretty garden. He waited for me to catch up, then sprang over the gate, ran across the garden and climbed a tree. He walked, carefully balanced, along a branch until he was close to an open window on the second floor. I watched with my heart in my mouth. Then Merlin sprang from the branch onto the windowsill and into the house. I put my hand over my mouth and muffled a cry: Merlin!
Before I could think what to do, his head appeared at the window and he sprang back to the branch. He no longer had the short length of wool in his mouth. Instead he was holding a line of blue wool that went right back into the window. He walked along the branch and down the tree-trunk, still pulling the wool, which continued to spool out from the window. He reached the gate and lay down, still inside the garden. The length of wool extended from the window to the tree, down to the garden, across it and up to the gate.
I knew then what I had to do. There was a bell hanging over the gate. I pulled the cord, ringing it, and waited. Soon a lady with gray hair opened the door.
Excuse me, Ma'am, but did you by any chance find a knitting bag with a blue sweater in it almost finished?
She looked at Merlin and the line of wool. Then she stepped out into the garden and followed the wool until she saw it disappear into the upstairs window. She came to the gate.
Yes, I did, she said. Is it yours?
It's my mother's. She left it in a taxi.
The lady smiled and opened the gate. Please come in, she said.
I followed her into the house and up the stairs to her workroom. Near the window on a table was Mommy's knitting bag with the strand of wool emerging from it and out the window where Merlin had taken it.
Is this your mother's bag?
But how did you know it was here?
Merlin led me here.
My cat. We looked at Merlin, who had followed us into the room. He was licking his paw, modestly, it seemed.
Merlin must be a marvelous cat, the lady said.
He's a magician!
He must be. You see, a taxi driver brought the bag here. There's a notebook inside with my name and address in it, along with knitting patterns. Do you know how my name got into your mother's notebook?
No, ma'am, but I can ask her.
The lady sighed. Yes, please do, I'm very curious.
She gave me the knitting bag and offered to drive us home, but I said we would walk because Merlin doesn't like cars.
When we got home my parents were having breakfast.
Where have you been? Mommy asked angrily. Haven't I told you not to go out without telling... Her face lit up. Why, that's my knitting bag. Where did you find it?
I told them how Merlin had found the knitting bag and Mommy remembered that a long time ago Grandma had told her the name and address of a knitting teacher in case she wanted to take lessons. Mommy had written the name in her notebook but never contacted her because she didn't have time for lessons and finally forgot all about her.
My father was looking at Merlin, who was washing himself with his tongue. You know, he said, I think that Merlin really is a magician.
This time he wasn't joking.
Of course he is, I agreed, and began eating my breakfast cereal.
Merlin yawned and walked lazily into the living-room to take a nap in his favorite armchair. He was tired from having been up all night finding the knitting bag.
This is only one of the stories for children included in the Amazon Kindle eBook: Journey to the Stars
© Frank Thomas Smith