Children Fiction posted September 19, 2023 Chapters: Prologue -1- 2... 


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Meeting Charlie the Kitten at the farm and taking him home

A chapter in the book Charlie's Christmas Omnipuss

Charlie at the Farm

by Paul Manton




Background
This is a mixture of stories and poems for a children's Christmas collection.
I first saw Charlie on a farm when he was only four weeks old. His mum had given birth to five kittens and he was the biggest and craziest! I knew immediately that I wanted him to be my cat.
 
“I should like to buy this kitten,” I told the farmer’s wife. “How much is he?”

“Well,” said the farmer’s wife, “we should like to give him to you, since  you came to mend our  tractor when it broke down.”    
                            
“That’s very kind,” I replied. “When can I take him?” 

“Not until he’s weaned,” said the farmer’s wife. “When he is properly independent of his mother - that won’t be for at least four more weeks, and even then you will have to keep him inside and feed him special kitten food.” 
 
I picked up Charlie four weeks later and put him in a box lined with clean newspaper, then carried him very carefully to the car and put him on the back seat. I drove home very slowly; I live only fifteen minutes away from the farm so I was sure that Charlie would be alright. When I arrived at my house in Finchley, I very gently lifted the box from the back seat and carried it into my kitchen, where I put it on the big table.                                                                                            
                               
My neighbors’ children knocked on the back door: they wanted to see Charlie too.
 
“Close the door,” I said. “We don’t want Charlie to escape. It isn’t safe outside for a little kitten.” 
 
But, when we opened the box, Charlie wasn’t there!
 
 
 
I looked under the box: no holes - but no Charlie! We took out all the newspaper: still no Charlie! We all searched my car: still no Charlie! By now, I was beginning to panic - where could he be?

“Perhaps he got out of the box at the farm,” one of the children suggested. I phoned the farm: no-one there had seen Charlie since I left.

We all sat down round the kitchen table. By now, all the children’s parents had arrived too. I made tea, coffee and lemonade drinks for everyone. The big plate of Custard Creams lasted less than a minute! 
 
He couldn’t be in the house. We searched anyway. He wasn’t.

I phoned the farm again. He must be there. He wasn’t.

He must still be in the car. We looked again. He wasn’t.
 
My neighbors took their children home. The youngest ones were crying; I felt like crying too! I sat in the back of my car, thinking hard. I realised that I could hear an irregular hum - the engine must be on. But it couldn’t be! I had the car keys in my pocket. I listened more carefully. It wasn’t the engine. It was more like very quiet snoring, coming from behind me.
 
I got up and gingerly unclipped the catches for the back seat, then slowly lowered the seat so that I could see into the boot space. There, on an old carrier bag, was Charlie, fast asleep, with all his feet sticking up into the air! He had somehow got out of the box and through the tiniest gap between the backseat and the boot. Then he had found a lovely soft bed and gone to sleep.
 
“Charlie,” I said, “you are the funniest cat in Finchley - but I’m so glad that I’ve found you.”
 
And, being careful not to wake him, I lifted Charlie gently in my arms and carried him into his new home.
                                     
 



Recognized

#16
September
2023


A semi-autobiographical story to begin Charlie's adventures. My second cat, Oliver, a present for my mum, after our first cat died, did in fact come from a farm as a kitten. I put him on the back seat of my car, in a big cardboard box filled with soft paper, and drove the sixty miles to my mum's house. But when I opened the box (on her kitchen table) - no cat! He was in the corner of the backseat floor of the car - virtually invisible! All the panic in the story went through my mind!
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© Copyright 2023. Paul Manton All rights reserved.
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