My name is Tarzan.

Paulinechen, Tarzan and Charlie Chaplin

I was born in a barn, in the hay, in a dairy farm in Southern Belgium, with my four brothers.  Our mother was Paulinchen, and she was the best mother ever.  How she cared for us!  She often moved us, to hide from the dogs on the farm, who had killed all of my older brothers and sisters, litter after litter, before they were old enough to run away. 

As far as I know, there was no food on the farm for our mother except for the mice and the occasional rat that came to steal grain from the cows---hundreds of them---who shared the farm with us.  And so it was that our mother had no choice but to leave us alone from time to time to hunt and forage for food.  I suppose that these times of absence were the times that the dogs took to kill my older brothers and sisters.  The constant danger from these dogs was, I suppose, the main reason for our mother moving us around as she did. 

One day, while our mother was away, my brother ventured from our hiding place.  By now our eyes were open, and my brother thought that he might venture out into the hay, warmed by a sunbeam.  I saw this myself.  A young puppy ran up, seized him, and tossed him high into the air.  When he fell, the puppy repeated the performance.  When he struck the ground for a third time, I saw that he was dead, although the tossing continued.  Presently, the puppy's mother arrived and joined the game. 

I cowered in our hiding place with my three brothers, too frightened to move.  The dogs did not notice us.  Soon they left, leaving our poor brother for our mother to find when she returned with a mouse.  She moved us, again. 

We grew, but we were sick.  All of us had eye infections.  My brother, a beautiful gray tiger kitten (who looked just like an Egyptian Mau) was so badly off that his eyes were crusted shut, and he was unable to see at all.  In this respect, I was the best off of us all.  I could see well.  The things I saw!

Our mother moved us, again, to an area near a hole in the barn, facing a green field with some small trees.  We had more light than before, and the air was clearer.  Our mother left again to forage, and I saw her head to the next farm, across the field with the small trees. 

Presently, one of my brothers stirred.  He looked the most like me, with an orange tabby colour.  I should explain at this point that we four remaining brothers were marked as follows:  I, and my adventurous brother, were orange tabbies---some would say "red" or "ginger."  One was black and white, with white sandals and a small square black moustache that made one think of a certain famous actor, or an infamous dictator.  The other was a gray tiger, with tall ears, who could, with forged papers, easily pass as an Egyptian Mau. 

The brother most like me moved to the edge of the hole in the wall, some two feet from the ground, to see where our mother went.  All of us were young and clumsy, and when the edge gave way, he tumbled to the ground, in the dust of the garden between the barn and the green field.  It was almost dusk. 

Bewildered, he cried.  We could not help him.  But others heard his cries.  In a moment, the puppy and its mother were there, on the run.  They snatched up my brother, and ran with him into the green field.  I saw them toss him high into the air.  Once.  Twice. 

A man in a green uniform came quickly from the neighbouring farm.  The dogs stopped tossing my brother, and stepped back.  The green man picked my bother up and carried him back to the other farm.  I did not know whether he carried a living kitten, or a dead one. 

Our mother returned, upset that only three of us awaited her.  She fed us, and moved us again, away from the hole in the barn wall. 

The next day, our mother left to forage.  She returned more quickly than usual, and immediately moved us again, to a dark and quiet place.  She seemed more hopeful, and happier, than she had when she left.

"We only have to make one more move, children," she told us.  "Your ginger brother is safe and well.  When I went to the green man's farm today to scrounge, I saw him through the screen door in the kitchen.  He is clean, and not injured.  Dogs cannot get into the green man's farm.  Tomorrow I will bring you there, one at a time." 

The next day she led us to the green man's farm, one at a time.  My gray tiger brother's eyes were crusted shut, so he had to follow our mother's meows.  We all made it. 

The green man and his wife pondered what to do.  Two other black and white cats, Viktor and his mother Del, also lived on the farm.  But they knew our mother, and were not bothered that we were there.  Presently, a nice lady whom they called "Vétérinaire," arrived and saw to our eye infections.  The next day, another nice lady arrived, dressed in the leather clothes of a motorcyclist (which she was).  Her cat, Luka, had recently died after over 18 years (the green man buried him on his farm), and she asked whether she might have one of us, when we should be old enough.  The green man suggested, as she worked during the day and travelled, that she should take two, to keep each other company.  She thought this a fine idea.  The green man proposed, as the nice lady did not live on a farm, but rather on a busy road, that he would keep the two kittens she chose strictly indoors, and handle them throughout the day, so that they would grow into proper house cats.  Once the veterinarian agreed, they could remove to the nice lady, all in leather, in a fine town house of the type called "Maison d'Maitre" in Belgium. 

All was agreed.  The nice lady chose my "Mau" brother and my ginger brother, who had been the dog's "football."  These two lived strictly in the house, with a litter box and constant attention.  The nice lady named my ginger brother "Brunello," and my gray tiger brother "Pinot." 

My other brother and I lived outside in the green man's barn with our mother.  She taught us everything, all the time.  Once we were all healthy, the nice lady took my two brothers, Pinot and Brunello, to her fine house, and we were allowed to come into the house or stay outside as we preferred.  Our mother taught us daily.  We were climbing trees.  We also learned the litter box, and I was so proud to present my mother with my first mouse!

Our mother spent little time now at the farm where we were born.  In fact, the farmer complained one time to the green man that he now had a rat problem, since his prize rat-catcher (our mother) spent so much time away.  As he left, I heard the green man say to himself, "serves him right." 

Our mother taught us all the things that Pinot and Brunello, the indoor cats, might never learn.  We climbed trees, we hunted, and we knew every bolt-hole and secret passage on the green man's farm.  We avoided the dogs.  Our mother was the best. 

It could not last forever, and it did not.  One evening, the green man took his flashlight to search.  Finally, he went to the farm where we were born, to ask the farmer what he might have seen.  The farmer led the green man to the barn, where we were born. 

Stiff, stark, and dead some six hours (as the green man estimated) lay our mother.  The green man examined her carefully.  No marks, no bullets, no broken bones, no wounds.  Poison.

Notwithstanding the increased rat problem, the farmer had not put out rat poison, he quickly told the green man.  But others use poison, aimed at cats...

The green man knew he was right.  In town, anyone can buy little pellets, tasty to cats, quick to kill, that hunters use to "protect" the pheasants that they will themselves shoot in due course.  The green man wonders whether anyone reading this story has ever seen a cat bring down a pheasant.  He never has, although he once saw a magnificent attempt, which ended with an embarrassing "whiff" of claws through thin air.  But he has neither heard of, nor seen, a cat kill a healthy pheasant, and he is not a young man. 

The green man buried my mother in the field of little trees.  He named me "Tarzan" for my tree climbing and my brother “Charlie Chaplin for his appearance.  We are happy here, friends with Del and Viktor, and we have a predictable life with no dogs.

We never go back to the farm where we were born. 

A Morning Kiss

A morning kiss, a discreet touch of his nose landing somewhere on the middle of my face.
Because his long white whiskers tickled, I began every day laughing.

Janet F Faure

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