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Authors: George Selden

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BOOK: Harry Cat's Pet Puppy
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“Look,” said Tucker. “He thinks Huppy is after Miss Catherine.”

Mr. Smedley, alarmed by that rather vociferous woof, had taken his precious cat in his lap and was shaking a finger at Huppy. “Go 'way now, you! Go right away! We don't want you here—do we, Puss-puss?”

Miss Catherine peered over a knee. “Young fellow,” she miaowed, “you'll have to do better than that!” (Of course, to Mr. Smedley it only sounded like a cat's miaowing—in complete agreement with his own opinion. Like most human beings, he heard only what he wanted to hear in the conversation of animals.)

“Well, I'm doing my best,” whimpered Huppy.

“All right, we accept your apology for all that barking,” Mr. Smedley sniffed. “But run along. Fft! Fft!”

better leave us alone a minute,” miaowed Miss Catherine. “I'll try to change Horatio's mood.”

“Okay, Miss Catherine.” Forlornly, Huppy wandered off, as she snuggled down deeper in Horatio's lap and began to purr.

“Will you look at her butter that sucker up!” exclaimed Tucker Mouse with admiration.

“Oh, my!” Mr. Smedley purred back at his cat. “Puss-puss is in a good mood today!” Miss Catherine arched her head under his hand for more stroking. “Would she like to hear some poetry?”

“Mmm!” purred Miss Catherine.

“Poetry! Whoopee!” chortled Lulu. “I know: shut up.”

Mr. Smedley pulled a paperback anthology of
Famous Poems
out of one of his pockets and began to read his favorite: “Ode to the West Wind,” by Shelley. He loved the poem and read it very dramatically, with many expressive gestures of the hand that wasn't holding the book.

While the reading proceeded—“Where's Huppy?” said Harry suddenly.

“Disappeared off in those bushes beyond the bench,” said Lulu. “I think he's looking for a—here he comes! Ooo, now,” she cooed when she saw what he was carrying.

“That's no stick!” blurted Tucker Mouse. “That's a

The dog was holding in his mouth neither stick nor log, but a fairly big branch that had crashed off an elm tree during an ice storm in January. It was so large his jaws could barely get a grip and so heavy he was weaving from side to side, like a drunken man, to balance it. But it was all he'd been able to find. With dogged determination he lurched toward the bench.

“‘O Wind,'” voice rising rapturously, and unaware of Huppy's approach, Mr. Smedley recited the last lines of the “Ode to the West Wind.” “‘If Winter comes, can Spring be far be—'
” Huppy dropped the branch on his foot.

“Tim-ber!” shouted Lulu Pigeon.

“Mousiekins”—Harry Cat let a deep sigh escape—“I think you and I had better start looking for a very much larger drainpipe.”

Mr. Smedley was hopping around on one foot, Miss Catherine had jumped to the ground, and Huppy, exhausted by all his effort, was sitting, panting.

“And what's the meaning of this?” said the Siamese.

“He throws the stick, I get it, and we become friends,” explained Huppy. “It was Lulu's idea.”

“I might have guessed!” She switched her tail. “I think, from now on, you had best leave matters to me. And first off, show Horatio how much you like me.” Instinctively, and without one second's delay, Huppy gave her a big lap-kiss. “Really!” she huffed. “That's
what I had in mind!”

“I'm sorry, Miss—”

“Well, let it pass. Now demonstrate to Horatio how compatible you are.”

“I don't know what that means,” mumbled Huppy, who was feeling quite futile this afternoon.

“Oh, for mercy's sake—shake hands! All dogs can do that, can't they?”

Obediently Huppy held out one paw. Mr. Smedley was sitting on the bench again; he had taken off a shoe and was rubbing his foot. “I will
shake hands!”

“Miaow,” said Miss Catherine.

“Oh. Does Puss-puss want to see Daddy shake hands with this raggedy dog?”


Very gingerly Mr. Smedley took Huppy's paw between his thumb and index finger and wiggled it. Then he flicked away three specks of dust, duty done.

“Now show him you want to play throw-and-fetch,” whispered Miss Catherine.

Huppy nosed the branch, ran away a few feet, barked, ran back, and looked up expectantly. “I will
throw that thing,” said Horatio firmly.

” said Miss Catherine, even more firmly.

“We ought to make a movie of this,” said Tucker Mouse.

“Shut up,” said Lulu Pigeon. “We could call it ‘How to Train Your Pet.'”

Much to Mr. Smedley's surprise, a game of throw-and-fetch began which was quite a lot of fun. The last time he'd had any exercise was two and a half years ago, when he'd read an article in
The New York Times
about the benefits of jogging. He had hoisted himself up from his reading chair and run once around the reservoir in Central Park, and that had sufficed for the next twenty-eight months. But now, in the crisp air, he found it was quite delightful—exhilarating, in fact—to throw that branch and watch the dog run after it and come tottering back with it in his mouth. He let Miss Catherine off her leash, for private prowls or to sit on the sidelines and watch the sport, and walked up on a little hill, to a better throwing place.

As for Huppy—this was the first time he'd ever played with a human being, and he enjoyed the running, the lugging, the barking, the pouncing on the branch, even more than Mr. Smedley did. Indeed, he became so excited about the game he forgot himself completely. On his fifth retrieve, instead of simply dropping the branch, he jumped up—“just to give it to him!” he later explained—and propped his paws on Mr. Smedley's waist.

Back fell the man, on a patch of ice beneath him; forward fell Huppy, on top of him; and down they both rolled, kicking to disentangle each other, to the foot of the slope, which, though small, provided enough dirt to cover them both.

“Oh! oh! oh!” Mr. Smedley exploded in puffs of anger. He threw the branch—
Huppy this time, not for him to fetch. Immediately he was sorry, being by nature a gentle man, but he really detested dirt and could feel that even his face was covered.

The branch hit Huppy in the rump. He yelped and, knowing all was lost, ran off.

Ran back to his friends, where Miss Catherine, too, was sitting. “I only—I only—”

“We know what you only,” said Harry Cat. He gave Huppy a fatherly pat on the back. (Cats—and some human beings, too—love children most when their situation seems hopeless.)

Stony silence.

Harry chipped at it. “Well—”

Four voices asked, all at once, “Well what?”

“Just one thing left.” Harry looked toward the river. “Heroism. What man could resist a heroic dog who life-saved somebody?”

“Great idea!” squawked Lulu. “But how do we get Smedley into the river?”

“It isn't going to be Mr. Smedley.”

“'Course not!” Tucker Mouse took up the plan. “Better yet—a little old lady! She's walking along the promenade, I scare her, she falls in—”

“And no little old ladies,” said Harry. “No human beings at all. Too dangerous. He's still only a pretty small dog. By the way, Huppy, this means you jump into the Hudson River. That okay with you?”

“It's got to be okay,” said Huppy dogfully. “Whatever happens, I'd rather end up in the river than back in the alley.”

“If not a human being—who?” asked Lulu Pigeon.

“Me!” said Harry. “I jump in, Huppy pulls me out—it's our only chance.”

More silence—even thicker now.

“I'm afraid that won't quite do.” Miss Catherine had been sitting apart, watching, thinking—thinking hard. “I fear that Horatio isn't the sort of man to concern himself with—beg pardon, Harry—the fate of a stray alley cat.”

“Then there's no hope,” said Harry.

“No,” she contradicted him softly. “The strategy is excellent.” Her tail lifted gracefully into the air. “And it just so happens there
one person in the world that he loves enough for the whole thing to work.” That tail coiled down and ended in a perfect curve around her own legs.

“Miss Catherine! Are you crazy?” exploded Harry Cat. “I, too, beg pardon, but a lady of your age—”

“It's really quite perfect, you know.” She wasn't even listening, as she tested the wind with her whiskers. “He's always warned me, all these years, to stay away from the promenade when I'm not on the leash. For fear a blast would carry me over. It's good and gusty today. Young fellow, can you swim?”

“I don't know, Miss Catherine,” Huppy explained. “I've never tried.”

“Neither have I, child. But we'll soon find out.”

“Miss Catherine, I will

“Oh, won't you, indeed?” Before Harry's restraining paw could touch her back, Miss Catherine had vanished beneath it and was halfway down to the promenade. Huppy galloped after her. So did the others.

She reached the railing, waited a second for a suitable gust, let out her most ear-tearing Siamese scream—disappeared. Huppy didn't stop running. Feet still scrambling in empty air, he sailed through the opening Miss Catherine had chosen and dropped from sight. Harry reached the edge first, just in time to see the gray Hudson close over his bushy tail.

they?” squealed Tucker.

“There!” Lulu wing-pointed out Miss Catherine's head, which choking, coughing, broke the surface. A moment later Huppy's did, too—several yards behind her. The current, strong fingerless fist of water, had seized them both and was rushing them southward, separated. Those watching on the bank could see from their helpless bobbing—over and over, into and under chunks of ice—that the two of them were almost unconscious, thrust out of their senses by the sudden shock of icy water. It has happened very often to men, to dogs—even to calculating cats—that
to be a hero and
yourself in a burning room or a frigid flood are two quite different experiences.

Huppy got back some self-control first and dog-paddled like mad toward Miss Catherine. A blade of ice flashed past his nose, and a thread of crimson went tangling in the water ahead of him.

“Look!” shouted Tucker.

“I can see!” said Harry. “He's bleeding.”


Harry followed his friend's voice, which went up. And there, balancing on the railing above them, stood Horatio Smedley. He had heard Miss Catherine's shriek, all right. For a second he poised, then grabbed his nose—jumped, without a sound.

“That's something I didn't expect!” said Tucker.

“Impetuous”—Harry remembered. “He takes after his mother, after all.”

Three bodies were now toiling in the river beneath the animals.

And around them, magnetized first by the scream and then by the man on the railing, people had begun to collect. Children, nursemaids, men and women strolling—they were gathered into a shouting knot that drifted down the promenade, parallel to those who were drifting in the turbulent Hudson.

Voices: “Why doesn't somebody call the police?”

“I hear—”

“Somebody has!”

From Riverside Drive, which is beside the park, came the fearful howl of a squad car. In the animals' ears it was sheer melody.

Huppy reached Miss Catherine, and took the back of her neck in his mouth as gently as he could. They were brushed against the foundations of the promenade. Which was fortunate in a way, because, clawing, scratching at the concrete, he was able to hold them there long enough for Mr. Smedley to reach them. The three were now one blob of life that was fighting against the deadly river.

They lost their fight temporarily, and were swept farther on. The promenade ended. At its corner the crowd hung above them, watching—Tucker and Harry and Lulu, too, but no one noticed them, pressed down in front of the packed, excited throng.

Beyond a stretch of open water, where cat and dog and man were spun, rose the pilings of an abandoned warehouse. Mr. Smedley, holding Huppy's neck, who was holding Miss Catherine's, swam, with the arm that was free, toward it. The current, a lifeless friend now, as it had been a lifeless enemy, pressed them all against a thick wooden support, and held them there.

“They're safe!” said Tucker.

“Not till the cops get them out,” said Harry.

“There one goes!” Lulu clapped her wings as an officer with a rope around him jumped into the river and swam downstream.

“Harry, as long as everybody is jumping in the Hudson River—”

“You stay right where you are!” Harry planted his paw on Tucker's tail. “For a cat the cops might go in. For a dog, perhaps. For a man, absolutely! For a mouse, they'd be glad to get rid of you.”

BOOK: Harry Cat's Pet Puppy
10.39Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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