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Authors: George Selden

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BOOK: Harry Cat's Pet Puppy
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“Discuss it or not, tomorrow he goes!” In a rush of rage Tucker kicked Huppy's house. It shivered, then fell still. “The stupid, vicious little mutt!”


A Cold and Rainy, Wretched Day

“It's raining,” stated Tucker Mouse the next morning. An hour of nobody speaking to anybody could drive a mouse mad—especially one with a guilty conscience. Through the maze of pipes that led up to the grating on the sidewalk above, he could hear a faint patter. At least it was something to talk about. “Harry?” he almost pleaded. “It's raining.”

“I can hear.” The cat lay in the same position, paws outstretched, eyes narrowed to a slit, in which he had woken up.

“What are you thinking about?” Tucker asked plaintively.

“I was wondering when the best time would be to take Huppy to Bellevue. To the vivisection department.”

“Oh, Harry, stop it!” the mouse shouted, as if he was trying to stop something—a memory maybe—within himself. “I didn't mean that.”

“You said that.”

“But I didn't
it, Harry. I haven't slept a wink all night. I apologize, Harry—I really do. Not a moment's rest, all night.”

Harry Cat sat up. “Well, if
can apologize, I guess there's hope for all of us.” The two of them looked at each other. And a wall had fallen down. But Harry's tail switched nervously. “I still don't know what to do, though.”

“Oh, don't worry about my things,” said Tucker magnanimously. “Last night I found sixty more cents—and my two best buttons—oh, and the belt buckle too!”

“I might have known,” sighed Harry. “Didn't sleep all night—and I thought you were sorry—”

sorry, Harry. But to pass the time, since I couldn't drop off—and the subway was almost empty—”

“Okay, okay. So you're not a ruined mouse any more. What I meant was—what are we going to do about—” He jerked his head toward Huppy's house, from which a peep had still not come. Harry went on softly, not to wake late sleepers up, “I still haven't found a place for him.”

“A place?” Tucker didn't understand.

“Look, Mousiekins, what do you think I've been doing for the past two months? Just frolicking on the town all this time? I've been looking for a home for Huppy!” Tucker dropped back on his haunches; that thought had never occurred to him. “A
home! He can't live in this drainpipe forever. It's all right for a cat and a mouse. A growing dog?—no! But I haven't come up with a single thing.”

“Dumb me. A permanent home.” Tucker twitched his whiskers, thinking. “I wonder where he'd like to live.”

“Let's ask him,” said Harry “Sooner or later we would have had to, anyway.” He went over to Huppy's house, reared back on his hind legs, and rested his forepaws on the rim of the box. And turned into a petrified statue of a cat.

The mouse jumped up onto one corner of the box, and he too froze there, balanced, two legs on one side and two on the other. “He's gone!”


“Oh, Harry, it's all my fault—”


“Last night—”

“—he have run away?”

“—I was chasing all over the subway station, looking for all those—”

“Oh, Huppy—”

“—lousy little things, and—and—”

They were jabbering at one another as if they were rabid, hardly hearing a thing that the other said.

my fault!” Tucker toppled back down on the drainpipe floor, hoping that he would hurt himself. “He must have been awake all the time, and heard me say Bellevue, and experimenting on animals—”

Harry was first to get back his sanity. “Now stop, Tucker—”

“—and I called him a vicious little mutt—oh! oh! oh!” The mouse hid his eyes in his claws. But he still saw himself as he'd acted last night.

“I say
Right now! You be guilt-ridden later. We both have to
Where's he gone? Where'd he hide? Then we have to go find him!”

*   *   *

There passed ten minutes of quick, alternating thoughts—mostly those of Harry Cat, because Tucker couldn't wait to feel guilty—as they tried to decide where the dog had gone. The nearest entrance to the subway station led up to the east side of Broadway. He must have gone that way. They both were convinced he'd left the station.

“Too frightened we'd find him here,” moaned Tucker, “and take him—”

“Shut up!” said Harry Cat.

They dashed up through a roundabout path of pipes—to avoid all the people on the entrance stairs—and arrived on the sidewalk. A cold gray rain, which would have been snow if the temperature was a little lower, was punishing New York for something.

“Now looking west,” Harry thought out loud. The dog would have seen, past the old Times Tower, the crowded block between Seventh and Eighth avenues. Lights blinking outside movie theaters, cars coming and going, brakes screeching, horns honking, the crush of restless human beings. “That probably would have scared him.”

But eastward—less noise, less lights, less people. He might even have caught a glimpse, beneath the street lights, a block away, of the tops of the trees in Bryant Park. “Come on! Down here,” the cat commanded, and crouching low, they scuttled through the streaming gutter toward the Avenue of the Americas. Under each parked car they stopped and shouted, as loud as they dared, “Huppy! Huppy?” And got back in answer nothing but the indifferent city sounds.

On a pleasant day Bryant Park can be a truly beautiful, natural place: a living rectangle of grass and trees in the midst of a city conjured of concrete and steel. But today, with bare branches dripping, it felt desolate and unprotected. And it was empty—except for Lulu.

“Hi, you guys!” she called down from a branch.

“This is all we need,” whispered Tucker to Harry. “To meet that kookoo bird.”

“Oh, Lulu's okay,” Harry whispered back. “As a matter of fact, she can help us.”

Now Lulu Pigeon was definitely not a cuckoo. But she was, as she freely admitted herself, a rather kookoo bird. She came from a very distinguished pigeon clan that claimed to be descended from the original Hynrik Stuyvesant Pigeons. And they claimed to have come to New York clinging to the yardarm of a Dutch sailing vessel, when New York was still New Amsterdam. But over the years the Stuyvesant Pigeons and their descendants had grown very grand indeed. You might even say snooty. They refused to be seen below Fourteenth Street. However, every family—birds, too—has at least one flap-out. And a year ago Lulu flapped out of the private Stuyvesant Pigeon tree uptown and came down to live in Bryant Park—“Nearer where the action is really at!” she explained. She called everybody “guys,” or “men,” or “fellas,” no matter what kind of animal it was—her talk, in fact, was the latest New York slang—and within a few months she'd established herself as one of the authentic characters in the Times Square area.

“What are you cats doing out today?” (She also called everybody “cats,” even if it was a dog or a mouse.)

Harry explained how he and Tucker had adopted Huppy—“Ooo, that's groovy!” cooed Lulu, who still had some pigeon left in her speech—and then how Huppy had run away. “Bad day for splitting.” Lulu shook her head. “Only out here myself to hunt up a seed or two.”

“Will you help us find him?” Harry asked.

“Sure, men.” Lulu coasted down through the air and settled next to them. “Love to!”

The plan, rapidly decided upon, was this: Tucker and Harry should continue on down the south side of Forty-second Street, and Lulu—“Since I got wings!” she boastfully flapped, and so could search out nooks and crannies and doorways more quickly—Lulu Pigeon would take on the north side herself.

“All the way to the East River, if necessary!” said Harry.

An excellent idea, they all agreed. There was one thing wrong, though: it didn't work. Nobody found Huppy. And four hours later, having peeked in every possible place where a little dog might hide, they were back in Bryant Park—drenched, shivering, and disconsolate.

“Too bad the other dogs aren't around,” said Lulu. “They could help.”

“What other dogs?” asked Tucker.

“There's a pack that hangs out around the park here. Some pretty tough guys, too. But on days like this—or when the cops are makin' a sweep—they hole up in cellars all over the city.”

“There's nothing to do,” said Harry Cat, “but tackle that block between Seventh and Eighth. He might have thought, if he got in a theater, he'd be safe in the dark, and be warm.”

“And see a flick too!” added Lulu.

“I doubt very much if movies were on his mind!” said Harry. “Come on!”

They switched sides of the street this time—with the same result: nothing. By evening they were back in the park. The gray day was dying, defeated by night. But the rain had grown stronger—had turned into sleet.

“You didn't see
dogs?” asked Harry.

“Not a hair of a one,” said Lulu. “But I caught the last half of the
Roadrunner cartoon! He was in this tunnel, with a Mack truck bearing down on him—”

Tucker shouted. “Did you take time off to look at the movies?”

“Well, Mousiekins, I was in the theater, so—”

“And don't call me Mousiekins! Only Harry can call me that.”

“He can? Since when?”

“No, he can't! But he's the only one who can!”

“Will you two
keep quiet?” said Harry. His teeth were chattering. So were Tucker's. And so was Lulu Pigeon's beak. “Now I
have to think.” He paced, and stopped. “If I was Huppy—” And paced, and stopped. “—if I was a dog—who lived in a drainpipe—and was only acquainted with the Times Square subway station—” Abruptly he pounced on an idea he'd had. “Of course! That's it! How stupid can an alley cat get? Follow me!”

Tucker, spluttering, and Lulu, fluttering, followed Harry as he ran down Forty-first Street, avoiding the crowds on Forty-second. The cat panted out an explanation. “The subway—
the only place—Huppy knows!” Tucker tripped, fell into a puddle, and swore. “He
remember—where I found him!”

Across Eighth—across Ninth—they reached Tenth Avenue. “Now if
can only remember where that dismal, filthy alley was—”

“Shall we fan out again?” asked Lulu Pigeon.

“No. I'm sure it's—it's—
” Harry suddenly stopped. A black corridor that was darker than the coming night yawned threateningly between two buildings. The only thing the three could see, through the sleet, in the dim glow that a street light cast, was the outline of a garbage can.

“We gotta go in
” said Lulu.

“You don't have to go anywhere,” Harry answered. “But I'm—”

“After me!” In a fit of courage very unlike himself—unless he was after something really valuable, like a high heel or a belt buckle—Tucker scooted past his friend, and vanished. Very catlike and quick, on the pads of his feet, Harry followed him.

“Oh, well,” said the bird, “if I gotta, I gotta.” She flapped into the dark. But after she'd almost brained herself on a brick wall she couldn't see, she decided she'd better land and walk.

“Huppy? Huppy? Huppy?”

He wasn't behind the first garbage can. Or the second. Or the third. As they felt their way into the pitch-black alley, nobody could see a thing—not even each other. They reached the end: a final wall across their path.

“He's not here”—Tucker Mouse.

“He's got to be!”—Harry Cat.

“Let's get outa this place!”—Lulu Pigeon. “I got a feeling there's
there—like maybe meat-eating rats!”


“Shh!”—Harry Cat again.

“What?”—Tucker Mouse.


“That's him!” said Harry.

Tucker dashed toward the sneeze. “I got him! He's here—”

“Let go! Let go!” a voice whimpered.

“Don't scare him!” warned Harry.

“'Bye, boys,” said Lulu. “I'll wait for you all in the street.”

Coaxing, cajoling—and finally carrying—Tucker and Harry got Huppy out to the sidewalk's edge. “Oh, I'm
glad we found him! I'm
glad we found him,” the mouse kept moaning.

But the puppy huddled against Harry Cat. “Now don't be afraid,” Harry purred reassuringly. “We're going home.”

Which they did—after introducing Lulu. She shook her head. “Poor bedraggled mutt.”

BOOK: Harry Cat's Pet Puppy
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