"Did you hear that?" Ian asked,
looking down from the branch high in the tree.
"What is it this time?" Mac replied.
"Did you hear it that time?" Ian
looked over at Mac.
"I heard it. It sounds like a
kitten," he said. He looked down and saw a small, furry shape run through
the leaves. "There it is."
The two raccoons climbed down the
tree and ran after the kitten. "I see it. Itís running towards the
stream," Ian called.
"Catch it," Mac shouted.
Ian ran as fast as he could, but the
kitten was too fast for him. "Meow. Meow." It stopped at the banks of the
stream, afraid of the water. Mac caught up with Ian.
"Catch it," Mac shouted. "Donít let
it get away."
Ian leapt and grabbed the kitten as
he flew into the stream. "Help!" he called as the swift waters carried him
"Ian!" Mac shouted as he watched his
friend and the kitten float away.
The raccoon held the kitten in his
paws. Water surged all around him, sometimes going over his head. He
coughed and choked. The water was freezing cold. "Iíll save you," he said,
holding the shivering kitten high out of the water. It had rained heavily
the night before and the stream was moving quickly. Soon it met up with a
river and Ian found himself frantically struggling, trying to get to the
"Meow. Meow." The kitten was
terrified and scratched Ianís paws as she fought to stay out of the water.
After a few minutes they came to some calmer water and Ian was able to
scramble to the muddy banks. He lay still, coughing. The kitten fell from
his hands. She looked at the raccoon and began to lick the water off his
face. "Meow. Meow."
"We made it," Ian smiled. "Whatís
your name, little kitten?" She shivered and rubbed herself against Ian. "I
think Iíll call you Ginger," he said, petting her wet fur. He tried to dry
her off as well as he could. "Youíre a bonny wee thing." She had ginger-colored
stripes across her white fur. Ian looked around. He had no idea where he
was. He knew the river had carried them a long way from home. "I wonder
where Mac is and I wonder how Iíll ever get back home," Ian sighed. Ginger
purred and curled up near Ianís leg. Both tired, they fell asleep.
"I wonder where they could be?" Mac
said. He had spent several hours walking along the side of the stream.
When it had flowed into the river, he continued walking. "Iím getting
tired. I hope Ianís all right and the kitten too." After a while Mac
realized he was lost. "I think Iíll just sit here and wait for a while,
have a wee nap and rest." He curled up in a ball and went to sleep.
Ian woke up and heard Ginger
purring. Heíd always wanted a kitten of his own. When Ginger stirred, she
stretched her tiny legs and paws. The claws dug into Ianís leg, but he
didnít mind. "Ah, youíre awake," he said, stroking her soft fur. "I think
weíd better try and find our way back to Mac. Heíll be worried about us.
Are you up to walking?"
"Meow. Meow. Purr. Purr," went
"I think we should go that way," Ian
said, pointing up river. He stood up and started walking. Ginger followed
behind him as they made their way through the gorse, fern and bracken.
Mac woke up, startled by the roar of
the river flowing next to him. It took him a few seconds to remember where
he was. He stood up and looked around. "I think Iíll go this way. If they
were carried away, theyíd be down stream," he said and started walking
through the trees. Little did he know that he was on the opposite side of
the river from Ian and Ginger.
Ginger pounced on Ianís tail. It had
been wiggling back and forth as he walked along. She sunk her sharp teeth
into it. "OUCH!" shouted Ian. He yanked his tail out of the kittenís
mouth. "Naughty, Ginger. Donít bite Ianís tail. I know itís a beautiful
tail, but not something to bite," he scolded.
Ginger ran and hid behind a fern.
"Meow. Meow," she whimpered.
"Come out, Ginger. I am not angry.
Just donít bite my tail anymore," Ian smiled, coaxing her out. She came
running out and the two walked on. Ian was beginning to feel a bit hungry.
Ginger was too. He looked around for something to eat. There was a
blackberry bush filled with dark, purple, juicy blackberries. He picked
some and started eating them. "Would you like a blackberry?" he asked
Ginger, handing her one. She shook her head. "Donít kittens like
blackberries? What do you like to eat?"
Ginger saw a beetle run across the
ground and into some leaves. Ian spotted it too. "Do you like to eat
beetles?" he asked. Ginger shook her head no. They came to an oak tree.
Acorns were lying all over the ground. Ginger picked some up in her paws
and rolled them around. "Do you like to eat acorns?" Ian asked. Ginger
shook her head no again.
Just then a furry brown mouse came
running out of a hollow log and headed to the river for a drink. "Mice? Do
you like to eat mice?" he asked the kitten. Ginger started to meow and
jump about. "I donít think I can catch the mouse. Itís too fast. Why donít
you go and catch it," Ian said. Ginger ran after the mouse. "Be careful of
the river!" he shouted. She came back a few minutes later with a
mouse-tail hanging out of her mouth. "I see you got a snack. Good girl."
He sat down on a rock and petted her.
Mac stepped over a big stone and saw
something moving on the other side of the river. "What was that?" he
wondered. He watched carefully. "Itís the kitten. Itís chasing a mouse.
That means Ian is nearby." Mac saw Ginger grab the mouse and eat it. "Ian!
Ian! Ian!" he shouted.
As Ian was petting Ginger he heard
his name being called. "Why, that sounds like Mac." He stood up and ran
down to the riverbank. "Mac!"
Mac spotted Ian standing on the
other side of the river. "Ian! Thank goodness I found you. Iíve been
looking for hours. Are you all right? I thought you might have drowned but
then I saw the kitten chasing a mouse."
Ginger ran up and stood next to Ian.
"How do we get back over there to you? The river is moving too quickly,"
Ian shouted. He picked Ginger up and held her tightly in his arms.
"Walk up the river a bit further. I
noticed there were some big stones going across. You can jump from stone
to stone," Mac called. Ian and Ginger walked along until they came to the
stones. Mac stood on the other side. "Hop to the first one and then to the
next. You can do it. Just be careful," Mac said.
Ian was nervous. If he slipped, he
and Ginger would fall back into the river again. "Ginger, youíll have to
stay still. Iíve got to hold you and cross on these stones," he said to
the kitten. She curled up and lay very still. Ian leapt to the first
stone. He did it without any trouble. The water lapped at his toes but he
"Only three more stones, Ian," Mac
called. "Do it slowly and be careful."
Ian jumped to the next stone. For a
moment he lost his balance and nearly fell in but caught himself. "Whew,"
he said. He jumped to the next and then to the next and soon stood on the
riverbank by Mac.
"You made it! Thank goodness!" Mac
said, relieved as Ian was. "Hello, kitten," he said, looking at Ginger.
"Whatís her name? I know you gave her a name, Ian. What is it?" Mac
"Ginger, because of her color," Ian
"Ginger? What are you going to do
with her now?" Mac asked as the two raccoons and the kitten headed back to
the tree. "She canít live with us, Ian. We live in the top of a tree.
Kittens canít climb that high. Kittens donít belong in the trees. They
belong on a farm, chasing mice and drinking milk."
Ian looked at the furry ball in his
arms. "Meow. Meow."
Mac was right. Ginger didnít belong
in the tree. "We can take her to old Mr. McGregorís and leave her on the
porch. Heíll take care of her. Heís a nice man and loves animals," Mac
suggested. She can chase the mice that get into his barn and he can feed
her bowls of milk and even fish. Youíd like that much better, wouldnít
you?" Mac said to the kitten.
"Meow. Meow," Ginger went, happy at
Ian felt sad. He wanted to keep
Ginger, but realized that he couldnít. They took Ginger to Mr. McGregorís
farm. "Go and put her on the porch, Ian," Mac said.
Ian walked slowly up to the door. He
petted Ginger and gave her a big hug. "Take care of yourself," he sighed,
feeling a tear roll down his face. "Iíll come and visit you soon. Mr.
McGregorís a nice man. Heíll give you warm milk and you can sleep by a
warm fire too."
Ginger purred and rubbed her head on
Ianís chest. Ian reluctantly put her down on the porch and knocked on the
door. He ran away quickly. Ginger watched as he disappeared behind a bush.
The door opened slowly. "What have we here? Why, itís a wee kitten and
look at you, all gingery and pretty. Come inside and have some warm milk,"
Mr. McGregor said. He picked Ginger up and took her inside. Ian and Mac
ran up to the window and peeked in. Ginger sat in front of the fire
lapping up a bowl of milk. Drops of it were on her whiskers. Mr. McGregor
was petting her.
"Sheíll be fine. Heíll take good
care of her," Mac said, putting his arm around Ianís shoulder.
A few days later Ian and Mac went
back to the farm for a visit. Ginger was out running about in Mr.
McGregorís garden, chasing mice and having fun. Ginger was happy to see
them. Once a week they went to visit her. Ian wished that she could have
stayed with him in the tree, but knew she was happier at the farm. And she