The Sentry
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 by Frank Shortt
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         Things were not bad where I grew up. I was born in soft hay and my mother died soon after she weaned me. Before she died, she taught me how to catch my share of food, where to go for water, and how to beg for milk. I felt I was very sleek indeed with my tawny coat of brown. I wore socks of milky white all the way down to my toes.

I shared my space in the barn with a little black pup. His ears were long and as he ate, they drooped down into his dish. We lived on Ol’ Man Addison’s farm and my job was to patrol the barn for rats and mice who decided to come out and play. I usually kept them out and sometimes I would kill one. My pay came at milking time as the warm cream made my stay much easier.

As the little black pup grew towards adulthood, one day he decided to go away. This left me with no one to while away the lonely hours. Life became drudgery for me unless children came into the barn to play in the soft hay. They would then dress me up in costumes that caused me discomfort, but I allowed this because I wished to please them. I wished and wished for my partner to return. When this would be I did not know.

After the little pup left, I made my bed up in the loft allowing the soft hay to pillow my head. I soon grew accustomed to the loft and preferred it to the dampness below.  One afternoon, I heard a loud noise that had awakened me rudely! Instinctively, I feared and quaked at this raucous sound!

As I gazed from my lofty perch, I surveyed the surrounding area for any danger. Soon I espied a large, solid black dog chasing a rabbit toward its den. Although the bunny was fleet of foot, the black dog caught him easily before he could dash into his home and safety. Several days thereafter I could see the dog running about the farm. He was always able to catch whatever he chased, whether it be rabbit, groundhog, even sometimes squirrels!

I thought back into the dim past, “Could this be my long-lost friend? Had he grown into the fiend that I watched from my safe perch? If he will chase bunnies, he’ll chase me.” I decided that I would not rekindle our acquaintance!

After this I grew to be independent and did not mind being alone. I began to be a little slower in my movements. I was not able to catch mice and rats like I used to. Ol’ Man Addison had talked to the cows one evening as he milked, “I guess I’ll have to get me someone else to live in the barn loft to keep the rats and mice away! My present tenant is getting soft!”

By this I knew that my days of living in the loft were limited. Unless some turn of events happened soon, I would be out of a home. One rainy day, I was surprised as one of Ol’ Man Addison’s grandchildren came up to the loft to while away the time. She began talking to me and pretty soon she became very friendly to me. When she was called to lunch that day I heard her say as she left the loft, “Grandma, can I keep that brown spotted cat that lives in the hayloft?”

“Of course you may, my dear, Grandma replied. I was wondering what we were to do with him as he is getting a little too old to be chasing around the barn!”

I had gained my crown!