Jane King is a full-time faculty member at the University of Phoenix, where she teaches online. She is also a retired business lawyer. After many years, she has returned to writing fiction. She is also an avid animal lover—with cats being at the top of the list. This is the third story in her series, The Ten Lives of Hector, The Cat!
The Third Life of Hector, The Cat!
We all take journeys, whether in reality or in our minds or in our hearts, or perhaps in all three. Journeys in our hearts can, of course, be the most fulfilling but they can also make us very sad. Without our emotions, though, where would we be? As much as Hector, The Cat!, loved time traveling to new places and learning as much as he could about everything in this world and beyond, he also knew that without his emotions, there would be no excitement, no passion, and no love. There would also be no fear, sadness, and pain. But, this is the sacrifice he was willing to make to live a full life.
After he returned to Earth from his trip to Catopia and he told me about his adventures, I did not see Hector for several months. (You will remember that Hector lost the second of his nine lives in Outer Space.) I thought of him from time to time, and wondered if he was safe, and if he had been on any more adventures, but I just thought that he would be in touch when he was ready. And, this is what happened! One day I was pleased to watch Hector saunter up to my front door. I was looking pensively out of the window, wondering what I could do with myself on such a grey day when, out of the blue, this beautiful orange striped cat appeared.
I invited Hector in, and we sat talking in my comfortable living room and had tea and crumpets. After some time had passed, Hector told me that he had a new story for me which he would like for me to share with you. As usual, it all started on the large dictionary on the desk in his human mother’s study. It was a sunny day, and Hector climbed on the dictionary and fell into a deep sleep. The next he knew he had been transported in time and space to a different place for a new adventure.
He landed on a blanket of snow in the woods. He told me it was so beautiful that his heart seemed to expand in his chest, and his eyes could not keep up with the feeling. He allowed his feelings to flow through his whole body—through to the tip of his tail, the tips of his ears, the ends of his whiskers, and all through his paws. His tail magically lifted as a result.
Many of the trees had lost their leaves and were waiting for spring, but there were also tall evergreen trees. These trees had small carpets of snow on their branches and on the needles, and because the sun was shining brightly, magical prisms of water were forming on them. All of the colors of the rainbow could be seen in these gentle drops of water. This was truly a winter wonderland.
After sitting on the blanket of snow in deep thought for some time, Hector soon began to feel the cold, and knew that he needed to very quickly find a warm place to stay. He picked himself up and began to walk towards a clearing that he could see ahead of him. Once there, he could see a vast area of land, with mountains in the distance. He could also see a solitary farmhouse with smoke coming from the chimney. Quickly transforming himself to appear as a normal cat to human beings, he walked towards the farmhouse, and finally arriving at the door, meowed loudly and scratched at the door. Fortunately, a little girl answered, and seeing him, immediately let him in, and took him close to the fire.
“What are you doing in the middle of nowhere?” she asked Hector. “It is too cold to be outside. I need to find you some milk and something to eat. What do cats eat? The cats in the barn catch and eat mice, but you must be used to something different because you look so much healthier than they do.”
Hector stared directly at her, but did not dare to speak. She just continued talking to Hector as they sat before the fire until she suddenly remembered to go into the kitchen. She returned with some milk and some human leftovers. Hector was not sure what they were, but they tasted good.
Soon, Hector felt he should speak to the little girl to learn more about her and this place. When he started to speak to her, she was not surprised because, as she told him, she had several non-human friends who talked to her. She told him her name was “Cheruse”.
“What a beautiful name, Cheruse!” Hector said. “My name is Hector, The Cat!”
“Nice to meet you, Hector,” Cheruse said. “How did you manage to find yourself in this place—so far away from everyone and everything? Also, you seem to have a strange accent. Is it from a different place?”
“I will tell you all about myself in a minute, Cheruse. First, do you mind telling me where we are? Where do you live? And, do you know the year?”
“Oh, that is easy,” she said. “We’re in New Hampshire in the United States, and the year is 1854.”
“How amazing!” Hector said. “Although I have traveled to visit friends in many parts of the United States, I have never been to New Hampshire. Where is New Hampshire?”
“It is in a region called, ‘New England,’ up north from New York City and Boston.”
“You seem to be very knowledgeable, Cheruse. Do you go to school?”
“No,” she said sadly. “But, I do know how to read, and I have read many, many books.”
Hector liked Cheruse for many reasons, but especially because, similar to him, she loved to learn new things. Deep in his thoughts, he suddenly realized that Cheruse was looking at him.
“I am sorry, Cheruse,”did you say something?”
“I did,” she said, “I asked you where you are from?”
Hector said, “I am from England, and from the future, Cheruse. I have traveled back in time to be here with you.”
“Oh, how exciting!” she exclaimed. “I have read so many books about England and stories that take place in England.”
The two of them continued chatting until it started to get dark outside and Cheruse told him that she needed to hide him from her father who would be home soon. So, she lead him into her bedroom and into a large cupboard. She put a soft cushion in the cupboard, with water, and other necessary things for his comfort.
For two days, Hector spent lovely warm times in front of the fire, learning as much as he could from Cheruse about life in the United States until on the third day of his stay, Hector decided he would need to take his leave of Cheruse. Although she was sad for him to leave, she had a giving heart and wanted to help Hector as much as she could. Cheruse was able to find warm clothes for Hector including a Davy Crocket hat and warm gloves and boots. In the morning, after the father left for the day, Hector put his front paws on Cheruse’s shoulders and rubbed her face and she put her arms around his neck until he suddenly disappeared from her sight and very quickly found himself looking out over the Atlantic Ocean.
Wanting to keep the Ocean close to him, Hector decided to follow the Ocean trail in a northerly direction. As he was walking up the coast, he entered a forest of very tall trees. Walking along in his own world all of a sudden he became aware of a strange, but almost familiar sound. It was a mumbling rumbling sound which began to sound like cats purring and talking with a variety of meowing voices.
This was quite amazing to Hector. To hear cats in the middle of the forest! He decided to walk towards the sound, and finally came to a clearing in the woods. Hector had never seen a scene quite like it! Before his eyes, there were cats everywhere, and they seemed to be involved in all sorts of activities. They had a cat village, with small houses and a variety of things to do—that only cats enjoy.
Most amazing of all to Hector, were the cats themselves. They were the largest cats Hector had ever seen, and he was considered to be a large cat in England. They had massive paws and broad backs and faces. Their fur was thick and rich, with tufts at the tips of their ears and on their paws. Their tails were exceedingly long and wide, and they were a variety of colors and patterns. He guessed that they were Maine Coon Cats.
As Hector walked closer to the village, he was spotted, of course, by a few of the cats who rushed over to him. They were very friendly and sweet-natured. He could hear them purring as they approached him. And, when they arrived, they rubbed against him, encouraging him to feel comfortable and at home. They spent some time talking with Hector and learning all about him. While they were all talking with one another, Hector did ask them if they were Maine Coon Cats, and they told him they were but they did not use that name. They called themselves Macoocas. The name of the village was Macoocaville. One of the cats who had greeted Hector was Gishelda. She seemed like a goddess to Hector. She was so stunning, with her pure white fur and her beautifully kind face. She smiled at him a great deal, so he began to think that she thought he was quite handsome as well. They definitely seemed to take a particular liking to one another. After some time, Gishelda took him to a cosy chalet, and gave him everything he needed to feel like home, including staying with him to give him company.
For some time after Hector’s arrival in the village, Hector and Gishelda spent many hours together exploring the forest and the seacoast. She showed him everything she was aware of—especially those places that she found delightful. At the end of each day, she shared the chalet with Hector and they would talk into the night about some pretty wondrous things. Every morning, it was a joy for Hector to wake up to see Gishelda and to look forward to the coming day together. Hector could not have been happier, and never thought once about returning home.
Then, the unspeakable happened! One day, when Hector woke up, Gishelda was not there. He waited for some time for her to return, but eventually decided he should ask about her. As he emerged from his chalet, a group of Macoocas approached him. They agreed with Hector that it was likely Gishelda was in trouble.
One of the Macooca leaders, Socracat explained to Hector, “We believe she may have been taken by the Leprechauns.” Hector did not have much knowledge about Leprechauns but was surprised they were in New England. He believed they only lived in Ireland. Socracat explained that he believed the Leprechauns came to the United States with the Irish immigrants. The Irish immigrants and probably the Leprechauns as well made their way north up from Boston in Massachusetts when the Irish workers helped to build the railroads.
At this point, three of the other Macoocas started to describe their experiences with the Leprechauns. They told Hector that when the Leprechauns arrived in the forest, they ran wild, and the Macoocas were overwhelmed. When the cats tried to talk to them, the Leprechauns gathered together, and began chanting, “Lalaria, Lalaria, Lalaria!!!!” Their little voices all united together caused quite a cacophony. As you know, cats have very sensitive hearing, and this discordant noise caused them all to put their paws to their ears to block it out.
Suddenly, the noise stopped and they saw something magical appear: a handsome fairy perhaps twice the size of the Leprechauns. He twizzled and twizzled in the air, and the Leprechauns laughed and jumped and did somersaults with excitement. He used his magic wand to create a stage with a podium above the Macoocas and the Leprechauns. At this point, he turned himself into a judge with a black robe and a wig—his face became misshapen and cruel. He told the Macoocas to disappear or they would all be turned into garden gnomes. To show them that he could do this, he chose two of the Macoocas closest to him and transformed them into gnomes. He meanly told them to take the gnomes with them, which they did. This was the last time they had tried to talk to the Leprechauns. But every once in a while a Macooca would accidentally come across them, and the same thing would happen.
As much as they had tried, the Macoocas had not been able to release their family and friends from this fate. Until they could find a way to do it, they had kept them in a garden. Hector asked if he could see the garden, and when he was taken there, he was very sad to see several garden gnomes. They had cat faces, and cat paws with a tail, and were dressed in little red suits, with a jacket and shorts. They were wearing the standard gnome pointed hats, but they were green.
After learning as much as he could about the Leprechauns, Hector headed out through the woods towards their encampment. He had been warned that it is difficult to see the Leprechauns because they are so small and tend to live in root areas, and in tree trunks and stumps lying along the ground. Hector very cautiously made his way through the forest, using his spyglass to scout out the area ahead of him.
Given the stillness of the forest, Hector’s heart almost stopped and his fur suddenly fluffed out when he felt himself being overcome by the Leprechauns climbing all over him. They were tying ropes to his clothes, his tail, his paws, and anything else they could find. There were Leprechauns on the ground as well, and the ones on Hector would drop the ropes down to them. It was not long, as if by magic, before Hector was brought down on his back. The ropes were attached to zillions of stakes, and he was tied fast to the ground. He could not move.
With Hector firmly tied in place, they constructed an open air court, with lawyers and a jury. After a great deal of oratorial excellence on the part of the prosecutor, the defense lawyer, and the judge, which amounted to a pile of beans, the judge proclaimed that Hector was guilty of trespass and threatening the order of things. He was sentenced to become a garden gnome without delay. Poor Hector! Can you imagine how he felt? Actually, he did not have much time to consider this, because before he knew it, he was locked into the form of a gnome. The Leprechauns had called for Lalaria, the Bad Fairy, and he had quickly imposed sentence on Hector.
After this was done, he was placed in front of Gishelda who also had become a gnome. He was seriously stuck. He could think and see and hear but could not move. Unfortunately, it looked as though the Leprechauns would win this battle and go on to cause more trouble in the New England woods. And, it seemed highly likely that Hector had lost another of his nine lives. Would he be able to find a way out of the gnome’s body? It did not seem like it.
It is always good to have one or two allies somewhere in the world, who can come to the rescue should you need help. Do you agree? This was certainly proven true for Hector. Fortunately, he had told his cousin, Professor Topsy Turvey, about his journey. When first in New Hampshire, he sent her a message telling her his whereabouts.
After this, she had not heard from him for some time, and she was not able to contact him. She began to be concerned, and ever resourceful, she contacted her network of catxperts to see if any of them could locate Hector. She learned that there had been some sighting of him with Leprechauns. This seemed strange because Leprechauns had not been sighted in the New World as far as she knew. She decided to contact Professor Sidhe, who was a descendant of the Celtic Cat. She also was a Leprechaun catxpert.
She was interested to hear about Hector and any Leprechauns in the 1800s in New England. She quickly traveled back in time and met the King and Queen of Fairies of the clan the Leprechauns belonged to. She discovered they had approved the Leprechauns going to the New World but they did not know the Leprechauns were acting badly. They decided to send Tralula, the Good Fairy, to discover more and to take action to help Hector, The Cat!
Although it was true Tralula could release the garden gnomes, unfortunately it was also true that she could be turned into one, and so, needed help to overcome Lalaria, the Bad Fairy. As she was observing the Leprechauns, shortly after her arrival, she spotted a miniature dog. She missed the dog at first because he was so small, but he seemed to be looking up at her. She decided to talk to him:
“Hello, I am the Good Fairy from Ireland, are you trying to contact me?”
The dog seemed to be talking to her, but she could not hear him. She quickly assessed the situation and picking him up in her hand, gave him a miniature megaphone. She took him away into another area of the forest so that he could talk freely.
“What is your name?” she said to him.
Using the megaphone, he told the Good Fairy, “My name is Choco, The Courageous Dachshund. That is my official title, but you can call me, ‘Choco.’”
“Well, Choco, what are you doing living with these dastardly Leprechauns? Also, why are you so small?”
“The Bad Fairy miniaturized me. At one time, I was quite a handsome Dachshund with tremendous energy and determination but the Bad Fairy turned me into this miniature version of myself just for fun.”
“I am so sorry for your suffering, Choco. I hope to be able to help you if you will help me. Have you seen the Bad Fairy?”
“Yes, I see him regularly. He likes to rile up the Leprechauns and encourage them to do mean and nasty things. The last thing he did was to encourage them to capture Hector, The Cat, so that he could turn him into a garden gnome.”
“Oh, yes, I am aware of Hector, The Cat,” said the Good Fairy. “Where is he now?”
“The Macoocas have managed to take Hector and a Macooca called Gishelda (also turned into a garden gnome) back to their gnome garden.”
“Well, I think I need to talk to these Macoocas. Will you come with me to help me?”
“Yes, I will! They are soft and gentle cats. I am sure they will want to help.”
So, the Good Fairy and Choco, the Courageous Dachshund, flew over to talk with the Macoocas. Choco sat in the Good Fairy’s hand as they flew. When they landed, all of the Cats surrounded them to welcome them. This was their nature to trust everyone. (Some have said that perhaps Hector has a distant relation who was a Macooca!)
Between them all, they hatched a plan to lead the Leprechauns on a wild goose chase, with Choco as the master player. He told one Leprechaun of a plan the Macoocas had to herd the Leprechauns into a corral and to lock them up. This Leprechaun immediately believed Choco because he thought he was a silly dog, and too little to make up stories. Actually the Leprechaun believed him to be not very bright as well. The Leprechauns found their way to the area where this was to happen so they could lie in wait for the Macoocas. It was hard for them to contain the joy and happiness they felt at the thought of surprising these gentle creatures and dropping a net over them. What fun that would be!
In the absence of the Leprechauns the Good Fairy was able to corner the Bad Fairy and to put a spell on him, turning him into a garden gnome, and transporting him back to Ireland for appropriate punishment and rehabilitation. When she quickly returned to the Leprechauns she used her powers to turn them into law-abiding citizens of their clan who were there to do good on behalf of their King and Queen. She left them to talk with the Macoocas and to decide how they could all live comfortably and at peace in the forest. It was quite an amazing scene when the Leprechauns suddenly became reasonable and decent. They quickly released the Macoocas from the net and tried to make up for their bad treatment. Of course, the Macoocas were only too glad to make friends. Seeing all of this, the Good Fairy knew that she still had some important tasks to complete.
She did not forget about, of course, Choco, the Courageous Dachshund, She changed him back to a regular size and he chose to live with the Macoocas. Her very next action was to find the catgnome garden. When she released the cats there, it was a joy to see the cats as they at first simply stared unable to believe they were free, but very quickly, ran and jumped high up in the air to celebrate being released.
As for Hector and Gishelda, they had only eyes for one another, and once released from the cold gnome concrete quickly rubbed their faces on one another, and ran off to be together in the woods. When they talked about their future, they decided not to live in the same place, choosing instead to meet up from time to time to share adventures. Hector did, though, convince Gishelda to return home with him for a short while. He instructed her to time travel to the back door of his cottage. They both flew off in space, and Hector found himself on the dictionary. He woke up quickly because he wanted to find Gishelda. He jumped down and walked towards the living room to find Sheila—his human mother–and she of course jumped up to get him some dinner the minute she saw him.
As they entered the kitchen, they both could hear loud meowing outside the back door. When Sheila opened the door, imagine her surprise to see this gorgeous very large Maine Coon Cat outside. She immediately invited her in, and Hector and Gishelda ate their dinner together in perfect harmony. Sheila, of course, was happy and content to see that Hector had a new friend who he seemed to love very much—even at the first moment of meeting. Sheila felt a glow inside because she knew that Hector was the most charming cat in the universe. How could Gishelda not love him as much as she did?!