by Jimmy Dent
I was seven or eight years old, I don't remember exactly which, and was on holiday but not exactly happy. You see I was disappointed that we were spending our week of annual holiday in a tent in the countryside, and not as usual, in a caravan on the coast.
We had not long arrived back at the campsite after visiting some building or other of historical interest, that had thrilled the rest of the family but had bored me silly.
By pleading and whining I managed to get permission from Mum to explore the surrounding fields while the others prepared a meal.
Wandering along a country path I found myself alongside a field with a tall crop, what exactly the crop was I did not know but it was tall and looked like it might be fun to walk through.
So over the fence I went and, without regard to the damage I was doing, started to force a path through what, in my childhood imagination, was a danger filled jungle.
Before I had got very far through the field I became aware of a rustling ahead and to the left of me.
All of a sudden I started to fear that the dangerous animals that I was hunting were not in my imagination but very real, I froze to the spot.
The rustling continued for a moment and then ceased. Silence, and then the unmistakable meowww of a kitten.
I unfroze myself, and started to part the crop to search for the kitten. She took some finding but there she was staring up at me with a very bewildered look on her face.
Crouching down, I extended my hand to her, she drew back but did not run. I was able to take hold of the little black and white kitten without any scratches or bites of protest.
I had always wanted a puppy as a boy, never even considered a kitten, but had been firmly told that I could not have one as I would not look after it, take it for walks and all.
There in the field holding the kitten it came to me that my parents would not be able to put up as many objections to a cat as they did to a dog.
Making my way back through the field to the fence I realized that I would not be able to climb the fence and hold onto the kitten. Leaning over the fence, I set the kitten down.
She stayed there watching as I climbed over the fence, only to disappear back through the fence as soon as I was on the same side as her.
This game was repeated several times. Time had been slipping by, and I knew that I was now in hot water for staying away for far longer than I'd been told I could. Very reluctantly I started to move off down the path and back to the campsite. Looking back over my shoulder what did I see? Yes, you've guessed it, my little friend was following me!
Luckily she allowed me to pick her up again and I swiftly made my way back to my parents.
I was in trouble, and it was not the best of times to persuade Mum and Dad to let me keep my new found friend. No, I was told firmly, put it down you don't know where it's been. I was confined to the tent for the rest of the evening, in which I spent a lot of time sobbing and cursing my parents.
In the morning when I awoke, Dad was already up and I could hear him outside the tent.
Sticking my head out to see what it was he was up to, I was both surprised and delighted to discover that the kitten was being fed morsels of sausage by Dad. Obviously attitudes had softened overnight, and I worked upon this with all the persuasion I could muster, until finally I was told I could keep her if she did not belong to anyone.
The next day, which was the last of our holiday, we visited the farm manager of the field that I had found Alice, as I had decided her name was.
The manager identified Alice as one of a litter the farm cat had about six months ago. He said they had plenty of these semi-feral farm cats and we were welcome to keep her. I was overjoyed.
Back home I quickly learnt all that I could about caring for a cat, and Alice thrived. She was with me throughout the rest of my childhood years, through my teenage and with me almost till I married.
I could not have wished for a better pet she taught me so much, about caring and giving love.
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