65 Voyage of discovery...

Misty finally had her kittens but has kept them under the house, as any good mother cat would, to protect them until they are old enough to come out in the yard and play and explore safely. However, one brave, adventurous kitten found its way out from under the house at a very young age... much too young to be doing that sort of thing. This is how that came to pass.

Misty was conducting a history lesson for her little kittens. Of course like most kittens, Thomas had been playing very hard before the lesson started and was very tired and sleepy. The lesson was about Christopher Columbus and his voyage of discovery looking for a shorter route to the West Indies. As the lesson started Misty told the kittens all about the problems Christopher Columbus had getting money for the voyage. At this very moment Thomas could not stay awake even a second longer and he fell asleep... purring just quietly enough that Misty didn't notice. Misty continued on with how Columbus went to the Queen of Spain to get her to help him and how she decided to help with the voyage. Columbus and his men started out and sailed for days and days, even weeks and weeks looking for the West Indies. His men got restless and wanted to turn back and go home but Columbus was determined to go forward and find his goal. Misty went on to tell the kittens all about how Christopher Columbus didn't find the West Indies after all but he did find America. However, he thought he had found the West Indies and called the natives he found there Indians. It was at this point in the lesson that Thomas woke up just in time to hear Misty say "...so Christopher Columbus never did find the West Indies. Now next time we will be studying....."

Everyone knows about how curious cats are. Well curiosity is even stronger in kittens and with Thomas even stronger than with most other kittens. He knew that Christopher Columbus wanted to find the West Indies but didn't find it. What he didn't know was that he was famous for finding America because Thomas had slept through that part of the lesson. Thomas wanted to be the one to find the West Indies... whatever that was. Christopher Columbus was famous and he didn't even find what he was looking for. Imagine how famous Thomas would be if he found it. The thought made him a little giddy just thinking about it.

First he had to figure out how one went about looking for something when one didn't even know what it was. That presented him with a problem but he was not going to be stopped by a little detail like that. He looked all around the world where they lived under the house. It was dark. His eyes were getting better every day and he could see some things in the dark. He could see a bright light at one end of the world into which his mom, Misty, and the other cats would sometimes disappear and be gone for long times. Of course for a kitten even a few minutes is a long time.

He thought and thought about the problem and finally decided that if the West Indies was where he and his mom and the other kittens were then surely his mom would have said as much. Of course he did sleep through much of the lesson so maybe she had said it was and he just didn't hear her say it. He finally decided that it must be somewhere else otherwise it wouldn't still need to be found. This business of being a kitten was so confusing and difficult. There was so much to learn and so much playing and eating and sleeping to be done. Now on top of all that there was this very important job of finding the West Indies. He decided he would just have to look somewhere else for it. He began by looking at the whole world. He discovered it was longer in one direction than the other and the bright light was in the middle of one end. Where would be the best place to look? Certainly the best place would be the darkest place the farthest away. The other places must have been discovered by now and the place where the bright light was certainly must have been discovered because he saw his mom and the other cats go there. If the West Indies were there certainly they would have noticed.

He remembered that Christopher Columbus had to make lots of preparations for his trip. Maybe he should do the same. What preparations should a kitten about to venture out on such a great mission make? He was hungry. Maybe a tummy full of milk would be a good idea. After all, Columbus and his men had taken lots of food with them. And then of course a kitten nap... he was much too small to take a cat nap.

With all preparations he could think of completed he struck out for the darkest corner of the world he could see. He was a little scared at first... because such a venture is a little scary. He had not gone far when he ran into something stringy and sticky. Suddenly there was a small dark thing with a bunch of legs sitting on his nose... and very mad. When it finally calmed down a little Thomas learned that it was a spider named Walter and that he had accidently destroyed it's home. No wonder it was mad. Thomas asked if this was the West Indies and the spider said that it most certainly was not. The spider got off Thomas' nose and started to rebuild his home. Thomas promised to try to be more careful in the future and began again to look for the West Indies.

He hadn't gotten far when his mom came and got him and took him back to their bed. She cleaned the spiders home off his face and out of his whiskers with her tongue and then made him eat again and take another kitten nap. How was he going to make his discovery and become famous if his mom was going to keep getting him like this? Maybe Christopher Columbus' mom did the same thing and that might be why Columbus never found the West Indies. This discovery business was such a difficult job.

When Thomas woke up from his kitten nap he started out again on his quest for the West Indies and fame. He was very careful this time not to disturb the spiders home and continued past where his mom had picked him up earlier. He was finally on his way with high hopes of success this time.

All of a sudden he came on a strange slimy sort of thing. He had never seen anything like it before and his mom had not told him about anything like it either. He prodded it with a paw and sniffed at it with his nose. Suddenly it moved and asked him to please stop doing that. He asked it what it was and it said it was a snail named William and proud of it. It already knew all about Thomas and the other kittens since it lived under the house too and had been there when the kittens were born. In fact, ever since then it had been trying to get to a special place under the house. Snails move very slowly as everyone knows... except for the kitten of course. Thomas told the snail that he was on a mission looking for the West Indies and asked if the snail knew where that might be. The snail said he didn't even know what the West Indies was. Thomas said he didn't know what it was either but it was very important for him to find it. Since Thomas was going in the same direction as the snail it asked Thomas to help it get to the special place. Kittens can move much faster than snails. Of course Thomas was glad for the company and helped the snail onto his back. Together they began again to look for the West Indies.

Thomas asked the snail about the special place it was trying to reach. The snail said it was a rather large pond of water that gathers at one point under the house under a pipe that leaks a little. It is a good place for snails and other creatures to visit. Thomas was excited because he remembered that Columbus had to cross a lot of water to look for the West Indies. This meant that maybe he was looking in the right place. By and by they came to the large pond. Thomas was a little disappointed because it didn't seem all that big to him. The snail pointed out that it sure looked big to it because snails are really small and everything looks big to them. Thomas let the snail down off his back and thanked it for all the help it had given him in getting this far along his journey.

The pond was really small but, oh well, one had to work with what one had available and it seemed to be the only water around. Thomas could see it would be easy to walk around the pond but if Columbus had sailed across the water then he would have to do the same if he wanted to find the West Indies. He didn't have a ship and didn't know how to make one so he just wadded into the water and in no time came out on the other side. That didn't seem too hard. He was wet and a little dirty though and he knew his mom would scold him for that.

Suddenly he noticed a movement in the deeper darkness beside the pond and then a mighty splash that caused him to get wet all over. Now his mom would really be mad. He looked at the pond and saw a strange green thing sitting in the middle of it looking back at him. He was a little scared but his curiosity kept him from running away. He asked it what it was and it croaked back that it was a frog and a very fine frog at that. Thomas asked if this was the West Indies and the frog said that it didn't know what that was but as far as it knew it was not. It was ‘the pond'.

Now that Thomas was making such promising progress in his venture his mom once again came and got him and took him back to their bed! She was mad about how dirty and wet he had gotten and she fussed at him all the time she was cleaning him up with her tongue. He hated when she fussed at him while she cleaned him. He loved it when she cleaned him with her tongue and purred while she was doing it. Didn't she realize that an explorer kitten was bound to get dirty. Exploring was dirty work as everyone knows... at least he thought everyone should know it.

It almost seemed hopeless trying to find the West Indies. His mom just wouldn't let him keep looking for it. On the other hand, he was hungry again and in need of another kitten nap. He would just have to try looking again later. Right now some warm milk and a nap seemed like a very nice thing to be doing.

Once again after a bath, full tummy of milk and kitten nap he was ready to make another effort at finding the West Indies. He knew it wasn't at the spiders home or the pond. He would start looking deeper in the darkest corner beyond the pond. That surely was the most likely place for something that had not yet been discovered. Certainly if Christopher Columbus had looked in the darkest corner under the house he would have found the West Indies.

This time he headed straight for the darkest corner and it seemed he was there in no time at all. This was how discovering things was supposed to be... he was sure of it now. He just knew that at last he was about to make the discovery and then he would be famous.

Suddenly he became aware of something in the dark corner. He could hear noises and just barely see movement. His fur frizzed up and his tiny pointed tail looked like a bottle brush... a very little bottle brush to be sure but a bottle brush non the less. His back arched up and he danced on his toes with his side turned to the movement. Thomas was scared and wanted to run away but explorers couldn't do that or they would never get any discovering done. Maybe he would scare it off by his fierce looks even if he was scared. He would stay and face whatever it was moving and making noise in the dark. He stayed all puffed up and fierce as possible in hopes it would flee in terror and he could get on with discovering the West Indies.

Just about that time one of the big cats went through the light at the other end of the world and it made the corner light up just a little bit. Now Thomas could see the creature and it was a tiny little animal that was in the corner and would surely have fled in terror except that Thomas was in the way. Thomas asked it what it was and it informed him that it was a mouse baby named Benjamin. It knew about cats because it's mother had held several classes on cats. Cats are very important creatures in the life of a mouse you know.

The mouse asked Thomas if he was going to eat it. Thomas said certainly not, why would he want to eat a mouse... he ate warm milk from his mother. Misty had not gotten to lessons about mice and things like that yet since the kittens were still so small and only ate milk. Then the mouse said that his mother would be very upset if she knew he had been talking to a cat... kitten. Thomas didn't know why but he thought his mom would also be upset if she found out he had been talking to a mouse. They agreed to keep it a secret from their mothers. Thomas asked if where they were was the West Indies and the mouse said he didn't know what the West Indies was but he was pretty sure it was just plain old ‘home'. Thomas thanked him and continued on his way back towards the bright light this time since he had already looked just about everywhere else in the world.

Before he got very far his mom collected him again for the usual bath, milk and nap. He had begun to consider it all part of exploring and since he was hungry and tired he didn't mind this time. He would explore the bright light next time.

When Thomas woke up and set out again he was pretty sure he knew where the West Indies had to be. It had to be through the bright light. He headed straight for it and soon was at the edge of the world in a very bright light. It was so bright that he could hardly see. His eyes were the tiniest slits possible. He slowly climbed up on a ledge at the very edge of the world and a wonderful sight met his eyes. There was another world beyond the edge of the world he knew. It was green and all sorts of other colors. He ventured out into the new world and knew he would find his goal soon.

He saw a big yellow cat nearby. He was scared of the new cat but being an explorer there was nothing else to do but go closer and ask him if he knew where the West Indies was and that is exactly what he did. He asked the yellow cat who he was and if he could help him find the West Indies. The yellow cat told him that he was the cat from next door and that his name was Tigger. Tigger asked the kitten why he wanted to find the West Indies. So Thomas told him the

whole story about the lesson and how he had slept through part of it and how important it was to find the West Indies so he would be famous. Tigger listened quietly as the kitten talked with so much excitement that it reminded Tigger of when he was a little kitten and excited about his own dreams of adventure and fame. After thinking about it for a little while Tigger decided to make the kitten feel good by telling him that he had found the West Indies. He told Thomas that it was indeed the West Indies and that he just hadn't noticed until Thomas asked him about it. Of course that made Thomas very happy but before he could even ask Tigger about what fame was and when he would get it his mom came and got him and took him back through the great light into the other world for another bath, milk and a nap.

As Thomas snuggled close to his mom, his tummy full of warm milk and all clean from his bath he felt her arm pull him closer to her. He loved the sound of her heart and the soft rise and fall of her warm soft body as she breathed. Her deep purr mingled with his own tiny purr and that of his siblings and he felt very contented. Maybe this was what fame was. If it was, he was completely satisfied and he thought that Christopher Columbus must have felt much the same. Then he slowly drifted off into a sleep occupied with dreams of his next adventure...

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