Many amazing animals make their temporary homes at animal shelters. This is the story of Lewis, a cat who came to a shelter after a thrilling adventure on the high seas.
You can be part of the next adventure of an animal in need of a home by becoming their adoptive family.
Tales from the Shelter is a recurring series that is intended for children of all ages.
Tales from the Shelter # 1: Lewis The Pirate Cat
Things did look better in the morning, that was true. Certainly shelter on a pirate ship was better than being in a lifeboat with dwindling food supplies, and Lewis began to feel saddened by his lack of gratitude for their rescue. He left the kittens sleeping on the felted pillow they’d been given and made his way on deck. The sight of sailors bustling about the Puss in Boots was a familiar scene after Lewis’s time serving on the Whittington, and he was cheered by the thought that at least he could earn his keep by helping to sail this ship. Except that he feared that rather than making a safe and entirely legal journey from port to port, the Boots lived a permanent life at sea–stealing the cargos of other ships.
Before Lewis had gone far up the deck, he was greeted by the Russian Blue who’d spoken to him in the lifeboat the night before. “My name is Grizzly,” the Blue told Lewis with a smile. “But everyone calls me Mouse. I’m the first mate of this ship. The captain is Johnny One-Sock. We welcome you and your little ones on board.”
Lewis was about to ask how a fierce pirate could come to have such a name as Mouse, but he thought better of it. “I’m Lewis,” he said. “And I am remiss in not thanking you for rescuing us last night. We would surely have perished if not for your kindness. I am a sailor and I am happy to work for our board.”
Mouse twitched the end of his tail. “Well, I’m sure we can find some task for you.” He started to walk along the deck and Lewis rushed to keep step with him.
“But I must ask,” said Lewis bravely, “to speak to Captain One-Sock.”
“Why would you want that?”
“Because I–need to,” said Lewis, less bravely.
Mouse stopped to call an order to a sailor who was aloft in the rigging. The cat leaped to another spar and began to unfurl a sail.
“What’s our heading?” Lewis ventured to ask.
“I suggest you ask the captain when you speak to him,” Mouse replied. “He’s finishing his breakfast now, so we’ll pay him a visit.”
It was a short walk to the captain’s cabin, and the whole time, Lewis concentrated on trying to keep his fur lying serenely on his back and tail so as not to show his nervousness. A sailor opened the door for them, and the smell of roasted finch drifted out onto the open deck.
Captain One-Sock was a large orange tabby with abundant fur that danced about in the air coming through the windows. He sat on a red cushion with a china plate of food on the floor before him. The captain looked at his visitors for a moment before licking his paw and using it to clean the tiniest speck of finch from his chin. “Our castaway,” he said finally, to Mouse.
“Yes, Sir. This is Lewis, a sailor from the Dick Whittington.”
“Ah, the Whittington,” Captain One-Sock said. “We found but little of your cargo after the wreck. A pity, I had heard you were carrying silk. My cabin could use some new pillows.” His tail lashed once.
Lewis forced his words to remain civil. “Yes, Sir. I’ve no doubt the silk was ruined by the waves.”
The Captain nodded. “A pity,” he repeated. “Well, state your business, Lewis.”
“Sir, I would like to express our gratitude for your saving us. We would–”
The Captain dug a claw into a roasted finch wing. “Yes, yes. No need to mention it.”
Lewis was impressed by the captain for the first time. A man of modesty, it seemed, which was not a trait he thought likely to be found in the character of a pirate captain. Lewis was not sure if that was a help to his case or not. Well, best to have it out, he supposed. “Sir, I am happy to work to keep up the ship until we can be let off at whichever port you next call at. But I must ask,” he said, summoning his bravado once again, “that until we are put off the ship, that you and your crew refrain from acts of piracy, as undoubtedly it will be a very bad influence on the character of the three kittens of whom you now find yourselves the guardians.”
It seemed that the whole ship had gone quiet. Even the wind ceased to blow through the window and lift the wisps of the captain’s fur. The world was holding its breath for the captain’s answer.
But the captain did not answer. He looked to Mouse, who was twitching his ears back and forth in surprise, and he looked to Lewis, who tried to look confident and quite as if he were in the habit of making demands of powerful strangers. The captain looked down at his finch, but the bird of course bore no emotion. “I see,” said Captain One-Sock finally. “I see. Well, it may interest you to know, Lewis, that the Puss in Boots is not currently involved in menacing shipping. We have quite another goal in mind at this time.”
“Oh,” said Lewis, and his voice sounded as high and squeaky as that of the kittens. After hearing himself, he decided not to say anything else for the moment.
“We seek an island,” said the captain. “And what is buried there.” He picked up his finch wing again. “Treasure. Isn’t that so, Mouse?”
“Yes, sir,” Mouse replied.
“Oh,” said Lewis again. “And to whom does this treasure belong?”
The captain showed no surprise at Lewis’s impertinence this time. “Not us,” he informed him coolly. “But not anyone else, either. Not anymore. The treasure’s been there a hundred years now, and its owners are long gone. It’s for the finders alone. If you serve as a sailor here, Lewis, you will have a share in it, and if you don’t claim it, that is your choice. But I must inform you that we are not heading toward any known port at this time. You and your charges will be with us for a while.”
Lewis let out a breath. “Very well, Sir,” he said, as calmly as he could. “I owe you my service in exchange for my life. As far as the treasure–the kittens are alone in the world now, and if I can lay aside some funds for their keep and education, then I would be well advised to do so.”
A hint of a smile crossed Mouse’s face and the tip of his gray tail twitched. “So you’ll take some treasure, will you?” he asked. “Be careful, my good man, or you may find you become a pirate yourself!”