The Two Cats and a River
By Troy Morash
At around the time Man was being invented, there was the theory that a cat could lose one of its nine lives just by being under water for one second. For a cat this was understandably undesirable as not all a cat’s lives were necessarily spent as a cat, at least at that time. Therefore cats, being superstitious and cautious creatures, avoided water like the plague.
During this illustrious time there were two rather adventurous cats. One was black and the other was caramel. And they had set out many years ago to find a teacher who could teach them to think like gods.
One day they came to a raging river. Upon closer inspection the question naturally arose: how to cross the ten-meter span without getting wet?
The caramel cat was lazy and imagined that living a happier and more intelligent life meant nothing more than finding ways to make less and less effort. So without wasting another thought he jumped onto a stepping-stone near the bank.
‘Maybe we should think this through. The stepping-stones look slippery and are far and few between,’ said the black cat hesitatingly.
‘What’s there to think about, come on,’ his friend called after him. But when the lazy cat turned around he slipped into the water. And to his friend’s horror, the caramel cat slipped under the water and stayed there for more than a second thereby losing a life.
‘The only thing to do is to build a bridge,’ decided the black cat. Luckily he had read many books on engineering. He began straight away. He felled trees, collected stones, cleared brush, built a bridge pier and weaved rope from his own fur. The lazy cat just stared and laughed in amazement, ‘that seems like an awful lot of work. One just needs to be more careful, that’s all!’
But the black cat made no reply. He finalized his calculations as the lazy cat basked in the sun.
Once the lazy cat was dry and had had a nap he was ready to try to cross the river once more. This time he had some experience and took a moment to study the rocks that lay in the river and so managed to go much further than he had on the first attempt. He had gone two meters when suddenly a rock rolled over. The lazy cat naturally lost his balance and fell into the water losing yet another life.
Seeing this the black cat became all the more determined to finish his bridge. After building a model, he tied posts, built a kiln, made cement and mined for iron, coal and gold.
‘That was strange,’ the lazy cat said as he came back up onto the bank of the river dripping with water, ‘I must learn to be more careful next time and look out for those loose rocks.’ And he laid himself out in the sun.
On the third attempt the lazy cat managed to get half way across and rested on a small sandy island. He shouted back to his friend, ‘Hey, look at me. I’m half way!’ Then suddenly a large wave threw the lazy cat into the water taking away yet other life for it had been under the water for more than a second.
The fourth and fifth attempts brought the cat even closer to the other side. There was no turning back now. He only had four lives left. Then he noticed how the sepping-stones grew scarcer. The next stone was a good two meters away and it would take all the luck in the world to make the leap accurately. He decided to wait on a boulder and take a nap before making the big leap. Everything had to be planned
Meanwhile the black cat had finished setting the foundations of the bridge. He too was very tired but did not stop for a break. There was too much work to be done.
When the time came to make the leap the lazy cat was understandably nervous. The black cat warned him that the distance was too great but this only angered the lazy cat. There was nothing he could do about that now. He was trapped in the river and he didn’t think he had enough lives to return. He took a step back in order to get some space to build up speed. But as he stepped back he slipped off the boulder and into the water and promptly lost another live.
‘That’s six,’ his friend yelled.
‘No it isn’t! Anyway who’s counting?’
Once the lazy cat was dry, he wasted no time in taking the big leap, without any more thinking. ‘It’s doing all that thinking that has gotten me into trouble in the first place,’ he fumed. He leaped and as expected missed the far rock and slipped into the water, losing another life. He grappled with the slippery rock but couldn’t get a grip and slipped underneath the water again. Now he only had one life
left. His little heart was beating frantically. He felt different now that he only had one life left. He felt frightened, as does anyone with only one life.
After he was dry he made the final journey and was relieved to have reached the other side. The black cat had by this time managed to finish his bridge and after a little catnip cake and milky tea to celebrate, he walked across.
‘Big deal,’ his friend said. You did all that work for nothing. I told you it was possible to cross the river without all that work.’
‘Yes but you lost eight lives in the process.’
‘Says who? That is only silly superstition. You can’t prove anything.’
‘Nor do I have to,’ the black cat argued.
They continued on for many miles before coming to a sea. But that is another story. And according to the rumors, the lazy cat performed many noble deeds to the end of his life, which was not as long as he would have liked.