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The Cat That Walked By Himself

by Rudyard Kipling

Chapter     1     2     3     4     5

     Next night the Woman cut great green armfuls of fresh grass from the water meadows and dried it before the fire so that it smelled like new-mown hay, and she sat at the mouth of the cave and plaited a halter out of horsehide, and she looked at the shoulder of mutton bone---at the big broad blade bone---and she made a magic. She made the second Singing Magic in the world.
     Out in the wild woods all the wild animals wondered what had happened to Wild Dog, and at last Wild Horse stamped with his foot and said, "I will go and see and say why Wild Dog has not returned. Cat, come with me."
     "Nenni," said the Cat. "I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me. I will not come." But all the same he followed Wild Horse softly, very softly, and hid himself where he could hear everything.
     When the Woman heard Wild Horse tripping and stumbling on his long mane she laughed and said, "Here comes the second wild thing out of the wild woods. What do you want?"
     Wild Horse said, "O, my enemy and wife of my enemy, where is Wild Dog?"
     The Woman laughed and picked up the blade bone and looked at it and said, "Wild thing out of the wild woods, you did not come here for Wild Dog, but for the sake of this good grass."
     And Wild Horse, tripping and stumbling on his long mane, said, "That is true; give it to me to eat."
     The Woman said, "Wild thing out of the wild woods, bend your wild head and wear what I give you and you shall eat the wonderful grass three times a day."
     "Ah," said the Cat listening, "this is a clever Woman, but she is not so clever as I am."
     Wild Horse bent his wild head, and the Woman slipped the plaited hide halter over it, and Wild Horse breathed on the woman's feet and said, "O, my mistress, and wife of my master, I will be your servant for the sake of the wonderful grass."
     "Ah," said the Cat listening, "that is a very foolish Horse." And he went back through the wet wild woods, waving his wild tail and walking by his wild lone.

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