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Chapter Two: The Man with the Pan

The next morning, as Oliver had predicted, the master came out of his house and called for his cats. He was an older man, white in the beard, but still a hard and active worker. He greeted the day with a smile, placed a pan of food on the open porch of the big white house, and settled back into his favorite rocker while he waited for the animals to come.

"There's my Oliver," the man said with a broad smile as the large tom bounded up the steps and rubbed the length of his body against his leg. The cat looked at him and meowed, received a gentle stroke of the head, and then went to eat his breakfast.

Molly was already there.

Sam came and sat some distance away, watching the others through slitted green eyes.

Jaz appeared last. Her joints were made stiff by bad weather and the cramped conditions of the barn, but still she was pleased to see the master and made her way to him as quickly as she could.

When Molly finished eating, she looked up at the man, who called to her and scooped her into his lap.

Oliver gave her an I-told-you-so smile.

Sam, who was becoming increasingly uncomfortable, began puffing his fur and swishing his tail.

"Sammy," the man called to him, extending his hand. "Come here, pretty boy."

The cat ignored him. How do you like being ignored? he said in his thoughts. Like you are nothing.

But the man soon turned his attention back to Molly, Oliver, and Jaz.

Sam had had enough. He stood and disappeared into the tall grass. Today he would rely on himself for sustenance, not the cruel old man who lived in the house.

As he neared the field, his heart swelled with pride. By his actions, he decided, he would teach the others how to be free.

Copyright 2010 C. L. Richardson, All Rights Reserved; "Fourtails" Unlost Soul