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Chapter 11 - Cantonese Cat Flu

Chapter 11 - Cantonese Cat Flu



Harry had learned to say his name. Ringel told Rachel that Harry wanted to go and introduce himself to the big black dog of the green house. Ringel was able to see also Harry’s thoughts, so they all set out on the move again.


Rachel hoped that Harry would learn new words soon. When from morning until evening you heard Harry say “Harry-hi-Harry-hi-Harry-Harry-Harry-hi”, it started to sound monotonous after a while, but then again a little puppy like Harry had so many things to learn that he could be excused. Peeing and pooing started to get under control and the newspapers were removed from all other floors except in Rachel’s room and the hall. Rachel had tried to teach Harry say “pee” to announce an upcoming event, but so far she had not been successful so accidents happened.

For once Rachel did not change the side of the road. She was not afraid of the big black dog any more. And for once she hoped to see the dog at the yard. There he was.

In a flash Harry was at the gate, sticking his tiny muzzle inside the bars. The big black dog greeted it by whiffing it. Harry yelped “Harry” as loud as it could and appeared very proud of himself, even though once again his bladder gave a squirt. The big black dog seemed amused – so the baby had learned to say his own name.

- Shouldn’t you have named him Peewy?, grinned the big black dog benevolently.

- Oh, dear, yes!, agreed Rachel. Then Harry could have warned of an upcoming leakage simply stating his own name! Rachel gave Ringel a reproachful look because he had been shouting “hurry” to them in the dream.

- Really, If I had spurred you on by saying something like “peewy”, what kind of encouragement that would have been? And you certainly would feel embarrassed calling for Peewy in public! Besides, you choose your own dreams!, ended Ringel his speech making a joyous cartwheel in the air.

In front of all these reasons, Rachel fell speechless.

Behind the green house there was an apple tree orchard. The trees were heavily pregnant with an abundant harvest. Their branches bent almost to the ground.

- Ooh, apples, may we come and pick a few?, pleaded Rachel.

- Well, master really loathes intruders.

The big black dog reflected for a while. Master had just left for shopping and would not come back shortly.

- Come if you must but be quick.

Rachel opened the gate and they all rushed to the apple trees. While she was gathering apples to the fold of her blouse (every time she snatched an apple loose, a minuscule voice said “ouch”), the master walked in through the open gate! He had forgotten his shopping list on the kitchen table.

- Out! Shoo! Go away!, he yelled when he saw Rachel. - Attack Beastie, bite! Drive the intruders away!

Beastie got so alarmed that he intended to let out the most terrifying bark ever, when Ringel threw some golden dust on it.

- Meow, meow, meeeooowww!, said Beastie, and no matter how much he tried to bark, only kitten sounds came out of his mouth!

Master did not understand at all how this could be possible. His brave watchdog was meowing like a cat! He forgot even the intruders when he went to open Beastie’s mouth to see if the dog had been eating cotton again. This time there were no traces of cotton. Then he remembered the intruders again.

- Who are you and what are you doing here?, he confronted Rachel.

- Harry just wanted to come and tell his name to Beastie. He has only now learned to say it, Rachel explained.

Master took a look at the little puppy that was eagerly going through his “hi-Harry-hi-Harry-Harry-hi-hi” rhyme.

- Who are you really, the master took an inquisitive look at Rachel.

- You are the little girl who once picked Beastie’s teeth, right?

- Yes, I am. My name is Rachel, and this here is Harry.

Rachel did not bother to introduce Ringel. He had already learned that grownups could not see him.

- Where did you come from?, questioned master. He was beginning to feel that these intruders were not very dangerous after all.

- We moved to Berry Lane in springtime and we always walk by this house. Once some cotton had stuck between Beastie’s teeth and I tried to take it away and we became friends. And now Harry wanted to come and tell his name to Beastie and I saw that the apples were ripe and asked Beastie if I could pick a few. Otherwise they will drop down and become bad, Rachel elaborated.

Master looked around. It was like the girl said. He had not even noticed the ripening of the apples. It could not do much harm if the girl picked a couple.

- It seems that there are enough for you also, take as many as you want. But what are we going to do about this dog?

- Tell him that he has got Cantonese Cat Flu and if he gives Beastie a handsome bone in the evening, his voice will be back to normal by morning, said Ringel to Rachel.

Rachel passed the instructions to master. He thought that this sounded most peculiar but on the other hand this girl had managed to become friends with his fearsome watchdog so why could the instructions not work as well. He decided to give it a try.

Rachel had now collected enough apples but there were so many that whenever she took a step, an apple or two rolled out of the shirt fold. Master was thinking. He wanted to help but what if the girl became a nuisance. What if she came back every day to pick apples like an intruder would?

- If I help you to carry those apples to your home, will you promise that you do not come to visit me every day?, he suggested.

That was a strange proposal but why not.

- Okay, said Rachel and let the master take half of the apples to the fold of his shirt.

A totally brand new sight met Rachel’s Dad when he was watching towards Blueberry Road while drinking his afternoon coffee as customary. First along the Berry Lane came jumping Harry, followed by a grand looking big black dog, followed by her daughter with a pile of apples in her lap, followed by an older gentleman who also had a pile of apples in his lap. (And of course there was the zigzagging Ringel unseen by Dad.)

The apple caravan came inside and straight into the kitchen where Rachel introduced Dad and master to each other.

- Thank you, how nice looking apples, Dad thanked. – What if I offer you a cup of coffee as reward, would that be all right?

Master had not yet had his afternoon coffee so he accepted the offer, a little reluctantly.

- Do you by any chance play chess?, master asked politely from Dad when he noticed a chessboard on the living room table.

- Yes, I used to but since we moved here I do not have a chess mate to play with, Dad replied and poured some coffee for them.

- Well, I used to also play when I was younger. I am not sure if I could any more, added master in a voice that Dad could only answer in one way, and he was thoroughly happy to say it:

- Should we play a game?

It was becoming quite crowded at the hammock all of them, Rachel, Harry, Beastie and Ringel, squeezed themselves on it.

Rachel wanted to ponder on a Profound Question of Life because there was so much thinking power present (well, to be perfectly honest you had to pay attention to Harry’s thinking or whatever power it was since occasionally it had a tendency of coming out of his bottom, but right now he started snorting like he always did before falling asleep).

- Why do people want to avoid other people when they don’t even know each other? Who knows, they might even become good friends.

- Humans are afraid of many things, Ringel replied. Ringel was an expert in human issues; he had been helping people for such a long time.

- What are people afraid of?

- They are afraid that if you let someone come close and then they leave, you heart hurts. Some people are so afraid of their heart hurting that they do not want anyone come close. Then no one can leave either.

Rachel thought this strange and pondered on:

- When someone leaves, they make space for someone else to come in. If the young birds never left their nests, there wouldn’t be any space for new hatchlings!

- Do you remember when I once told you that if you hurt your heart it aches more than if you fall down even though you do not get a bruise in your heart?, asked Ringel.

Sure Rachel remembered it.

- A bruise heals quickly but the pain of heart heals much slower, continued Ringel.

- Has Beastie’s master had heartache?

- Meow, said Beastie and wagged his tail. It meant “yes” in cat language.

- Yes, and that is why he is keeping a distance to people. Before today, he has only been to shop and nowhere else in a long time, confirmed Ringel.

- But then it is really good that he came here!

- Yes, it is. Now his heart starts healing.

The thinking team stayed put on the hammock, resting for a while. This was such a Profound Question of Life that Rachel wanted to come back to the subject at some later point.

Soon the thought escaped his mind when Harry woke up from his nap and wanted to teach Beastie some buggie hunting. Luckily the buggies had had plenty of practice with Harry because Beastie was a much cleverer opponent for them. Bangle made sure that the Buggie Queen did not lose any subordinates during the game. When it looked as if a buggie would be in trouble, he blew a cotton ball around it and cotton was the one thing that Beastie never wanted to taste again.

When Beastie and Harry finally finished the game panting, there were dozens of cotton balls circling the yard. Rachel learned later that the cotton buggies got ten points every time they bumped into each other and twenty, if three bumped into each other at the same time!

The master stayed long at Rachel’s home and when he left, Dad told her that they had agreed to have a chess tournament between themselves once a week. It was not hard to tell that Dad was feeling good! Mom also felt good when she heard that Dad had found a friend to play chess with in the neighbourhood!

Beastie was feeling good in the evening when he got a generous bone to chew, and the next morning master felt good when he heard Beastie bark at intruders with its tough watchdog voice.

Ringel felt good because he had found an acquaintance for Rachel’s family. Harry felt good because he had learned to say his name. Rachel was feeling good because everything in life simply was so good right now!



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