Chapter I: In Which Madeline Loses Her Kitten
“Luna? Where are you Luna?”
Madeline slumped down on the wet grass, burying her head in her hands, salty tears beginning to swell in the corners of her eyes. Where had her daft kitten gotten to this time?
She’d searched all of her usual hiding places; under the stairs, cuddled up in the warm linen basket, behind the shed amidst the daises and dandelions. Luna loved eating the dandelions, no matter how many times she was told not to. Madeline had even tried them once whilst Luna sat curled up in her lap – she hadn’t been impressed.
“What’s wrong pet?” Said the kind voice of Mr Gardener, her next door neighbour.
“Luna’s gone,” Maddy sobbed.
“Again?” Mr Gardener tried to not laugh. From his experience that daft wee kitten was always disappearing on grand quests and adventures, but she’d always managed to find her way home by tea time. “I’m sure she’ll be back soon – no doubt she’s out on an adventure to save the queen of cats, I’m sure that’s where she’s gotten to.”
“But…I…” Maddy felt a tear dribble down her chin and land on her knee. “…I want to help save the queen of cats too,”
Mr Gardener laughed to himself. “Aww pet, I’m sure you do, and you know what? You’d make an excellent adventurer you would – but only fellow cats can save the queen of cats. How about you go put a couple of kippers in the pan, your wee kitten will be back before they’ve finished frying.”
“That I’m sure of.”
Madeline looked up at the kindly old man and brushed the tears from her eyes. She tried to smile, but it made her look like she was about to sneeze. “Thank you Mr Gardener. I’m sure you’re right,” She hopped up, and tried to smile again, only this time more successfully.
Mr Gardener tipped his hat and walked away laughing as Maddy skipped toward the kitchen.
Her mum helped her prepare the kippers, and the little girl watched them fry in the fresh butter, licking her lips. They looked so good! Maybe she should just eat them herself…but then she thought again of her scruffy little kitten and she felt so guilty about wanting to eat her friend’s dinner that she went and sat in the corner of the kitchen and refused to speak to her mum until the kippers were steaming on a plate.
The plate was placed out on the back porch by an excited Maddy, and she settled down on the swinging chair waiting for her kitten to appear. After a little while she curled up on the cushions and drifted to sleep, awakened only by her father who slowly picked her up and carried her to bed. Through bleary eyes Maddy saw that the kippers were still where she had left them, and Luna was no-where to be seen. She promised herself never to believe what Mr Gardener said ever ever again.
It was a promise she wouldn’t remember in the morning.
She awoke at the crack of dawn and excitedly ran down the stairs from her room, the flaps of her robe dragging along the green carpet. She darted through the kitchen and into the lounge room to see if Luna was curled up on the beanbag. She wasn’t. Running toward the back garden her face fell as she saw the two kippers untouched on the patio outside. She stamped her foot on the floor and started to cry.
“Oh, Luna! Where have you gotten to?”
All through school that morning Madeline couldn’t concentrate. She couldn’t work out the maths problems she was given because she was thinking about Luna. When she got to do art in the afternoon, all she could think to draw was a little black kitten with a floppy ear. During recess and lunch she scoured the school playground in-case she had decided to come and find her at school. But, once again, Luna was no-where to be seen. So half way through lunch she started to cry again, and it took Miss Roberts several minutes to get Maddy to talk about why she was crying, and twice as long to calm her down. For the rest of the afternoon Madeline said nothing, and when home-time came she walked home slowly, looking in every bush and behind every tree to see if Luna was playing some epic game of hide and go seek with her. If she was, then Luna was the most amazing hider Madeline had ever seen.
Arriving home, Madeline sat and ate her blackberry jam sandwich in the garden keeping an eye out for Luna. When the sun started to set and the stars blinked out of their slumber her mum appeared and gave her daughter a big cuddle, and they both sat there for half an hour or so whilst Madeline cried into her mum’s lap. She was sure now that Luna had deserted her and would never be back.
She wondered what she had done wrong. Had she given her friend too many hugs and kisses? Were her hugs and kisses not good enough? Maybe Luna had found someone who made better kippers, or didn’t roll around so much in her sleep. That must really annoy her, having to move or be squashed whenever they slept together. But Madeline loved sleeping with Luna, having the little animal all curled up on her belly, purring softly, she loved it so, she loved Luna so. But maybe Luna didn’t love Madeline any more, maybe Luna hated Madeline so much that she was happy just to run away and never see her again.
The thought of Madeline not seeing Luna ever ever again sent her shaking into such a fit of tears and sobs that her mum decided it was time for her to go to bed, and she sat holding Maddy until she drifted off to sleep.
When Madeline awoke the next morning she didn’t even bother getting out of bed. What was the point? Luna wouldn’t be anywhere. That stupid cat! She stamped her feet under the covers. How dare she run away and make someone worry so much? She was so angry with that kitten that if she were to ever return Madeline was just going to ignore her. No kippers. No cuddles. No kisses. Nope!
How could she though? How could she just ignore her beautiful little cat, whenever she looked into those deep green eyes Madeline’s heart melted and she wanted to take Luna into her arms and never, ever let her go. She missed her so much!
Lying there, watching the sun glint in through the gap in her curtains, watching the white clouds drift slowly through the blue sky, Madeline decided that if Luna were to ever be found, then she would have to go on an adventure.
Maddy climbed out of bed and slid over to her cupboard. Hidden in a box at the bottom was a small notebook that her mum had given her for her birthday. She grabbed this, and some crayons, and threw herself onto her bed. Onto the front page of the book she drew the best picture of Luna that she could, right down to the sparkling green eyes and floppy left ear. She wrote the kitten’s name neatly across the bottom, and then wrote L O S S E D across the top. She tore the page from the pad and left it on the bed whilst she got dressed into her blue denim dungarees and long sleeve orange top.
As soon as she was she walked downstairs and smiled at her mum, giving her a little hug before climbing up onto the chair and taking a few slices of bread from the container. Her mum helped her make a blackberry jam sandwich, and smiled as Madeline explained to her that she was going on a “queft to find Luna, and she wasn’t going to be back until she did,”
“That’s a lovely idea, dear,” Her mum said. “Here,”
Her mum took the sandwiches and wrapped them up in a paper bag. She went to the fridge and took out a couple of kippers which she fried whilst listening to Madeline explain her queft in more detail. Once ready, the kippers were wrapped in silver foil and placed inside Madeline’s lunch box beside the sandwiches and an apple. Madeline smiled at her mum and raced upstairs.
She emptied the contents of her school bag onto the floor and put her lunchbox inside. She threw in Cuddles – her toy bear – as well as her notepad, her crayons, her red jumper and her sunglasses. She pulled her green hat from the cupboard and placed it over her long dark hair. The last thing she put on was her soft red jacket, because she knew Luna liked snuggling up to that the most. She looked at herself up and down in the mirror.
There was something missing.
She darted to the cupboard and pulled out her umbrella. Returning to the mirror she looked at herself and smiled.
“I’m a real adventurer now! All good adventurers have a walking stick.”
She picked up the picture she had drawn of Luna and folded it neatly into her jacket pocket. As she left the house, her mum and dad waved goodbye with smiling faces, Madeline was sure she would be back with Luna before lunchtime.
How hard could it be to find a kitten anyhow?