The cellar is a scary place

Cover (600)You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.
   – from “Winnie-the-Pooh” by A.A. Milne (1882-1956)

We are wise to encourage our children to read literature that teaches them this important truth. Life will not always be easy, the world will not always be kind, and children should learn they can overcome hardships through reliance on their own courage, strength, and wisdom.  

The cellar is a scary place

Cat and Rat explore the cellar of the Three-Story House; excerpt from the children’s novel ‘Scrawny Dog, Hungry Cat, and Fat Rat’

The cellar doors were just outside the kitchen entrance at the back of the house. They were big, heavy steel double doors, the kind that are usually found in castles and forts. Cat was unfastening the latch to the doors when Rat came running out of the kitchen and almost bumped into him.

“Watch it, Rat!” snapped Cat. “You want me to pinch myself?”

“No,” answered Rat, although he thought it might be just fine if Cat pinched himself.

“Well then, run more carefully.” Cat gave one cellar door a good pull, and it opened part way. “Get yourself under the door there, Rat, and give it a push,” Cat said. Rat didn’t like that idea, but he squeezed himself under the edge of the door and pushed while Cat pulled. The door opened farther, and Cat and Rat heard some skittering noises down in the cellar.

“Hold the door open while I look down in there, Rat,” said Cat. Rat braced his back paws on the door frame, stood up, and held the door open with his front legs stretched up over his head as far as they could reach. Cat let go of the handle, and door was almost too heavy for Rat to hold up by himself. Cat searched around and found a long stick and used it to prop open the door. “Okay, Rat, you can let her go,” he said. Rat let go of the door and jumped back. The door stayed open and Rat sat down on the top step of the stairway that went down into the cellar. Cat lit a seegar, took a puff, and sat beside Rat.

Rat hunched forward and looked down the stairs. “My, it is dark down there, Cat,” he said.

“”Yeah, real dark,” agreed Cat, blowing out a big cloud of seegar smoke and scratching his head. “Did you hear that scritching and scratching noise down there?” he asked.

“Yes,” said Rat. “I wonder what it is. It doesn’t sound very big.”

Cat looked at him like he was the most stupid animal in the whole world. “Oh, it doesn’t sound very big?” he chided. “And how big, Rat, does bad business have to sound?”

“Well, bigger than that, anyway,” said Rat. He listened close, but the scritching and scratching noises had stopped. “Do you know what I think, Cat?” he said. “I think maybe we should close this door and forget that there is a cellar under this house. Who needs a cellar anyway?”

Cat chomped down on his seegar. “No, we got to find out what’s what,” he said. He rolled up his sleeves, made a fist, and spit on his knuckles. “I’ll brace the door while you go down there and have a look around.”

“Me!” yipped Rat. “For sure not. That’s what I got to say. If you want to know what’s what, you can go down there and look for yourself.”

“Oh, Rat,” soothed Cat, “the noise doesn’t sound very big.”

“Just how big does bad business have to sound?” Rat sassed back. “Me, Rat, says NO, Cat, and that’s that.”

“Now listen, Rat,” said Cat, “let’s figure this out for a minute. If we’re going to live in this house we better know everything about it before we move in, or there could be real trouble. Right?”

“Maybe,” whined Rat.

“Right,” said Cat. “So we have to check this cellar, and we might as well do it the best way we can. Right?”

“I don’t know,” hedged Rat.

“Right,” said Cat. “And the best way is for me to do the brace-the-door part and you do the go-down-and-look-in-the-cellar part because you ain’t tall enough or strong enough to brace the door once you’re on the stairs.”

“If I don’t go on the stairs I’ll be tall enough,” said Rat.

“Rat, we have to go down the stairs to look into the cellar,” explained Cat.

“We!” said Rat. “You mean both of us are going down the stairs?

“Why of course,” assured Cat. “I’m going to go just as far down the stairs as I can go and still be able to brace the door open.”

“How far am I going down?” asked Rat.

“Only far enough to see what that noise is,” said Cat patting Rat on the back and helping him onto his feet. “Now, let me brace that door and let’s get started.”

Rat watched Cat lean on paw against the door, but he didn’t start down the stairs. He felt his feet must be stuck in mud or something, because they wouldn’t move. “I don’t know about this Cat,” he moaned. “What if it grabs me?”

“Then I’ll come running down the steps and prang it a good one on its head,” said Cat. “Don’t you worry about that, Rat.”

“Oh, this will come to no good,” whined Rat. “I just know this will come to no good.” He hopped down onto the top step and bent way over to peer into the gloomy cellar. He couldn’t see anything.

“Go on down, Rat,” said Cat. “Bracing this door open ain’t exactly a fun time.”

So Rat started to take another step, and he cupped his front paws around his mouth and shouted, “Okay down there whatever you are, you better not have any trouble in mind, because I might be coming down, and… and… and my friend the Cat…”

And when Rat said ‘Cat’ all sorts of squealing and shrieking and running and bumping noises came up the stairs from the dark cellar. Rat jumped back to the top of the stairs so fast he nearly knocked down Cat.

“Now look what we’ve done,” moaned Rat, grabbing his tail and jerking it around like a snagged rope.

“Why, that ain’t nothing but noise,” yowled Cat. “Noise never did nothin’ to nobody. Which is why it’s safe for you to go down and look and see what it is, because it’s just noise.”

“Then you go down there and look for yourself,” said Rat with a big wave of his paw. He shouldn’t have waved it though, because his tail was still in it, and he pulled his feet right out from under himself. He landed with a bump on the very edge of the top step. “Help me, Cat!” he screamed. “It’s going to get me!”

Cat looked down on the top step, and there was Rat – scared stiff. Then Cat turned his head to listen, and there was that cellar noise – scary noise. And he figured that since Rat was already scared, and since he wasn’t scared yet, and whoever went down into that cellar was going to be scared, and there wasn’t any good reason for both of them to be scared, that Rat might was well be the one who went down.

So when Rat tried to stand up, Cat used his foot – now he never kicked Rat, even Rat would say that Cat never kicked him – he just used his foot to help Rat down the stairs.

… you can read more about the adventures of Dog, Cat and Rat by clicking on this link to look at the book on the Amazon/Kindle website: Scrawny Dog, Hungry Cat, and Fat Rat.

About Jerry Johnson

Curmudgeon. Bird hunter and dog trainer. Retired journalist and college public relations director. Former teacher, coach, mentor. Novelist and short story writer. Husband, father, grandfather.
This entry was posted in children's literature, humor and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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