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|Product dimensions:||8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.08(d)|
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By Natalie Hickey
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2015 Natalie Hickey
All rights reserved.
Penelope jumped out of bed as soon as the sun peeked through her bedroom window. She tiptoed down the winding staircase and made her way through the long hallways of her home, careful not to wake her parents.
Penelope's heart pounded as she slipped out the kitchen door and ran down the stone path that led to her garden. Her long golden curls flew behind her, catching some petals from the cherry trees that were now in full bloom.
"Oh no, they've done it again!" she thought when she saw the empty space where her pink petunias had been just yesterday. Reluctantly, she turned to check on her strawberries, expecting to see more damage from the fluffy little monsters.
This spring was turning out to be different. The plump red berries shone brightly in the morning sun and the rest of the garden appeared unharmed. Penelope's eyes scanned the backyard and she immediately spotted something new. Sitting proudly on the stone wall just beyond the rose bushes, was a small gray cat, licking her paws, sunning herself, and appearing quite proud of her hunting prowess. "Thank you, Kitty" Penelope whispered to the stray cat. She gently stroked its bony back and it nuzzled up against Penelope, purring happily.
Unfortunately, no one else seemed to appreciate "Kitty's" talent for keeping the rabbits out of the garden. The cook was the first to complain, "Penelope Livingston, your mother will surely have a fit when she finds that all of our fresh fish has been fed to a stray cat."
"Keep that dreadful creature outside!" Penelope's mother declared in between sneezes. "I will not allow a feral cat to enter our home."
"She's not wild at all and she loves people." Penelope pleaded with her new friend cradled in her arms.
Fortunately, her father wasn't home to give his opinion on the matter. He had driven his brand new shiny black Model T automobile to his jewelry shop in the city again. Mother just laughed at this "new toy" but she refused to step foot in the "Tin Lizzie".
"For a stray cat, this little kitty seems to enjoy the company of people," the gardener commented when he arrived later in the week.
"It just doesn't make sense," Penelope pondered, "no one around here would starve their own cat, but I can count each and every one of Kitty's ribs ..."
"James Vincent Cordo!"
"Yes, Ma'am?" Jimmy tried not to wince, but the long wooden ruler struck the back of his neck at the very instant he heard his name called.
"It is shameful that you choose not to use that quick figuring mathematical brain you have been blessed with to write down any of the answers!"
With his neck still stinging, and a one hour walk through one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in East Harlem, Jimmy worked out the details of his plan to get rid of his teacher. "Its pretty simple," he explained, "Uncle Johnny meets Miss Bridle, they get married, all 75 of us kids crammed into PS 29 like sardines get a new teacher ..." His story kept the two friends laughing all the way home.
When at last the boys walked into their apartment, Jimmy's mother never looked up from the pants she had sewn and carefully packed in a box on the kitchen table. Her black hair was woven into a long braid. A few pieces had come loose and now hung in ringlets around her face which was dotted with tiny beads of sweat from the smoldering heat of their windowless apartment. The beautiful brown eyes she had passed on to Jimmy, looked much too old and tired for a thirty five year- old women. She spoke quickly in Italian while she worked,
"Jimmy, you're late ... Mr. Schumann is expecting fourteen pairs of pants by 5 O'clock. Be sure to count the money before you leave his shop. Take the wagon and bring home what needs to be sewn for tomorrow.
"Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Mama's screams suddenly filled the room. She jumped up on her chair, scattering the clothing everywhere. A furry black creature scurried across the tenement floor. Jimmy had to put his hand over his mouth to keep from laughing.
"Where is that cat of yours? Last night I heard scratching sounds in the kitchen and now today I have seen three rats!"
"Where was Mia?" Jimmy wondered.
He missed the soft gray cat who liked to nuzzle up against him at night. He figured it had been too hot for her and she had moved to the floor. But now that he was thinking about it, he hadn't seen her all week. ...
Excerpted from Penelope's Pearls by Natalie Hickey. Copyright © 2015 Natalie Hickey. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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