They walked through the house and when they got to the front, they could see out the window. ‘Oh, my!’ Rover thought. ‘I didn’t realise there was such a storm. When did it blow up? Must have been while I was sleeping. Well, storm or no, I have to go out. It’s going to be a very fast trip! No way I’m staying out in that!’ His master opened the door, and the sound of the wind rose. He could hear the sea raging, crashing against the rocks on the shore.
He ran out, found a sheltered spot to do what he had to do, and turned to head back. But he heard a different sound, and had to investigate. Unfortunately, the sound was very faint, and seemed to be coming from the other side, from the sea. Keeping as close as he could to the wall, he made his way, rounding the corner, almost into the teeth of the gale. Hunched down, moving with difficulty, with rain and spume hitting his face like small hailstones, he made his way along. He could now see why his door wouldn’t open. The whole back side of the building was covered with ice. He was getting colder and colder, and ice was forming on his pads and his face. He was just about to give up, when he heard the sound again, a bit louder. A squeaking, mewling sound.
He moved several steps on, and there it was, a little lump of icy fur. Holy Great God Bog, it’s a kitten! he thought. How on earth did it get here? Well, guess I’d better get it inside. Looks to be almost dead. He leaned his head close, and the silly little thing tried to shy away.
‘Don’t be daft, you stupid feline!’ Rover growled. ‘I’m trying to save your useless life!’ He opened his mouth over the small, half frozen furball and picked it up. He had to pull a bit, as it was starting to freeze to the ground. The warmth of his breath started melting the ice, and he could feel it wriggling a bit. He wanted to tell it to stay still, but couldn’t. If he opened his mouth to talk, he’d drop it. He took as firm a hold as he could without breaking it’s skin, and made his way back. The return journey went much faster, as he had the wind at his back.
He scratched at the front door, whining. ‘Come on, master, hurry it up. I’m freezing, and if I have to hold this idiot kitten much longer, I’m likely to just swallow it!’ The door opened, and he bounded in, skidding across the wood floor on his ice packed paws. He turned his head just in time to avoid hitting the wall with a mouthful of half frozen kitten.
“What have you got there?” his master asked. “What did you find that you thought we’d want in the house?” ‘Hmph!’ Rover thought, ‘not something I’d want here, that’s for sure!’ He dropped the kitten on the floor, turned and skidded and slid into the kitchen. There he settled down on his mat by the fire, ignoring the kitten, and his master, and started chewing at the ice on his cold paws.
The master stared in surprise, then realised what Rover had carried in. “My lord, it’s a half frozen kitten!” he exclaimed. His wife and children ran in to see. “Aw, the poor little thing,” his daughter exclaimed. “Rover, you are a hero, rescuing this poor wee baby from the storm!” She ran into the kitchen and hugged the dog, depositing a kiss on his wet head. ‘Hmph! he thought. Hero I don’t mind, but kisses? Yuck!’
Her mother lifted the kitten and carried it to the kitchen, gathering a couple of big warm towels. She sat by the fire and settled the kitten in her lap, carefully wrapping a towel around it. “Warm some milk, Alice,” she told her daughter. “And bring one of those doll bottles you have. That will do for feeding it. Make the milk just warm enough so you can barely feel it when you drop a bit on the inside of your wrist.”
As she talked, she was busily wiping the little thing’s fur, and soon the first towel was wet. The second towel finished the job, and she cuddled it close in her arms. “Rover, you are the best dog in the world!” she said. “I wonder how it got out there, where it came from?” she murmured.
When Alice came with the doll bottle, carefully washed and filled with the warm milk, her mother stood up and settled her daughter in the chair. She wrapped a smaller, dry towel around the kitten and put it in Alice’s arms. “Hold the bottle to it’s mouth, and see if it will drink.”
Alice did as instructed, and the kitten was soon sucking away at the bottle. “Oh, look, Mom, it’s eating!” she whispered. “We are going to keep it, aren’t we? After all, Rover brought it to us to look after. It’s his Christmas present to us.” She looked up at her parents, eyes wide, smiling.
“Yes,” Dad and Mom said together. “And I think we should name it Stormy Noel,” Mom added. “It came to us at Christmas, from a storm, and it’s a stormy grey colour.”
Even her brother agreed on the name, though he had been pretending to have no interest in the kitten. Rover lay curled up on his mat, warm again, and thought, ‘then he rumbled low in his throat, now I’ll have to put up with that little feline pest being around all the time! Oh, well. Merry Christmas, everybody!’
Three days later, the storm had moved on and the ferry from the mainland arrived with the mail and supplies. They told the captain about the kitten Rover had found, and he said “everyone wondered about the poor little thing. We all thought it had drowned. It was part of a litter from the Jones’s cat, and somehow wandered off. How it got to the island I don’t know, though several small wooden crates were washed off the dock. It must have got in one of them and been washed ashore here. Did you find any finished wood pieces around?”
Young Tim said “Yes, I found some - most were pretty smashed, but four were still usable. I put them in the shed to dry, I was going to use them to make the model windmill for my school project.”
“Is there printing on them?” the captain asked.
“Yes, one has Seville Or on it. There’s more, but I can’t make it out”
“Then that is the answer. Your kitten found refuge in an orange crate, and took a short voyage. He is one lucky little animal. Better keep an eye on him, he seems to be the adventurous type.” he went off, laughing and calling back over his shoulder “I’ll let the Jones’s know, they will be happy that he’s alive and in a good home.”
Rover listened to all this, and thought ‘I did do something special that night, didn’t I? Isn’t that great? I really am a hero. And it’s good to find out how the little pest came to be there. Now, how can I get it to sneak onto the ferry and go back to its Mommy? Hmmm....’