Long, long ago, in a land far, far away, there was much anticipation and excitement as Kitty, the pure white cat began to deliver her kittens.  The Snow Queen sent her royal courtier to assist the little snow kittens’ arrival and the royal children, Noel and Carol, waited for news.  There hadn’t been any snow kittens for a long time and they could barely contain themselves.

“What shall we call them?” Carol asked her brother, Noel.

Ever practical, Noel replied, “I think we should wait to see how many Kitty has and what sex they are before we start looking for names.”

The royal courtier came rushing from the delivery suite almost knocking the two children over. “Excuse me, your royalnesses, I must speak with her majesty.”

A few moments later, the Snow Queen bristled into the delivery suite and uttered an anguished cry: “What is that? It’s an abomination.  Cast it out!”

“But, your majesty, it’s only a few moments into this world. To cast it out would be certain death.” The royal courtier pleaded.  But the pleas fell on deaf ears.

“I said, Cast It Out!”

“But Mother,” the children pleaded, “can we keep it hidden from view and it can be our secret.  No one else knows about it and we will take care of it.”

The Snow Queen looked at her children, and then to the courtier. “Cast it out!”

The two children began to cry and the royal courtier ran to comfort them.  “It’s alright,” he whispered, “we’ll think of something.”

Kitty, the snow cat and newly made mother, was unaware of the commotion her kittens were causing as she was cosseted in the royal delivery suite with everything she could ever possibly need at her disposal.  She cleaned each kitten, licking off the birth sac and warming them with her raspy tongue.  Each kitten mewled and searched for a nipple, and once found, suckled hungrily.

The royal courtier assured Noel and Carol that he would do everything in his limited powers to protect the ‘abomination’ but it had to be their secret and under no circumstances could they ever do anything to arouse suspicion.  Fortunately, the Snow Queen was very busy at the time arranging the annual Snow Festivities and Christmas party which were held every year for the royal household and the people in the local villages. She didn’t return to the delivery suite nor did she enquire how the kittens were progressing or what had happened to the ‘abomination.’  This gave the children and the royal courtier time to work out a plan.

The weeks passed and before long it was time for each kitten to be weaned.  The royal courtier told the children to meet him at the delivery suite the next morning and the plan would be implemented. Noel and Carol met him the next morning, very early, and noticed he had a basket, from which sounds of meowing could be heard.  “It’s alright, little one, don’t fret,” he cooed into the mesh opening. “You’ll be safer now.”

The trio with the basket walked for an hour or so until they came to the caves.  Many centuries earlier, people had lived in these caves and some of the things they left behind were still there.  There was a soft woollen blanket which the children made into a bed and a rough-hewn bowl made from wood was cleaned out and kitten food was placed into it.  The royal courtier set the basket down and the little kitten cautiously made his way out.  The children gasped in surprise. Kitty, the snow cat, was pure white, but this little kitten was jet black. Each time they’d visited the delivery suite he’d been whisked out of sight in case anyone else accidentally got a glimpse of him.   

“What shall we call him?” Carol asked Noel.

“I think Jet is a good name, don’t you?” Noel looked for confirmation to the royal courtier.

“Jet is a wonderful name,” he agreed.

Another bowl was found and fresh spring water was poured into it. Carol and Noel spent some time cleaning the cave up while the royal courtier played and petted the kitten. Speaking quietly, he told the kitten that they would get back whenever they could but they couldn’t promise to come every day.  The Snow Festivities and Christmas Party were only a few days away and the Snow Queen was particularly demanding.  Everything had to be perfect.  Jet looked into the royal courtier’s eyes as if he understood every word he was saying. His own green eyes were like bright jewels and the courtier felt as if he could look right into his soul with those eyes.

Noel and Carol, having cleaned up the cave as best they could, came over to Jet to pet him before taking their leave.  Jet sat still and watched them go.  Once they were out of sight, he had a thorough wash, tasting the scent their hands had left on him, and curled up on the woollen blanket and went to sleep.

The day of the Snow Festivities dawned and the children were kept busy by their mother’s incessant demands of this little job to be done, or that little chore to be sorted out.  They couldn’t get out of the Snow Palace to see Jet and it troubled them.  They found a quiet spot out of sight, held hands and prayed: “God of all light and living things, please protect our friend Jet and see that no harm comes to him.  Thank you. Love Carol and Noel.”

The royal courtier was silently praying the same prayer as he went about his duties preparing the Snow Queen’s robes for the evening Christmas Party.

Little Jet, meanwhile, had learned how to catch mice and had a nice round tummy and was sleeping off a particularly juicy furry thing he’d come across unexpectedly.  He was having a lovely dream where he was playing with Carol and Noel and that the three of them were all living in the cave, when a bright light shone highlighting the dowdiness of his surroundings.

“Fear not, for I bring you glad tidings of great joy,” a being within the light spoke without words into Jet’s soul.

Jet woke from his sleep and couldn’t believe his eyes.  “That juicy furry thing must have given me a strange dream,” he said to himself.

“Jet, I come from the One who made all living things,” the being spoke again without words into Jet’s soul. “You have been chosen for a special assignment where you will warm the cold hearts of those that fail to see your true worth and beautiful nature.”

Jet gulped.  This sounded like a big deal and he was quite happy here in this cave.  “I am an angel, Jet, sent by the One who made all living things to tell you of this.” And with that, the angel leaned down to Jet and stroked his chest, leaving a beautiful white crest where her fingers had been.  “You have the mark of the One upon you now.  You will always be safe, and your descendants will always be safe.  You will be able to walk wherever you wish to go and you will be celebrated throughout time.”

The light shone brighter for a few seconds and then disappeared. Jet had a good wash to clear his mind before turning around three times on his woollen bed and going back to sleep.

After the Snow Festivities and the Christmas Party, Noel and Carol managed to escape for a few hours and they rushed to the cave to see Jet.  He was sitting at the entrance to the cave and they noticed the new white crest on his chest. They ran over to him and gave him their presents, catnip mice and sachets of tuna. He stood and wound himself around their legs.  Even though it had only been a few days since they’d seen him last, he seemed as if he had grown in stature and his bearing was more confident and assured.   He was pleased to see them and rubbed himself around their faces and enjoyed their petting.

Once the children had left with their promises that they’d return once life settled back to normal in the Snow Palace, he looked around the cave.  He’d been happy here but he felt he had to move on for now.  He left and walked for several days until he found what he was looking for.  A young pure white kitty who was playing in the snow glanced up and saw Jet staring intently at her.

“Will you come with me?” he asked her without words, deep into her soul.

“I will follow wherever you lead me,” she replied.

He led her back to the cave where they set up home together and in a short while, she gave birth to four little kittens, one jet black, one snow white, and two black and white. Carol and Noel and the royal courtier visited and were astonished to see Jet, the little white snow cat and their kittens all curled up asleep on the woollen bed.  They had brought lots of food and a new bed not realising that Jet had been busy in their absence.

The royal courtier, who hadn’t seen Jet for a while, noticed the white fur on his chest. “I understand now,” he said, and knelt down in front of him.  Noel and Carol did the same although they didn’t know why they were doing it.

“This cat,” he said, almost in a whisper, “has the mark of the One on his chest.  He’s been touched by an angel and is truly a very special cat.”

And that’s why black cats today are so special, but those with white fur on their chests are said to have been touched by the fingers of God himself.

*NB: This story is dedicated to my beloved Sam, and all black cats everywhere - Pauline Dewberry

  

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