A True Tale of Tic, Tac and Toe
It was a cold wintry day when the three ran from door –to – door, looking for what they liked best. They would leap at each other the moment one tried to snatch the other’s share. Not only had they marked territories for ‘butter-hunting’, but also for ‘storage-of-the-sweep’ of each day. They would dig and dig, deep within the womb of the Earth, until they would be left panting and gasping for breath. They dug for their ‘storage’, where each would safely keep their loot until the next time they felt hungry.Though they were sisters, they looked as dissimilar as possible- Tic, Tac, and Toe, the meanest cats around the “Buttermore” neighbourhood.
Today, however, was a different day for the three. It was winters for almost a month now, and the each had stocked up quite a ‘paw-ful’ of butter-soft, white butter, that smelled like heaven. What made today an important day of their lives was the fact, that Tic had been conning her other two sisters. She stole their share while they slept by the chilly nights, for almost two days now.
Tac and Toe did not quite realize what their little darling had been up to! Each evening, when they had their fill from their share, and buried the remaining under the Earth, they headed for the nearest barn to spend the night at. Tic, who always kept an open eye, on how much butter her elder sisters kept away, could not help but dream of laying her paws on it all.
Around midnight, when Tac and Toe would be fast asleep, snoring away to glory, Tic would tip-toe out of the barn, and head straight to the moor where the pits-of-butter were.
The day before when she tried for the first time, she was scared. “What if Tac and Toe arise from sleep?”, she thought to herself as chills ran down her spine. She dispelled all such thoughts from her head with the signature wave of her paw and let out a half-mocking mew as she crossed the stream that separated the barn and the moor.
She ran past the row of houses, the blacksmiths’ and the dairy, pausing for two seconds at each, to ferret out any fish bones, milk packets, or fruit peels from the bins left uncovered by the lazy owners.
She reached the moor soon enough, and began to look for the ‘spots’. Having found the two mounds, she dug and ate a bit from both the pits. She covered them as before and wiped all traces of butter off her whiskers. She trotted back to the barn and slid below the hay cover she used as a sheet during winters.
The next night was easier. She left the barn a little after midnight, and ate her fill. She redistributed the butter from the two pits so that Tac and Toe would think they still have their original stocks in place. She was becoming a master at this.
How smartly she chided Tac and Toe the next afternoon, for doubting that their butter stocks dwindled. ‘Moles, dear sisters!’, she chimed, ‘do not forget, moles are in plenty here!’
The other two were left thinking on how old they were getting for having forgotten how much did they ‘put’ the earlier day. They even started doubting each other for stealing off the other’s share of hard-earned butter.
All to Tic’s content and pride in her stealthy ways.
Today was the afternoon of the third day. By now the additional dollops of butter that she tucked in resulted in a slight bulge in Tic’s tummy. She even walked a lazy walk owing to the bit of weight she had put on. While her sisters hunted for their share today, Tic chose to bask in the sunlight. Sunlight was a rare event in the winters and besides that, her tummy was more than full!
Seeing Tic so laid back, Tac and Toe started thinking upon what led her to that. She was one naughty sibling of a cat who would always prance and run about to snatch half a paw from her elder sisters’ share or loot.
‘I have my doubts on the little one’, said Tac to Toe, waxing her whiskers.
‘To be honest, Tac, I too am thinking! I have been observing Tic is too happy-go-lucky during our loot today!’, said Toe to Tac.
Meanwhile, Tic lay blissfully unaware of all of this. She tossed and turned from side to side as she felt too lazy to move. She struck at the wasps and fleas that sat on her fur.
When Tac and Toe came to their mounds to dig the pit up, they saw a whisker in their respective piles of butter. So they immediately understood that this was not the doing of moles!
However, they did not utter a word. It was evening by now, and all three ambled back to the barn after they had their dinner’s share of the butter.
Sitting by the fire that night, Tac and Toe hatched a plan. They would take turns to stay awake and see what happens in the dark of the night. Tic, on the other hand, remains blissfully unaware of her scheming sisters.
They all sleep by ten. Around midnight, Tic stirs in the hay-stack bed. Tac and Toe pretend to be fast asleep, although they were wide awake. Tic gets up from bed, turns around to see whether her sisters are asleep, turns around one last time, and tip-toes to the gate of the barn.
She runs at light-speed! She crosses the blacksmith’s, the dairy, the houses in a row, and reaches the moor. She turns back yet again, for she could here some one following her at a distance. She hushed all fear and doubt within her with the same signature wave of her paw. She ran for the mounds, and dug both up one by one. She ate her fill. She covered the mounds, and as she was in a hurry, she forgot to redistribute the mounds this time around.
All this while, Tac and Toe had been following every movement of Tic. However, they ran before she could spot them prying on her. When Tic returned to the barn, she found her sisters fast asleep, just the way they were when she had left for the adventure.Next morning, when all three woke up, Tac exclaimed she is too hungry and that they should rush to the moor to eat some butter. It was while the three ran to the moor that Tic realized she had forgotten to redistribute the butter in the two mounds. She felt paralyzed for good reason. Her sisters would never ever spare her if they discovered what had she been up to!
She somehow managed to keep her calm.
They reached the barn, and Tac and Toe dug their piles up. As they had expected, they found that the mounds were half-eaten!! They mewed with anger, and purred incessantly! They rubbed their claws against the Earth!
Tic almost lost her breath. She looked up to the sky to look for some excuse. She did not know what would happen next.
She had an urge to run away from the moor, yet she knew she could not go far. Her sisters would get hold of her before she would manage to cover half the distance of the moor.
Tac spoke up, ‘ Tic, we know what you have been up to lately! And you are done for!!’, she said. Toe purred, ‘ We are not going to spare you! Had you asked us for some, we would have gladly shared it with you! You chose to steal, and now you shall have to pay!’
Tic froze in her tracks! Tears welled in her beautiful emerald button-like shimmering eyes. She mewed and mewed until she broke into uncontrollable sobs. ‘I am sorry, said she, ‘ I got greedy and wanted to do some mischief. My idea was not theft. It was adventure!’ She continued to mew softly, as tears rolled down her cheeks.
The sight of their little sister weeping mellowed Tac and Toe to some extent. It was just another few minutes before they chose to forgive Tic for her mischief and made amends.
The three sisters happily ate their breakfast, and basked in the Sun for a while before returning to the barn. Least did they know that the Vixie, the wicked vixen eavesdropped on all of this today afternoon!
She thought to herself as she reigned in her greed upon seeing three fat cats, ‘Woah! What a royal meal this would be for me and my family! Three fat cats!!’
That night, while the three sisters slept at the barn, unaware of their fate the next morning, Vixie the vixen planned her move.
At day break, Tic, Tac, and Toe brushed their furs and left for the moor, singing happily. Stopping by the stream, they could not help but admire their fine furs and sharp features as they gazed at their reflection in the sparkling stream. After they had had some nuts from the tree nearby, they ran to reach the moor.
They dug up their respective mounds and ate some butter off them. Tac and Toe each gave some share of theirs to Tic as a gesture of love. They all sang their favourite songs from the old times, when all at once, Vixie charged!
‘Hahaha! I have you for my dinner ladies!!’ she said, and the three poor cats froze to death.
Vixie inched forward, while they moved a step behind, for every step that Vixie took towards them.They were so very afraid that they could not run. Tic began to cry. Toe and Tac looked at each other and resolved that they shall not be dinner to Vixie tonight!
With lightening speed, Tac and Toe sprang upon Vixie. She hit them with her claws while they fought with her. Tic saw this and stopped crying. She ran and started pushing Vixie towards the pits. Vixie resisted. However, being attacked from three sides confounded her.
She struggled, wrestled and wriggled to free herself from their grip, though all in vain!
As they kept fighting, they did not realize that they had come very close to the pits. One step to the right and all would fall in! Tic alerted her sisters with her characteristic mew! They reversed their stance and with a sudden push, shoved Vixie into the deepest pit of them all!
Deep down, when Vixie fell into the pit, the three could hear her faint screams. They took one last look at the pit, before they covered it with mud and straws. That would surely see the end of Vixie, and also to all the troubles of the little animals she preyed upon!
Proclaiming their victory over evil with loud purrs and mews, Tic, Tac, and Toe returned to the barn, happy to be together and safe under their roof.
‘All is well that ends well!’, said Tac. Toe mewed in agreement while little Tic put her arms around her sisters and tucked herself in between the hay-sheets.
‘Good night’, she purred. Tac and Toe responded with a smile and a wag of their tails.