'Comet's Nine Lives'


Editor's note: Comet the cat uses up eight of his nine lives trying to find the right place to live on Nantucket Island.

Comet was born thirty miles out to sea on Nantucket Island. He grew up wandering all over the island, staying a few days here and a few days there.

One summer day Comet stopped in a garden to nibble some tasty-looking foxgloves. First they made him feel woozy. Then he fell into a deep sleep.

When Comet woke up, he felt fine, but different. Oops! He realized he'd lost the first of the nine lives every cat has when it is born.

Maybe I should find myself a home. And he trotted into the bookstore and settled down on top of a stack of bestsellers.

Life was good until one day it rained all morning and the islanders hurried inside for something to read. In the rush, Comet's tower of bestsellers had toppled over. He had turned the page on life number two.

Down to the docks he went and arrived just as a little scalloper, the Jean T, was casting off. Once under way, an easterly wind blew up and Comet knew he had made a mistake.

Comet held on until a huge wave foamed across the stern and he found himself afloat on the high seas.

The tide carried Comet back into the harbor, but as he flicked the salt from his whiskers, life number three went out with the tide.

Comet was still recovering on the beach when he heard music. He climbed up a tree for a better look.

The music reached its loudest chord. Comet got so excited that he lost his grip and plunged down into the tuba. Three waltzes and a Sousa march later, Comet staggered away, and life number four sounded its last chord.

The next day, everyone was going up to an open window and coming down with ice cream. Comet was hungry so he trotted after the crowd.

The staff at the ice cream shop gave comet his own bowl of leftover milkshake. But all too soon an island health officer burst into the shop and spotted Comet.

Startled, Comet jumped up and fell headfirst into a strawberry shake. The staff pulled him out and he watched life number five fly off licking its paws.

He climbed into a bike basket just as a crowd of summer visitors were hurrying off the ferry.

It was Waffles' first time on the island. She was happy to have Comet's company. Just as they reached the bottom of the last hill into the village, Waffles screeched to a halt to avoid a taxi.

Comet went flying, along with life number six. I think I'll just walk the rest of the way.

Comet was limping by the island theater when a poster advertising the last performance of summer caught his eye. A beautiful actress with a sweet smile looked out at him.

Comet pranced happily on stage and purred loudly. The actress sneezed. "There's a cat in here!" she shrieked. "I'm allergic to cats!" She spotted Comet and hurled her sequined high heel at him.

Comet flew through the air into the last row. The curtain had come down on life number seven!

Fall breezes were blowing up as the summer visitors headed for the ferry. Comet wandered alone along the beach. He could see the red beacon of the Brant Point lighthouse in the distance.

Waves crashed on the sand. It was Hurricane Elmadore heading straight for Nantucket Island. All Comet could see now was the blinking lighthouse beacon. He ran toward it when a huge wave broke on top of him.

The rushing surf carried Comet into an open doorway, as life number eight washed out to sea. Dazed, he opened his eyes and saw a green light across the room. "Meow," someone purred. "Meow," he answered, looking up. He was staring into the green eyes of the lighthouse cat. At that moment, he knew he was home.

From COMET'S NINE LIVES by Jan Brettt. Text Copyright c 1996 by Jan Brett. Illustrations c 1996 by Jan Brett. Reprinted by permission of G.P. Putnam's Sons, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.

Pub Date: 11/14/99

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