silence, though, didnít stop Wilfred from being curious. He found it
very odd that he and his father were so different from the rest of
the townís residents. Why did his father Karrem have so much longer
fur on his body than he did? And, why did his mother look so much
like the others in town? She had no fur and had very short ears
which were pointed. She, of course, was a woodland elf. She didnít
stand out the way Wilfred did and Wilfred noticed this. He wondered,
ĎWhy didnít anyone ever say anything about all this?í
telling Wilfred the truth bore heavily on his mother, Ketonia. She
wanted to tell him about his fatherís ancestors and the caves they
had lived in . . . and how, she and his father had eventually come
to live in a cave on a mountainside near Elfsden. It was very
peaceful there but she knew how lonely it was for poor Wilfred. He
didnít have any contact with the other youth in town. It was just
too far away and the place brought with it sad memories for the
little cat. Her mother had taught her the fine art of weaving
beautiful silken cloths. Once a month she would take them to the
marketplace and sell them. She remembered how Wilfred had loved
going with her at first. But it always made him so sad . . .no
matter how hard little Wilfred tried to be friendly, the town folk
never returned even a simple word of greeting or kindness. They just
stared and pointed. In Elfsden Wilfredís larger, flared ears,
whiskers and furry face never went unnoticed.
that fateful day came when Wilfred questioned his mom about it all,
"Why do they look at me and stare? They act SO strange. Some narrow
their eyes like I am hurting them or something. Others roll their
eyes, look at each other or giggle. Why do they do that? And, why
donít I ever see anyone else who looks like dad or me?"
I knew youíd ask me this someday, Willy. Alright. Well, I think you
deserve to hear the story that brought your dad and me to this
valley and then to our mountain cave."
was once a king. He was king of the cat Kingdom of Sharlon. Sharlon
was all that was left of an ancient tribe of highly intelligent
beings called Cattertonians. Legend says that the Cattertonians, or
Cats, as they came to be called, came from a far away land in a ship
which sailed through the airs. That land was said to exist even
beyond the moon and the stars we see in our night skies. So, my son
you should be very proud. You come from a long line of Cattertonian
Kings. They are unfortunately a dying race because many of their
females could not have children. King Karrem had to look beyond his
kingdom to find a suitable bride who could bring him an heir.
I was a
princess and daughter of Rulouff, the Elf King of Skewar. It was the
elf custom for a princess to marry a king of a neighbor elf tribe
and I was set to wed Arrom. I was ready to accept that fate and wed
someone I had never even met. Then one day your father visited our
realm and, naturally, wanted to meet Rulouff. Karrem came to the
palace and saw me sitting beside my father. He asked of my father,
ĎWho is this one of such great beauty?í To which, my father replied,
ĎOh, this is my daughter, Ketonia. She is soon to be wed to King
Arrom of Relfand.í He took my hand and kissed it lightly but I could
see sadness in his eyes, ĎA pleasure to meet you, my lady.í, he
grand feast in his honor, he left and returned to his own kingdom. I
never quite forgot the way he looked at me. I donít think he took
his eyes off me even once. He fascinated me too. There was a
gentleness in his manner that deeply touched my heart. Plus, I had
only heard of the Cattertonians before this and didnít know they
could be so handsome.
of my wedding came all too soon then. Before I knew it, it was upon
me. Although I knew it to be my duty as a princess, I still prayed
the night before that something would happen to stop it. I even
imagined your father making a grand entrance and saving me. Ha!
Little did I know . . . but Karrem was thinking that very thing.
long, there was a tap on my window. It was Karrem and it was the
midnight of the day just before the day of my destined marriage. Not
quite the grand entrance I had imagined but I was still delighted.
So, it came to be that I, a princess sworn to marry, snuck away in
the middle of the night with a Cattertonian I barely knew. We knew
that neither or us could ever go back to our homes or see our
parents again. Both of us had betrayed the laws of our lands . . .
Karrem had stolen another kingís betroth and I had run away from my
sacred calling . . . crimes both punishable by beheading. We never
spoke of it ever after that. It was a life each of us knew was no
longer ours. We just knew we had to find some place where no one
knew of us or where we had come from . . . Elfsden seemed perfect.
It was away from the Cattertonian world where Karrem was known far
and wide. And, without my fancy clothes, in Elfsden I was just
another woodland elf. And, it required that they travel through the
land of the humans. A place that every Cattertonian was afraid to go
in Elfsden, an elf marrying outside her kind and then having a child
was much frowned upon. So, my dear one, you are a true rarity. You
are one of a kind, you are not only the son of a great king but
also, the only mix of Cattertonian and elf in existence. I am so
sorry Willy. Neither I or Karrem had ever given much thought to the
problems our child might encounter. We didnít think that others
would have trouble accepting you. We always thought that if we loved
you enough, no one would notice that you were so different. Please
forgive us Willy."
was stunned but not surprised by his motherís words. The story bit
hard into the core of his heart. He knew the answer to his own
question but he asked anyway, "Mom, I do understand that you had to
do what made you happy. But, . . . I keep wondering. Will things
ever change for me? Will they, mom?"
probably not . . . perhaps if you return to the Cattertonian kingdom
. . . they would see you as more of their own. Your father canít go
back with you, though. Youíd have to go on your own, son.", Ketonia
knew she had to say the words but she hoped her son wouldnít want to
when you travel through the land of the humans be most careful!",
warned his mom. "They can not see us elves for they do not believe
we exist and we are beyond their visual spectrum. But they do have a
tiny creature know as a cat. They were named such because at one
time long ago the Cattertonians had lived side by side with the
humans. The resemblance was so striking the little creature soon
were known as kitty cats. Kitty meant Ďtinyí in the language of the
Cattertonians. They may even be related in some way to your tribe.
Anyway, these little ones are very commonplace in the human world.
They invade human yards, tear up their trash bags searching for
food, meow all night and are generally seen as a nuisance. I donít
know what theyíd think of you. And, remember always that you are
half elf. A little magic runs through your veins as it does with all
elves. So, you CAN make yourself invisible to humans if you so
desire. Well, you already know this. I made your father invisible
when we had to pass through their lands."
"I will go
and find the Cattertonian kingdom . . . after the snows melt. Do not
worry. I will be careful and watch out for these humans.", he looked
and saw tears in his momís eyes. "I have to go mom. You and dad are
the only ones who will talk to me. I have only read in books about
what having a friend is like. Iíve never known what it is like. I
want to have a friend. I want to know what it is to be happy. Iíve
been alone for so long."
know. I love you Willy. Always my blessings will go with you.",
Ketonia paused for a moment and continued, "There is something I
must tell you also. True happiness can not be found in the eyes or
companionship of another. It is something you must find within
yourself. I learned that myself the hard way. Find happiness inside
your heart first and then share it with others."
did not understand what she meant but he welcomed his motherís arms
now encircling him. Ketonia held her son close. It was time for her
son to learn about the world entirely on his own. She was proud
because she knew he was ready. Wilfred returned her hug and his eyes
filled with tears. "I love you mom.", he whispered softly. It was a
special moment both knew they would cherish forever.
spring came and the snows receded, Willie began to dream about what
it would be like to have a real friend. He wished so hard that he
could almost see the face of what his new friend might look like.
Sometimes heíd add fur and big cat ears so that his new friend would
look just like him. Sometimes heíd make his friend an elf . . .
hoping that the next time he went into town, some elf might smile
and he wonít have to leave the land of his birth. And, sometimes
heíd just imagine a smile without seeing a face . . . or a warm
heart without seeing a body . . . calling him from somewhere afar.
He didnít care what they would look like . . . after all, a friend
is a friend. ĎA smile isnít any warmer just because it comes from a
face full of furí, he surmised. With that happy thought, Wilfred
fell asleep each night, holding tightly a small cloth Cattertonian
doll his mom had made for him. It was getting very ragged these days
because it was his nightly companion since birth. But, now it was
even more important to him for he came to see it as symbolic of the
new friends he hoped to find on his journey. "Freddy, weíre going to
be just fine.", he told the doll as he sleep overtook him.
more and more anxious as the days passed. Spring thaw would soon be
here and it would be time to go.
first warm day after the snows were gone Wilfred started out on his
journey. Several days went by and Wilfred passed many elf villages
along the way. In none of them, though, had he seen any other cats.
By this time, he was very tired, hungry and feeling more lonely than
he had ever felt before. He was beginning to wonder if heíd ever
find a friendly face.
thought entered his mind, a very large house came into view. It was
much larger than the many elf houses he had seen in his travels and
made much differently. It had a thatched roof and was made of a
colored substance with which he was unfamiliar. He knew he must
still be in the land of the humans. He was very tired and hungry so
he decided to go for it and went up to the door. He knocked and
waited. While he did, he noticed he was surrounded by beautiful
flowers. They were everywhere in large pots and in the ground. A
large bunch were even hanging from the door. It warmed his heart and
took away a bit of his anxiety. ĎHow could someone have such
wonderful flowers and be anything but kind?,í thought he.
such a pleasant thought, he did not notice that the door knob had
turned and the door had swung open. Suddenly before him appeared a
huge smile. It belonged to the tall woman who now greeted him,
"Hello, little fellow."
his amazement, she invited him to come in!!! "You look so tired.
Please come in. Would you like some tea and cookies?", said the
He was in
shock. Never had anyone been so warm and receptive to him. "Yes, I
would love some tea and cookies. In Elfsden my mother used to make
me tea and cookies."
goodness. Iíve never heard of Elfsden. It must be very far away. I
know all the places around here. Iíve lived here a very long time.
What has possessed you to make such a long journey, little boy?",
asked the woman, "By the way, my name is Elsie Runiksy."
to meet you, Elsie Runiksy. My name is Wilfred Sharlon.", Wilfred
let her take his hand and lead him inside. Heíd never been called a
little boy before and it feel funny but he felt it better not to ask
what it meant. "Well, itís sort of a long story. You must have
noticed that I am part cat. Doesnít that bother you?"
heavens! Now, why should that bother me? You are part human too. I
can see that in you as well."
What is a human? My mom warned me about them. She said they might
try to hurt me because they see my kind as a nuisance. My mother was
an elf. She had pointy ears and was small in build. Though in elf
standards she was a giant because she was a princess of the royal
family. I do not know why that is. My dad was King of Sharlon. He
was a Cattertonian. We look like your cats but weíre not.
You are so
tall. You donít have pointy ears or fur either. You are human,
right?", asked Wilfred.
am.", she said with a big smile. "Iíd dare say that you have a bit
of human in you as well, yes?."
mom told me that my dad was considered unusually large in size even
in his kingdom and it was rumored that he was part giant or
"Interesting. So what brought you here and so far from your home?
You have me very curious."
"I came in
search of a smile. You see, where I come from, I am a freak. I am
only half cat and only half elf. Anyway, I was on my way to Sharlon.
The elves donít accept me and my mom thought my dadís family might.
I am really hoping they will. Iíve never had a friend. Other elf
youngers were never allowed to play with me. I was shunned by all
the elves. The only ones who spoke to me were my mom and dad. So, I
am here in search of a friend."
is so terrible. How could any creature be so cruel? Well, young man,
be you half cat or not, we shall see to getting you a friend. No,
no. Weíre going to get you . . . not just ONE friend but many
friends. Youíll have so many friends before long that you wonít be
able to remember when you never had one. YOU, young one, are going
to go to school!!!! I bet youíve never been to school, have you?"
Elsie continued, without waiting for an answer. "And, you know what
too? . . . Youíre welcome to live here for as long as you want. Let
me be your first friend.", Elsie was radiating with warmth and drew
little Wilfred into her arms into the biggest hug he had ever
experienced. It felt SO good, thought Wilfred.
was so excited AND . . . scared, he could hardly breathe. It was the
first day of school. "What if they donít like me?", he asked Elsie.
silly. How could they not like you? Just be yourself. In this
particular school there are children from families from all over the
world. People who are different are the ones who are accepting you
because you are just like them . . . different! Being different is
the common factor. Well, you are REALLY different now, arenít you? I
see you are worried, yes? Allow your differences to define you and
make you unique. Everyone wants interesting and unique friends.",
she smiles at the bewildered look on Wilfredís face. "Just decide to
. . . go and have fun!!! Okay?"
you I will try to do my best.", he hugged. kissed her goodbye and
went into the classroom.
morning class. I see we have a new student. Would you stand up and
tell us your name and a little about yourself?"
stood up. "Well, my name is Wilfred Sharlon but everyone just calls
me Willy. . . . Ugh. . . ." Wilfred paused frozen because several
people had giggled when they heard his name.
them no mind, Willy. Wilfred is a fine name. Itís just not one
theyíre used to hearing. So, Willy . . . where did you move from?",
asked Ms. Higgins.
was tongue tied again. He didnít know what to say to this question.
"Well, I . . . ugh . . . lived on a mountain with my mom and dad.
There was no one living hereby so I never got to be around other
young people.", Elsie had explained to him the importance of using
the word people to refer to others like himself.
a shame, Willy. Well, welcome to Daher School. Iím sure everyone
here will make you feel at home soon enough. Wonít you class?"
stood and caroled in a cheerful, "yes."
girl raised her hand.
"I have a
question for Willy.", she turns to Willy and asks, "Willy, why do
you have such strange ears and fur? I really like it because you are
so uniquely different . . . well, I was just wondering."
Higgins laughed. "Willy, you want to answer that question?"
really like it?", he asked the girl. He didnít like being made fun
think itís really great!", said Cnythia.
"Awesome!" "I love it!", Ginger, Mark and Mary joined in agreement.
Soon everyone was smiling and cheering.
part cat and part elf. Thatís why I look like a cat but also am a
bit like you."
cool!", said a boy named Donny. "Wow. I didnít know that was
be okay if I made mask so I could look just like Willy, Ms.
letís all make masks so we can all look alike."
donít know. What do you think, Willy?"
looked around the room. Everyone was looking at him. It was a
strange feeling to suddenly go from being alone to the center of
attention. "Well, nobodyís ever wanted to look like me before."
think itís time to do the welcome song and dance.", Ms. Higgins said
with a grin. She put on a record.
to sing a song that Wilfred had never heard before. It brought tears
to his eyes. It was about caring and loving people just the way they
are no matter who they are or what they look like. It was a
beautiful, joyful song, thought Wilfred.
felt so good, he got up to dance. And, soon he was teaching everyone
else how to do Ďhis dance.í He loved it.
requests filled the air., "Willy, show me. Show me." If nothing
else, Willy knew he was a great dancer. All the lonely hours he
spent studying and dancing in front of a mirror was finally paying
off. He had learned so many wonderful things from his mother. Having
been really great at making cloths for the market, she had also
known how to make crafts and had taught her son.
By the end
of the week, Wilfred was teaching everyone how to make paper mache
masks and loving every minute of it. Except for differences in
color, very mask was the same . . . a cat face just like Wilfredís.
They all wanted to be just like their new friend Willy.
was soon the most popular boy in class because of all his talents.
He could dance. He could draw. He could tell wonderful stories about
elves and cats that his parents had once told to him. He was a
natural at everything he tried. And so, without exception, everyone
wanted to be Wilfredís friend.
at Elsieís, he gave her a big hug and kiss. "Thank you so much for
taking me to school. You were right about everything. And, itís even
better than you said it would be."
magical and wonderful for Wilfred now because he was happy. He was
doing all the things he loved doing alone but now he was doing it
all with friends. Wishful Willy didnít need to wish any more.
learned a very important lesson. A friend cares about who you are .
. . the real you . . . the person you are inside. And, differences
are what make others interesting, unique and worth getting to know.
He now had many new wishes. He knew he had to go on to Sharlon and
find those of his own kind. It didnít matter, though, any more
whether or not they accepted him. He had really good friends back in
Daher he could always come back and visit.
wished to return to Elfsden to tell his mother how happy he now was.
He knew it would make her happy also. He wished too, that he could
someday be able to teach the other elves all that he had learned . .
. That was his biggest dream. And, of all of it, the most important
thing he wanted to say?. . . It was that our differences, no matter
who we chose to be, when woven together make a beautiful and lasting
fabric which is indestructible. And, why is it so indestructible?
Well, simply because it is built entirely from the threads of love.
was finally happy. He knew, that even if he never returned to Daher,
he would carry the warmth of his friendsí hearts with him always,
especially of his dearest friend, Elsie.