The old man’s depression had worsened and worsened. He’d go out into the garden each morning and sit amongst the flowers his wife had planted and contemplate ending his life. All the while the Shadow Cat would watch, carefully hidden in tall grass.
One day, the man walked out of the house, seeming calm and carrying a rope. He sat briefly in the garden, praying. Picking up the rope, he started toward the trees. Shadow Cat darted from the grass and ran up to the man. He rubbed his body slowly against the man’s legs, purring and waiting. The man stood still, stopped in his tracks by the appearance of the cat. The man looked down and then squatted to pet the cat. Shadow Cat flinched but obliged. The man spoke sweetly to the cat, stroking his fur. The man asked the cat if he was hungry. Shadow Cat stopped purring and looked up at the man.
“I think that’s a yes. Let’s go my friend.” The man started toward his cottage and the cat followed behind. The rope laid in the grass where the man had left it.
From that day, the cat lived in the cottage with the man. The man would go fishing and the cat would come along, eating his prizes right there on the dock. The man would go into town and the cat would join him being rewarded with various goodies.
In the winter the cat stayed warm by the heat of the fire. The man loved the cat. He read, and even began to take an interest in painting. Shadow Cat never paid much attention to what the man was doing. He was a simple man, so the cat didn’t feel much attention was needed. One day, as they were out near the small, broken barn, the man was working on a painting. Shadow Cat had been sleeping in the hay and woke up. As he stretched he caught a glimpse of what the man had been painting. It was him! Shadow Cat leapt from his position, flying through the air and slashed through the painting.
The man had gone to get a drink of water and when he returned saw the slashed painting. Confused, the man looked around and in the corner of the barn was Shadow Cat cleaning himself. For a moment the man thought perhaps the cat had done it but he had never done anything like that so he dismissed the thought. The man began packing up. Shadow Cat snuck off into the barn.
The man walked slowly, carrying his supplies back to the cottage. He was almost to the cottage and nearly tripped over the cat at his feet.
“Oh!” The man cried out. He laughed at himself looking down at his beloved cat.
The man opened the door to the cottage and went over to the corner where he kept his art supplies. His other paintings were leaned against the wall. He had planned to go to the market to sell them. He looked at the slashed painting and shook his head. He moved several of the other canvases to put the slashed one in the back and paused. Hidden amongst the landscapes of the creek, lake, and barn were other paintings he had done of the cat. Each one had been slashed.
Quickly he turned and spotted the cat sitting at the foot of his favorite chair. The man looked back at the paintings. The cat had been with him, there’s no way he could have done that. And what kind of cat would slash certain paintings but not others? Surely if an animal was going to be destructive it would have ruined all the paintings. The man looked back at the cat and the cat was sitting up straight staring right at the man.
The cat hissed and the man staggered back, surprised. The cat began to purr and curled up into a ball. The man placed the ruined paintings back with the others. He was beginning to wonder if there was more to this cat.