The forest was also home to Jake, who was a couple of weeks older than Arabella and already had a reputation as a trickster. One day, Jake had simply disappeared from the forest. When he didn’t return that evening, or the next, or the next, the elders sent out a search party to look for the red-flecked ruffian. Finally, on the evening of the fourth day, Jake barged into the elders’ house with a laugh, telling the assembled greywhiskers how much fun it was to watch all the cats looking for him. It turned out that Jack had climbed a tree and thought it would be funny not to come down.
In addition to being a trickser, Jake had a reputation as a showman, which everycat knew came straight from his elder brother. Jake’s elder brother had a meow that carried from one end of the dell to the other, and Jake wanted his meow (which he called his “roar”) to be just as gigantic. To the annoyance of everycat who went to bed early, Jake practiced his roar late into the evening. So Jake’s roar came to be pretty fierce.
One day, Jake the trickster and the showman decided to have some fun at Arabella’s expense. He climbed a tree near the road in the middle of the forest, and waited for her to approach. Soon enough, little grey Arabella came to the side of the road and stopped to look both ways. When Jake saw her from his perch atop the tree, he gathered up all his might and roared. GROOM!!!! His roar resounded across the forest.
Arabella skittered. She heard a sudden GROOM!!! from her left , and remembered that her mom had told her not to cross the road if she heard such a thing. But all Arabella saw down the road was trees and bees and tracks in the mud. There was nothing suspicious. As she looked probingly into the distance, Arabella wondered what she should do.
Meanwhile, Jacob scampered down from his tree on Arabella’s left and scampered up a tree on Arabella’s right. This was quite fun, he thought. From a branch on Arabella’s right he puffed out his chest and let out another roar. GROOM!!! His roar resounded across the forest.
Arabella nearly jumped out of her whiskers. First left, now right – the GROOM!!! was everywhere, yet seemed to come from nowhere. Despite her mom had said, the road seemed safe. Arabella pondered her dilemma. Should she cross the road, or not?