The Curious Tale of Curious Quentin Quail
Seeing is believing....
Preface....and the rest.
The following story is based on actual observations of a cat named Mau-Mau and a family of Gambel’s Quail. I hope you will enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it for you. Mau-Mau is our cat, and Mrs. Jasper and I enjoy watching him and having his companionship in our home. The Quail Family lives on our property and frequents our adjoining garden lot in all seasons of the year, as well as searching for food beneath a very, very large goji bush which provides them with shelter, seeds, and leaves they eat. Quentin Quail first drew my special attention one day when I saw him hurrying to catch up with Mother and Papa Quail and his eleven brothers and sisters. You will meet Quentin, his family, and Mau-Mau in this story of an adventure they share.
The Curious Tale of Curious Quentin Quail by Demas W. Jasper
Quentin was the first baby quail to hatch.
For just a little while he had the full attention of Mother Quail. She had sat on her nest of eggs for many days already.
Quentin peeked out to see where he was. "My, the world is much bigger now than I thought it was!"
He was just curious.
Very soon, however, his brothers and sisters began to come out of their eggshells, too. When they were finally all hatched, Quentin was the first of twolve brothers and sisters, and Mother Quail was busy with all of them...each one!
Being the oldest, if only by a few minutes older than some and a half a day older than others, Quentin was the first one to be taught to find bugs and seeds, and the first one to look around at his world beneath the goji bush. He was just curious.
In fact, he was so curious that Mother Quail gave him his nickname: Curious Quentin Quail.
It wasn't long before Quentin and his brothers and sisters were allowed to explore for delicious bugs and seeds well beyond their goji bush.
That is when Quentin's curiosity first became a problem.
Mother Quail and Papa Quail frequently voiced warning concerns: "Stay near! Stay near!" Then off they would go, Mother and Papa Quail first, followed by all the Quail Family including the chicks, all twelve of them (Quentin, Quick, Quaff, Quartz, Quaint, Quality, Qualm, Quarrel, Quest, Queenie, and Quad.)
Uncle Quail would often sit atop the goji bush (or even on top of the Jaspers' house) and watch for any danger. When he saw something (a dog, or a hunter, for example) he would call out a warning, and he might even fly to a safer place, a direction the Quail Family would follow.
Quentin was always the first chick to follow Mother quail and Papa Quail. That was because he really wanted to see where they were going next. He was just curious, you know.
Quentin was always the last chick to arrive at their destination, because there were always so many interesting things to see and think about along the way.
He was just curious enough to stop and look at things, and to think about them. His bothers and sisters simply follow the chick ahead of them, pass Quentin each time he stopped.
Quentin had to run (almost fly) to catch up! In fact, his little wings would already flap whie he ran.
Being curious, Quentin wondered why Mother Quail and Papa Quail often passed right by delicious bugs and seeds, to go to another place to eat the same delicious bugs and seeds they had just passed by.
At first he didn't ask, he was just curious.
Almost every day the Jasper’s cat Mau-Mau would come outside and inspect all around the Jaspers’ yard and garden lot.
Mau-Mau was an orphan cat and already he was quite old, for a cat. He was handsome, with sable gray fur, except for white on his face, and chest, and on all four of his feet, and on his stomach. His tail, and all the rest of him was sable gray.
The Jaspers chose to name him Mau-Mau because years before there were people called Mau-Mau in a country called Kenya. Those Mau-Mau were local terrorists and wanted people to be afraid of them, so they did many bad things. The Jaspers hoped that their cat would terrorize any mice he found, so they named him Mau-Mau.
Mau-Mau was actually a very good, and a quite gentle cat.
In actual fact, Mau-Mau was very good at catching mice and keeping them out of the Jasper garden when he was outside. As often as not, however, he would catch the mice just to tease and play with them. The smart mice learned to pretend they were dead. When they did that, Mau-Mau would lose interest and look for another mouse to catch and tease.
As soon as he looked away, the mouse he had already caught would run away to safety. None of the mice enjoyed being caught, but they all enjoyed running away from him.
Mau-Mau had known Mother Quail was sitting on a nest of her eggs, but he had never bothered her. Many of her feathers were sable gray like his fur, and she had other beautiful colors, too, as well as unusual little feathers on the top of her head. He just enjoyed watching her and Papa Quail when they moved about and taught the chicks to eat the bugs and seeds.
Mau-Mau liked to chase grasshoppers and butterflies, and he loved watching the deer which came through the garden and yard eating the honeysuckle leaves, the tender branches of some trees, and the dropped apples in the fall.
Mau-Mau was curious, too, but he was careful when he needed to be careful.He enjoyed being inside the Jaspers’ house where it was warm, and where he had food and water, and favorite places to sleep. But, when he wanted to go outside again, he would use his voice, and sometimes his claws very gently. And, he always let the Jaspers know when he wanted something such as food in his dish, or fresh water.
If he wanted to go outside, he would go to the door and stretch to his full height with his front paws outstretched toward the door handle he couldn’t quite reach. Whenever he did that, Mr. or Mrs. Jasper would pull down the handle, pull open the door, and let him out.
When Mother Quail’s eggs hatched, Mau-Mau was one of the first to see the amazing sight of each egg hatching and each new Quail chick coming out of their shell. He could see Mother and Papa Quail’s excitement, and he watched the little chicks begin to explore beneath the goji bush. He was a familiar sight to the whole Quail Family.
When the Quail Family was at home beneath the goji bush, and later on also sometimes beneath the hedge by the driveway, or searching under the rose bushes. Mau-Mau always enjoyed watching them. He often fell asleep curled up near them. He was such a familiar site that Uncle Quail stopped announcing “He’s out! He’s out!”
Mau-Mau, for whatever reason, never bothered the adult quail or the chicks.In fact, one day Mrs. Jasper saw two of the quail chicks standing on Mau-Mau’s side while Mau-Mau was resting!
“Mau-Mau is certainly not a terrorist to the quail!” she thought, and went inside to tell Mr. Jasper what a wonderful thing she had just seen.
Mau-Mau was happy the Jaspers had noticed him one day at the restaurant they used to own. At that time he was just an orphan kitten, and always hungry. Always hungry until one day he got up his courage to eat some of the leftover food in the food dish of the Jaspers’ German shepherd dog named Misty. Misty was a very old dog and was slowly dying of old age and had pain in her joints.
Misty had been a watchdog for the restaurant, but was kept on a long chain near a garden at the back of the Jaspers’ “Wok Right Inn” restaurant. Someone who didn’t want Mau-Mau, had left him near the restaurant’s garden and then had driven away. Mau-Mau had become so hungry that even though Misty was a large, strong dog, Mau-Mau had taken the chance to eat Misty’s leftovers, and Misty saw no problem that could come from a small, hungry, orphan kitten.
The large dog and the small kitten became good friends. In fact, Mrs. Jasper had looked out the restaurant’s kitchen window one day and had seen Mau-Mau sitting between Misty’s front paws! And later, she and Mr. Jasper had seen Mau-Mau eating from the same dish while Misty was eating!
At first, Mau-Mau was afraid of Mr. & Mrs. Jasper, and he would run up a tree when they came with Misty’s food and water.
Mau-Mau continued to do that even after Misty died. Once, before Misty died, Mrs. Jasper looked out the restaurant’s kitchen window and saw Mau-Mau gently brushing Misty’s fur with her claws.
“It’s almost as if that kitten is a hospice cat,” said Mrs. Jasper, when she showed Mr. Jasper what Mau-Mau was doing. Mau-Mau was certainly showing gentle caring for Misty.
After Misty died and was buried, Mau-Mau continued looking forward to the meals of dog food, and the water Mr. And Mrs. Jasper continued to bring.
By the time the Jaspers closed their restaurant and opened a health store at their home, Mau-Mau had become a member of the Jasper family and moved to live with them at the Jaspers’ home.
Mother and Papa Quail and their twelve children were not the only quail in the Jasper neighborhood, but they were the only ones who lived beneath the goji bush, and sometimes the rose bushes, and the hedge there.
A young neighbor boy came by one day and told Mrs. Jasper that he had seen “an injured quail” one day and had trapped it. He said “My mother got it well. They are really good to eat, you know!”
Mrs. Jasper had a feeling that the same “injured quail” might have become the “good to eat” quail, and she told Mr. Jasper that she thought the local quail might be in danger of getting caught in the neighbor boy’s trap.
Mother Quail and Papa Quail had not had a chance to teach the Quail chicks about such things, when one day a trap suddenly appeared in some tall grass at the back corner of the Jasper garden. Inside the trap were delicious seeds and grains which could be clearly seen on the floor of the cage whose door closed, if something heavier than a mouse entered to eat the seeds and grains.
By then Quentin and his brothers and sisters could actually fly, if Uncle Quail spotted trouble. But the trap had been placed at the back corner of the Jasper garden during the night, when the Quail Family was sleeping, and the tall grass had hidden it from sight when the sun came up.
The young quail still followed Mother and Papa Quail, and Mother and Papa Quail still warned “Stay near! Stay near!” Quentin had already learned that sometimes Mother and Papa Quail passed right by attractive seeds and bugs because they were too far from safeshelter, if Uncle Quail should warn “Watch out! Watch out!”
Quentin was more careful now, but he was still curious.
The day was a beautiful day. Uncle Quail was alert and keeping watch for their safety, when the whole Quail Family entered the garden in search of breakfast.
It was summer and the sprinklers were on in some areas of the garden, Mother and Papa Quail had taken the family to eat where it was still dry in the back corner of the garden, near the tall grass, and near the trap hidden there.
As Quentin went about snacking on seeds and bugs he found, he chased a small bug into the tall grass and noticed the delicious seeds and grains inside the open trap.
“That is a curious sight,” thought Quentin. “I will have to have some of those seeds and grains for my breakfast.:” With that, Curious Quentin Quail walked through the door and into the trap.
The door to the trap suddenly snapped shut and Quentin tried to fly away. Then he tried to run away. But his hunger and his curiosity had been too much. He was locked inside the trap with no way out.
With the noise the door had made when it shut, and the noises Quentin had made when he tried to fly and then to run, Uncle Quail had no need to warn the Quail Family; they had all flown to safety and were sitting on the high hedge and wondering what had happened.
Mother and Papa Quail looked around. They saw Quick, Quaff, Quartz, Quaint, Quake, Quality, Qualm, Quarrel, Quest, Queenie, and Quad, “But where is Quentin?” asked Mother Quail.
“I saw him chasing a bug into the tall grass at the back corner of the garden,” said Papa Quail, “and that is where the noise came from!”
At that, all the other brothers and sisters (except Quartz, who simply sat still like a beautiful rock, and seldom said a thing when she had just been frightened) started quickly offering their own ideas.
“Perhaps a dog, or something caught him,” said Quake, who was still shaking from being startled by the noise.
“Perhaps he is just being curious and making a lot of noise,” said Quarrel, who seldom accepted someone else’s idea about anything.
“Perhaps we can just rest here a bit, and see if he joins us,” said Queenie, who felt that hers was the wisest head in the Quail Family whenever the younger Quail Family members might voice their own opinions.
“Perhaps we should all be thankful we are alive, and all go back to the goji bush where it is even safer,” said Qualm, who often worried about even the smallest things, and this was a big worry.
“Perhaps we should all be quiet and think,” said Quaff, as he drank some of the drops which were dripping from a leaf of the hedge which the sprinklers had sprinkled.
“Perhaps we should all just watch, and see what we can see,” said Quaint, whose ideas were often better suited to yesterday’s problems than to today’s.
“Perhaps we should all go back to where we saw Quentin last, and see what has happened,” said Quest, who was always looking forward to their next adventure.
“Perhaps we should choose the four best solutions, and vote,” said Quad, who never counted less or more than four.
“Perhaps we are already taking too long to decide,” said Quick, who was always in favor of immediate action without too much thought.
“Perhaps Mother, or Papa, or Uncle Quail might fly over the spot where Quentin was seen before the noise, and see if they can tell us more,” said Quality, who often had the best ideas among the younger members of the Quail Family.
With that good idea in mind, Papa Quail said, “Mother Quail, I leave you in charge of our children, and I will fly over the back corner of the garden to see, if I can see Quentin,” and away he flew.
On his return, Father Quail said, “Quentin is alive and looks okay, but he is trapped inside a wire box like one I have seen the young neighbor boy carrying around sometimes. I am afraid Quentin is in real trouble.”
While the Quail Family thought about all the “perhaps” ideas this new information suggested, something was already happening in the back corner of the garden.
Mau-Mau had been allowed outside and had begun his inspection of the garden. He went to listen by the tall grass where he had often caught mice before, but this morning the noises were much louder, and he could hear Quentin breathing fast and whispering to himself: “Way out? Way out?”
Mau-Mau approached the trap which had never been there before. Inside he could see Curious Quentin Quail tipping his head from one side to the other examining his prison trap.
Mau-Mau looked at the door to the trap and saw the latch at the top of the door. It was like the handle he could never quite reach on the Jaspers’ house door whenever hewanted to go outside.
“I can reach that handle, thought Mau-Mau, and Mr. and Mrs. Jasper always have to pull on the door to let me out.”
“Perhaps, if I turn this handle like they turn that one, and pull on this door like they pull that one, I can let Quentin out, like they let me out!”
As Mau-Mau pulled down on the handle and pulled on the door, the door opened. But as soon as he stopped pulling, the door snapped shut again!
‘Now I know I can get the door open,” thought Mau-Mau, “how will I keep it open this time?”
Mau-Mau pulled down on the small handle again. He pulled the door open…and then he sat on the corner of the trap door. Curious Quentin Quail took five steps out of the trap and flew to the rest of the Quail Family still sitting on the hedge and still wondering what they should do.
Mau-Mau moved again, and when he did, the trap door snapped closed again, empty.
There were celebrations all around that day.
Curious Quentin Quail had learned an important lesson, and the Quail Family were happy to all be together again, and safe, especially Quentin.
Mau-Mau was happy that he had learned enough to be able to free Quentin from the boy’s trap.
The mice were happy, because they were small enough to go in and out of the trap and eat the seeds and grain that were still inside..
Mr. Jasper was happy that he saw the trap before he ran over it with his lawnmower while cutting down the tall grass.
Mrs. Jasper was happy that Mr. Jasper had only found a closed and empty trap, even though it had a few of Curious Quentin’s feathers inside.
Only the young neighbor boy was not happy.
When he came again to check his trap, all he found was a freshly mown back corner of the Jasper garden.
His trap had disappeared.
© 2011 Demas W. Jasper All rights reserved.
Parents: read this first before reading aloud.
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