Once upon a time, in the village of Rescuetown, Mr Parker visited his veterinarian. Now, Mr Parker had diabetes, and was taking insulin for it. Even so, he was feeling a little off, a little all overish, as the saying goes. His doctor was a considerate fellow, and asked what the matter was.
“I’m not sure,” answered Mr Parker. “I feel rather all overish, as the saying goes.”
“I understand completely,” said the doctor, “and I think I know what the problem is.”
The veterinarian showed Mr Parker his latest test results, and Mr Parker, who was no doctor (he didn’t even play one on tv) hummed and hmmmed, and stroked his chin, as if in deep thought. The truth was that Mr Parker had no idea what he was looking at. The doctor smiled kindly (for that was the sort of fellow he was) and pointed out certain things.
“What this means, Mr Parker, is that your diabetes is not being managed well.”
“Good Heavens, I had no idea. What can I do about it?”
“Have you ever thought of going abroad?”
“Going abroad??” The idea of leaving Rescuetown had never occurred to Mr Parker. He had been in Rescuetown a long time, and the thought of leaving was rather unnerving.
“You needn’t be anxious. Going abroad for one’s health is a long and honourable tradition. It is, after all, how the French Riviera attained the status it has now. The English practically founded the Riviera. Many of them went for their health and stayed to become expatriates, living their whole lives there.”
“I had no idea. But where would I go?”
“There is a country, not far away, that you may find quite attractive…”
And so Mr Parker packed his few belongings, a favourite blanket, a couple of well-beaten toys, and caught the boat to the new land, where he would enjoy better health. He was quite nervous. Mr Parker was not a traveller, you see, and, though there was a time when he had actually been homeless, he had not enjoyed it, and had been hungry all the time.
But he need not have worried. He was welcomed in this strange land, a little kingdom, with pretty villages, fertile valleys, green hills and purple mountains. There were rivers and woods and wide fields, with little homesteads. The land bordered the sea, where sailboats roamed noiselessly back and forth. The citizens were friendly.
Mr Parker settled into a suite of rooms at the Hotel Splendide and then, not knowing if his cure would effect itself or not, decided to seek medical advice. The hotel manager suggested that he consult the staff of the Cosy Apartment Feline Sanitarium, so the next day, bright and early, he caught the train to the sanitarium in its secluded valley. There he met with Dr Bellen, the director.
“I hope you aren’t nervous about being in our fair land, Mr Parker,” said the doctor.
“Well, I am a bit. I am, after all, a stranger here.”
“I understand. But you are most welcome. If it helps, I might add that I am an adviser to the surgeon-general, and a privy councillor to His Majesty the King.”
This did help, Mr Parker admitted, if only to himself; like all cats, he was a bit of a snob.
“We will start you on a certain regime of treatment, Mr Parker, which will involve a strictly controlled but appetising menu, and a carefully monitored dosage of insulin. I think you will begin to feel better quite soon.”
This made Mr Parker quite hopeful, and he began to be glad that he had travelled abroad.
The days passed pleasantly for him after that. His diet, which he feared would be restrictive, was varied, and if he did not care for one food, the restaurant at the Hotel Splendide provided another. They did not look down upon his culinary foibles. As the head waiter informed him with a carefree laugh, they were used to foreigners coming to the country to feel better.
Mr Parker started going for walks in the countryside. He met the townspeople going about their business, and the villagers and the farmers in their fields. They were all friendly, and soon, Mr Parker became somewhat of a celebrity. Everyone knew him, and would stop what they were doing when they met him, to talk to him, to inquire after his health, or just to say ‘hello’. He slept restfully in his hotel rooms; the views from the Splendide were, well, splendid, and in the warm months, the fragrances brought by the breezes were sweet.
There were other expatriates in the land, too, those who had come for their health, or for the views, or because they had no home. Mr Parker met exalted nobility and copmmon folk, cats of all colours and from all walks of life.
After he had been in the new country for a couple of years, and had been feeling almost robust (as he confided to his diary), he began to think that something was amiss. His meals were starting to lose their flavour, and he believed he was losing weight. Dr Bellen had not been unaware of these changes, and called him in to his office one day.
“Mr Parker, I’m afraid I have bad news…”
To be continued...
© J. Bellen 2019