Dr. Franklin’s Staticy Cat
Dr. Franklin had a cat. The cat had static. It had more static than any cat in America that year. Oh, it was in 1752. Whenever Dr. Franklin stroked his staticy cat, electricity flowed into his fingers, up his arms, and out his ears. Fizzz-zap!
“No, no, no,” said Dr. Franklin one day, rubbing his ears. “This simply won’t do. I must find a cure. A cure…for cat static.”
Pringle—that was the old cat’s name—nodded his head. Because he didn’t care much for static, either.
The first thing Dr. Franklin tried was giving his cat a bath. That usually worked for his own hair (or what was left of it), whenever it got staticy. But, Pringle didn’t enjoy the bath very much. Cats usually don’t. And afterward, Dr. Franklin dried Pringle off with a big, fluffy towel. Yup. He was as staticy as ever. In fact, he was even worse.
But the good doctor wasn’t a man who gave up easily. He was as stubborn as—a cat. Sometimes, you have to be. He touched his chin (that meant he was thinking). Then he clapped his hands together (that meant he had an idea). Then he leaped out of his seat. He took his slippers out of the closet and slipped them on. Then he counted to three, and raced up and down the carpet.
Up and down, up and down, up and down.
Pringle stared at him like he was zonkers.
“If I’m correct,” he said to Pringle as he scuffled along, “all the static in the carpets will get sucked up by me—and there won’t be any left for you.”
Pringle meowed. I guess it was worth trying.
After twenty minutes of shuffling, Dr. Franklin collapsed in his chair, out of breath.
“There!” he gasped. “There should be no more static in the carpet. Come here, Pringle.”
Pringle jumped onto the doctor’s lap, and puffed up like a fluffy puffer-fish. I guess all the static just flowed out of Dr. Franklin and went right back into Pringle.
“Oh, dear,” said the doctor, trying to smooth his pet’s fur back down. “This will never do.”
“Mrrrrrowww,” said Pringle. I think he agreed.
Dr. Franklin wasn’t sure what to do after that. So he decided to stretch out on the sofa and have a nap. Running around can make a guy tired.
While the doctor slept, Pringle hopped onto an armchair and watched him. Some people move around a lot in their sleep and even talk. Dr. Franklin was one of those people. He tossed, and he turned. He flipped around like a fish. He even stood on his head for a bit. He muttered a few things. Though it was hard to tell, Pringle was sure the doctor said “cake” and “ice-cream, please,” and “yes, a double scoop.” The old cat was about to fall asleep himself when his master jumped up and cried, “EUREKA!” It’s hard to sleep when someone does that.
“Perhaps,” the doctor went on, “if other people petted you, lots of them, hundreds of them, they’d pet the static right out of you forever. Oh, Pringle, you’d be cured!”
Pringle swished his tail. He did like to be petted.
“Tomorrow, if I’m not mistaken, is my good friend George’s birthday, and we’re invited. There should be hundreds of people there, Pringle, and hopefully, chocolate cake.”
Pringle swished his tail and purred. If there’s one thing a cat loves, it’s chocolate cake.
The next day, Dr. Franklin took Pringle to Crystal Park (that’s where the party was). There were three hundred people there, at least, standing around and chatting. Plus, there was a picnic table with plates, spoons, and a gigantic chocolate cake.
A man wearing a big grey wig came running up to them.
“Dr. Franklin! Pringle! Glad you could make it!”
“We wouldn’t have missed it for the world, George,” said Dr. Franklin, staring at the cake.
“Then come along!” cried George, putting his arm around his friend. “You’re just in time for the games. Shall we grab a birdie and smack it around?”
Pringle’s whiskers perked up. But then they drooped down again. He didn’t see a birdie anywhere.
“Actually,” said Dr. Franklin, “I have an idea for a new game.”
He told George all about his plan.
“Sounds … interesting,” said George. “Let’s try it!”
A few minutes later, all three hundred guests had lined up to pet Pringle.
John tried first, and got a terrible shock.
Alexander got one, too. Fizzz-zap!
When George petted the old cat, his wig popped right off.
Even after the three hundredth guest, Pringle was as staticy as ever. In fact, he was even worse. As he wandered off into the shade (it was a hot summer day, after all), the birthday balloons stuck to his fur. He looked like a bunch of grapes (with whiskers).
“No, no, no,” said Dr. Franklin, picking off the balloons. “This will never do.”
Pringle growled. That probably meant, “It sure won’t.”
“Who wants ice cream?” cried George, the birthday boy, hoping that would cheer everyone up.
“Me! Me!” cried pretty much everyone. I mean, who doesn’t like ice cream?
“Great!” said George. “It’ll be ready in an hour.”
“Awww,” said everyone.
There weren’t freezers in 1752, so if you wanted ice cream, you had to make it. You had to dump cream, and sugar, and ice into this big churn thing and turn the crank for a long time. So while George turned the crank, everyone waited impatiently for him to finish. They waited five minutes…ten minutes…twenty minutes. And still no ice-cream. The day got hotter and hotter.
“We can’t wait much longer!” cried John.
“Well, you’ll have to!” cried George, sweating and puffing as he turned the crank.
“Hmm,” said Dr. Franklin, staring at the churn in a dreamy kind of way. Pringle recognized that look. He knew it meant the doctor had an idea.
“EUREKA!” cried the doctor. Everyone jumped.
Dr. Franklin ran up to the ice-cream churn.
“Allow me to take over,” he said to the birthday boy.
“Please do!” gasped George, wiping the sweat off his forehead.
The doctor knelt down and examined the churn.
“Hmm,” he said. “I’ll need to make a few adjustments.”
He grabbed the spoons off the picnic table.
“Hey! We need those!” someone cried. But Dr. Franklin just ignored them. He twisted the spoons into strange shapes and attached them to the churn. Then he tightened a few screws and loosened a few, and then dashed into the crowd.
“What’s he up to?” said a lady with a BIG hat.
“I heard he’s zonkers,” said a lady with a BIGGER hat.
“Completely zonkers,” said a lady with a GIGANTIC hat. But then her hat vanished.
“I’ll need to borrow this, ma’am,” said Dr. Franklin, whisking the hat away.
“Heavens!” she cried, fainting. Luckily, the lady with the BIGGER hat broke her fall.
“Here, boy! Here, boy!” cried the doctor. Though Pringle didn’t like being called “boy” (he preferred being called “your majesty”), he came anyway.
Dr. Franklin picked up Pringle and sat him beside the ice cream churn. Pringle didn’t mind, being so close to all that cream. Oh, and as for the GIGANTIC hat, those usually have a long wire in them, so they hold their shape better. The doctor yanked the wire out, and the hat collapsed into a pile of fluff. When the lady who owned the hat saw that, she fainted again.
Dr. Franklin attached one end of the wire to Pringle’s collar and the other end to the new-and-improved ice cream churn. Then he touched his chin, itched his wig, and leaped onto the picnic table.
“Attention! Attention!” he cried.
“Zonkers! Zonkers!” cried the hat ladies. But the doctor just ignored them.
“If I could just get you all to pet Pringle again…”
“Noooo!” cried someone.
“We’ll get zapped,” cried someone else.
“Not this time,” said Dr. Franklin. “I promise.”
Three hundred people raised their eyebrows. But they decided to go along with it anyway. They were kind of curious. One by one, they petted the happy cat. And no one got shocked. Instead, something incredible happened.
The electric sparks traveled out of Pringle’s fur, down the wire from the GIGANTIC hat, and into the new-and-improved ice cream churn. And though no one was touching the crank, it started to move.
“Magic!” cried the lady with the BIG hat.
“Witchcraft!” cried the lady with the BIGGER hat.
“Science!” said Dr. Franklin.
The crank turned faster and faster. And then it stopped.
“Ice cream,” said Dr. Franklin, proudly, “is served.”
Everyone gasped. They couldn’t believe what had just happened or that the ice cream could be ready so quickly!
“What have you done?” they asked.
“I,” said Dr. Franklin, “have discovered electricity.”
Pringle hissed at him.
“What I mean is, we have discovered electricity.”
Pringle purred. Because that sounded much better to him.
“Hooray!” shouted everyone. They were just happy the ice cream was ready. They each had a triple scoop on top of their birthday cake.
And that’s how electricity was discovered. I’m pretty sure.
1. What was the name of Dr. Franklin’s cat?
2. What idea did Dr. Franklin get when he was asleep?
3. Who was having a birthday party?
4. Why did Dr. Franklin need the GIGANTIC hat from a lady?
5. What did Dr. Franklin do to cure his cat’s static?