Under this she sat patiently till nightfall came with quiet, then sneaked back like a shadow to her old iron-yard. Thus the days went by for two months. She grew in size and strength and in an intimate knowledge of the immediate neighborhood. She made the acquaintance of Downey Street, where long rows of ash-cans were to be seen every morning. She formed her own ideas of their proprietors.
She examined carefully the long invisible colored stream that the wind is made of. She selected the most interesting of its strands, and, nose-led, followed. In the corner of the iron-yard was a box of garbage. Among this she found something that answered fairly well for food; a bucket of water under a faucet offered a chance to quench her thirst.
He was not especially unkind to the birds and beasts whose sales were supposed to furnish his living, but his eye was on the main chance; he knew what he wanted. He didn't want the Slum Kitten. The negro gave it all the food it could eat, then carried it to a distant block and dropped it in a neighboring iron-yard.
The old iron-yard never had been home, she had always felt like a stranger there; but here she had a sense of ownership, and at once resented the presence of another small Cat. She approached this newcomer with threatening air. The two had got as far as snarling and spitting when a bucket of water from an upper window drenched them both and effectually cooled their wrath.
The buildings of a shipwright's yard stand above it, and the hammers of the yard beat with a continuous rhythmic clangour which recedes, when you are used to it, till it is only the normal pulse of life in your ears. The time was three in the afternoon. The children were at school, and alone the men of the iron-yard made audible the unseen life of the place. We had the coffee-shop to ourselves.
The night was spent chiefly in prowling about and learning the main lines of the iron-yard. The next day she passed as before, sleeping in the sun. Thus the time wore on. Sometimes she found a good meal at the garbage-box, sometimes there was nothing. Once she found the big Black Tom there, but discreetly withdrew before he saw her.