Lazy Cat That Saved $200,000
© Copyright 1998 by Lucille WhiteWinner of our Cat Story Contest that ended in 2000
The lazy cat was a plump black and white animal named Perezosa, which means "lazy" in Spanish, so she was aptly named. She was a South American and seafaring feline. The motion of the ship never bothered her, but she seldom moved unless it was to get more comfortable. It was by her laziness she saved the Estrella Navigation Company of Valparaiso 625,000 pesos which at that time amounted to $200,000 in our currency.
The name of the ship was Perla del Sur, captained by Agosto Fuentes. Perezosa was not only the mascot of the ship but the pride and joy of the captain even if she was not a good mouser and the crew complained about her laziness. They wanted a new mascot, especially one who would keep the rats and mice from taking over the ship.
At times other cats were brought on board but when the captain found out about them, they were quickly put ashore at the first opportunity for no cat, under any conditions, was going to take the place of his lazy, but beloved, Perezosa.
One night bound for Callao, Peru, out of Valparaiso, carrying a heavy load of mining machinery, a storm came down upon the ship. It was so violent that the cargo broke loose. It was later learned, at a hearing, that the freight had arrived late and the workers had done a rushed job in getting it aboard. Once it broke loose, the crew did the best they could to secure it but were not having much luck, so they decided to rig what is called a sea anchor and just ride it out. But even that did not work. The storm was too violent, pitching them all over the place.
It broke the captain's heart, but he had no choice when the ship began to leak and settle deeper down into the water. He gave the orders to abandon ship. In all the excitement, it was only after all the lifeboats had pulled away that Captain Fuentes realized his beloved Perezosa had been left on the ship!
On getting to shore and safety, the injured were sent to hospitals and the rest of the crew was sent back to Valparaiso. Captain Fuentes grieved about Perezosa until he heard the news that a tug had salvaged his ship. She had not sunk after all!
But there was bad news, the company that owned the tub boat was now demanding salvage money from the Estrella Navigation Company. An amount of 650,000 pesos! An amount that would not only wreck his company but that would deprive Captain Fuentes of a ship!
But if the ship had not sunk, then Perezosa could still be alive! Captain Fuentes immediately went to Taltal, where the ship had been towed, to find out if Perezosa was indeed still alive. He found her in the care of the tugboat man, who handed her over, saying he had never seen the likes of her. She had evidently never left the cabin of the Perla del Sur until the ship had been tied up at the docks.
Upon hearing that, Captain Fuentes got excited and asked the tugman if he was absolutely sure about that. The tugman swore it was so, and wondered why the captain was so elated over being told that about Perezosa.
Captain Fuentes immediately wired the owners of the Estrella Navigation Company that he had good news. And it was good news, for it meant that the settlement to the tugboat company would only be for the towing charges, which amounted to only 25,000 pesos. Their claim of 650,000 pesos was thrown out because the ship, Perla del Sur, had not been found a derelict "without a living creature."
Perezosa had been very much alive, even if she had probably been asleep the whole time. Captain Fuentes gave his beloved Perezosa a gentle hug. By being too lazy to get off a ship everyone believed to be sinking, she had protected the Estrella Company's property rights and proved to one and all that she was, indeed, a good luck mascot.
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Another story by Lucille: The Guardian Cat