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The Adventures of the Kingston Cats
Chapter 3

Follow the adventures of a family of Jamaican housecats who decide to see the world outside their Kingston home.

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Chapter Three

Soon it started to get light; it was now the second day of their adventure. They crossed a narrow road and jumped over an old fashioned iron fence. There were miles and miles of lawn, or so it seemed to the Cats, and huge old trees and, right in the middle, a very large and ornate house made all of wood! And.....wonderful smells of food came at them from all directions!

As they walked towards the building and the smell of food a huge tortoiseshell cat waddled towards them. "Welcome to Devon House, my name is Belisario. I look after the property & I'm named after a famous artist who did a lot of paintings & lithographs in Jamaica at around the time this house was built."

"Hello, Belisario," answered our travellers, "What are those lovely smells?"

"That's the very reason I'm a little overweight," replied Belisario. "Devon House just happens to have five restaurants and,  to be truthful, I never stop eating!"

"Sounds like my perfect place," mused Lily, then a thought occurred to her "I hope it's not health food?"

"Well," responded Belisario, "One is a juice bar but we also have a patty shop which is in the original kitchen, a pub in the old coach house, a cordon bleu restaurant & an ice-cream shop."

"I think this is where The Woman gets those delicious shrimp patties!" exclaimed Jonquil.

"I think I could live here!" added Lily and they followed Belisario to have breakfast in the pub, which was called The Grog Shoppe.

After breakfast, Belisario took them into the house & told them all about Mr Stiebel who had built the house more than one hundred years ago.

"George Stiebel was born in the 1820s to a Black mother & a German father. He didn't get on well at school so he dropped out at 14 to become a builder's apprentice. In his twenties his father gave him the money to buy a ship which he used to transport goods between Jamaica & South America. With the money he made from this, he purchased two more ships and started to trade guns to supply the anti-slavery revolution in Cuba in the 1840s. He made great profits from that venture but also got into trouble with the law so he had to give up that enterprise."

"In 1851 he married Magdalene Baker, a missionaries' daughter and they had two children. Shortly after his younger child was born he was taking his ships to Venezuela when there was a terrible storm and the ships, including the one he was on, all sank! Luckily George survived but almost everything was lost except for the money belt tied round his waist. With that he started over in Venezuela, trading gold & eventually investing in a gold mine. This made him very wealthy indeed. Bad fortune again struck poor George when his son died in 1873 so he returned home as Jamaica's first black millionaire!"

"With his fortune he bought 99 properties as, at that time, "coloured people" could not own 100 properties. His purchases included two sugarcane plantations, a cattle farm, a shipping wharf & the old rectory where, in 1881, he built the grand Devon House in the Georgian style. The outbuildings were those already there from the rectory and are therefore older than the house. He even built a swimming pool in 1881! Some of the most lavish parties in Kingston were held at Devon House."

"But George was a good man and did not only spend on himself. He was also a great philanthropist and gave away a lot of his fortune to the less fortunate. He was on the Board of almost every charitable association that existed in those days. He was appointed Custos of St Andrew and was in that post when the Great Exhibition of 1891 took place. Because of all his good works he was awarded Companion of the Most Distinguished Order (CMG) by Queen Victoria. Mrs Stiebel died in 1892 and George in 1896. Their daughter lived at Devon House until 1922."

The grand Palm Hall at Devon House

"I'm hungry after all that talking" said Belisario, "Let's have lunch" and he led the girls to the Verandah where the most wonderful food was laid out for them. The owner of that restaurant was a Jamaican lady who owned other restaurants all over the world and even did TV shows in the US and the UK. The cats were so stuffed after gorging themselves on lobster & steak that they curled up under an arbour and went to sleep.

"Wake up! Wake up!" was the next thing they heard. Sitting in front of them was a younger and slimmer version of Belisario. "I'm Dev, Belisario's son. Dad sent me to see if you guys would like to climb a very tall tree and try to catch some birds. Of course, he's so fat he couldn't even climb a twig!"

"Sounds like fun," said Rose. "And we certainly need the exercise after all that food."

So off they went to a huge guango tree. Rose & Lily went half way up but the girls climbed with Dev all the way up and, the truth be told, there was a bit of rivalry between them for Dev's attention!

Once they were at the top of the tree Dev pointed roughly south. "We're right on the edge of the commercial district here. If you go in that direction you will see some really beautiful buildings, offices and hotels and all sorts of things. But remember, once you leave the 'burbs you must be very careful. I've been there and there are rats as big as us there!"

Iris, wanting to show off her knowledge, said. "Yes, Dev. I read a lot on the Internet. There are rats in all big cities but I'm sure they're not as big as us."

"Wait & see," said Dev. "Anyway, let's go pick up your Mothers and try to find my Dad. He's probably eating as usual."

Sure enough, when they did find Belisario, he was in the back courtyard eating patties and ice-cream.. The girls had a hearty meal and Belisario packed up a picnic basket full of leftovers for them to take.

After a short nap, it was dark again and time for them to head on their way.

"Well," said Rose. "After meeting that cat, I know I'm going on a diet!"

And with that, they headed out into the night.

Click here to buy stuff with pictures of the Cats at Devon House.

Lily & Rose in front of Devon House with a basket of goodies given to them by Belisario.

Go BackChapter 4

Keep reading to discover where the Cats' adventures will lead them to next!

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