One evening in early December, near the French village of Bric-à-Brac, Tate and Farmer Pierre sat by the fireplace. Tate, Pierre's black cat, was feeling glum. Whenever she tried to help around the house, everything seemed to go wrong. Only this morning, she'd accidentally dropped Pierre's tiny jade plant on the living room carpet. Last week, she'd tipped over an entire jug of milk. Pierre was a very patient person, but Tate could tell that even he was getting a little exasperated.
Tate decided to go on a trip, perhaps to visit some of her many relatives in the surrounding villages. At least it would give Pierre some peace and quiet. She planned to stop by the barn in the morning to say goodbye to her friend Jacqueline, the red cow.