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The First Mate was owned by "one of those summer people", who had taken him in during the summer, and then left the poor cat. Alone in the world, Matey prowled about for quite a while, before getting caught on a tree branch by a ribbon on his neck. Captain Jim, on a walk, found the kitten, near death. The good captain took him in, and called him the First Mate.
Life at Four Winds Point
The First Mate's life at Four Winds Point was extremely enjoyable. Being well-cared for, he prowled and purred, as all good cats should. Captain Jim, Anne, Gilbert and Leslie all loved the the First Mate, and when Captain Jim died, the First Mate moved into the House of Dreams with Anne, Gilbert, Jem and Susan (the last of whom had no love lost for cats, but tolerated him nevertheless).