I wandered downstairs, both drawn by my curiosity and pursued by Madeleine’s horrid wailing. She is addicted to a karaoke game that is based on a television series where various semi-talented redo old song and have dramas with each other. She is currently the world-wide high-scorer on the game and believes it is her ticket to fame and glory. Unfortunately, when she sings, she sounds like a scalded...well, let us just say that what she lacks in talent she makes up for in industry.
I burbled a greeting to the Captain as I entered the morning room, but ignored his outstretched hand, instead making the rounds of the room, which is both my custom and my duty. It was my intention to approach the Captain by the most circuitous route possible before allowing him to massage me, but I was checked as I explored behind the couch for there I found the soul-flown shell of my compatriot, Winston Churchill. He lay behind the Davenport, hidden from the Captain's view, upon his back, his feet up in the air, his talons still pitifully clutching a chocolate.
I reeled in horror. When I had collect myself, I circled the corpse, sniffing it and examining it. And then, driven by ineffable instinct, I scratched at the parquet floor, attempting to bury the empty husk. A moment later, I heard Helen, that most excellent of servants, enter the room, and I knew she would make everything right.
"What are you doing, Mr. Kitten?" she called. She could hear my scratching, but could not yet see me. "Did you barf again?" An impertinent question, although I'll admit it was my custom to make the same scratching motions when a cruel world sickens my sensitive nature and I heave my effluvium.
Her voice was irritatingly patient, almost patronizing. "Do you have a hairball for me to clean up, Mr. Kitten?" Even in the first depths of my grief I felt a twinge of annoyance that she had not learned by now that a cat is a divine creature that does not leave "barf" and "hairballs." We leave "signs" and "wonders."
Then she came over to me, saw me and Churchill, and literally screamed. She fell back in horror at the ghastly sight. Although more stoic than her, I shared her horror. I approached to her for comfort. Imagine my chagrin when a torrent of invective streamed from her lips.
"Mr. Kitten! You killed Winston Churchill!"
The Captain had hopped to his feet by this time, and they both stood looking down upon me, Helen heaping abuse upon me, and the Captain timidly attempting to calm her!
"Oh, no! How could he?" she cried. "I must have been stupid to buy a bird when I had a cat, but I thought they got along. Oh, I love you Mr. Kitten. I know it's not your fault and you don't know any better. I'm sorry I yelled at you." Then she burst into tears.
This was but an example of her brutality of speech. It was beneath me to refute her vile accusations. As the ancient Arab proverb says, the only answer to a fool is silence. And if I had fallen in her esteem, she had fallen infinitely more in mine. I repaired instantly to the top of the walnut highboy in the North corner of the morning room and observed from there.
The Captain comforted her and, to his credit, defended me. She seemed to begin to see reason. I meowed encouragement to him, then they both looked at me. It seemed that all might be well until a gray feather chose that instant to drift from my jaws down to the Oriental rug.
A fresh burst of tears from Helen, and embarrassed foot shuffling from the Captain.
I had a perfectly good reason for having a gray feather within my jaws but I did not trouble to explain myself.
Helen eventually calmed down. "Captain, please tell Blandings," she said, referring to the butler, "to bring the Jaguar around. I'm taking Winston to the vet to be cremated." She gave me a look that seemed to ponder that the Jaguar was a tribute to my own self, as all cats come from the same great race and various breeds or species vary only in size. "No wait," she amended herself, clearly searching her husband's large inventory of new and classic cars in her mind. "Bring the Datsun."
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