The nearest approach to the real French Salon in America is said to be found in Mrs. Louise Chandler Moulton's Boston drawing-room. In former days, at her weekly Fridays, Sir Richard Coeur de Lion was always present, sitting on the square piano amidst a lot of other celebrities. The autographed photographs of Paderewski, John Drew, and distinguished litterateurs, however, used to lose nothing from the proximity of Mrs. Moulton's favorite maltese friend, who was on the most intimate terms with her for twelve years, and hobnobbed familiarly with most of the lions of one sort or another who have visited Boston and who invariably find their way into this room. If there were flowers on the piano, Richard's nose hovered near them in a perfect abandon of delight. Indeed, his fondness for flowers was a source of constant contention between him and his mistress, who feared lest he knock the souvenirs of foreign countries to the floor in his eagerness to climb wherever flowers were put. He was as dainty about his eating as in his taste for the beautiful, scorning beef and mutton as fit only for coarser mortals, and choosing, like any gourmet, to eat only the breast of chicken, or certain portions of fish or lobster. He was not proof against the flavor of liver, at any time; but recognized in it his one weakness,—as the delicate lady may who takes snuff or chews gum on the sly. When Mrs. Moulton first had him, she had also a little dog, and the two, as usual when a kitten is brought up with a dog, became the greatest of friends.
That Richard was a close observer was proved by the way he used to wag his tail, in the same fashion and apparently for the same reasons as the dog. This went on for several years, but when the dog died, the fashion of wagging tails went out, so far as Richard Coeur de Lion was concerned.
He had a fashion of getting up on mantels, the tops of bookcases, or on shelves; and his mistress, fearing demolition of her household Lares and Penates, insisted on his getting down, whereupon Richard would look reproachfully at her, apparently resenting this treatment for days afterward, refusing to come near her and edging off if she tried to make up with him.
When Richard was getting old, a black cat came to Mrs. Moulton, who kept him "for luck," and named him the Black Prince. The older cat was always jealous of the newcomer, and treated him with lofty scorn. When he caught Mrs. Moulton petting the Black Prince, who is a very affectionate fellow Richard fiercely resented it and sometimes refused to have anything to do with her for days afterward, but finally came around and made up in shamefaced fashion.
Mrs. Moulton goes to London usually in the summer, leaving the cats in the care of a faithful maid whom she has had for years. After she sailed, Richard used to come to her door for several mornings, and not being let in as usual, understood that his beloved mistress had left him again, whereupon he kept up a prolonged wailing for some time. He was correspondingly glad to see her on her return in October.
Mrs. Moulton tells the following remarkable cat story:—
"My mother had a cat that lived to be twenty-five years old. He was faithful and fond, and a great pet in the family, of course. About two years before his death, a new kitten was added to the family. This kitten, named Jim, immediately conceived the greatest affection for old Jack, and as the old fellow's senses of sight and smell failed so that he could not go hunting himself, Jim used to do it for both. Every day he brought Jack mice and squirrels and other game as long as he lived. Then, too, he used to wash Jack, lapping him all over as a mother cat does her kitten. He did this, too, as long as he lived. The feebler old Jack grew the more Jim did for him, and when Jack finally died of old age, Jim was inconsolable."
Twenty-five years might certainly be termed a ripe old age for a cat, their average life extending only to ten or twelve years. But I have heard of one who seems to have attained even greater age. The mother of Jane Andrews, the writer on educational and juvenile subjects, had one who lived with them twenty-four years. He had peculiar markings and certain ways of his own about the house quite different from other cats. He disappeared one day when he was twenty-four, and was mourned as dead. But one day, some six or seven years later, an old cat came to their door and asked to be let in. He had the same markings, and on being let in, went directly to his favorite sleeping-places and lay down. He seemed perfectly familiar with the whole place, and went on with his life from that time, just as though he had never been away, showing all his old peculiarities. When he finally died, he must have been thirty-three years old.
1. Babylon: owned by Edmund Clarence Stedman;
Although in other days a great many noted men have been devoted to cats, I do not find that our men of letters to-day know so much about cats. Mr. William Dean Howells says: "I never had a cat, pet or otherwise. I like them, but know nothing of them." Judge Robert Grant says, "My feelings toward cats are kindly and considerate, but not ardent."
Thomas Bailey Aldrich says, "The only cat I ever had any experience with was the one I translated from the French of Émile de La Bédolliérre many years ago for the entertainment of my children." [Footnote: "Mother Michel's Cat."] Brander Matthews loves them not. George W. Cable answers, when asked if he loves the "harmless, necessary cat," by the Yankee method, and says, "If you had three or four acres of beautiful woods in which were little red squirrels and chipmunks and fifty or more kinds of nesting birds, and every abutting neighbor kept a cat, and none of them kept their cat out of those woods—would you like cats?" which is, indeed, something of a poser.
Colonel Thomas W. Higginson, however, confesses to a great fondness for cats, although he has had no remarkable cats of his own. He tells a story told him by an old sailor at Pigeon Cove, Mass., of a cat which he, the sailor, tried in vain to get rid of. After trying several methods he finally put the cat in a bag, walked a mile to Lane's Cove, tied the cat to a big stone with a firm sailor's knot, took it out in a dory some distance from the shore, and dropped the cat overboard. Then he went back home to find the cat purring on the doorstep.
Those who are familiar with Charles Dudley Warner's "My Summer in a Garden" will not need to be reminded of Calvin and his interesting traits. Mr. Warner says: "I never had but one cat, and he was rather a friend and companion than a cat. When he departed this life I did not care to do as many men do when their partners die, take a 'second.'" The sketch of him in that delightful book is vouched for as correct.
Mr. Edmund Clarence Stedman, too, is a genuine admirer of cats and evidently knows how to appreciate them at their true value. At his home near New York, he and Mrs. Stedman have one who rejoices in the name "Babylon," having originated in Babylon, Long Island. He is a fine large maltese, and attracted a great deal of attention at the New York Cat Show in 1895. "We look upon him as an important member of our family," says Mrs. Stedman, "and think he knows as much as any of us. He despises our two other cats, but he is very fond of human beings and makes friends readily with strangers. He is always present at the family dinner table at meal-time and expects to have his share handed to him carefully. He has a favorite corner in the study and has superintended a great deal of literary work." Mrs. Stedman's long-haired, blue Kelpie took a prize in the show of '95.
Gail Hamilton was naturally a lover of cats, although in her crowded life there was not much time to devote to them. In the last year of her noble life she wrote to a friend as follows: "My two hands were eager to lighten the burden-bearing of a burdened world—but the brush fell from my hand. Now I can only sit in a nook of November sunshine, playing with two little black and white kittens. Well, I never before had time to play with kittens as much as I wished, and when I come outdoors and see them bounding toward me in long, light leaps, I am glad that they leap toward me and not away from me, little soft, fierce sparks of infinite energy holding a mystery of their own as inscrutable as life. And I remember that with all our high art, the common daily sun searches a man for one revealing moment, and makes a truer portrait than the most laborious painter. The divine face of our Saviour, reflected in the pure and noble traits of humanity, will not fail from the earth because my hand has failed in cunning."
One would expect a poet of Ella Wheeler Wilcox's temperament to be passionately fond of cats, just as she is. One would expect, too, that only the most beautiful and luxurious of Persians and Angoras would satisfy her demand for a pet. This is also justifiable, as she has several magnificent cats, about whom she has published a number of interesting stories. Her Madame Ref is quite a noted cat, but Mrs. Wilcox's favorite and the handsomest of all is named Banjo, a gorgeous chinchilla and white Angora, with a silken coat that almost touches the floor and a ruff, or "lord mayor's chain," that is a finger wide. His father was Ajax, his mother was Madame Ref, and Mrs. Wilcox raised him. She has taught him many cunning tricks. He will sit up like a bear, and when his mistress says, "Hug me, Banjo," he puts both white paws around her neck and hugs her tight. Then she says, "Turn the other cheek," and he turns his furry chops for her to kiss. He also plays "dead," and rolls over at command. He, too, is fond of literary work, and superintends his mistress's writing from a drawer of her desk. Goody Two-eyes is another of Mrs. Wilcox's pets, and has one blue and one topaz eye.
Who has not read Agnes Repplier's fascinating essays on "Agrippina" and "A Kitten"? I cannot quite believe she gives cats credit for the capacity for affection which they really possess, but her description of "Agrippina" is charming:—
"Agrippina's beautifully ringed tail flapping across my copy distracts my attention and imperils the neatness of my penmanship. Even when she is disposed to be affable, turns the light of her countenance upon me, watches with attentive curiosity every stroke I make, and softly, with curved paw, pats my pen as it travels over the paper, even in these halcyon moments, though my self-love is flattered by her condescension, I am aware that I should work better and more rapidly if I denied myself this charming companionship. But, in truth, it is impossible for a lover of cats to banish these alert, gentle, and discriminating little friends, who give us just enough of their regard and complaisance to make us hunger for more. M. Fee, the naturalist, who has written so admirably about animals, and who understands, as only a Frenchman can understand, the delicate and subtle organization of a cat, frankly admits that the keynote of its character is independence. It dwells under our roofs, sleeps by our fire, endures our blandishments, and apparently enjoys our society, without for one moment forfeiting its sense of absolute freedom, without acknowledging any servile relation to the human creature who shelters it.
"Rude and masterful souls resent this fine self-sufficiency in a domestic animal, and require that it shall have no will but theirs, no pleasure that does not emanate from them.
"Yet there are people, less magisterial, perhaps, or less exacting, who believe that true friendship, even with an animal, may be built up on mutual esteem and independence; that to demand gratitude is to be unworthy of it; and that obedience is not essential to agreeable and healthy intercourse. A man who owns a dog is, in every sense of the word, its master: the term expresses accurately their mutual relations. But it is ridiculous when applied to the limited possession of a cat. I am certainly not Agrippina's mistress, and the assumption of authority on my part would be a mere empty dignity, like those swelling titles which afford such innocent delight to the Freemasons of our severe republic.
"How many times have I rested tired eyes on her graceful little body, curled up in a ball and wrapped round with her tail like a parcel; or stretched out luxuriously on my bed, one paw coyly covering her face, the other curved gently inwards, as though clasping an invisible treasure. Asleep or awake, in rest or in motion, grave or gay, Agrippina is always beautiful; and it is better to be beautiful than to fetch and carry from the rising to the setting of the sun.
"But when Agrippina has breakfasted and washed, and sits in the sunlight blinking at me with affectionate contempt, I feel soothed by her absolute and unqualified enjoyment. I know how full my day will be of things that I don't want particularly to do, and that are not particularly worth doing; but for her, time and the world hold only this brief moment of contentment. Slowly the eyes close, gently the little body is relaxed. Oh, you who strive to relieve your overwrought nerves and cultivate power through repose, watch the exquisite languor of a drowsy cat, and despair of imitating such perfect and restful grace. There is a gradual yielding of every muscle to the soft persuasiveness of slumber: the flexible frame is curved into tender lines, the head nestles lower, the paws are tucked out of sight: no convulsive throb or start betrays a rebellious alertness: only a faint quiver of unconscious satisfaction, a faint heaving of the tawny sides, a faint gleam of the half-shut yellow eyes, and Agrippina is asleep. I look at her for one wistful moment and then turn resolutely to my work. It were ignoble to wish myself in her place: and yet how charming to be able to settle down to a nap, sans peur et sans reproche, at ten o'clock in the morning."
And again: "When I am told that Agrippina is disobedient, ungrateful, cold-hearted, perverse, stupid, treacherous, and cruel, I no longer strive to check the torrent of abuse. I know that Buffon said all this, and much more, about cats, and that people have gone on repeating it ever since, principally because these spirited little beasts have remained just what it pleased Providence to make them, have preserved their primitive freedom through centuries of effete and demoralizing civilization. Why, I wonder, should a great many good men and women cherish an unreasonable grudge against one animal because it does not chance to possess the precise qualities of another? 'My dog fetches my slippers for me every night,' said a friend, triumphantly, not long ago. 'He puts them first to warm by the fire, and then brings them over to my chair, wagging his tail, and as proud as Punch. Would your cat do as much for you, I'd like to know?' Assuredly not. If I waited for Agrippina to fetch me shoes or slippers, I should have no other resource save to join as speedily as possible one of the barefooted religious orders of Italy. But after all, fetching slippers is not the whole duty of domestic pets.
"As for curiosity, that vice which the Abbé Galiani held to be unknown to animals, but which the more astute Voltaire detected in every little dog that he saw peering out of the window of its master's coach, it is the ruling passion of the feline breast. A closet door left ajar, a box with half-closed lid, an open bureau drawer,—these are the objects that fill a cat with the liveliest interest and delight. Agrippina watches breathlessly the unfastening of a parcel, and tries to hasten matters by clutching actively at the string. When its contents are shown to her, she examines them gravely, and then, with a sigh of relief, settles down to repose. The slightest noise disturbs and irritates her until she discovers its cause. If she hears a footstep in the hall, she runs out to see whose it is, and, like certain troublesome little people I have known, she dearly loves to go to the front door every time the bell is rung. From my window she surveys the street with tranquil scrutiny, and if the boys are playing below, she follows their games with a steady, scornful stare, very different from the wistful eagerness of a friendly dog, quivering to join in the sport. Sometimes the boys catch sight of her, and shout up rudely at her window; and I can never sufficiently admire Agrippina's conduct upon these trying occasions, the well-bred composure with which she affects neither to see nor to hear them, nor to be aware that there are such objectionable creatures as children in the world. Sometimes, too, the terrier that lives next door comes out to sun himself in the street, and, beholding my cat sitting well out of reach, he dances madly up and down the pavement, barking with all his might, and rearing himself on his short legs, in a futile attempt to dislodge her. Then the spirit of evil enters Agrippina's little heart. The window is open and she creeps to the extreme edge of the stone sill, stretches herself at full length, peers down smilingly at the frenzied dog, dangles one paw enticingly in the air, and exerts herself with quiet malice to drive him to desperation. Her sense of humor is awakened by his frantic efforts and by her own absolute security; and not until he is spent with exertion, and lies panting and exhausted on the bricks, does she arch her graceful back, stretch her limbs lazily in the sun, and with one light bound spring from the window to my desk."
And what more delightful word did ever Miss Repplier write than her description of a kitten? It, she says, "is the most irresistible comedian in the world. Its wide-open eyes gleam with wonder and mirth. It darts madly at nothing at all, and then, as though suddenly checked in the pursuit, prances sideways on its hind legs with ridiculous agility and zeal. It makes a vast pretence of climbing the rounds of a chair, and swings by the curtains like an acrobat. It scrambles up a table leg, and is seized with comic horror at finding itself full two feet from the floor. If you hasten to its rescue, it clutches you nervously, its little heart thumping against its furry sides, while its soft paws expand and contract with agitation and relief:—
"'And all their harmless claws disclose,
"Yet the instant it is back on the carpet it feigns to be suspicious of your interference, peers at you out of 'the tail o' its e'e,' and scampers for protection under the sofa, from which asylum it presently emerges with cautious, trailing steps as though encompassed by fearful dangers and alarms."
Nobody can sympathize with her in the following description better than I, who for years was compelled by the insistence of my Pretty Lady to aid in the bringing up of infants:—
"I own that when Agrippina brought her first-born son—aged two days—and established him in my bedroom closet, the plan struck me at the start as inconvenient. I had prepared another nursery for the little Claudius Nero, and I endeavored for a while to convince his mother that my arrangements were best. But Agrippina was inflexible. The closet suited her in every respect; and, with charming and irresistible flattery, she gave me to understand, in the mute language I knew so well, that she wished her baby boy to be under my immediate protection.
1. A group of white kittens; 2. Little Furzo: solid blue, ten weeks old: from the
"'I bring him to you because I trust you,' she said as plainly as looks can speak. 'Downstairs they handle him all the time, and it is not good for kittens to be handled. Here he is safe from harm, and here he shall remain,' After a few weak remonstrances, the futility of which I too clearly understood, her persistence carried the day. I removed my clothing from the closet, spread a shawl upon the floor, had the door taken from its hinges, and resigned myself, for the first time in my life, to the daily and hourly companionship of an infant.
"I was amply rewarded. People who require the household cat to rear her offspring in some remote attic or dark corner of the cellar have no idea of all the diversion and pleasure that they lose. It is delightful to watch the little, blind, sprawling, feeble, helpless things develop swiftly into the grace and agility of kittenhood. It is delightful to see the mingled pride and anxiety of the mother, whose parental love increases with every hour of care, and who exhibits her young family as if they were infant Gracchi, the hope of all their race. During Nero's extreme youth, there were times when Agrippina wearied both of his companionship and of her own maternal duties. Once or twice she abandoned him at night for the greater luxury of my bed, where she slept tranquilly by my side, unmindful of the little wailing cries with which Nero lamented her desertion. Once or twice the heat of early summer tempted her to spend the evening on the porch roof which lay beneath my windows, and I have passed some anxious hours awaiting her return, and wondering what would happen if she never came back, and I were left to bring up the baby by hand.
"But as the days sped on, and Nero grew rapidly in beauty and intelligence, Agrippina's affection for him knew no bounds. She could hardly bear to leave him even for a little while, and always came hurrying back to him with a loud, frightened mew, as if fearing he might have been stolen in her absence. At night she purred over him for hours, or made little gurgling noises expressive of ineffable content. She resented the careless curiosity of strangers, and was a trifle supercilious when the cook stole softly in to give vent to her fervent admiration. But from first to last she shared with me her pride and pleasure; and the joy in her beautiful eyes, as she raised them to mine, was frankly confiding and sympathetic. When the infant Claudius rolled for the first time over the ledge of the closet and lay sprawling on the bedroom floor, it would have been hard to say which of us was the more elated at his prowess."
What became of these most interesting cats, is only hinted at; Miss Repplier's sincere grief at their loss is evident in the following:—
"Every night they retired at the same time and slept upon the same cushion, curled up inextricably into one soft, furry ball. Many times I have knelt by their chair to bid them both good night; and always when I did so, Agrippina would lift her charming head, purr drowsily for a few seconds, and then nestle closer still to her first-born, with sighs of supreme satisfaction. The zenith of her life had been reached. Her cup of contentment was full.
"It is a rude world, even for little cats, and evil chances lie in wait for the petted creatures we strive to shield from harm. Remembering the pangs of separation, the possibilities of unkindness or neglect, the troubles that hide in ambush on every unturned page, I am sometimes glad that the same cruel and selfish blow struck both mother and son, and that they lie together, safe from hurt or hazard, sleeping tranquilly and always, under the shadow of the friendly pines."
Probably no modern cat has been more written about than Miss Mary L. Booth's Muff. There was a "Tippet," but he was early lost. Miss Booth, as the editor of Harper's Bazar, was the centre of a large circle of literary and musical people. Her Saturday evenings were to New York what Mrs. Moulton's Fridays are to Boston, the nearest approach to the French salon possible in America. At these Saturday evenings Muff always figured prominently, being dressed in a real lace collar (brought him from Yucatan by Madame la Plongeon, and elaborate and expensive enough for the most fastidious lady), and apparently enjoying the company of noted intellectual people as well as the best of them. And who knows, if he had spoken, what light he might have shed on what seemed to mere mortals as mysterious, abstruse, and occult problems? Perhaps, after all, he liked that "salon" because in reality he found so much to amuse him in the conversation; and perhaps he was, under that guise of friendly interest in noted scientists, reformers, poets, musicians, and litterateurs, only whispering to himself, "O Lord, what fools these mortals be!"
"For when I play with my cat," says Montaigne, "how do I know whether she does not make a jest of me?"
But Muff was a real nobleman among cats, and extraordinarily handsome. He was a great soft gray maltese with white paws and breast—mild, amiable, and uncommonly intelligent. He felt it his duty to help entertain Miss Booth's guests, always; and he more than once, at the beginning of a reception, came into the drawing-room with a mouse in his mouth as his offering to the occasion. Naturally enough "he caused the stampede," as Mrs. Spofford puts it, "that Mr. Gilbert forgot to put into 'Princess Ida' when her Amazons wild demonstrate their courage."
As one of Miss Booth's intimate friends, Mrs. Spofford was much at her house and became early a devoted admirer of Muff's.
"His latter days," she says, "were rendered miserable by a little silky, gray creature, an Angora named Vashti, who was a spark of the fire of the lower regions wrapped round in long silky fur, and who never let him alone one moment: who was full of tail-lashings and racings and leapings and fury, and of the most demonstrative love for her mistress. Once I made them collars with breastplates of tiny dangling bells, nine or ten; it excited them nearly to madness, and they flew up and down stairs like unchained lightning till the trinkets were taken off."
In a house full of birds Muff never touched one, although he was an excellent mouser (who says cats have no conscience?). He was, although so socially inclined toward his mistress's guests, a timid person, and the wild back-yard cats filled him with terror.
"But as one must see something of the world," continues Mrs. Spofford, "he used to jump from lintel to lintel of the windows of the block, if by chance his own were left open, and return when he pleased."
Muff died soon after the death of Miss Booth. Vashti, who was very much admired by all her mistress's literary friends, was given to Miss Juliet Corson.
Miss Edna Dean Proctor, the poet, is another admirer of fine cats. Her favorite, however, was the friend of her childhood called Beauty.
"Beauty was my grandmother's cat," says Miss Proctor, "and the delight of my childhood. To this far-off day I remember her as distinctly as I do my aunt and cousins of that household, and even my dear grandmother herself. I know nothing of her ancestry and am not at all sure that she was royally bred, for she came, one chill night, a little wanderer to the door. But a shred of blue ribbon was clinging to her neck, and she was so pretty, and silky, and winsome that we children at once called her Beauty, and fancied she had strayed from some elegant home where she had been the pet of the household, lapping her milk from finest china and sleeping on a cushion of down. When we had warmed, and fed, and caressed her, we made her bed in a flannel-lined box among our dolls, and the next morning were up before the sun to see her, fearing her owners would appear and carry her away. But no one arrived to claim her, and she soon became an important member of the family, and grew handsomer, we thought, day by day. Her coat was gray with tiger markings, but paws and throat and nose were snowy white, and in spite of her excursions to barns and cellars her constant care kept them spotless—indeed, she was the very Venus of cats for daintiness and grace of pose and movement. To my grandmother her various attitudes had an undoubted meaning. If in a rainy day Beauty washed her face toward the west, her observant mistress would exclaim: 'See, kitty is washing her face to the west. It will clear.' Or, even when the sky was blue, if Beauty turned eastward for her toilet, the comment would be: 'Kitty is washing her face to the east. The wind must be getting "out" (from the sea), and a storm brewing.' And when in the dusk of autumn or winter evenings Beauty ran about the room, chasing her tail or frolicking with her kittens instead of sleeping quietly by the fire as was her wont, my grandmother would look up and say: 'Kitty is wild to-night. The wind will blow hard before morning.' If I sometimes asked how she knew these things, the reply would be, 'My mother told me when I was a little girl.' Now her mother, my great-grandmother, was a distinguished personage in my eyes, having been the daughter of Captain Jonathan Prescott who commanded a company under Sir William Pepperell at the siege of Louisburg and lost his life there; and I could not question the wisdom of colonial times. Indeed, to this hour I have a lingering belief that cats can foretell the weather.
"And what a mouser she was! Before her time we often heard the rats and mice in the walls, but with her presence not one dared to peep, and cupboard and pantry were unmolested. Now and then she carried her forays to hedge and orchard, and I remember one sad summer twilight that saw her bring in a slender brown bird which my grandmother said was the cuckoo we had delighted to hear in the still mornings among the alders by the river. She was scolded and had no milk that night, and we never knew her to catch a bird again.
"O to see her with her kittens! She always hid them in the haymows, and hunting and finding them brought us no end of excitement and pleasure. Twice a day, at least, she would come to the house to be fed, and then how we watched her returning steps, stealing cautiously along the path and waiting behind stack or door the better to observe her—for pussy knew perfectly well that we were eager to see her darlings, and enjoyed misleading and piquing us, we imagined, by taking devious ways. How well I recall that summer afternoon when, soft-footed and alone, I followed her to the floor of the barn. Just as she was about to spring to the mow she espied me, and, turning back, cunningly settled herself as if for a quiet nap in the sunny open door. Determined not to lose sight of her, I threw myself upon the fragrant hay; but in the stillness, the faint sighing of the wind, the far-off ripple of the river, the hazy outline of the hills, the wheeling swallows overhead, were blended at length in an indistinct dream, and I slept, oblivious of all. When I woke, pussy had disappeared, the sun was setting, the cows were coming from the pastures, and I could only return to the house discomfited. That particular family of kittens we never saw till a fortnight later, when the proud mother brought them in one by one, and laid them at my grandmother's feet.
"What became of Beauty is as mysterious as the fate of the Dauphin. To our grief, she disappeared one November day, and we never saw her more. Sometimes we fancied she had been carried off by an admiring traveller: at others we tortured ourselves with the belief that the traditional wildcat of the north woods had devoured her. All we knew was that she had vanished; but when memory pictures that pleasant country home and the dear circle there, white-throated Beauty is always sleeping by the fire."
Miss Fidelia Bridges, the artist, is another devoted cat lover, and at her home at Canaan, Ct., has had several interesting specimens.
"Among my many generations of pet cats," says Miss Bridges, "one aristocratic maltese lady stands out in prominence before all the rest. She was a cat of great personal beauty and independence of character—a remarkable huntress, bringing in game almost as large as herself, holding her beautiful head aloft to keep the great wings of pigeons from trailing on the ground. She and her mother were fast friends from birth to death. When the young maltese had her first brood of kittens, her mother had also a family in another barrel in the cellar. When we went to see the just-arrived family, we found our Lady Malty's bed empty, and there in her mother's barrel were both families and both mothers. A delightful arrangement for the young mother, who could leave her children in the grandmother's care and enjoy her liberty when it pleased her to roam abroad. The young lady had an indomitable will, and when she decided to do a thing nothing would turn her aside. She found a favorite resting-place on a pile of blankets in a dark attic room. This being disapproved of by the elders, the door was kept carefully closed. She then found entrance through a stove-pipe hole, high up on the wall of an adjoining room. A cover was hung over the hole. She sprang up and knocked it off. Then, as a last resort, the hole was papered over like the wall-paper of the room. She looked, made a leap, and crashed through the paper with as merry an air as a circus-rider through his papered hoop. She had a habit of manoeuvring to be shut out of doors at bed-time, and then, when all was still, climbing up to my window by means of a porch over a door beneath it, to pass the night on my bed. In some alterations of the house, the porch was taken away. She looked with dismay for a moment at the destruction of her ladder, then calmly ran up the side of the house to my window, which she always after continued to do.
1. The Mutilator, New York Sun office cat: sent by the late Charles H. Dana;
"Next in importance, perhaps, is my present intimate companion, now ten years old and absolutely deaf, so that we communicate with signs. If I want to attract his attention I step on the floor: if to go to his dinner, I show him a certain blue plate: to call him in at night, I take a lantern outside the door, and the flash of light attracts his attention from a great distance. On one occasion he lived nine months alone in the house while I made a trip to Europe, absolutely refusing all the neighbors' invitations to enter any other house. A friend's gardener brought him his daily rations. As warm weather came, he spent his days in the fields, returning in the night for his food, so that at my return it was two or three days before he discovered that the house was open. The third evening he entered the open door, looked wildly about for a moment, but when I put my hand on him suddenly recognized me and overwhelmed me with affectionate caresses, and for two days and nights would not allow me out of his sight, unable to eat or sleep unless I was close at hand, and following me from room to room and chair to chair. And people say that cats have no affection!"
At the Quincy House in Boston may be seen in the office an oil painting of an immense yellow cat. The first time I noticed the picture, I was proceeding into the dining room, and while waiting for dinner, was amused at seeing the original of the picture walk sedately in, all alone, and going to an empty table, seat himself with majestic grace in a chair. The waiter, seeing him, came forward and pushed up the chair as he would do for any other guest. The cat then waited patiently without putting his paws on the table, or violating any other law of table etiquette, until a plate of meat came, cut up to suit his taste (I did not hear him give his order), and then, placing his front paws on the edge of the table, he ate from his plate. When he had finished, he descended from his table and stalked out of the room with much dignity. He was always regular at his meals, and although he picked out a good seat, did not always sit at the same table. He was in appearance something like the famous orange cats of Venice, and attracted much attention, as might be expected, up to his death, at a ripe old age.
Miss Frances Willard was a cat-lover, too, and had a beautiful cat which is known to all her friends.
"Tootsie" went to Rest Cottage, the home of Frances Willard, when only a kitten, and there he lived, the pet of the household and its guests, until several years ago, when Miss Willard prepared to go abroad. Then she took Tootsie in her arms, carried him to the Drexel kennels in Chicago, and asked their owner, Mrs. Leland Norton, to admit him as a member of her large cat family, where he still lives. To his praise be it spoken, he has never forgotten his old friends at Rest Cottage. To this day, whenever any of them come to call upon him, he honors them with instant and hearty recognition. Miss Willard was sometimes forced to be separated from him more than a year at a time, but neither time nor change had any effect upon Tootsie. At the first sound of her voice he would spring to her side. He is a magnificent Angora, weighing twenty-four pounds, with the long, silky hair, the frill, or lord mayor's chain, the superb curling tail, and the large, full eyes of the thoroughbred. Then he has proved himself of aristocratic tendencies, has beautiful manners, is endowed with the human qualities of memory and discrimination, and is aesthetic in his tastes.
Being the privileged character that he is, Tootsie always eats at the table with the family. He has his own chair and bib, and his manners are said to be exquisite.