Page 9, 13th October 1939

13th October 1939
Page 9
Page 9, 13th October 1939 — 6 , THRow H

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Organisations: Your Grace's Court, Congress
People: Gizzard
Locations: Paris


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6 , THRow H

Keywords: Duchess, Amadeus


Peter ThomNon

What has happened already: AMADEUS is a fine black cat with an honourable position in the household of the DUKE AND DUCHESS OF PRUFOOTLE. He has many friends; chief among them are GINGER, a farm cat, and MRS GIZZARD, the woman who sells toffee apples by the gates of Prafootie Castle. Mrs Gizzard's thin daughter, DELPHINIUM, is much disliked by Amadeus.

When the Duke and Duchess return from a tour abroad they bring with them a little black page called TIPPU, and a white poodle called STANISLAUS. Amadeus is iurious at the affection the Duchess shows Stanislaus, but he hides his feelings and plans a way of getting the poodle sent back to Paris, whence he came. One night Amadeus and four hundred and thirty cats enter secretly the Castle gardena.

The rats first recite a prayer against pestilence, the pestilence in this case being Sta,nislans, then they sing a dirge, specially written and composed by Amadeus, which demands that Stanislaus must go, and is in every way Insulting about poodles.

The singing by the 430 cats awakens everyone in the castle, except the Duke.

The servants are too frightened by the terrible noise to go and shoo the cats away. The Duchess rages at them. When she is in the midst of a violent rage, Amadeus enters.

Thia is the fifth part of the dtOry: S he had crossed the hallway and observed the timorous footmen, and heard the wailing of the Duchess and the shouting of the head footman, Amadeus had felt full of a pride of himself.

" Just one little dirge can achieve all this," he thought. " We cats are a power in the land "; and he walked up the grand staircase like a king. As he silently advanced towards the Duchess who was weeping with a great noise; her head bent over her lap and her shoulders shaking a good deal; the head footman, who had been BO busy shouting that he not noticed Amadeus's somewhat cautious entrance, happened to turn round, and saw him ascending the stairs.

" Slubberdegullions." he said (it was the strongest word he ever used in the presence of ladies), " there's that cat."

Amadeus paused, and with his nose uptilted said: " You mean, coy man, there is The Cat."

The Duchess looked up. Stopped weeping. Stood up. The ladles-of-thebedchamber withdrew a little way; some of them put their hands over their ears. At that moment, too, Stanislaus with a contented smile came from his apartments.

Amadeus bowed to the Duchess. "I trust our opinions regarding a certain member of Your Grace's Court are now sufficiently clear."

The Duchess said nothing. She was counting silently and steadily up to twenty. She did not feel strong enough after so much weeping to indulge in a rage.

Amadeus continued in a friendly voice : " I am sorry, of course, that we had to start operations at night; but, of course, you must understand that not all of us cats can sing with the proper conviction and strength during the daytime; and so—well I mean one must give one's weaker-voiced brethren a chance, mustn't one?"

But the Duchess had finished counting. She spoke in a clear voice. "What are you men doing down by those doors, you gaping fools. Why don't you throw out this—this animal? Throw him out."

Amadeus said : "I beg your pardon."

Then the footmen ran up the stairs. One of them tried to catch hold of Arnadeus's tail. Amadeus twisted round, shot out. his paw. The footman quickly withdrew his hand. There was a line of blood across the back of it. Another footman had his finger nipped. In the diversion caused by this rapid counter attack, Amadeus retreated to the top of the staircase. He could no doubt have retreated further but he scorned to do so. These footmen were vulgar fellows, servile, cowardly, and he; well, he was Amadeus.

He sounded his war moan. As the footmen advanced again, he swore at them violently and threatened them with revenge by all the Prufootle cats. "Touch me and see what happens to you, poltroons.

Amadeus scratched and bit a great many hands and fingers and legs. But his enemies were too strong for him. Six of them at last managed to pick him up between them. The castle doors were flung open. The footmen ran down the stairway and heaved Amadeus into the night. Then they rubbed their hands together, shut the doors, and compared their wounds.

Amadeus hit the gravel drive some twenty yards from the door. An owl who happened to be passing overhead remarked sympathetically: " Too bad, the bad. Try and land more gently next time." Amadeus was too shaken and angry to reply.

He sat where he had landed for a little time, feeling himself cautiously to find out how hurt he was. Then he walked very slowly on to a lawn and sat down under a bush. His body ached. The night seemed very lonely and cold.

He thought of his warm apartments and all his possessions, his silk clothes, his paintings, his violin, his little collection of sea shells. All that was gone.

He began to cry.

No more devilled salmon, served on silver platters; no more sleeping on a soft feather bed; no more dances or dinner parties attended by the most worthy citizens of Prufootle; no more walks in the castle gardens and discourses with the Duchess. At the thought of the Duchess he remembered again all the indignity he had just suffered, and he became too angry to cry.

He had been sitting under the bush for just over five minutes *hen he heard his name called.

"Amad-eeeus, Amad-eeeus." He was being called by several voices, endear ingly. They were the voices of men; and these rnen carried lanterns. Amadeus watched the little yellow lights moving about before the castle. Then he saw the castle doors opened; and in the doorway was the Duchess, and she also began calling him.

" They want to get me into their castle so that they can kill me," he thought, But presently he became curious to know what they wanted him for, and as they were still calling, he began walking carefully towards the castle.

The Duchess was shouting: " Amad-eeetts, Amad-eeeus. It was all a mistake. Amadeus, where are you?"

when Amadeus who had managed to approach almost to the doorway without being seen answered : "I am here, Your Grace."

"Oh, there you are," said the Duchess. " Oh good! Oh I'm so glad!

I thought you really had gone. And it's all a mistake. I was so stupid. Stanislaus explained everything to me. I sin terribly sorry about the way we treated you. Of course, I didn't know— but come in, come in and " (this to the head footman) " for Heaven's sake tell those stupid servants out there to stop shrieking. I'm so sorry this awful thing has happened."

As Amadeus entered, Stanisleus hurried forward, his paw outstretched: " Dear Amadeus." he said, "I'm so glad you're back. You have been treated abominably. How fortunate that you did not go far."

" Yes, indeed," said the Duchess, " for Stanislaus vowed that if you did not come back he would leave me also. Oh, he was really quite angry--and, of course, I was so stupid. By the way, will you have some cream and rum, it must have been very cold out."

Amadeus immediately though t: " Cream and rum and poison," so he refused.

" Almost as soon as you had been, ersent away," went on the Duchess, "Stanislaus explained to Me that all you cats were singing just to express a sort of welcome to him. Of course, he couldn't understand the words of your song any more than anyone else could —I mean there were such a lot of you singing, the words naturally sounded Indistinct. Still, be was able to distinguish his own name ninny times in the song. So, of course, he knew it could only mean one thing: a little song of welcome.' _

44 It was a lovely surprise, Amadeus,"

interrupted Stanislaus. " First I was Awakened by hearing you and all your friends say a little prayer. Then, as I opened my window, you began your song of welcome. I cannot tell you how touched I was as I sat there in the moonlight listening to all you cats of Prufootle singing in honour of the stranger newly come among you. It was a really lovely surprise." "Yes, it was, Amadeus," said the Duchess, not quite so enthusiastically as Stanislaus, " a lovely surprise; but rather noisy. I wish you bad warned me about it, because after all the surprise wasn't meant for me, was it? And my nerves, you know ... I quite thought you were making all those cats sing on purpose to annoy me; and you nearly succeeded in doing so. I must admit I was feeling just a little cross when you came in (not cross enough to lose my temper, of course, I never do that) but still quite a little cross. Poor Amadeus how we did misuse you.

She kissed Amadeus on both sides of his face, and he winced as she did so.

" Then of course," the Duchess continued, " you tried to tell me how your singing was intended as a welcome for Stanialaus. Didn't you say you hoped you had made your opinions regarding a certain member of the Court quite clear?"

Amadeus gulped and said " Yes " in a tiny voice. "I knew you did. I remembered afterwards; and, of course, I then understood what you meant. You dear, shy little cat, you didn't like to say straight out what all the noise—er, I mean singing, was about."

She kissed Amadeus again. He said nothing, but tried to purr modestly as a "misunderstood little cat" ought to do. However, when Stanislaus began to lavish praise upon him, and talked about his taking " unjust punishment like a gentleman " and being " full of the most generous feelings" and having " regard for the great traditions of Prufootle hospitality "; he had the grace to blush beneath his glossy black fur.

It would he no use now to blurt out what was the real meaning of that song made by the four hundred and thirty cats, Amadeus argued within himself. It would be cruel to disillusion Stanislaus, to provoke the Duchess into another of her little crossnesses. Besides it was much nicer to sleep on one's bed than in some unknown place out in the open.

So Amadeus kept silent, and was presently led to bed by an admiring Duchess and an admiring poodle.

The next day Amadeus, to ease his conscience, invited Stanislaus to attend the next meeting of the Prufootle Social Congress. " You can come as my guest," he said; "the meeting is next Tuesday night, on the apothecary's roof. But I'll show you the way, of course. It is really a club for some of the more worthy animals of Prufootle, but we call it a Congress, because the animals in these parts like long words. 'Congress' isn't very long. but at least it is longer than ' I'm on the committee, of course."

Stanislaus was delighted. " It is exceedingly kind of you to ask me. I should love to come.

"By the way are you sure wouldn't prefer to call me Stanny now? You know I do hate the name Stanislaus. It was all my mother's idea. She had twenty-six children and she named them alphabetically. I was the nineteenth child so she called roe Sergius Stanislaus Samson—all S's' you see. I say, you won't spread it around that I have two other awful names besides Stanislaus, will you? I usually keep them dark. But still, it doesn't matter about telling you, as you're a special friend."

Amadeus promised never to mention Sergius or Samson. " But," said he, "what. did your mother call her last child?"

, " She called him Zephyrinus. Just Zephyrinus."

On the evening of the Prufootle Social Congress Stanislaus and Amadeus dressed themselves with care. Amadeus had explained that there would probably be " a small concert and dance—just a little diversion for ourselves," Stanislaus put on a black velvet jacket and a cream satin waistcoat embroidered round the edges with litUe blue circles and flowers. He had black velvet trousers that tucked into cream stockings, and black shoes with silver buckles. His clothes were very well made.

Amadeus put on a suit of bright red dull material that fitted very closely. His stockings were black, and he wore also a black cloak. His shoes like those of Stanislaus were black with silver buckles.

When the two animals were dressed, and their tails were combed, the little Indian page belonging to the Duchess called a carriage, and the two animals drove off to the apothecary's.

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