What has happened already AMADEUS, a fine black cat who lives in Prufootle Castle, is asleep outside the Castle gates, In the main square of Prufootle City.
He is awakened by his friend, GINGER, a farm cat, who wants to know when the next choir practice, in which most cats of Prufootle City take part, will take place.
After a little, Amadeus goes to sleep again, but late in the afternoon he Is awakened by DELPHINIUM GIZZARD, the thin daughter of the toffee-apple woman, who spills water over him, and, when he is angry with her, tells him that he is going to get "a nasty surprise " very soon.
THE GRAND DUKE AND DUCHESS OF PRUFOOTLE return that evening to the Castle from Paris. There is much ceremonial on their return.
Amadeus dresses himself in a pink satin jacket with pictures of mice on it made of jewels, He brushes his tall and curls his whiskers, but when be sees the Duchess he becomes furiously angry and gives a terrible moan.
In the arms of the Duchess is a white poodle whose name Is STANISLAUS. He has been brought back from Faris, where he was a member of the French King's Court. Stanislaus and Amadeus are not at all friendly; though the poodle does make some attempt to be pleasant he enrages the eat by his patronising attitude.
Later in the night thirteen coaches arrive, bearing the Duchess's servants and luggage, the luggage of Stanislaus, and a little Indian boy called TIPPU who is to serve at the Duchess's table. There is one shabby suitcase amongst all the splendid luggage of the Duchess and Stanislaus, and this suitcase belongs to the Duke. It contains part of the manuscript of a secret story he is writing which already has taken up three volumes of 20,000 pages each.
Amadeus lies sleepless in bed wondering how Stanislaus can be persuaded or forced to leave the Castle. Presently he thinks of a way and falls contentedly to sleep.
This te the third part of the story, HE next morning Amadeus awoke early. Ile got out of bed, stretched himself, then • drew the heavy green and gold curtains which stopped the early morning sunshine from filling his room.
He opened one of the tall windows and went out on to the balcony. He looked out over the Castle gardens : prim lawns with statues upon them of beautiful ladies without clothes; and large flower beds full of geraniums and small blue flowers that kept close to the ground. There was not a leaf or a petal out of place.
Beyond the gardens were the little fields and streams and small woods of the farms which gave meat, milk, fruit and beer to the Castle. Sheep were calling to each other, telling
each other what a pleasant, quiet night ii had been and of the dreams they had had. Birds flew up out of the trees and shouted their morning salutation to the sun; in the farmeheds cows were beginning to say in deep voices: "Whennnn . . is that girl coming to take our milk's' Laaaate . . again," Beyond the farmlands was the Great Forest, and in all the noise and sunshine of this fine morning it was dark and hushed.
From under every window-sill and balcony of the Castle, house-martins eat in their round mud homes and chattered about the quality of breakfast worms and how beautiful was the day.
A MADEUS et retched himself again r1 and thought of his plan for getting rid of Stanislaus. Because it seemed to him such a very good plan, and because the sunshine was so warm and the land looked gentle and the birds chattered and sang so loudly, he laughed. " Oh, I am so happy. It is marvellous to be alive. I, am so happy," he said, aloud. The disrespectful house-martins chanted in chorus: Cats' pyjamas, cats' pyjamas, Amadeus cannot harm us.
But Amadeus did not mind. He was so happy he began singing a song, the words of which he made up as he went
along. He sang to the tune of the minuet from Mr Gluck's new opera called Orpheus. It was a stately and subtle piece of munic not really suited to telling everyone how happy one felt on a fine morning, but Amadeus had been practising the piece a lot on his violin and its notes ran constantly in his head. He fitted his words to the tune rather higgledy-piggledy; and this Is what he sang: Prufootle, how I love to be here, Lazing on your balconies; Purring, purring to the sun, Eull at my ease With everyone.
Not even noise of tedious birds Nor the snores of Stanislaus Can disturb my happiness With this fine house And all I possess.
It was a, very complacent song, but he sang It with beautiful expression. When he had finished singing, he went back to his bedroom and shut the window so as not to hear the rude comments of the house-martins.
AFTER breakfast he put on a short white cloak and went out. He walked down the Castle drive and out through the great iron gates. On his way across the city square he stopped to say " Good morning " to Mrs Gizzard, who was seated at her accustomed place by her stall at the foot of the statue of the late Graced Duke of Prufootle.
Delphinium Gizzard was standing beside her mother trying to sell a brags spider to a young Soldier. "It's a real lucky love charm," she was saying. Amadeus carefully bit her in the leg, just above the ankle. She screamed. " Oh! you brute." But her mother said: " That serves you right, Delphinium, you shouldn't tease Amadeus by throwing water over him."
" Thank you. madam," said Amadeus before walking on.
He walked through the city and along a country lane till he came to the farmhouse where Ginger lived. Ginger was having some strong words with a hen who had said that he needed a haircut, " . and furthermore," Ginger was saying, " while were on the subject of haircuts and smart appearance in general, let me tell you, you Egg Frightener. that you don't look so dandy yourself, no you don't, you bedraggled old fuss-pot. Of all the hens on this farm . ."
11 GINGER, I have something impor
tant to tell You interrupted Amadeus, shouting to be heard above the insults that the hen was screaming at Ginger. Amadeus led Ginger to a quiet corner of the farmyard. In the distance the hen could still be heard, screaming at the top of her voice. She was describing, to anyone who cared to listen, Ginger's sins, of which there were indisputably a great number. "Listen to her!" said Ginger, and he giggled.
" You were being very impolite to the poor old dear," began Amadeus severely. " However, that is not what I've come to talk to you about . . ."
" Ssh, don't tell me. Let me have three guesses," interrupted Ginger, excitedly.
" Very well, then," said Amadeus, " though I must say it's about time you grew out of these childish tricks."
" Well," said Ginger, very slowly, "first guess: you're going to talk about the Prufootle Social Congress. Wrong? Well, then, second guess" (he said this even more slowly), " you're going to talk about about . . . about" (then all in a rush), "about to-night's choir practice "; and as Amadeus nodded his head, he shouted: " There, I knew it, I knew it. Ginger, you clever old devil."
"I wish you wouldn't be so intense, Ginger," said Amadeus.
"Isn't there going to be any choir this night either?" asked Ginger.
" Oh, there's going to be a choir all right. Now listen "; and Amadeus began to talk quietly very close to Ginger's ear. It took Amadeus a long Lime to say all that he wanted to say, and every so often Ginger made a gasping noise as if trying to choke a laugh, and nudged him hard and gave a big wink.
AFTER seeing Ginger, Amadeus went back to the Castle. He spent the rest of the morning in his apartments, writing.
In the afternoon he walked among the Castle gardens with Stanislaus and the Duchess. He listened attentively while the poodle talked of how his apartments in the French King's palace had been decorated in pink and silver, and how the ladies-in-waiting had played games with him, and how witty they were, and what the Queen's sister said to him and what he said to her. . .
Amadeus only interrupted to say "Really," or " How amusing," or " Yes, and then what did you do?" in a voice trembling with interest, or simply " Yes."
When they went in to change for dinner the Duchess remarked how glad she was that Amadeus and Stanislaus had settled down to be real friends.
Arnerleue left the Castle again before dinner began. He went hurriedly, carrying many sheets of paper in his paw. He was not back by the time that the Duchess went to bed. When Stanislaw asked where he was, she said: " Choir practice, I believe, He goes at least once every week. The cats round here are very keen on singing. I only hope they won't have their practice within hearing distance of me. But they won't, for I've warned Amadeus about it often enough."
But Amadeus was not at choir practice.
At the moment he was entering the Castle grounds by a small gate seldom used, and behind him in single file walked 430 cats.
There were black and white cats, tabby cats, sleek black cats and furry black cats, blue persians and hideous nondescripts made up of tabby, ginger and black and white, sandy cats and grey cats. Cats with bushy tails that stood up proudly, cats with thin tails that curled cravenly between their legs, cats without tails. They came from every home and shop in Prufootle, these cats, and from almost every farm and village round about.
Ginger stood near the Castle gate marshalling this silent army. He spoke in a hoarse whisper: " Come along now. Look nifty there. Pick up those paws. Leftwards, rightwards; leftwards, rightwards. Get a move on. We haven't got all night. And stop that mewing. We don't want to wake the Castle up yet. Leftwards, rightwards; leftwards, rightwards .
Once inside the Castle grounds the cats, under the direction of Amadeus, formed fours and, when finally the last cat, a young tabby from Ginger's farm, had entered, they marched quietly and carefully towards the east side of the Castle where the apartments of Stanislaus and the Duchess were. Both Stanislaus and the Duchess were asleep, but soon they were to have a curious and unplesaent awakening.
(To be Continued)