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Seven Black Cats
by [?]

He was not fond of petting, but allowed one or two honored beings to cuddle him. My work-basket was his favorite bed, for a certain fat cushion suited him for a pillow, and, having coolly pulled out all the pins, the rascal would lay his handsome head on the red mound, and wink at me with an irresistibly saucy expression that made it impossible to scold.

All summer we enjoyed his pranks and admired his manly virtues; but in the winter we lost him, for, alas! he found his victor in the end, and fell a victim to his own rash daring.

One morning after a heavy snow-fall, Czar went out to take a turn up and down the path. As he sat with his back to the gate, meditatively watching some doves on the shed-roof, a big bull-dog entered the yard, and basely attacked him in the rear. Taken by surprise, the dear fellow did his best, and hit out bravely, till he was dragged into the deep snow where he could not fight, and there so cruelly maltreated that he would have been murdered outright, if I had not gone to the rescue.

Catching up a broom, I belabored the dog so energetically that he was forced to turn from the poor Czar to me. What would have become of me I don’t know, for the dog was in a rage, and evidently meditating a grab at my ankles, when his master appeared and ordered him off.

Never was a boy better scolded than that one, for I poured forth vials of wrath upon his head as I took up my bleeding pet, and pointed to his wounds as indignantly as Antony did to Caesar’s.

The boy fled affrighted, and I bore my poor Czar in to die. All day he lay on his cushion, patient and quiet, with his torn neck tied up in a soft bandage, a saucer of cream close by, and an afflicted mistress to tend and stroke him with tender lamentations.

We had company in the evening, and my interesting patient was put into another room. Once, in the midst of conversation, I thought I heard a plaintive mew, but could not go to see, and soon forgot all about it; but when the guests left, my heart was rent by finding Czar stretched out before the door quite dead.

Feeling death approach, he had crept to say good-by, and with a farewell mew had died before the closed door, a brave and faithful cat to the end.

He was buried with great pomp, and before his grave was green, little Blot came to take his place, though she never filled it. Blot’s career was a sad and brief one. Misfortune marked her for its own, and life was one too many for her.

I saw some boys pelting a wretched object with mud. I delivered a lecture on cruelty to animals, confiscated the victim, and, wrapping her in a newspaper, bore the muddy little beast away in triumph. Being washed and dried, she turned out a thin black kit, with dirty blue bows tied in her ears. As I don’t approve of ear-rings, I took hers out, and tried to fatten her up, for she was a forlorn creature at first.

But Blot would not grow plump. Her early wrongs preyed upon her, and she remained a thin, timid, melancholy little cat all her days. I could not win her confidence. She had lost her faith in mankind, and I don’t blame her. She always hid in corners, quaked when I touched her, took her food by stealth, and sat in a forlorn bunch in cold nooks, down cellar or behind the gate, mewing despondently to herself, as if her woes must find a vent. She would not be easy and comfortable. No cushion could allure, no soft beguilements win her to purr, no dainty fare fill out her rusty coat, no warmth or kindness banish the scared look from her sad green eyes, no ball or spool lure her to play, or cause her to wag her mortified thin tail with joy.