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Seven Black Cats
by [?]

When we shut up the house, and went to the city for the winter, we gave Mother Bunch to the care of a kind neighbor, who promised to guard her faithfully. Returning in the spring, one of my first questions was,–

“How is old Pussy?”

Great was my anguish when my neighbor told me that she was no more. It seems the dear thing pined for her old home, and kept returning to it in spite of age or bad weather.

Several times she was taken back when she ran away, but at last they were tired of fussing over her, and let her go. A storm came on, and when they went to see what had become of her, they found her frozen, in the old sideboard, where I first discovered her with her kits about her.

As a delicate attention to me, Mrs. Bunch’s skin was preserved, and presented when the tale was told. I kept it some time, but the next Christmas I made it into muffs for several dolls, who were sent me to dress; and very nice little muffs the pretty black fur made, lined with cherry silk, and finished off with tiny tassels.

I loved the dear old puss, but I knew the moths would get her skin if I kept it, and preferred to rejoice the hearts of several small friends with dolls in full winter costume. I am sure Mrs. Bunch would have agreed with me, and not felt that I treated her remains with disrespect.

The last of my cats was the blackest of all, and such a wild thing we called him the Imp. He tumbled into the garret one day through a broken scuttle, and took possession of the house from that time forth, acting as if bewitched.

He got into the furnace pipes, but could not get out, and kept me up one whole night, giving him air and light, food and comfort, through a little hole in the floor, while waiting for a carpenter to come and saw him out.

He got a sad pinch in his tail, which made it crooked forever after. He fell into the soft-soap barrel, and was fished out a deplorable spectacle. He was half strangled by a fine collar we put on him, and was found hanging by it on a peg.

People sat down on him, for he would lie in chairs. No one loved him much, for he was not amiable in temper, but bit and scratched if touched, worried the bows off our slippers in his play, and if we did not attend to him at once, he complained in the most tremendous bass growl I ever heard.

He was not beautiful, but very impressive; being big, without a white hair on him. One eye was blue and one green, and the green one was always half shut, as if he was winking at you, which gave him a rowdy air comical to see. Then he swaggered in his walk, never turned out for any one, and if offended fell into rages fit to daunt the bravest soul.

Yes, the Imp was truly an awful animal; and when a mischievous cousin of ours told us he wanted a black cat, without a single white hair on it, to win a wager with, we at once offered ours.

It seems that sailors are so superstitious they will not sail in a ship with a black cat; and this rogue of a cousin was going to send puss off on a voyage, unknown to any one but the friend who took him, and when the trip was safely over, he was to be produced as a triumphant proof of the folly of the nautical superstition.

So the Imp was delivered to his new master, and sailed away packed up in an old fishing-basket, with his head poked out of a hole in the cover.

We waited anxiously to hear how the joke ended; but unfortunately the passage was very rough, his guardian too ill to keep him safe and quiet, so the irrepressible fellow escaped from prison, and betrayed himself by growling dismally, as he went lurching across the deck to the great dismay of the sailors.

They chased, caught, and tossed the poor Imp overboard without loss of time. And when the joke came out, they had the best of it, for the weather happened to improve, and the rest of the voyage was prosperous. So, of course, they laid it all to the loss of the cat, and were more fixed in their belief than ever.

We were sorry that poor old Imp met so sad a fate, but did not mourn him long, for he had not won our hearts as some of our other pets had.

He was the last of the seven black cats, and we never had another; for I really did feel as if there was something uncanny about them after my tragical experiences with Czar, Blot, Mother Bunch’s family, and the martyred Imp.