Page:Court Royal.djvu/423

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411
WITHOUT A WATCH-DOG.

from his knees and took the kettle to fill it did he notice the creature. He stood still, staring at it in surprise, holding the kettle in one hand. Lazarus had a great dislike to cats. As he looked at the cat the cat looked at him. In the dark the narrow slits of iris had expanded. The eyes shone like moonstones in the candlelight.

‘Get out,’ said Lazarus; ‘I don’t want cats here.’ The monition was unheeded.

‘Do you hear what I say? Get out with you.’

The cat rose and stretched itself, driving its claws into the deal of the table top, and then reseated itself.

‘Is that done to insult me?’ asked Lazarus. ‘What have you come here for? Do you think to hunt mice among my valuable china, and to kitten and rear a family among costly garments? Wait a bit, Yowler! I’ll make you yowl!’ He took his light, and went into the shop to get a whip.

He laid hold of the stick that Charles had employed on his own back, and brought it with him into the kitchen. When he returned the cat was gone.

‘Where the devil is the creature?’ asked Lazarus, looking about him, and switching about with the stick.

He laid the stick on the table, and reseated himself in his chair. But he could now think of nothing but the cat. What had become of the beast? Was it in the larder, getting at the bread and the butter, or the milk, or the mutton chops? He listened, but heard no sound save the drip of the water. Was it in the shop? Or had it got into his own little room, and was prowling among some Capo di Monte, Dresden, and Chelsea figures he had there? He took up the stick again. It was weighted with lead in the handle. If he had the chance he would bring that end down on the head of the cat and kill it. He held the candle in one hand and the stick in the other. He thrust the stick into every corner of the kitchen without dislodging his visitor. He peered into the coal closet, he searched the back kitchen, he examined the larder; the cat was nowhere to be found. Then he went down the passage to the shop. It was hopeless to expect to discover the cat there if it had chosen to conceal itself among the sundry objects piled and scattered through it. He held his breath and listened. Was that the cat purring? On tiptoe he crept near to the place whence the noise came. It was in the window. He craned his ear, then thrust forward the candle, and had it nearly blown out. A pane had been starred by a stone some time ago, and he had