If only women were a tenth as graceful
The Cat settled down fairly quickly at Number 36. Within forty-eight hours she was sufficiently at home in her new surroundings to be displaying manifestations of character of apparent reliability. Leaving on one side the blindness and wilful prejudice of those who would deny individual personality to cats (and especially those who, in contradistinction, profess to find subtlety in the mass servility of dogs), there is an informed body of opinion that tends to generalize as to types. I had myself held to this habit. Persian and semi-Persian toms have a shaggy, mysterious, brooding majesty; their queens are soft, vain selfish minxes, graceful and cruel flatterers. It was to the latter category that The Cat was so obvious an exception.
She was graceful and charming enough. She had the felicity of a kitten along with the elegance of the cat. Her topaz eyes gleamed with a soft brilliance, set off by the soft blue smoke of her fur. It was her character that surprised. There was a kind of diffidence in it, an innocence. She accepted the attentions that surrounded her without that complacent arrogance that I had learned to associate with her type; instead with an air of friendly astonishment. Howard commented on this, lying prone on the carpet in Piers’s room, his right hand engaging The Cat in mock battle.
‘If only women were a tenth as graceful,’ he said, ‘and a hundredth part as unselfconscious.’
Blodwen, passing from the double divan to the dressing-table, paused to rock one slippered foot across the arch of his back. He looked up incuriously at the Amazonic curves towering above him.
She said: ‘You look the kind of pansy who would play with cats.’
I glanced at Piers. He was sitting hunched up in his favourite arm-chair, the one Olivia had liked, watching The Cat in its desultory skirmishing with Howard’s fingers. He gave no sign of having heard anything.