Across the road from the New House of Stories (or the House of Books and Bears, as I think it may become) lives a big black cat with green eyes. It is a very picture book cat of a cat. I don't know its name.
When we first moved in we saw it a lot, but then, when we first moved in Daughter was with us and I could swear that cats talk to her. They have an understanding, Daughter and cats. (Her grandfather is also a cat person. Her Aunt Helen is great with cats and has two, but Helen is happy with anything four-legged.) The day the removal men were hauling wardrobes out of the van, the black cat was arching its back under Daughter's hand and following her around.
Since she went home, nearly two months ago, we've hardly seen it. Then yesterday afternoon, when I was sitting working in the front room, Cat jumped on to the wall and from there to the top of the wheelie bin, where it curled up on sentry duty. (You can't fall asleep on a wheelie bin, they don't look comfortable. You'd slide off. This was a thinking cat.) It was there on the wall again today when I went out, and still there when I came back.
I say hello to it and tell it what a good cat it is, but it's a dignified cat, so I don't stroke it. I get the feeling it might turn around and walk away or scratch me if I did. Perhaps it doesn't feel that I know it well enough yet.
"You have not earned the right to touch me," thinks the cat. "Send me the Princess. She alone is worthy."