Mr. Sweeney’s Cat by Edgar Wilson Nye

Story type: Essay

Robert Ormsby Sweeney is a druggist of St. Paul, and though a recent chronological record reveals the fact that he is a direct descendant of a sure-enough king, and though there is mighty good purple, royal blood in his veins that dates back where kings used to have something to do to earn their salary, he goes right on with his regular business, selling drugs at the great sacrifice which druggists will make sometimes in order to place their goods within the reach of all.

As soon as I learned that Mr. Sweeney had barely escaped being a crowned head, I got acquainted with him and tried to cheer him up, and I told him that people wouldn’t hold him in any way responsible, and that as it hadn’t shown itself in his family for years he might perhaps finally wear it out.

He is a mighty pleasant man to meet, anyhow, and you can have just as much fun with him as you could with a man who didn’t have any royal blood in his veins. You could be with him for days on a fishing trip and never notice it at all.

But I was going to speak more in particular about Mr. Sweeney’s cat. Mr. Sweeney had a large cat, named Dr. Mary Walker, of which he was very fond. Dr. Mary Walker remained at the drug store all the time, and was known all over St. Paul as a quiet and reserved cat. If Dr. Mary Walker took in the town after office hours, nobody seemed to know anything about it. She would be around bright and cheerful the next morning and attend to her duties at the store just as though nothing whatever had happened.

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One day last summer Mr. Sweeney left a large plate of fly-paper with water on it in the window, hoping to gather in a few quarts of flies in a deceased state. Dr. Mary Walker used to go to this window during the afternoon and look out on the busy street while she called up pleasant memories of her past life. That afternoon she thought she would call up some more memories, so she went over on the counter and from there jumped down on the window-sill, landing with all four feet in the plate of fly-paper.

At first she regarded it as a joke, and treated the matter very lightly, but later on she observed that the fly-paper stuck to her feet with great tenacity of purpose. Those who have never seen the look of surprise and deep sorrow that a cat wears when she finds herself glued to a whole sheet of fly-paper, cannot fully appreciate the way Dr. Mary Walker felt. She did not dash wildly through a $150 plate-glass window, as some cats would have done. She controlled herself and acted in the coolest manner, though you could have seen that mentally she suffered intensely. She sat down a moment to more fully outline a plan for the future. In doing so, she made a great mistake. The gesture resulted in glueing the fly-paper to her person in such a way that the edge turned up behind in the most abrupt manner, and caused her great inconvenience.

Some one at that time laughed in a coarse and heartless way, and I wish you could have seen the look of pain that Dr. Mary Walker gave him.

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Then she went away. She did not go around the prescription case as the rest of us did, but strolled through the middle of it, and so on out through the glass door at the rear of the store. We did not see her go through the glass door, but we found pieces of fly-paper and fur on the ragged edges of a large aperture in the glass, and we kind of jumped at the conclusion that Dr. Mary Walker had taken that direction in retiring from the room.

Dr. Mary Walker never returned to St. Paul, and her exact whereabouts are not known, though every effort was made to find her. Fragments of flypaper and brindle hair were found as far west as the Yellowstone National Park, and as far north as the British line, but the doctor herself was not found. My own theory is, that if she turned her bow to the west so as to catch the strong easterly gale on her quarter, with the sail she had set and her tail pointing directly toward the zenith, the chances for Dr. Mary Walker’s immediate return are extremely slim.

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