(KIKI-THE-DEMURE walks falteringly to the porch.)
My word, you’re changed too, Cat! You look as if you were starving, your face is so drawn. Your fur is plastered down in some places and sticking up in others; gives you the expression of a weasel that had tumbled into oil.
Don’t let that worry you! I’ll regain my dignity—if ever another day dawns for us. To-day, I drag myself around unwashed, uncombed, like a woman out of love with love, and life....
You say such distressing things. I think I’ll whine and call for help. Perhaps I’d better go to Her, and look in her face for the comfort you refuse me. But She seems asleep now, in that wicker chair, and how can I read my fate in her eyes, when their lids are down. I’ll lick her hand very respectfully and ever so lightly! That will wake her and oh, may her first caress drive away the evil charm!
(He licks the hand hanging at the side of the chair.)
SHE, (with a scream) Heavens! how you frightened me! Was there ever such a ninny as this Dog? There!...
(SHE administers a smart rap on the nose. TOBY’S nerves give way and he howls loud and long.)
Quiet! Not a word I say! Out of my sight! I don’t know what’s the matter, but I hate you! And that Cat sitting there, looking at me, like a bump on a log!...
If She dares to touch me, I’ll devour her!
(Just at this dangerous crisis a low rumbling is heard, distant and then near. Impossible to tell whether it comes from the horizon, or arises in the house itself. All three lose interest in the quarrel.
TOBY-DOG and KIKI-THE-DEMURE slink away, as if responding to a signal, and seek shelter, one under the bookcase and the other under an armchair. SHE turns anxiously to the leaden-hued garden, and the great violet bank of cloud, which of a sudden is riven by a blinding streak of blue fire.)
SHE, TOBY-DOG, KIKI-THE-DEMURE, (all together)
(A sudden crash shakes the windows, and instantly a great rush of wind envelopes the house, with a noise as of flapping canvas:—all the garden prostrates itself.)
SHE, (in anguish)
Heavens! the apples!
I’ll let them cut my ears into strips rather than leave this hiding-place!
I can’t help hearing, and it’s as if I saw everything that’s going on. She hastens to close the windows. Someone is running on the stairs. Aie! Another awful flame—and everything is falling in! Silence now.... I wonder are they all dead? I’ll look through the fringes of the chair, though it’s risking my life to do so. Ah, hailstones making holes in the leaves! Here comes the rain, in silvery drops, wide apart, and so heavy that the gravel wrinkles up when they fall.