“It was Mr. Clairdyce gave her that,” said Florence. “He’d been to Florida; but she didn’t care for it very much, and she didn’t make any fuss at all when grandpa got the florist to take it. Grandpa hates animals.”
“He don’ hate ’em no wuss’n whut I do,” said Kitty Silver. “An’ he ain’t got to ketch ’em lookin’ at him outen of his kitchen sink—an’ he ain’t fixin’ to be no cat-washwoman neither!”
“Are you fixing to?” Florence asked quickly. “You don’t need to do it, Kitty Silver. I’d be willing to, and so’d Herbert. Wouldn’t you, Herbert?”
Herbert deliberated within himself, then brightened. “I’d just as soon,” he said. “I’d kind of like to see how a cat acts when it’s getting bathed.”
“I think it would be spesh’ly inter’sting to wash Persian cats,” Florence added, with increasing enthusiasm. “I never washed a cat in my life.”
“Neither have I,” said Herbert. “I always thought they did it themselves.”
Kitty Silver sniffed. “Ain’t I says so to you’ Aunt Julia? She done tole me, ‘No,’ she say. She say, she say Berjum cats ain’t wash they self; they got to take an’ git somebody else to wash ’em!”
“If we’re goin’ to bathe ’em,” said Florence, “we ought to know their names, so’s we can tell ’em to hold still and everything. You can’t do much with an animal unless you know their name. Did Aunt Julia tell you these cats’ names, Kitty Silver?”
“She say they name Feef an’ Meemuh. Yes’m! Feef an’ Meemuh! Whut kine o’ name is Feef an’ Meemuh fer cat name!”
“Oh, those are lovely names!” Florence assured her, and, turning to Herbert, explained: “She means Fifi and Mimi.”
“Feef an’ Meemuh,” said Kitty Silver. “Them name don’ suit me, an’ them long-hair cats don’ suit me neither.” Here she lifted the cover of the basket a little, and gazed nervously within. “Look at there!” she said. “Look at the way they lookin’ at me! Don’t you look at me thataway, you Feef an’ Meemuh!” She clapped the lid down and fastened it. “Fixin’ to jump out an’ grab me, was you?”
“I guess, maybe,” said Florence, “maybe I better go ask Aunt Julia if I and Herbert can’t wash ’em. I guess I better go ask her anyhow.” And she ran up the steps and skipped into the house by way of the kitchen. A moment later she appeared in the open doorway of a room upstairs.
It was a pretty room, lightly scented with the pink geraniums and blue lobelia and coral fuchsias that poised, urgent with colour, in the window-boxes at the open windows. Sunshine paused delicately just inside, where forms of pale-blue birds and lavender flowers curled up and down the cretonne curtains; and a tempered, respectful light fell upon a cushioned chaise longue; for there fluffily reclined, in garments of tender fabric and gentle colours, the prettiest twenty-year-old girl in that creditably supplied town.