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Once, there was a little yellow cat who invaded a home. Somehow separated from her furry family, she sat in the woods and mewed, loudly and piteously, until a red-haired seven-year old girl went out and fetched her. The buttercat put up a coy pretence at reluctance, but finally let herself be coaxed into eating yummy canned food and sleeping on a worn-out down pillow. Her tail was bobbed, and she resembled a rabbit more than a cat, for she was a manx.

Days and months blended into years. Butterball, waxing full and round like a harvest moon, became a benevolent fixation in all their dreams. Sarah dreamt that Butter was in danger crossing a river. Sam dreamt that Butter brought him a new baseball glove, and Dad dreamed that Butter wore little spectacles, jumped rope, and ate ice cream. They all laughed uproariously at this, because Dad seldom dreamed anything exciting. The more they peered at Butterball, the easier it became to picture her in spectacles.

Many qualities combined within Butter's small personage to render her the perfect pet. She vocally coaxed Mom into a better mood when the housework and school papers and telephone became overwhelming. Dad's blood pressure decreased as he sat and stroked Butterball's double coat of fur. Butter watched Sam build puzzles as though she understood how each piece interlocked. But perhaps the little yellow manx soothed Sarah more than anyone. The woes of adolescent girlhood wrench tears from the heart, and Butter's fur soaked up many a soggy confession.

One night, a stranger violated the sanctity of  the woods behind the family home. The family in the home prepared for rest after a hectic day of work and school.  The predator could look down the hill and see the comfortable family getting ready for sweet repose. Sarah was now 15, lovely to look at in her pony tail and loose pajamas. His breath caught when he saw her lovely form silouhetted by the purple light of the television.

But what was that lithe, tiny movement? In one windowsill of the home, he saw yellow fur. The feline face seemed to gaze straight up the dusky hill at him. He shuddered. How he hated cats! And they feared him. He had practiced the art of pain on many hapless felines with varied results. Now he was out of jail, craving a human victim, and posessed less caution than ever. The red-haired teenager appealed to him, but there was that loathsome cat. He would wait until after dark and see if he could enter the teenager's room. Maybe the cat would go sleep with the parents.

There, the girl seemed to have a bathroom of her own, he observed gleefully. The boy’s bedroom seemed to be in the converted basement. Yes, they probably shared a room until she began to develop. Then it was no longer suitable. How convenient that there was no one sleeping in close proximity. He could go in that way, because the master bedroom was down the hall and through the living room. Anticipation seized him like a fever; he paced through the woods, crunching lightly last year's leaves.

The moon was three-quarters full and rather bright, except when clouds skittered across it. This lonely house stood in neat little patches of hay and corn. The closest neighbor was half a mile away. He could sport about anywhere in the woods, or hold the whole family hostage and no-one would be alerted until morning. The only glitch was that horrible feline thing. He must dispatch it first. Probably one twist of the neck, or a fling up against the wall, and the nasty cat would expire. There would be no reason to wreak amusement from a cat with so many human subjects at hand.

After all was still for a long, long time, the man walked down the hill as though he had a perfect right. When he tried the screen, it came off easily. The window itself was open! It was shoulder level and he easily hoisted himself up. He moved quickly and quietly. However, he never made it out of the bathroom. A hissing ball of fury hurtled itself at him, howling and squalling. It was everywhere! The fiendish thing had claws and teeth and the strength of a puma! He slipped on a threadbare bath mat and struck his head on the heavy claw-footed bathtub. Foot steps thudded down the hallway. A light turned on, and he was looking at a gun barrel in the farmer's hands.

Mom called the sheriff. The siblings stayed back, close together like two shy colts, looking on. “What scratched you all up?” asked the farmer in a cold, gruff voice. “I dunno. Your animal. What kind of thing do you keep anyway?” The dad looked genuinely puzzled. The man’s face, arms, and scalp were oozing blood from sore- looking welts. "We don't keep no animals in here--just a little yellow cat. I'm sure a big man like yourself wouldn't get all beat up by a housecat."

After the police took the fugitive away, they began to chatter from relief. “Where’s Butter?” Sarah cried. Out she peered from behind the shower curtain. She neatly jumped out of the tub, amazingly agile for all her plumb roundness. She sat down and began bathing herself very thoroughly with her pink tongue, as though she had just been somewhere very, very dirty. The family members eyed her, looked at each other dubiously...Mom exclaimed, "Surely you don't think it was Butter who skinned up that awful man?" The cat paused in her grooming. Buttercat mewed benevolently, expressively, and posessively with a love only a cat can show toward the family she owned. (By Elaine Warely )
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Upload Date: 31/12/1969

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