It's Christmas time and I'm innocently writing away when my cat, an extra large cat I must add, begins to bat at my hands with his large furry paw. Miles the cat has decided I have been spending enough time at the keyboard and I must take time to pet him. Now.
So I give his fuzzy head a scratch and attempt to return to my writing. Again, the large, furry paw blocks my attempts and demands my attention. I need to write, so we work out a compromise. He will let me type, if I write him into the book. Thus, Miles the cat makes a cameo appearance in Winter Wedding and becomes the unwanted Christmas present from our heroine, Penelope, who has rescued him from the freezing London streets, to the Dowager Duchess of Marchford. Enjoy!
“That done be the largest cat I ever saw,” said one of the grooms, coming in from the cold.
“What are you gonna name it, miss?” asked a footman.
“Miles,” said Penelope without a second thought. “Because there are miles of cat here.”
The kitchen staff laughed and all gathered around the Christmas cat-dog. After a hearty feeding for the cat and some debate over whether Christmas syllabub or wassail punch should be served at dinner, and it being decided to prepare both, Penelope returned upstairs, a large bundle of damp cat in her arms.
Upon reaching the main floor, Penelope found a labyrinth of danger. Somewhere was the dowager, who must be avoided at all costs—a stray cat in her pristine household would be an abhorrence. And somewhere else lurked the duke. To make matters difficult, he had hung a maze of tiny bundles of mistletoe overhead. Not content with simply hanging it in doorways, he had constructed a web of string from which dangerous bundles of mistletoe hung at random intervals.
The real question was, did she want to get caught?
Well, did she? Clearly she had much too much cat in her arms for rational thought. Penelope took a breath and stole softly across the hall to the main stairs, one eye looking for the duke or dowager and the other eye nervously glancing above her. Miles, the enormous cat, chose that inopportune moment to make a rather large meow, which echoed loudly down the hall.
“What was that?” came the voice of the dowager from the sitting room.
“I shall go see,” replied the duke.
Nothing for it but to run. And run she did, except when she got to the stairs, she encountered a difficult problem with her hands full of cat, her wet slippers slick on the marble floor, and a meowing animal who did not appreciate the ride. She stepped on her skirts and went down on the stairs with a bump and a hiss.
“What the blazes…” Marchford stood above her. “Is that a dog?”
“No, actually,” said Penelope, trying to untangle her foot from the hem of her skirt. “It is a cat.”
“A what?” The dowager walked up and poked the damp creature with her cane before Penelope could pick it up again. Miles growled, looking more disreputable than ever.
Marchford glanced between the dowager and Penelope, his eyes narrowing. Penelope sighed. So much for her Christmas cat. She was certain she would be told to remove the beast, but the dowager just then noticed the web of mistletoe above her head.
“My stars and garters, what have you done?” exclaimed the dowager.
“I have mistletoed the house,” said Marchford defiantly. “I have decided that if I choose to decorate my home like a tradesman, I shall do it to distinction.”
“You have decided what?” the dowager’s voice was like ice.
“Too bad you have seen your Christmas present early,” said Marchford swiftly changing the subject.
“My present?” asked the dowager, slightly mollified, looking back at him and Penelope and the monstrosity in her arms in a distracted way.
“Yes, your present,” said Penelope. She had no idea where Marchford was going with this, but she took his lead.
“The extremely rare Peruvian jungle house cat,” said Marchford.
“The Peruvian jungle house what?” The dowager rapped her cane on the marble floor in irritation.
“The jungle house cat, from deepest Peru,” said Penelope. For all she knew it could be from Peru.
“That is a dog,” dismissed the dowager.
Miles, the Peruvian jungle house cat, meowed in complaint.
“Is that really a cat? I don’t want that thing,” exclaimed the dowager.
“I can keep it until later,” suggested Penelope.
“You can send that Peruvian beast back to—”
“Oh look, mistletoe!” declared Marchford. Penelope almost jumped into his arms, but Marchford turned and kissed his grandmother on the cheek.
Penelope took the clue, picked up her skirts and ran up the stairs. “Merry Christmas to all!” she called as she fled.
Merry Christmas from the myself and Miles the Peruvian Jungle House Cat. May you all have a blessed holiday.
What is the most unexpected, unique, "Peruvian jungle house cat" present you have ever received?