Alfred was not a beautiful young lover, as her tone of lingering affection might have seemed to indicate, but a peculiarly ugly black-and-white cat--black where he ought to have been white, and vice versa--that is to say, black round one eye, which made him look dissipated, and black about the nose, which made him look dirty. Also he had lost one paw. Pearl had rescued him from a band of boys in an alley and cherished him with a steady maternal affection.
"Oh, Alfred," said Augusta, as if this did not make much difference.
This was not only wrong in tone but she had failed to say the thing Pearl wanted her to say, namely, that Mrs. Conway would be delighted if the new governess brought her pet cat with her. Pearl explained that Alfred was really no trouble in the house--he slept all day and caught mice at night--except one night he did tumble all the way downstairs on account of his paw.
"And you'd be surprised, Gussie," said Pearl, her whole generous face lighting up with admiration; "that cat--that little creature made a noise like an elephant falling, he's so solid."
But Augusta, who was not so easily moved to admiration as Pearl, was not at all moved now.
"I can't see," she observed coldly, "what it is you see in Alfred that makes you love him so."