The Mystery of the Sphinx

If she seemed like a talkative cat, it would be easy to call her talkative and leave it at that. The offered hands are accepted, but they make no difference to her urgency. She is mostly black, has a wide nose, and is very handsome for a girl. When people aren’t around she does things that any other cat would do. She will drop and roll back and forth on her back a time or two in the driveway. At different times of the day, over the course of several days, or even weeks, she will sit like a sphinx and give her full attention to a blank space on a wall. She can often be seen stalking, with her ears back, from one side of the street to the other.

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But when she gets around people, it seems that she has something urgent to tell. You will see the cat a block away, arresting a couple out walking with a baby in a stroller. As the cat meows at her, the old lady next door will smoke a cigarette, and protest. “I don’t know! I don’t know! I don’t know!” It is as if the lady is too polite to ignore the cat, but too overwhelmed to ask it any questions. Not that asking questions would be necessary to get this cat going.

She meows again and again. She will stop briefly if you pet her, but her manner will make it clear that she is only indulging you. There is something important you need to know. She meows and meows, as if insisting.

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Could it be that, unaware of a leak that has filled his house with gas, Mr. Johnson has just sat down with the morning paper and is about to light his pipe? Could it be that Billy has been trapped by an avalanche and there is a large bear wandering nearby? Could it be that a flood has washed away part of Walker’s bridge and the family golden retriever, Nellie, is stranded on the other side with her puppies?

There is no telling.

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