The Cat Jumps: And Other Stories

The Cat Jumps: And Other Stories

The Cat Jumps: And Other Stories

The Cat Jumps: And Other Stories

Excerpt

Herberts feet, from dangling so long in the tram, had died of cold in his boots; he stamped the couple of coffins on blue-and-buff mosaic. In the Tommy Crans' cloak-room the pegs were too high -- Uncle Archer cocked H. M.S. Terrible for him over a checked ulster. Tommy Cran -- aslant meanwhile, in the doorway -- was an enormous presence. 'Come on, now, come!' he exclaimed, and roared with impatience. You would have said he was also arriving at the Tommy Crans' Christmas party, of which one could not bear to miss a moment.

Now into the hall Mrs. Tommy Cran came swimming from elsewhere, dividing with curved little strokes the festive air -- hyacinths and gunpowder. Her sleeves, in a thousand ruffles, fled from her elbows. She gained Uncle Archer's lapels and, bobbing, floated from this attachment. Uncle Archer, verifying the mistletoe, loudly kissed her face of delicate pink sugar. 'Ha!' yelled Tommy, drawing an unseen dagger. Herbert laughed with embarrassment.

'Only think, Nancy let off all die crackers before tea! She's quite wild, but there are more behind the piano. Ah, is this little Herbert? Herbert . . .'

'Very well, thank you,' said Herbert, and shook hands defensively. This was his first Christmas Day without any father; the news went before him. He had seen his mother off, very brave with the holly wreath, in the cemetery tram. She and father were spending Christmas afternoon together.

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