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|Anne of the Island||Lucy Maud Montgomery|
|Page 4 of 7||
"We must get rid of him," agreed Anne, looking darkly at the subject of their discussion, who was purring on the hearth rug with an air of lamb-like meekness. "But the question is -- how? How can four unprotected females get rid of a cat who won't be got rid of?"
We must chloroform him," said Phil briskly. "That is the most humane way."
"Who of us knows anything about chloroforming a cat?" demanded Anne gloomily.
"I do, honey. It's one of my few -- sadly few -- useful accomplishments. I've disposed of several at home. You take the cat in the morning and give him a good breakfast. Then you take an old burlap bag -- there's one in the back porch -- put the cat on it and turn over him a wooden box. Then take a two-ounce bottle of chloroform, uncork it, and slip it under the edge of the box. Put a heavy weight on top of the box and leave it till evening. The cat will be dead, curled up peacefully as if he were asleep. No pain -- no struggle."
"It sounds easy," said Anne dubiously.
"It IS easy. Just leave it to me. I'll see to it," said Phil reassuringly.
Accordingly the chloroform was procured, and the next morning Rusty was lured to his doom. He ate his breakfast, licked his chops, and climbed into Anne's lap. Anne's heart misgave her. This poor creature loved her -- trusted her. How could she be a party to this destruction?
"Here, take him," she said hastily to Phil. "I feel like a murderess."
"He won't suffer, you know," comforted Phil, but Anne had fled.
The fatal deed was done in the back porch. Nobody went near it that day. But at dusk Phil declared that Rusty must be buried.
"Pris and Stella must dig his grave in the orchard," declared Phil, "and Anne must come with me to lift the box off. That's the part I always hate."
The two conspirators tip-toed reluctantly to the back porch. Phil gingerly lifted the stone she had put on the box. Suddenly, faint but distinct, sounded an unmistakable mew under the box.
"He -- he isn't dead," gasped Anne, sitting blankly down on the kitchen doorstep.
"He must be," said Phil incredulously.
Another tiny mew proved that he wasn't. The two girls stared at each other."
What will we do?" questioned Anne.
"Why in the world don't you come?" demanded Stella, appearing in the doorway. "We've got the grave ready. `What silent still and silent all?'" she quoted teasingly.
"`Oh, no, the voices of the dead Sound like the distant torrent's fall,'" promptly counter-quoted Anne, pointing solemnly to the box.
A burst of laughter broke the tension.
"We must leave him here till morning," said Phil, replacing the stone. "He hasn't mewed for five minutes. Perhaps the mews we heard were his dying groan. Or perhaps we merely imagined them, under the strain of our guilty consciences."
But, when the box was lifted in the morning, Rusty bounded at one gay leap to Anne's shoulder where he began to lick her face affectionately. Never was there a cat more decidedly alive.
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|Anne of the Island
Lucy Maud Montgomery
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