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The Least of These

Title The least of These

Author Eglantine-br

Rating G

Word Count

There was a corpse on the doorstep.

His little wings were stained with blood. Mary squatted down to look more closely. A thrush. Up close Mary could see how fine his colors were, the browns and tans of each feather were distinct and perfect. His tiny feet drawn close, black and dry and seeming already more dead than the rest of him. The cat had eaten the head off. This, she thought, was the Mister of the pair with a nest in the box hedge. His wife would have a time now, feeding the chicks.

The cat was new. He had come to the wild rocky area behind the doctor's house, with the spring. He was last summers kitten, she supposed, and trying to make a living. Now it was almost July. He was still kittenish, a wild and rangy thing, hand-shy and hungry. Sometimes he lay out in the sun, resting, not sleeping, watching. His fur was dense and lovely, stripes of orange and cream. Mary imagined stroking it, rubbing under his chin, and along his sides. She knew she never would. She had left food out for him, when the nights were cold, left milk sometimes. She could not really say why, not out loud. But he was hungry and alone. There was something in his gaze that reminded her of Mr Kennedy.

She had thought, at first, that the dog Cloud would see him off. But Cloud had showed little interest. Now Cloud sniffed the dead thrush and gave a heavy sigh. No help there.

“I'll put food out for you, cat--” Mary said. “I don't mind that. But I will thank you to not kill the doctor's song-birds.”

She lifted the tiny thing, and cast it into the trees. Cat could eat it there.

She brushed her hands off on her apron, and went inside.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 28th, 2013 10:42 am (UTC)
Gah! The first sentence is a killer. First I thought it's about a revolution or something.

Nice image of Mr Kennedy as a cat here :) How do you do this??? Your muse maybe a mule, but a clever one!

Well done! *applause*
Jun. 29th, 2013 12:15 am (UTC)
I wanted a first sentence that would pull a person in. That one worked. Mr K is so very much a cat. My mom had an orange cat for years looked just like that. He was a pet cat, of course. This one is wild, or at least feral.

My muse is a pain-- that is what she is. Mules are clever enough-- they just have decided opinions!
Jun. 29th, 2013 12:23 pm (UTC)
Agreed. Cats are independent. My sister owns an orange tomcat. He is such a beauty.

Muses can be pain, but if they decide to work for you, they do it like a mule dragging a heavy cart uphill without a fuss :) Be good to her, or him? They like to be worshipped :)
Oct. 4th, 2016 01:52 pm (UTC)
I loved that bit, Archie as a feral cat. Wary and hesitant, but showing care in his own way. I want an orange cat named Archie now. But Archie and Horatio the parakeets would not approve. Nor would our fish.
Jun. 28th, 2013 11:53 am (UTC)
Do you know, I guessed that was what it would be, as it loaded. Great minds...

Nice ficlet. Lots of layers.
Jun. 28th, 2013 04:16 pm (UTC)
I wanted this fic to reveal more about Mary, but could not find a way to do so. A bird on the doorstep is often a gift. It may be that the cat is repaying.
Jun. 28th, 2013 03:39 pm (UTC)
The cat at work kills birds and moles and mice and baby bunnies. It makes me ill. I don't like cats very much. Last year she killed the female of a pair of cardinals that always nested in the apple tree. She doesn't need to, she's fed, but she was born a barncat and it's apparently in her nature. Nature is not always pretty.
Jun. 28th, 2013 04:13 pm (UTC)
Yes. Not always pretty. They cannot help it though. My guys here in the apt have caught mice before. So sad-- hard to knew when to intervene. By the time i can see what has happened mouse has severe injuries. Is it kinder to let cat finish mouse? Cat would argue yes...

Jul. 2nd, 2013 05:48 pm (UTC)
Yes it is the tough reality of it all -
I think we do learn a little of Mary here too - her observation,her Archie -awareness
and just the inevitability of mourning some loss even in the most ordinary day..
thank you though
Oct. 4th, 2016 01:55 pm (UTC)
Yes. The fact that she cares for the cat because it reminds her of Archie says a lot about her need to love and care, just as Dr Hornblower took in Cloud because he was worried about his son and needed to show love to something. And her pragmatic tossing of the corpse says something else. She is loving, but also practical, capable and not squeamish.

Edited at 2016-10-04 01:55 pm (UTC)
Oct. 4th, 2016 05:52 pm (UTC)
Yes. My mom was like that.

We are friends with a homeless cat at the end of the street. People leave food out for him, I have seen it. But I have also seen a heap of songbirds where he just at the breasts off and left the rest. Cats kill for fun, even well fed cats.

But I do love cats anyhow. My mom once said that we might not like them so well if we could hear their thoughts. Bu that is even more true of other humans.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )