Percy B. Shelley’s Cat Story

            A gentleman on a visit to a friend who lived on the skirts of an extensive forest on the east of Germany lost his way. He wandered for some hours among the trees, when he saw a light at a distance. On approaching it, he was surprised to observe that it proceeded from the interior of a ruined monastery. Before he knocked, he thought it prudent to look through the window.

He saw a multitude of cats assembled round a small grave, four of whom were letting down a coffin with a crown upon it. The gentleman, startled at this unusual sight, and imagining that he had arrived among the retreats of fiends or witches, mounted his horse and rode away with the utmost precipitation.

            He arrived at his friend’s house at a late hour, who had sat up for him. On his arrival, his friend questioned as to the cause of the traces of trouble visible on his face. He began to recount his adventure, after much difficulty, knowing that it was scarcely possibly that his friends should give faith to his relation.

No sooner had he mentioned the coffin with a crown upon it, than his friend’s cat, who seemed to have been lying asleep before the fire, leaped up, saying, “Then I am the King of the Cats!” and scrambled up the chimney and was seen no more.

Quoted in Hamerton, Philip G. Chapters on Animals. Boston: Roberts Bros., 1877.

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