The Passing of Zoroaster 1

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The Curious Adventures of the Dead Shot and the White Cat.
(After Janvier)

[Written by S. H. D. for The Sunday Republican.]

"Don't do it, Jack, I bet of you! You can't kill a cat if you try. You
are not used to firearms, and the neighborhood is so crowded you
will be more likely to kill somebody's wife or child by the ball
glancing through a parlor window, than that old omnipresent white

"I shall kill that cat to-night, Kate. As to aim and control of a small
shotgun, I guess I am up to that! All my ancestors were army men,
and somehow I think those things run in the blood."

But his wife looked unconvinced as she said, with a sigh, "I do so
hate to have anything that is alive, killed, Jack! It seems like
stabbing the infinite to me."

"But that creature," Jack retorted, "is a dangerous, depraved thing.
He ate your canary, - beautiful yellow Zip, - and now he is trying
his best to reach the cage of the mocking-birds."

"He does seem like a lost spirit," agreed Kate reluctantly.

"He dies to-night!" declared the nimrod. Later a fine, sharp shot
was heard in the tiny, suburban back yard. Kate, who was deep in
Tom Hardy, sprang to her feet.

"He has done it!" she cried, and before she could faint or fly, the
door was thrust open from the porch and Jack burst in with ashen
face, bearing aloft, - not the white cat-diabolique, but the great,
gray tomcat Zoroaster, next door; the Angora, pet of all Judge
Sutherland's family! - the idol and pampered pet of the judge
himself! Kate could not, in true feminine habit, heap ironical
reproaches on the head of her dear, heedless Jack. He could not
have looked more haunted, more lost to earth, had he been on his
way to his own funeral pyre.

Kate, "the woman thou gavest me," with I suppose the instinctive
remorse of her sex for the original breach of law and delicacy in
the garden of Eden, - did not scream as she beheld him. Instantly
she bethought herself of the fig leaves of circumstance, - first
impulse of the evil-doer, - and in a flash was contriving their
escape from detection. First in amelioration, - the argus-eyed cook
had gone to Hoboken to a blessed funeral. Grief and the cup that
cheers would keep her out of their way until to-morrow afternoon.
The dull Polish waitress was at the usual dance, no factor in the
household until the wee small hours. Stimulated by her instinct for
their honor and preservation, Jack tried to rally from his despair.

"I will go right out quietly and bury the thing," he said. Already
mention of it by name seemed to lend a sort of human, enormity to
his guilt. "I can stuff it down in the tulip bed, where the earth is

"Why, you can't do that, Jack," protested Kate. "You will be seen
and heard. It is bright moonlight. Besides, the Montgomerys'
terrier Jupiter would be liable to scent it and dig it out at any
moment. Our lives would be one continuous dread." The situation
grew more appalling.

"I will tell you what to do," said Kate, with inspiration, "and it is
the only thing you can do safely. Take it in as dapper a bundle as
possible by the early 7 o'clock train to town to-morrow morning,
and when you are crossing the ferry drop it overboard. Then go
and buy a bottle of Florida water at the nearest druggist's, and
surprise your office boy and secure a long day for work and

It was a nightmarish sort of sleep that awaited the eyelids of that
guilty pair, but dawn came, and their well-laid plans converged and
diverged as to time and manner. Kate had the blessed satisfaction
of seeing her Jack safely off with a marketable looking bundle,
stoutly tied in brown paper, under his arm. She threw countless
kisses after him as a good augury until he disappeared. Happily for
the sake of her day at home, she, no more than the immortal
Weller, could see "around corners and up a couple of flight of

The exultant Jack was a little jostled in his serenity during his
hour's ride to the ferry, by dropping his package and