Urgh! That ghastly smell of apple pies again! I can smell them from the study. The moment a whiff of air, fragrant with crispy sweetness of the pies hit my nostrils, my whole body tingled, starting from my long whiskers to my soft, shiny furry tail. I despise everything sweet just like I detest getting wet. I am Tobermory, by the way, Lady Blemly’s one and only reason to be still alive. These days she talks to me all day long and often listens to me in awe when I recite Shakespeare’s sonnets to her. It was not like this always. Here is what happened.
It was the last day of Lady Blemly’s house party. Lady Blemly had planned it for months. She wanted her house party to be the most memorable event of the year. All the London elites were invited. The preparations, for that matter, were absolutely spick-and-span. The morning was spent quite lazily. By the time it was evening, guests had gradually started to assemble in the drawing-room, and Lady Blemly pranced in the room greeting everybody with a big smile that did not reach her eyes. I was reclined on my favorite place in the mansion, a Louis XV Bergère, upholstered with needlework tapestry, placed right next to the French arch window in the drawing-room. The men cheerfully discussed politics, art and literary works while women took pleasure in talking about rich bachelors who had just arrived in London. Half of London was swarming in the room, sipping the finest of liquor. Just then Mr. Appin, one of the house guests, came running in to the room absolutely hysterical.
“Lady Blemly,” Mr. Appin bellowed, “yourpreciousbluediamondnecklaceisgone!” he cried and collapsed on the floor. Alarmed by this sudden distraction everybody looked at Mr. Appin. His clothes were torn, he was missing one of his shoes and he was bleeding. Everyone was astonished to see him like that. Lady Blemly, befuddled, darted towards hapless Mr. Appin.
“What are you saying Mr. Appin? I don’t understand.” Lady Blemly was beyond perplexed. “My Lady, someone has stolen your precious blue diamond necklace.” Mr. Appin said between breaths. He was shaking with fear. “Please someone call the chief inspector,” Mr. Appin urged to the crowd.
“I am here already,” Chief Inspector Edward Worthing came forward. “Tell me everything you know,” he said in an authoritative tone.
“Well, I was leaving my room to come down for the party when I saw a huge man standing by the window in Lady Blemly’s bedroom. He was holding the diamond necklace in his hand and staring at it. I tiptoed in to the room to find out who it was. But he saw me. Before I could act, he stuffed the necklace in his pocket, threw his cape on me and attacked. I must have lost my consciousness because when I opened my eyes, the room was empty and so was the jewelry box.”
Lady Blemly collapsed hearing about the jewelry theft in her mansion. But she soon recovered. “Oh! My necklace!” she cried. “My precious jewel, it’s gone! What am I going to say to Sir Wilfred when he finally comes back from India?” wailed Lady Blemly. Now, if you ask me, I was more inclined to enjoy the beautiful evening than be bothered by a jewelry theft. I was about to jump out of the window when I heard my name being called out. “Where is my Toby? Please someone bring my Toby to me.” Lady Blemly was weeping uncontrollably. “All I wanted was everyone to have a wonderful time. Now everything is ruined,” she wept and wept and every once in a while she blew her nose. “Toby my darling!” she cried taking me in her arms, holding me right in front of her face. Her tear-stained face could not have looked any more horrific. “Did you hear what happened? Someone stole your father’s gift to me.”
I looked around. Everyone had a look of pity on their faces.
“As a matter of fact, I did,” I burst out. I couldn’t keep to myself anymore. “I even saw everything. I was sitting on the tree just outside your bedroom window witnessing the crime.”
It was for the first time that evening that the room fell completely silent. Every eye was fixed on me now. I don’t know what was going through their minds but I am sure they had not heard or even seen a cat talk before. It was no less of a shock I suppose from the look on their faces.
“Yes, I can talk,” I said. I felt amused by the scenario.
Mr. Appin was on his feet now. He looked pale. I then turned to the chief inspector and said, “Sir, may I speak with your permission?” He only nodded. I think he was floored by my manners. But the nod was my cue to begin.
“Mr. Appin is not entirely telling the truth. Today, when everybody was frolicking here downstairs, I noticed that Mr. Appin was nowhere to be seen in this elegant crowd. This was all the more strange because just the day before I had heard him say to himself that he considered himself very lucky to be a part of this exclusive gathering. In the evening I went for a stroll in the garden. There, chasing around after a squirrel, I climbed up on the tree outside Lady Blemly’s bedroom window. The squirrel was gone but I saw Mr. Appin holding the necklace with great care. At first I was sure that he meant to steal it. But then I saw him putting it back in the jewelry box. That’s when Lady Blemly’s youngest nephew Nathaniel entered the room. They started talking which, I am sorry, I cannot repeat as some parts of the conversation are inappropriate to use in front of the women. In my understanding, Nathaniel and Mr. Appin had planned the theft together. But Mr. Appin’s conscience must have stopped him. This probably had bothered Nathaniel because a moment later, he assaulted Mr. Appin who hit his head on the table and lay there out cold. As for Nathaniel, he is absconding with the necklace. Come to think of it, Mr. Appin is not entirely lying either.”
The chief inspector took a deep breath. He let it out as a whistle and said, “I understand the seriousness of the situation. But what I’m more curious about is how on earth can you speak?”
“I taught him to,” Mr. Appin said proudly. “I have mastered the procedure to teach animals human speech and Tobermory, he is undeniably an intelligent cat.”
“Well, the cat has spoken,” said the chief inspector finding his authoritative voice back. “Justice shall be done.”
Dear reader, what happened after that, as they say it, is history but Lady Blemly not only got her necklace back but also what her heart desired. Her house party indeed became the most memorable event of the year.
Based on the short story ‘Tobermory’ written by Saki