The other day, as I bid farewell to the Wensleydales, and walked across their lawn to the driveway and my car, I heard a voice cry out, “Hey, you!”
I looked about, in search of the source of it. There was no one to be seen, except Pilikia. She was sitting alone, at the base of a rhododendron bush.
Here, I must tell you, until that moment none of the Wensleydale animals had actually spoken to me or even spoken in my presence, and, to be perfectly honest, I did not really believe Peter’s and Anna’s insistence that the animals could talk.
“Come here,” the cat said, addressing me.
I walked over, toward her.
“Sit down,” she continued, indicating a spot next to her, “here, on the grass, beside me.”
I did so.
“Just who are you, anyway?” Pilikia asked. “I’ve been watching you these past days, poking around in drawers, going through photographs and journals, asking a lot of questions, taking notes on everything. Are you a Treasury agent? FBI? CIA?”
“Goodness no,” I said, “nothing like that.”
“A pea eye, then?” the cat asked.
“A pea eye?” I repeated, not understanding what she meant.
“A private investigator,” Pilikia explained.
“Oh,” I said, “a P.I.”
“That’s what I said,” she insisted, “a pea eye.”
“No,” I replied, “I’m not a pea – uh, P.I. either. Actually, I’m just a friend of Peter and Anna. I’m writing a book about them, and about their relationship with you and the other animals.”
“A book,” Pilikia said, thoughtfully. “So, you’re a writer. Good for you. Do you think anyone will read this book you’re writing?”
“I hope so,” I replied. “At least, that’s the idea.”
“Do you expect anyone will believe it?” she asked.
I did not reply.
“You didn’t believe it, did you?” she inquired, pointedly.
I hesitated before responding, not knowing just what to say. I did not want to offend the cat, but on the other hand I sensed that I would not be able to fool her. I decided to go with honesty.
“Frankly, no,” I said.
“And now?” Pilikia asked.
“Now?” I replied. “Well, now, I don’t know what to believe. Sitting here, talking with you, makes it hard not to believe, doesn’t it?”
“So,” Pilikia said, “perhaps now you won’t write it as a children’s story, as you had intended.”
I wondered how Pilikia knew about that, for I had not even mentioned it to Peter or Anna yet. You see, the cat was right. Having never heard the animals speak, and not really believing they could, I did not see how I could relate this story other than as a children’s tale. But now, well, as I say, now things were different.
“That’s why you’ve stopped me here today, just as I am about to leave,” I said to Pilikia. “You’ve known all along who I am, and what I’ve been doing, haven’t you? You just wanted me to hear for myself, and you waited until the last minute to do so.”
Pilikia did not answer. Instead, very slowly, she let one eyelid drop until it closed into a wink. Then, just as slowly, this extraordinary Persian cat rolled over onto her back, with her feet and tail spread out like a rug, and laughed.
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