- First published:
- October 31, 1953 issue of The New Yorker
- Protagonist imagines herself as a concert performer, similar to “Mr. Botibol”
- Related books:
- Magazine publications:
- Audio Books:
- The Vicar of Nibbleswicke & Other Stories read by Stephen Fry
- TV Shows:
- Tales of the Unexpected (1979)
This story shares a similar element with “Mr. Botibol,” that of a normal person envisioning himself as a concert performer.
Spoiler warning! The protagonist in the story, Louisa, makes a daily habit of playing a piano programme for herself and her imaginary audience. One day she befriends a stray cat and is amazed when he seems to respond to her playing. After several experiments, she concludes that he is not what he seems. In fact, Louisa becomes convinced that the cat is none other than the reincarnated composter Franz Liszt himself. Her husband Edward, on the other hand, thinks that Louisa is delusional. He begins to resent her attachment to the cat and refuses to entertain the possibility that it’s anything more than an average stray. When she begins to question Edward’s authority and accuses him of being frightened of her discovery, he lashes out at her in one final attempt to correct her priorities. Louisa remains steadfast. While she is in the kitchen preparing dinner for “Franz,” Edward heads out to the bonfire he has started in the backyard. When he returns Louisa notices a long thin scratch on one arm. He has thrown the cat in the fire!