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10. BLACK FOR LUCK (continued)
'Would you mind letting me have my cat, please?' she said pleasantly. 'He has gone into your sitting-room through the window.'
He looked faintly surprised.
'My black cat, Joseph. He is in your sitting-room.'
'I'm afraid you have come to the wrong place. I've just left my sitting-room, and the only cat there is my black cat, Reginald.'
'But I saw Joseph go in only a minute ago.'
'That was Reginald.'
For the first time, as one who examining a fair shrub abruptly discovers that it is a stinging-nettle, Elizabeth realized the truth. This was no innocent young man who stood before her, but the blackest criminal known to criminologists--a stealer of other people's cats. Her manner shot down to zero.
'May I ask how long you have had your Reginald?'
'Since four o'clock this afternoon.'
'Did he come in through the window?'
'Why, yes. Now you mention it, he did.'
'I must ask you to be good enough to give me back my cat,' said Elizabeth, icily.
He regarded her defensively.
'Assuming,' he said, 'purely for the purposes of academic argument, that your Joseph is my Reginald, couldn't we come to an agreement of some sort? Let me buy you another cat. A dozen cats.'
'I don't want a dozen cats. I want Joseph.'
'Fine, fat, soft cats,' he went on persuasively. 'Lovely, affectionate Persians and Angoras, and--'
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