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Tiger Cat   By: (1880-1966)

Tiger Cat by David Henry Keller

First Page:

Tiger Cat

By DAVID H. KELLER

[Transcriber Note: This etext was produced from Weird Tales October 1937. Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.]

[Sidenote: A grim tale of torture, and the blind men who were chained to pillars in an underground cave ]

The man tried his best to sell me the house. He was confident that I would like it. Repeatedly he called my attention to the view.

There was something in what he said about the view. The villa on the top of a mountain commanded a vision of the valley, vine clad and cottage studded. It was an irregular bowl of green, dotted with stone houses which were whitewashed to almost painful brilliancy.

The valley was three and a third miles at its greatest width. Standing at the front door of the house, an expert marksman with telescopic sight could have placed a rifle bullet in each of the white marks of cottages. They nestled like little pearls amid a sea of green grape vines.

"A wonderful view, Signor ," the real estate agent repeated. "That scene, at any time of the year, is worth twice what I am asking for the villa."

"But I can see all this without buying," I argued.

"Not without trespassing."

"But the place is old. It has no running water."

"Wrong!" and he smiled expansively, showing a row of gold filled teeth. "Listen."

We were silent.

There came to us the sound of bubbling water. Turning, I traced the sound. I found a marble Cupid spurting water in a most peculiar way into a wall basin. I smiled and commented.

"There is one like that in Brussels and another in Madrid. But this is very fine. However, I referred to running water in a modern bathroom."

"But why bathe when you can sit here and enjoy the view?"

He was impossible. So, I wrote a check, took his bill of sale and became the owner of a mountain, topped by a stone house that seemed to be half ruin. But he did not know, and I did not tell him that I considered the fountain alone worth the price that I had paid. In fact, I had come to Italy to buy that fountain if I could; buy it and take it back to America with me. I knew all about that curious piece of marble. George Seabrook had written to me about it. Just one letter, and then he had gone on, goodness knows where. George was like that, always on the move. Now I owned the fountain and was already planning where I should place it in my New York home. Certainly not in the rose garden.

I sat down on a marble bench and looked down on the valley. The real estate man was right. It was a delicate, delicious piece of scenery. The surrounding mountains were high enough to throw a constant shadow on some part of the valley except at high noon. There was no sign of life, but I was sure that the vineyards were alive with husband men and their families. An eagle floated serenely on the upper air currents, automatically adjusting himself to their constant changing.

Stretching myself, I gave one look at my car and then walked into the house.

In the kitchen two peasants sat, an old man and an old woman. They rose as I entered.

"Who are you?" I asked in English.

They simply smiled and waved their hands. I repeated my question in Italian.

"We serve," the man replied.

"Serve whom?"

"Whoever is the master."

"Have you been here long?"

"We have always been here. It is our home."

His statement amused me, and I commented, "The masters come and go, but you remain?"

"It seems so."

"Many masters?"

"Alas! yes. They come and go. Nice young men, like you, but they do not stay. They buy and look at the view, and eat with us a few days and then they are gone."

"And then the villa is sold again?"

The man shrugged. "How should we know? We simply serve."

"Then prepare me my dinner. And serve it outside, under the grapevine, where I can see the view... Continue reading book >>




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