by Robyn Bailes
The first thought that went through Lily’s head when she broke her mother’s vase was: Thank goodness she s out shopping.
The second was: But she’ll be back in an hour.
And the third was to blame the cat.
But Mittens had an accusatory stare which obliged Lily to justify herself to the irate feline.
“She won’t shout at you as much as she would at me.”
Mittens looked unmoved.
“I could get in real trouble. The vase could have been worth something. I mean, it was really ugly but you can never tell – I’ve seen Bargain Hunt.”
Once again her pleas fell on deaf ears. “She didn’t shout at you when you relieved yourself on the back of the TV, and that did way more damage than this. You set fire to the carpet.”
Even this flawless logic could not wipe the look of affronted accusation from the face of Mittens.
“Fine! I’ll try to glue it back together.”
That seemed the most sensible course of action, the vase was not in too many pieces after all. Mittens sat and watched as Lily applied herself to the task.
“You’re not helping, you know that?”
Mittens cocked his head to one side as if to say, I’m not trying to help.
Time was limited and her options more so
After half an hour of concerted effort, Lily had to conclude that the glue was not strong enough to reattach the pieces, though it had proved more than strong enough to stick the tablecloth to the table on which she was working.
“Now look what you’ve made me do!” Exasperatedly Lily indicated the table cloth to the cat, who merely pawed at it with interest.
Lily wracked her reluctant brain, but time was limited and her options more so. She turned to her reluctant co-conspirator. “Think of something!”
The cat assumed an attitude vaguely reminiscent of Rodin’s The Thinker.
“There’s no time to replace it! Besides, I’m saving up for an iPhone 8. Think harder.”
It was hard to tell whether this plea had any actual effect on Mittens.
“I could hide the pieces. But she’s bound to notice the vase is missing.”
Mittens began to lick fastidiously at his left paw. Possibly this helped him think.
“She’ll never believe it just fell.” Mittens paused as if to concur. “Maybe I could say it was like this when I found it …”
The cat started on his right paw.
“You’re absolutely right. She’d never believe that either.”
Lily’s face fell as she realised that this process of elimination had left her with only one reasonable course of action, one which she accepted with a heavy heart.
‘I’m just going to have to tell her the truth.”
Mittens continued to lick his paws. This seemed to be an endorsement but Lily could not help thinking it was a somewhat smug one.
“There’s no need to look so pleased about it.”
I’ve never liked the thing anyway
“Oh darling, don’t worry about it.”
Lily’s mum could see the genuine contrition in her daughter’s face. “I’ve never liked the thing anyway, but it was a present from your Great Aunt Ruby so I couldn’t give it away.
“To be honest, even if I took it to a jumble sale I still don’t think I could give it away. So really you’ve done me a favour. I’ll write to Great Aunt Ruby and let her know.”
“Won’t she be upset?” asked Lily.
“Of course not. It was an accident. These things happen. Besides,” she added, “Great Aunt Ruby likes you.”
Lily beamed; honesty, it seemed, was indeed the best policy. Who would have thought it?
As Mum sat down at the table to compose the necessary letter, Lily headed for the stairs, happy and carefree.
“What on earth’s happened to the tablecloth?”
On hearing a distinctive tone in her mother’s voice, the first thought that went through Lily’s head was: best policy or not, in this case honesty should take a back seat.
“Mittens did it!”
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