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  1. says

    To my eye it’s clear that cat lost his(her?) nose in a duel and had it replaced with a mahogany replica. Not because the contrast would be good, but because the wood was expensive and possibly required toiling servants to bring it out of the darkness of some half-forgotten continent. Then, having worn the prosthetic nose for some time the cat came to feel, each time he passed his reflection, that there was something still not right. When the left ear was gone, he told the chiurgeon that it had been another duel. The man was not fooled, saying outright that cat had done the deed to himself. But it was the cat who pulled the purse strings and so another prosthetic was fashioned. With the right ear, there was no pretense.

    It was the jaw that proved most difficult, cutting the ligaments that held it in place, carefully paring away tongue from bone in order to keep it functional. When the prosthetics man saw the new wound, he wept. But the cat was secretly pleased, he was becoming a part of the forest, imagined as a distant misty place where strange animals called out in the dead of night.

    In fact the mahogany was linden stained with orpiment and bitumen. The mill that made it was only a few miles from the cat’s home. If the cat had any notion of chemistry or safety, he might have guessed that what made the wood dark was also slowly driving him mad, but cats are mad enough to their keepers that mere delusion is not suspicious.

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