A funny thing happened during Mary’s reading . . .
The Book Bin in Salem, OR (where today’s event was held) has a lovely orange tabby cat named Rose Weasley. Naturally I made her acquaintance when I arrived, both while I was still in street clothes, and then again after getting into costume.
I did my bit — reading, passing around “dragon bones” — and then Mary got up to read. About two thirds of the way through her piece, Rose comes wandering by my chair. I offer her a few discreet pats, not wanting to distract anybody from Mary’s reading, and Rose sniffs inquisitively at the skirt and train of my dress. And then she decides to investigate this fascinating new cave she found.
Which is to say, she wanders under my skirts.
I’m sitting there attempting to keep a straight face — remember, Mary’s still reading; she doesn’t need me making a spectacle of myself behind her — while these odd little tugging sensations ripple through my petticoat, as Rose sniffs at things/steps on them/god knows what she was doing under there. Not attacking, I think, for which I am very grateful; there’s lots of dangling fabric that could easily have been interpreted as a cat toy. Off to my left, one of the store employees has seen the whole thing and is trying not to crack up. I manage to hold it together until Mary finishes, whereupon I share these fascinating developments with our audience, and ask whether Mary needs me to move out of the way of her puppet show. Fortunately her answer is “no,” because I’m kind of afraid that if I try to raise my skirts to evict the cat, she will decide my costume is her new toy. She seems happy to be settled against my left ankle for a time, and wanders out again before the puppet show is done.
If you someday read a book or story of mine in which a very proper Victorian lady has to maintain her composure because she cannot possibly tell the other people in the scene that a cat has gone spelunking under her dress, now you’ll know why.