Miss Annersley looked up from her piled desk as a light tap sounded on the door. “Herein,” she called, and it opened to admit Gertlieb, bearing a tray with her coffee and biscuits.
“Goodness! Is that the time already?” she asked in some surprise. Her letters had taken up her attention so thoroughly she had barely noticed the passing hours.
“But yes, Fräulein. Indeed, Karen was scolding because she feared we would be late with the coffee,” Gertlieb replied in her own tongue, setting her tray down on a little table.
Miss Annersley had barely listened to the last sentence, however, her attention drawn by a new intruder in her study.
“I think you’ve been followed,” she said with a laugh in her voice.
The maid spun around and cried out. “Minette! You bad cat! I am very sorry, Fräulein. I must not have shut the kitchen door properly. I shall take her away at once.”
“Oh, there’s no need,” the Head quickly checked her. “Let her stay if she pleases. The poor little thing must be puzzled enough by all the strange surroundings; she should have a chance to explore.”
“Won’t she bother you, Fräulein?” Gertlieb asked doubtfully.
“I don’t expect so, and if she does I’ll take her out myself. I’m sure you have more than enough to do without running around after a cat.”
“She is no trouble most of the time, we are happy to have her,” the girl said. “If you are sure, I shall leave her and return to my duties.”
“Quite sure,” Miss Annersley replied, smiling. “Danke sehr, Gertlieb.”
With a quick curtsey, Gertlieb left the room, biting back a chuckle. Minette had already charmed all the domestic staff, and now it seemed the Head was falling under her spell as well.
Leaving Minette to explore, Miss Annersley took her seat by next to the table where her meal awaited, and poured her coffee out. Taking the jug of cream, she was about to add some to her cup when a new idea came to her. ‘I doubt she’ll like coffee,’ she thought. ‘Even my Toby didn’t, and he was the only cat I knew who liked cocoa. But I’ve never heard of a cat who doesn’t like cream!’ Removing the saucer from beneath the cup, she poured the cream into it and carefully set it down on the floor, then called Minette in a soft voice.
For her part, the little cat had been strolling around the room as calmly as if it belonged to her, inspecting everything. She turned at the noise, though, and instantly spotted the saucer. She was a friendly creature by nature, and had met with nothing but kindness in her life, so she responded at once, running to the saucer and sniffing at its contents. The scent reaching her nose clearly pleased her, for her pink tongue darted out at once and began lapping up the cream.
Seeing her thus employed, Miss Annersley turned to her own elevenses, enjoying them just as much as Minette enjoyed hers. She did miss the cream for her coffee, but Karen’s brew was excellent even without it, and she was glad to be able to give Minette a treat. Even if she hadn’t felt responsible towards Miss Holroyd for the care of her pet, she was fond of cats, and hoped to make a friend of this one.
The sacrifice of her cream and saucer was soon rewarded; after a final lick around the saucer for the last lingering traces, Minette came to rub against her legs in the most friendly manner. Delighted, Miss Annersley petted her, resolving then and there to ask Karen to send extra cream with her elevenses in future, so that Minette might share them as long as she was at the school.