Last night, the Scot came galloping out of the basement meowing. I said, “A person would think you’d run into Basement Cat down there. But Basement Cat is upstairs in his room.” I turned to Sir John. “Does that make us Satanists, if Basement Cat lives upstairs in our house?”

“I think we’re in an alternative theology, in which Satan, that is Basement Cat, wasn’t cast into hell but remains bound in heaven. And he’s even allowed to be unbound periodically and roam free in the house, although I, at least, corral the innocent inhabitants and pen them in another part of heaven so that they won’t suffer from Basement Cat preying on them.”

Sir John looked meaningfully at me. It’s true; sometimes I pen up only the most vulnerable inhabitants, and leave the Scot and the Shakespearean heroine to defend themselves against Basement Cat. And sometimes I lure both the Scot (our most mellow feline) and Basement Cat into my study (that is, the other part of heaven) and give them both manna, I mean cat treats. The hope is that this will convince Basement Cat not to attack the Scot, and the Scot that . . . well, that B.C. might be a good thing. The Scot is totally venal and will do anything for cat treats.

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