When I and Miss R. go back home at night, we have to cross a certain rather well lit side street of the center of Pisa, on the Southern bank of the Arno. The river is close enough that you can feel it presence without seeing it or hearing it.
When dinner in the school cafeteria has been unhurried, when the after-dinner conversation has been exactly the right length, we find ourselves in front of the yellow house at half-past-ten. Night has fallen completely, and the street is quiet, although we can always see someone walking his dog or strolling.
At this moment, if we have been good during the day, if everything has been done in the right way, a small black cat will come running out of the courtyard of the yellow house. She squeezes through the bars of the gate, and comes to us to be petted. It is a small, short-haired black cat of compact, muscular, build. Her hair is completely black, and she has a red collar. Someone takes great care of this little black cat with yellow eyes.
The cat, though, has a desire to come and rub herself against our legs for a while. Miss R. and I vie for her affection. We have a little competition about who will get the most purring. We compliment the cat on her remarkable beauty and intelligence, and then we are on our way. The cat walks a little bit with us. She follows us to the corner where we will turn left into the streets where we live, and usually she stops there. In one rare occasion she followed us to the street door of our house, but then she would not enter. We did not pressure her.
This is a well behaved cat that keeps her distance. She is like a perfect barista, she gives us a little black espresso shot of meowing cat affection, and then she is off on her nightly chores, as we are on ours.