Rising early, the lady left him sleeping, but later as he did not appear, went to seek him, when to her astonishment she found in his place a huge black cat. A neighbour begged one of these from him and obtained her. To accustom her to her new home he shut her up in the loft. The cat set to work, casting all she caught on the floor till the loft was so full of dead mice that it was almost impossible to open the door and the man was employed the entire day in throwing them away by bushels.
In the morning the loft was stacked with rye. It is her unusually fine nervous system, her electricity, which made the cat useful to the sorcerer, and this same nervous system, her extreme sensitiveness and susceptibility often enable her to perform seeming miracles. In the year two cats belonging to a merchant of Messina warned him of the approach of an earthquake. Before the first shock they tried to scratch their way through the floor of a room in which they were confined. Their master, observing their fruitless efforts, opened the door for them. At two other closed doors they continued to exhibit symptoms of frantic terror and when finally set at liberty they ran swiftly through the town and made for the open fields where they began to dig.
The earthquake destroyed the house they had left and several surrounding it but the merchant who, filled with curiosity over the strange behaviour of the cats, had followed them, was saved. This story has a perfectly natural explanation: the extremely sensitive nervous organization of the cats was affected by the seismic disturbances long before they registered on the infinitely coarser nervous system of man, who if he ever possessed these finer perceptions has almost completely lost them, except in isolated cases.
Earthquakes do not occur with sufficient frequency to obtain much evidence in this direction, but cases in which cats have warned householders of fires, sometimes saving many lives thereby, are numberless.
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Cats have some uncanny fashion of reckoning time. A London barrister, one of the staff of a well-known provincial newspaper, told Lindsay that his cat was accustomed to meet him regularly on a certain road on his way home from his office. There is an infallible method by which you can test your own cat in this respect.
Feed him regularly at a certain hour each day for a few weeks and thereafter, if you have no clock in the house, he will inform you himself when the hour arrives. Alexandre Dumas relates a story of a clairvoyant cat which goes even further. It was quite different on days when I meant to return punctually. Then, if they forgot to open the door for him, Mysouff would scratch at it persistently with his claws till he got what he wanted. Abelard sleeps peacefully during most of the journey, but invariably as the motor ascends a certain hill, a quarter of a mile from the house, he gets up and begins to stretch himself.
Cats in many quarters of the globe are held responsible for the weather; they are actually said to make it good or bad. In other localities they are regarded as competent barometers. This is not strange when it is remembered that cats are extraordinarily sensitive to the changes of temperature, while by storms they are sometimes affected almost to the point of madness. Do you not perceive under the nearly bare skin of my temples, under my bluish and transparent skin of an animal of fine breeding, the beating of my arteries?
It is terrible! Around my forehead my veins are like vipers in convulsions and I do not know what gnome is forging in my brain. O, be silent, or at least speak so softly that the coursing of my agitated blood will cover your words. If I could only quit this skin and this fur which smother me, if I could only turn myself inside out, naked as a skinned mouse, towards the freshness! O dog, you cannot see but I feel the sparks which crackle at the tip of each of my hairs.
Do not come near me: I am about to send forth a bolt of blue flame. Your drawn figure is that of a starved creature, and your hair, like burnished metal here, ruffled there, gives you the pitiful appearance of a weasel which has fallen into oil. This strange behaviour of cats during atmospheric changes has disturbed the imaginations of many peoples at many times. If a cat tears at cushions or carpets or is generally uneasy she is said to be raising a wind. This superstition is still widely prevalent in seacoast towns, on Cape Cod and elsewhere.
Idle terrors of this character all have for a basis the science of divination, which neglects no token, but from effects overlooked by the ignorant ascends through a sequence of interlinked causes.
This science knows, for example, that atmospheric conditions which cause a dog to howl are fatal to certain sufferers, that the monotonous wheeling of ravens, who frequent localities of murder and execution, in the air means the presence of unburied bodies. The flight of other birds prognosticates a hard winter, while others are haruspices of coming storms. It may even be stated categorically that the superstition that it is unlucky to walk under a ladder is based on an accident that has befallen some one who has done so. Perhaps the hod-carrier on the ladder has dropped a brick on his head.
On that which the mystic discerns ignorance remarks and generalizes. The first sees useful warnings everywhere, the second is terrified by everything. As a matter of fact the cat with her superior nervous organism is conscious of the approach of the wind before man is and the condition of her fur alone will indicate weather changes to the careful observer. It is a common notion that the weather will change if a cat sneezes, scratches the leg of a table, or sits with her tail to the fire.
But there is another old English saying which has it that when the cat wipes her face over her ears it is a sign of fine weather and when a cat sits with her back towards the fire it is a sign of frost. Moncrif noticed that cats opened or closed their fur according to the weather and I have observed that cats lick their fur more than ordinarily in an atmosphere surcharged with moisture, just as they dry themselves with their tongues when they get wet.
But cats always wash their faces after dinner, following the custom of the Romans rather than that of the Americans in this respect. Since that date cats have found it wiser to wash after dinner. They also wash themselves to sleep. My Feathers puts her paw over her crown rain or shine. Who has described the operation more delightfully than Leigh Hunt? Now she proceeds to clean herself all over, having a just sense of the demands of her elegant person,—beginning judiciously with her paws, and fetching amazing tongues at her hind-hips.
Anon, she scratches her neck with a foot of rapid delight; leaning her head towards it, and shutting her eyes, half to accommodate the action of the skin, and half to enjoy the luxury. She then rewards her paws with a few more touches; look at the action of her head and neck, how pleasing it is, the ears pointed forward, and the neck gently arching to and fro! Finally she gives a sneeze, and another twist of mouth and whiskers, and then, curling her tail towards her front claws, settles herself on her hind quarters, in an attitude of bland meditation.
In Eastern Kansas a cat washing her face before breakfast foretells rain; in New England a cat washes her face in the parlor before a shower; in Western Maine rain is assured if the cat scratches a fence. It is held also in Western Maine that when a cat is sharpening her claws the way her tail points shows the direction in which the wind will blow the next day.
In Eastern Massachusetts the face of the washing cat points towards the direction from which the wind will blow. In New York and Pennsylvania the mere washing of the face signifies clear weather. If you see a cat looking out of the window you may be certain that it will storm soon, according to the inhabitants of Central Maine, where there must be continual storms because a cat in the house will spend half the day gazing out of the window. The belief in Cambridge, Massachussetts, that if the fur shines and looks glossy it is a sign that it will be pleasant the following day is credible.
The belief held in Scilly Cove, Newfoundland, that a cat drowning in salt-water will bring on rain is directly in line with certain precepts of ceremonial magic. According to W. In this performance the inverted bowl is intended to symbolize the vault of heaven. A similar custom prevails in Java where usually two cats are bathed, a male and a female. Sometimes the animals are carried in procession with music.
In Batavia also children carry cats around for this purpose. After ducking them in pools they release them. In Southern Celebes the inhabitants attempt to create a shower by carrying a cat tied in a sedan chair thrice around the parched fields, while they drench him with bamboo squirts. A black cat is thrown in and made to swim, and then is allowed to escape pursued by splashing women. Other superstitions surround the cat.
The Chinese believe that a cat can cause the dead to rise in this manner. As this would frequently prove awkward to the heirs and assigns cats are kept as far as possible from dead people in China. In case, however, the accident occurs it becomes necessary to swat the resurrected dead man with a broom whereupon he will become recumbent again. But a sad misfortune changed all this. For I chanced one day to fall ill and die which, of course, might happen to anyone , and as my funeral was leaving the house the cat jumped over my coffin.
That was a terrible misfortune to befall a poor girl so generally respected, and in wide demand as a seamstress; though, even then, the worst might have been averted had not my sister-in-law been of what they call a humane disposition and foolishly attached to the cat. So they did not kill it, and I, of course, became a vampire. But a superstition prevails in Devonshire that a cat will not remain in a house with an unburied corpse and stories are often told of cats, who, on the death of one of the inmates of a house, have disappeared and not returned until after the funeral.
It has moved from place to place, unable to settle in any one spot for any length of time, had frequent fits of shivering, gone to the door, sniffed the atmosphere, thrown back its head and mewed in a low, plaintive key, and shown the greatest reluctance to being alone in the dark. The factual foundation for this belief is that cats, liking warm and luxurious places to lie, frequently creep into cradles and if the cat is big enough it may happen occasionally that a baby may be accidentally smothered.
If a kitten comes to the house in the morning it is lucky; if in the evening it portends evil unless it stays to prevent it. In Scotland if a white cat enters the house it is regarded as a forerunner of sickness or trouble; if, however, a black cat enters it is regarded as a harbinger of good luck, and he who presumes to kill or drown the animal may expect ill luck for nine years.
The sneezing of a cat on a wedding day is said to be a fortunate omen for the bride. In Lancashire it is regarded as unlucky to allow a cat to die in the house; hence when they are ill they are usually drowned, which is certainly unlucky for the cats. It is likewise a Lancashire superstition that those who play with cats never enjoy good health. But the magnetism of the cat and her repose should have the most beneficial influence on human health. Another English country superstition is that black cats will bring lovers to a girl.
The rhyme goes as follows:. Natives sometimes eat cats and unscrupulous neighbours might steal a cat for a meal. Accordingly in the interest of the higher morality people remove this stumbling block from the path of their weaker brothers by docking their cats and keeping the severed portion in a secret place. If now a cat is stolen and eaten the lawful owner of the animal has it in his power to avenge the crime. He need only bury the piece of tail with certain spells in the ground and the thief will fall ill. If a South Slavonian has a mind to pilfer or steal at market, he has nothing to do but to burn a blind cat, and then throw a pinch of the ashes over the person with whom he is higgling; after that he can take what he likes from the booth, and the owner will be none the wiser, having become as blind as the dead cat with whose ashes he has been sprinkled.
In the United States Fanny Bergen has collected numberless examples of these curious superstitions concerning cats. In New England it is bad luck to kill a cat. In Pennsylvania it is believed that if a farmer kills a cat some of his stock will die. Cats of three colours bring luck in Canada, Washington, and Eastern Kansas. Japanese sailors share this superstition. In Eastern Kansas the possession of a tortoise-shell is a surety against fire.
In Massachussetts a double-pawed cat is a lucky omen but in New York a black and white cat is sure to bring sickness to the family. But to be followed by a black cat signifies good luck in New England and Eastern Kansas. In Eastern New England you are sure to quarrel with any one to whom you have presented a cat. In Alabama if a cat washes her face in front of several persons the first she looks at will be the first to get married.
In Eastern Kansas it is unlucky to move into a house where cats have been left by former occupants. Their owners should have killed the animals. In some parts of the United States it is considered bad luck to move a cat when the family moves; in other parts it is considered bad luck not to move the cat. In Ohio Hamilton County it is believed that a child who plays with a cat will become stupid. Cats go mad if allowed to eat too much meat or if they lie much before a fire, according to authorities who live in Brookline, Massachussetts.
13 Common (But Silly) Superstitions
The Negro superstitions concerning cats, connected as they are with ancient African voodoo worship and noxious paludal ceremonies, are extremely curious. Corrothers epitomizes the Negro felling about the animal. His health began to fail at once and he frequently disappeared for weeks at a time. During these periods the legend has it that he took feline form. Sailors are almost as superstitious as negroes about cats, but the superstition assumes a more favourable form. Evidence that the sailor loves puss may be gathered from the number of words used on board ship derived from the word cat.
The liveliness of a ship cat portends a wind and the drowning of a ship cat seems to be fatal for all on board as well as for the cat himself. Japanese sailors regard three-coloured cats black, white, and brown , as an excellent charm against spirits and are said to be unwilling to put to sea without one. It is possible that Dr. If any one dreams that he fought with a cat who scratched him sorely, that denotes some sickness or affliction. The brain of a cat, taken in small doses, has been used as a love potion. Ben Jonson in his Masque of Queens, makes a witch sing thus:. A nostrum for preserving the eyesight was to burn the head of a black cat to ashes and have a little dust blown into the eyes three times a day.
Possibly just here you may grin a little, sink comfortably into your chair, and reflect that the people of the United States are at least superior to such silly superstitions. No assumption could be more incorrect. It is possible that Americans do not entertain this legend but I can personally vouch for the fact that every boy I knew as a child in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, believed that a horse hair immersed in a tumbler of water would eventually turn into a snake. As for the wart cure, we learn through no less an authority than Mark Twain that such a belief existed along the banks of the Mississippi.
We no longer burn witches and we no longer, in groups, persecute cats.
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If she is no longer a god, at least she is still worshipped. But do not be mislead by these signs. We have forgotten the dark days but the cat remembers; the racial consciousness, the hereditary traits in cats are strong. And she will never forget her wild rides with witches, her appearances at the Sabbath, frequently attached to the belt of the pythoness, the use of her body as a casket for the soul of the sorceress, her persecution.
And today, for that reason, she is more in touch with what we call the supernatural than any other animal, including man. The lady became the victim of a helpless fascination, of paralysis of mobility and speech, while the cat, on the contrary, made frantic efforts to escape. In an attempt to discover the causes of certain phenomena John Silence visits a house at midnight, accompanied by a dog and a cat. He had, further, observed that while dogs were usually terrified in the presence of such phenomena, cats on the other hand were soothed and satisfied.
They welcomed manifestations as something belonging to their own region. The dog, an unusually courageous collie, was terrified beyond belief by the presence of the spirits and lay whimpering in a corner, finally, indeed, losing his sight. But the cat! The doctor alone in the darkened room, with a low fire, waited he knew not what.
But the washing, the doctor noted, was by no means its real purpose; it only used it to mask something else; it stopped at the most busy and furious moments and began to stare about the room. Its thoughts wandered absurdly. It peered intently at the curtains; at the shadowy corners; at empty space above; leaving its body in curiously awkward positions for whole minutes together. Something was patting him. He sat up with a jerk, and found himself staring into a pair of brilliant eyes, half green, half black.
The lamp had burned low and the fire was nearly out, yet Dr. Silence saw in a moment that the cat was in an excited state. It kneaded with its front paws into his chest, shifting from one to the other. He felt them prodding against him. It lifted a leg very carefully and patted his cheek gingerly. Its fur, he saw, was standing ridgewise upon its back; the ears were flattened back somewhat; the tail was switching sharply.
The cat, of course, had awakened him with a purpose. He had crept away to the corner of the wall farthest from the window, and lay watching the room with wide-open eyes, in which lurked plainly something of alarm. Its stiffened legs and arched back made it appear larger than usual, and the black visage wore a smile of beatific joy. Its eyes blazed magnificently; it was in an ecstasy. At the end of every few paces it turned sharply and stalked back again along the same line, padding softly, and purring like a roll of little muffled drums.
It behaved precisely as though it were rubbing against the ankles of some one who remained invisible. There rose in him quite a new realization of the mystery connected with the whole feline tribe, but especially with that common member of it, the domestic cat—their hidden lives, their strange aloofness, their incalculable subtlety. How utterly remote from anything that human beings understood lay the sources of their elusive activities.
As he watched the indescribable bearing of the little creature mincing along the strip of carpet under his eyes, coquetting with the powers of darkness, welcoming, maybe, some fearsome visitor, there stirred in his heart, a feeling strangely akin to awe. Its indifference to human kind, its serene superiority to the obvious, struck him forcibly with fresh meaning; so remote, so inaccessible seemed the secret purposes of its real life, so alien to the blundering honesty of other animals.
I do not remember that Hermes Trismegistus or Paracelsus mention the cat in their alchemystical formulae, but both of these philosophers sat at the feet of this animal, just as certainly as later alchemists often found the presence of grimalkin convenient or his body necessary in preparing some mixture for the arcane cauldron. Probably the sylphs, gnomes, undines, and salamanders of the Comte de Gabalis were really white, black, silver, and orange pussies. But I do not think a magic system of divination by cats, ailuromancy it would be called, has yet been evolved.
He keeps his secrets too closely to afford much aid to the hierophant. He recognizes Wotan in the storm and Katschei in the dark of the night. In the flames he sees Loge and Aphrodite rises for him on the waves of every sea. Eros haunts his rooftops and Diana directs his hunting expeditions. Sekhet and Pasht sit in the temples of his imagination.
All the gods, all the devils are his friends; he knows the fairies, the elves, and the kobolds, and stryge and vampires come when he calls. The rustling of the leaves tells him a story, warns him of a danger, and a flight of birds prophesies a fair day. The touch of a wall against his whisker presses a signal into his brain and the crackle of a dried fern under his padded paw is to him the threat of a black-handed camorra. He walks on the sea with Christ and on the clouds with Buddha.
He understands and salutes the pale petunia; the esoteric begonia is his brother.
The ithyphallic rites of Heliogabolus are as familiar to him as the cruel diversions of Gille de Retz. Far from being the apprentice of the Wizard, he is more often the Master. Note 1. In this picture, while the beautiful grace and ample hair of Lilith are shown, instead of the usual female breast she has the body of a cat. II, p. Note 3. But Professor W. Note 4. The actual body was of course best; second best was an image of it made in some lasting substance. Hence arose mummification to preserve the body, and portrait sculpture to replace it if destroyed. In later times a wealthy Egyptian was often buried with no less than some hundreds of little images in the shape of a mummy, ticketed with his name, besides one or more really fine portrait statues of him.
Such statues were called Ka statues. If the mummy were destroyed the Ka could still be kept in existence by means of them. The mummy might be enclosed in a bronze box with a bronze Ka statue of the cat seated on the top. Even finer burial might await a particularly grand cat. Many of them were of carven wood, remarkably lifelike affairs, the form and even the individuality and expression being remarkably preserved. There are several excellent examples of cat mummies, wound in linen of two colours, Ka statues in bronze and faience, and bronze enclosing boxes in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Note 5. Sir George Lewis thought he had proved that there were no cats in Athens, but a vase of the best period represents a cat chasing mice. Note 6. Note 7. Note 8. Note 9. Note The night of the day I first learned of the Taigheirm I dined with some friends who were also entertaining Seumas, Chief of Clann Fhearghuis of Stra-chur, who informed me that to the best of his knowledge the Taigheirm is still celebrated in the Highlands of Scotland.
These examples are from Fanny D. In a poem by Susan K. Phillips, the following lines occur:. Destroyer Salmon, that vessel was lying alongside of H. Upon the former vessel dwelt two cats, the special pets of the crew, and who had never been known to show the slightest inclination to leave the ship. But on this particular morning in spite of being chased by the crew and worried by the dogs, the cats never faltered in their determination to get off the Salmon and on to the Sturgeon.
And when the first-named destroyer had weighed anchor for what was to prove the disastrous voyage, the cats made one last spring as the vessels separated, and landed on the deck of H. There is really no panacea, mystical, moral, political, or physical, that Americans will not believe in. Dyer, an eminent physician of Chicago, Illinois, told me that a case occurred in that city within his personal knowledge, where the body of a woman who had died of consumption was taken out of the grave and the lungs burned, under the belief that she was drawing after her in the grave some of her surviving relatives.
William Rose dug up the body of his own daughter and burned her heart, under the belief that she was wasting away the lives of other members of his family. In her book, already alluded to, Fanny Bergen gives a long list of examples of cat remedy superstitions which are credited in various parts of the United States.
In Somerset County, Maine, the blood of a black cat is used to cure shingles. Life suddenly seems to have more promise for the husband and wife—the days have more light and color. She has never quite fit in at school or at home. But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Stop at the one traffic light in town, and everything looks normal.
It should have been the perfect new home—a virgin wilderness full of new species of every sort, just waiting to be discovered. Yet Stephanie is a young woman determined to make discoveries, and the biggest one of all awaits her: an intelligent alien species. Lovecraft in June In the tale, an unnamed narrator relates the story of how a law forbidding the killing of cats came to be in a town called Ulthar. This is where it all begins—with the tourist Twoflower and his wizard guide, Rincewind.
For one thing, he can talk. And the instant he tells this to Jason, the two of them are in ancient Egypt, on the first of nine amazing adventures that Jason will never forget. All are essential to the well-staffed space vessel. Since the early days of interstellar travel, when Tuxedo Thomas, a Maine coon cat, showed what a cat could do for a ship and its crew, the so-called Barque Cats have become highly prized crew members. The legend was born.
So when the Chicago P. Takes a wizard to catch a—well, whatever. Business, to put it mildly, stinks. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French. All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative—the very opposite of Mr.
Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr. Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr. Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all.
The Island of Dr. When the Creeds move into a beautiful old house in rural Maine, it all seems too good to be true: physician father, beautiful wife, charming little daughter, adorable infant son—and now an idyllic home. But the nearby woods hide a blood-chilling truth—more terrifying than death itself…and hideously more powerful.
The tale centers around a black cat and the subsequent deterioration of a man. Something that gave every man, woman, and child in town powers far beyond ordinary mortals. Something that turned the town into a death trap for all outsiders. Something that came from a metal object, buried for millennia, that Bobbi accidentally stumbled across. It was more like a diabolical takeover…an invasion of body and soul—and mind…. A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well.
Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating—and then terrifying—journey. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment. The old brownstone apartment she simply had to have. The grotesque blind priest who watched down on her day and night from an upper-story window.
The pair of perverted creatures who wanted her to join their circle. The mad little old man who gave her tea and sympathy.
The cool, calculating, supremely rational lover who first mocked her fears. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.
This unlikely team discovers a vein of nearly unfathomable iniquity running through the Vanger family, astonishing corruption in the highest echelons of Swedish industrialism—and an unexpected connection between themselves. Or does she? Long left vacant, Mrs. North decides it is just the place for a party and takes her husband up to check it out. They open a door—and find a murdered man in the bathtub!
With no clue, not even the identity of the corpse, nothing to start from but the Norths and their black cat Pete, Detective Weigand begins spinning his web and gathering into it the most amazing conglomeration of information. With the aid of Mrs. While Temple and Midnight Louie are on the case, the famous publishing mascots, a pair of Scottish Fold library cats named Baker and Taylor, are kidnapped for ransom.
The pair must sniff out a murderer before Murder by the Book describes their fates. He offers the newcomer a tiny apartment in his building at a nominal rent, and Qwilleran grabs it, surmising the deal will involve lots of cat-sitting.
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Meanwhile, a gallery whose artists get happier treatment from Mountclemens is owned by Earl Lambreth. She spends her day drinking wine maybe too much , watching old movies, recalling happier times—and spying on her neighbors. Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, and their teenage son. The perfect family. What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems. Like her mother, she is gifted in blood magic, able to read what has happened to a person through a mere taste of blood.
Toby is the only changeling who has earned knighthood, and she re-earns that position every day, undertaking assignments for her liege, Sylvester, the Duke of the Shadowed Hills. It seems like a simple enough assignment—but when dealing with the realm of Faerie nothing is ever as simple as it seems. But diabolical forces are at work when an unknown tomb reveals a shocking murder—and the Peabody family dodges bullets from an assassin determined to put an end to their discoveries.
First the large, powerful feline discovers that, through some strange, inexplicable phenomenon, he now has the ability to understand human language. Then he discovers he can speak it as well! Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. But the runt of the litter was irresistible, with her overlarge ears and dainty chin.