When Millie went to visit Grandmother Twiddleby the other day, she found a tiger sitting on the couch in the parlor.
“There’s a tiger on your couch,” Millie remarked after she had given Grandmother Twiddleby her usual greeting.
“That’s Montgomery,” said Grandmother Twiddleby. “He likes it there. I don’t mind him getting up on the furniture as long as he doesn’t make a mess.”
“But where did you get a tiger?” Millie asked. “And why?”
“Oh, he just showed up last Saturday. He looked so hungry that I just couldn’t turn him away. And he’s very useful around the house. He helps out with dusting the bric-a-brac.”
“But doesn’t it take a lot to feed a tiger?” Millie asked, while she watched the tiger licking his paws.
“I just feed him a few slices of salami, and a bit of tuna, and some nice cheese, and your Uncle Bartram, and some dry cat food for snacks.”
“Uncle Bartram?” Millie asked.
“I beg your pardon?”
“Did you say he ate Uncle Bartram?”
“I don’t think so,” Grandmother Twiddleby replied. “You must have misheard me.” But there was something about the way she said it that made Millie suspicious.
“Grandmother,” she said gravely, “has that tiger been taking advantage of your generosity?”
“You know what we’ve told you about letting people take advantage of you.”
“Really, I don’t mind,” Grandmother Twiddleby said, glancing at the tiger.
Millie had heard quite enough. She turned to the tiger with her sternest face on, and told him, “You should be ashamed of yourself, Montgomery, taking advantage of a poor little old lady like that.”
The tiger looked away, but Millie would have none of that.
“You look at me when I’m talking to you,” she told him sharply, and the tiger turned back with his head lowered in shame.
“Now, I want you to let Uncle Bartram out this instant,” Millie said.
So the tiger opened his mouth, and out came Uncle Bartram, and Mrs. McWhirter from down the street, and the postman, and the mayor, and the woman who came to read the gas meter, and a well-known conservationist who had been missing for some time, and the Harrisons’ dog, and a cashier from the IGA store, and two sixth-graders from Mother of Sorrows Elementary School, and a 1996 Plymouth Neon, and Vice-President Biden, and the plumber, and a streetcar motorman, and Wole Soyinka, and the Modernaires, and the paperboy, and King Harald V of Norway, and the girl who was selling band candy, and Manfred Honeck, and Governor Corbett, and the 82nd Airborne Division, and a can of tuna.
“That’s better,” Millie said. “And I don’t want to hear anything more about you taking advantage of my grandmother’s hospitality, or we won’t let you stay here anymore.”
So Grandmother Twiddleby thanked Millie very much, and Millie left for the day, and Montgomery went back to licking his paws. Since then Grandmother Twiddleby and her tiger have been very happy together. Now Montgomery is a reformed character who eats nothing but door-to-door alarm salesmen, and he is very popular around the neighborhood.