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The King of the Cats

The CBS Radio Workshop

The King of the Cats

Nov 25 1956



CAST:

ANNOUNCER

TOMMY CULVERIN

AUNT EMILY CULVERIN, obnoxious society lady

PRINCESS VIVRANKA, delicate, shy, and soft-spoken

MRS. DANDRIDGE, society lady

PROFESSOR FAIRWEATHER, bookish

LUDWIG, German accent (1 line)

TIBAULT, (tee-boh) French accent

and various CROWDS (concert audience, party guests)




ANNOUNCER: From Hollywood, THE CBS RADIO WORKSHOP.


SOUND: ANGRY CAT MEOWS


TOMMY: Sssss! Scat!


SOUND: CAT MEOWS AND FADES OUT


TOMMY: (NARRATES) The world's divided into two kinds of people: ailurophobes and ailurophiles -- cat haters and cat lovers. There's no in-between. The man is yet to be born who can take cats or leave them alone. Either you love them or you hate them. I hate them. And even if you're a sweet old lady who lives all alone with thirteen pussies, I'm sure you won't think too ill of me when you hear what the King of the Cats did to me.


SOUND: ANGRY CAT MEOWS


TOMMY: Sssss! Scat, you black fiend!


SOUND: CAT MEOWS AND FADES OUT


ANNOUNCER: THE CBS RADIO WORKSHOP -- dedicated to man's imagination, the theater of the mind -- presents "The King of the Cats" by Stephen Vincent Benét, adapted for radio and directed and produced in Hollywood by William N. Robson.


MUSIC: INTRODUCTION ... QUOTES PROKOFIEV'S "THE CAT" FROM "PETER AND THE WOLF" ... THEN BEHIND TOMMY--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) If I hadn't been so young, I suppose I could have taken it in stride. Of course, I didn't think I was young. I was two years out of Yale and I thought I knew all the answers. Certainly I knew I was in love.


MUSIC: WARM TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND TOMMY--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) They say the most beautiful women in the world are Eurasian, and they're right. Vivranka's skin was like golden velvet; her long straight hair, ebony in the moonlight; and her eyes, blue as a field of larkspur, fathomless as the center of heaven. Her mother had been an American missionary; her father Siamese -- and undoubtedly a prince, my Aunt Emily insisted. Ordinarily, Aunt Emily wouldn't have approved of Vivranka, but this was the year that "The King and I" was a sellout at the St. James Theatre, so a hostess who could decorate her dinner table with a breathlessly beautiful Siamese princess was definitely a hostess with the mostes'. At least, Aunt Emily always addressed her as "princess" and Vivranka always replied to the title.


EMILY: My dear, dear princess! How sweet of you to drop in! And, Tommy, how nice you could get away from the office early! Lemon or cream, princess?


VIVRANKA: (SHYLY) Neither, Mrs. Culverin. And - no sugar.


EMILY: Oh, of course, my dear. How stupid of me to forget. Here you are.


VIVRANKA: Thank you.


EMILY: Tommy?


TOMMY: I'll get myself a highball, if you don't mind.


EMILY: No, dear. Go right ahead. (INTRODUCTIONS) I believe you know everyone, princess. Mrs. Dandridge. 


MRS. D: Yes, of course.


VIVRANKA: Hello.


EMILY: Mrs. Stanford. 


VIVRANKA: How are you?


EMILY: Professor Fairweather.


PROF: (CHUCKLES) Indeed.


EMILY: Mrs. Dandridge has been telling us about the most fascinating man, my dear -- a symphony conductor with a tail.


VIVRANKA: A tail? How interesting.


EMILY: I still can't believe it!


MRS. D: I saw it myself. Twice. First, in Paris and then again at the Teatro Reale in Rome. He conducted the Beethoven Pastorale and, my dear, you've never heard such effects from an orchestra. You see, he conducted with it.


EMILY: With his tail? Oh, no!


MRS. D: Oh, yes! And such a charming person -- so urbane, so utterly fascinating.


EMILY: I should imagine. I would love to meet him!


MRS. D: And you shall, my dear. I'll see to it when he arrives.


EMILY: Oh, he's coming over?


MRS. D: Yes. Yes, the New Symphony people have invited him to be guest-conductor for three concerts. He'll be very busy, of course, but he's promised to give me what time he can spare.


EMILY: Oh, that's sweet of you, dear, but you mustn't wear yourself out. The rest of us must do our part, too. I'll be only too glad to help entertain him.


MRS. D: Oh, now, that won't be necessary. I'm just going to give Monsieur Tibault-- Sweet name, isn't it? Felix Tibault. I'm just going to show him the simplest of times -- a little reception for a hundred or so after his first concert, perhaps. He - he hates large, mixed parties, on account of his little - idiosyncrasy. It makes him feel a trifle shy of strangers.


TOMMY: (WITH CONTEMPT) I should think it would. To say nothing of his friends and acquaintances. Er, Vivranka my dear, how would you like to go out nightclubbing with a jerk with a tail?


VIVRANKA: (BEAT, THOUGHTFUL) It might be interesting.


TOMMY: Huh?


MRS. D: (STERNLY) He is not a jerk, Tommy. He is one of the finest conductors in Europe. 


TOMMY: Sounds to me like he's the smartest showman since P. T. Barnum. What do you think, Professor?


PROF: (CLEARS THROAT) Well, I shall be interested to see this Monsieur Tibault myself. In the Middle Ages, there was a widespread belief in homo caudatus, or men with tails, but I know of no authenticated case. Of course, we all have tails, in a manner of speaking.


EMILY: What?!


PROF: Oh, vestigial, of course. But the last few vertebrae of anyone's spine -- the coccyx -- is the evidence of a concealed and rudimentary tail. I daresay it might be possible, in an extraordinary case, that the throwback -- a reversion to type--


EMILY: (INTERRUPTS) How fascinating! I never realized that I-- Well, I think it'd be fun to get together a box for the first concert -- all of us!


MRS. D: Well, I'm afraid I shall have my own box party. But, of course, you'll come on to the reception later at my place.


EMILY: Why, thank you, my dear. Then there'll be the professor, and the princess and Tommy--


TOMMY: Er, count us out, Aunt Emily. When Vivranka and I want to see freaks, we'll go to the circus.


VIVRANKA: I shall be very pleased to attend the concert, Mrs. Culverin.


EMILY: (LAUGHS) Splendid, my dear!


TOMMY: (SURPRISED DISMAY) But, Vivranka--?


EMILY: (TO VIVRANKA) Is there anyone you'd like me to ask to replace Tommy?


TOMMY: But, Aunt Emily--!


VIVRANKA: It doesn't make any difference. (CHUCKLES SHYLY) I'm only interested in meeting this wonderful Monsieur Felix Tibault.


TOMMY: But, Vivranka--!


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BRIEFLY BEHIND TOMMY ... ORCHESTRA STARTS TUNING UP AT [X]


TOMMY: (NARRATES, UNHAPPILY) I went to the concert. What else could I do? We took our seats in the box as the orchestra took theirs onstage and began their aimless squeakings and tootings; [X] those caterwaulings, which I must confess, make about as much sense to me as the music that follows. Aunt Emily was in a dither of fluttery expectation. Professor Fairweather had lost much of his scientific detachment. And Vivranka -- gorgeous Vivranka -- sat beside me silent, but so tense I could almost feel her breathless expectation. And I didn't like it at all.


MUSIC: ORCHESTRA GROWS SILENT WITH--


SOUND: CONCERT AUDIENCE APPLAUDS


TOMMY: (NARRATES) And then Monsieur Tibault walked onstage -- a lithe, dark-haired man with piercing eyes like a black panther, his head weaving the way the big cats' do when they're behind bars.


SOUND: APPLAUSE DIES OUT ... AUDIENCE GASPS AND MURMURS IN BG--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) It was true! They hadn't lied! From beneath the tails of his dress-coat curled a third -- a living tail! -- which he carried nonchalantly, draped over his wrist. He acknowledged the presence of the audience with a regal bow. And then that incredible tail twined with dainty carelessness around a black baton on the podium. While he remained facing the audience, the tail rapped three times [Y] upon the podium for the orchestra's attention and then raised for the downbeat.


SOUND: DURING ABOVE AT [Y], THREE RAPS OF BATON ... AUDIENCE GROWS QUIET BEHIND-- 


TOMMY: (NARRATES) At this horrible moment, I glanced at Vivranka. Her whole body was rigid as steel and the blue flowers of her eyes were bent upon Monsieur Tibault in terrible concentration. She took my hand in hers and her long red fingernails felt like a claw as the hideous tail of that monster onstage lashed into the downbeat of "Night on Bald Mountain."


MUSIC: ORCHESTRA PLAYS OPENING OF MUSSORGSKY'S "NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN" ... THEN IN BG


TOMMY: (NARRATES) Never before had a New Symphony orchestra played so superbly, and certainly never had it been led with such a genius. Freak, showman, poseur -- whatever else Monsieur Tibault might have been, he was certainly a great conductor. No man's hands and arms, no matter how dexterous or eloquent, ever equaled the delicate élan and powerful grace of Monsieur Tibault's tail. A sable staff, it dominated the brasses like a flicker of black lightning; an ebon, elusive whip, it drew the last exquisite breath of melody from the woodwinds and ruled the stormy strings like a magician's wand. 


MUSIC: UP, FOR THE CLIMAX OF "NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN" ... THEN OUT


SOUND: ENTHUSIASTIC AUDIENCE CHEERS AND APPLAUDS ... THEN IN BG


TOMMY: (NARRATES) That's the way it went through the Bach Passacaglia, through the Afternoon of a Faun, through the Beethoven Ninth. New York music lovers had never heard anything like it before. And New York music lovers never behaved quite like this before. As Monsieur Tibault finally glided from the stage after his fifteenth bow, the president of the Wednesday Sonata Club had to be forcibly restrained by her husband from flinging her ninety-thousand-dollar string of pearls after the maestro in an excess of aesthetic appreciation. 


SOUND: AUDIENCE SUBSIDES TO A MURMUR ... THEN IN BG


TOMMY: (NARRATES) And as we shouldered our way through the hysterical mob toward the waiting limousines, I distinctly heard Ludwig Willems, conductor of the Mid-Century Philharmonic, say to Dr. Friedrich Lascar, the great plastic surgeon--


LUDWIG: (GERMAN ACCENT) But it must be possible, doctor! Think of the miracles they have accomplished in Denmark! There's ten thousand dollars in it for you, doctor, if only you can find a way to graft a tail onto me.


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... QUOTES PROKOFIEV'S "THE CAT" ... THEN BEHIND TOMMY--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) But through all the hysteria, Vivranka remained silent, self-possessed. Her azure eyes fathomless as the center of heaven. She was silent as we drove to Mrs. Dandridge's party in Aunt Emily's limousine. But this was not too remarkable because Aunt Emily never stopped raving about Monsieur Tibault.


SOUND: LIMO INTERIOR BACKGROUND


EMILY: (ORGASMIC) But aside from the heavenly music, my dear, the man himself! Such elegance, such poise, such mmmmmmmmmhhhhhhh! I tell you, Tommy, if your Uncle Henry weren't still around, and I was a few years younger--! Well, tail and all--


MUSIC: TRANSITION ... THEN BEHIND TOMMY--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) Our hostess, Mrs. Dandridge, looked like the cat who had swallowed the canary, having trapped the social lion of the season -- if I may be permitted to scramble a metaphor. Let Aunt Emily have her Siamese princess; Dolly Dandridge had the world's greatest conductor, complete with tail.


SOUND: DURING ABOVE, FADE IN PARTY BACKGROUND ... MURMUR OF GUESTS, ET CETERA


MRS. D: And this, dear Monsieur Tibault, is my dearest friend. Emily, may I present Monsieur Tibault? Monsieur Tibault, Mrs. Henry Culverin.


TIBAULT: (SMOOTH, SLIGHTLY BORED) Enchanté, Madame Culverin.


EMILY: (FLUTTERY) Oh, Monsieur Tibault! It is an honor to meet you! I am overcome!


TIBAULT: Yes, yes. Thank you much, Madame.


EMILY: I feel I should be on bended knee.


TIBAULT: It is not necessary.


EMILY: Oh, I should kiss your hand!


TIBAULT: You are too kind, no?


EMILY: Oh, I must!


TIBAULT: No, no. Please, Madame--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) He stopped trying to stop Aunt Emily from making a fool of herself. He had seen Vivranka. The end of his tail -- just the very end -- twitched turgidly, and he seemed to be at her side in a bound rather than a step. It was foolish and superfluous for Mrs. Dandridge to do the honors.


EMILY: Princess, may I present Monsieur Tibault? Monsieur, Princess Vivranka.


VIVRANKA: (BEAT, DEEPLY FELT) Maestro.


TIBAULT: (BEAT, ENTRANCED) Prin-cesssssss.


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND TOMMY--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) They exchanged no more words. Monsieur Tibault presented his arm to the princess. She linked hers in his. And his infernal tail switched from his right arm to his left, to come to rest across Vivranka's wrist. Thus, like royalty, they made their way across the room -- the guests parting to make a path for their regal progress.


SOUND: PARTY BACKGROUND ... MURMUR OF GUESTS, ET CETERA


EMILY: Now, Tommy, you mustn't take it so hard. After all, the princess is an awfully sweet child, but she isn't exactly our kind.


TOMMY: (ANNOYED) And I suppose she's his.


EMILY: She seems to be. Look at them. So darlingly foreign, both of them.


TOMMY: Yeah, aren't they? Out of this world.


MUSIC: ACCENT ... THEN BEHIND TOMMY--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) And they were! I didn't realize it until I'd said it. They were, somehow, out of this world. They didn't walk across the room; they glided. That tail-coated maestro with his third tail so insiduously ubiquitous and the princess' hips swaying in the golden-threaded silken sheath of her skirt -- a bas relief from Angkor Wat suddenly breathing life!


MUSIC: BRIEF TRANSITION THAT EVOKES COMIC FRUSTRATION ... QUOTES PROKOFIEV'S "THE CAT" ... THEN BEHIND TOMMY--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) She never left his side for the rest of the evening. I didn't like it. I didn't like it a bit. But there was nothing I could do about it. After all, one can't very well make a scene, especially with the guest of honor. But Professor Fairweather, detached man of science, was bound by no such restrictive codes.


SOUND: PARTY BACKGROUND ... MURMUR OF GUESTS, ET CETERA


PROF: Extraordinary. Simply extraordinary.


TOMMY: (DISGRUNTLED) I think it stinks.


PROF: What? What's that, Tommy? What stinks?


TOMMY: The way Vivranka's acting.


PROF: (CHUCKLES DISMISSIVELY) Nothing extraordinary about that. Her behavior's quite normal, I should say. No, it's the tail; it's extraordinary.


TOMMY: Yeah. Where'd he be without it?


PROF: Where indeed? And what?


TOMMY: Just another foreigner with a "kiss your hand, Madame" accent. They're a dime a dozen.


PROF: (DRY) Yes, the tailless ones. (WITH INTEREST) Oh-oh, the princess has joined the other ladies for a moment. It's my opportunity.


TOMMY: For what?


PROF: A word with Monsieur Tibault.


TOMMY: I'd like several words with him.


PROF: (CALLS) Oh, Monsieur Tibault! Monsieur Tibault!


TIBAULT: (APPROACHES, POLITE) Ah, Professor Fairweather.


PROF: Yes, yes, yes. May I speak to you a moment?


TIBAULT: But of course.


PROF: You know Tommy Culverin, I believe.


TIBAULT: I don't think I've had the pleasure. You are the lovely Mrs. Culverin's son?


TOMMY: No, her nephew.


TIBAULT: How interesting.


TOMMY: (POINTEDLY) And Princess Vivranka's friend. We're practically engaged.


TIBAULT: Congratulations.


TOMMY: I thought you ought to know.


TIBAULT: Indeed, yes. I am honored by your confidence. (BEAT) Now, Professor--?


PROF: Yes. Monsieur Tibault, I speak to you as a man of science.


TIBAULT: Yes?


PROF: A true specimen of homo caudatus has been unknown to modern science until now.


TIBAULT: Homo caudatus?


PROF: Yes, a man with a tail.


TIBAULT: (BEAT, HIGHLY OFFENDED) What?!


PROF: Come now, Professor, it's nothing to be sensitive about. My interest is purely impersonal.


TIBAULT: Your interest?!


PROF: Yes, purely scientific. It wouldn't take much of your time -- a morning or an afternoon, perhaps; no more. 


TIBAULT: What would not take much time?!


PROF: An examination, and measurements, X-rays, and--


TIBAULT: An examination?! Measurements of what?!


PROF: Your tail.


SOUND: PARTY GUESTS GROW SILENT BEHIND--


TIBAULT: (BEAT, THEN EXPLODES, CURSING LOUDLY AND VIOLENTLY IN FRENCH, CONTINUES IN BG)


PROF: But, Monsieur Tibault, you ought--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) Monsieur Tibault's tail lashed stingingly across the professor's face, cutting off his last words. Then the conductor turned and stalked out of the room, growling and spitting in his anger.


TIBAULT: (MOVING OFF, STILL CURSING WILDLY, FADES OUT)


TOMMY: (NARRATES) Without even bothering to retrieve his hat and coat, he kept right on through the foyer and on out into the chilly night.


PROF: (DISMAYED) Oh, dear.


TOMMY: (LAUGHS HEARTILY, PLEASED) Wonderful, Professor! Wonderful! I can't thank you enough.


PROF: Oh, for what, Tommy?


TOMMY: For getting rid of him.


PROF: But I wasn't trying to get rid of him!


TOMMY: I know, but you did! And that's all that counts.


MUSIC: QUOTES PROKOFIEV'S "THE CAT" ... IN AND BEHIND TOMMY--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) Only he didn't. Aunt Emily realized at once that Mrs. Dandridge had lost her catch -- for certainly Monsieur Tibault would never again enter the house where he had been insulted -- and Aunt Emily moved with the speed of an aggressor nation. Within three days, Monsieur Tibault had accepted her invitation to be a houseguest and had moved in, bag and baggage.


MUSIC: GRANDIOSE TRANSITION ... QUOTES PROKOFIEV'S "THE CAT" ... THEN BEHIND TOMMY--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) Now there was no escaping my tailed nemesis. And now it took no urging upon Vivranka to visit Aunt Emily. She wanted to be there. She preferred being there to any entertainment I could offer her. But there was one ray of hope. Tibault was committed to a long concert tour, all the way to the coast. And with him out of the way, I felt sure I could mend the fences he had torn down. The day before the farewell dinner Aunt Emily was giving him, I dropped by after work to find my aunt in more than her usual dither.


EMILY: Oh, Tommy, isn't it just too, too exciting?


TOMMY: I don't know, Aunt Emily, until I find out what "it" is.


EMILY: Why, Monsieur Tibault and the princess, of course! 


TOMMY: What about them?


EMILY: They're in love!


TOMMY: This scarcely strikes me as news.


EMILY: And they're going to be married.


TOMMY: Oh, no!


EMILY: Oh, yes! I'm going to make the announcement at the dinner party tomorrow night.


TOMMY: Aunt Emily, how can you do this to me?


EMILY: I didn't do it to you. Anyway, you must face this like a man. You know, you must find some nice homey girl like that Gretchen Woolwine from Chicago; you used to like her.


TOMMY: I was younger then, Aunt Emily. And that was before I knew Vivranka.


EMILY: Well, my dear, I'm afraid you've lost your princess. "C'est la vie! C'est l'amour," as I always say.


TOMMY: Where is Vivranka? Is she here?


EMILY: Oh, my, yes. She's in the library -- with Monsieur Tibault.


TOMMY: Naturally.


EMILY: Now, don't disturb them, dear. I'm sure they want to be alone.


TOMMY: Naturally!


MUSIC: FOR SNEAKING DOWN THE HALL ... IN AND BEHIND TOMMY--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) The hard knot in the pit of my stomach grew and grew. Finally, when Aunt Emily chattered off to change for dinner, I slipped down the hall toward the library. I couldn't hear voices and the room was dark. I was about to flick on the light switch when I heard a strange sound.


SOUND: TIBAULT AND VIVRANKA PURRING HEAVILY LIKE DROWSY CATS ... THEN IN BG


TOMMY: (NARRATES) And then I saw them silhouetted in the dying light of the fire. Tibault was seated in a chair and Vivranka crouched on a stool at his side while his hand softly, smoothly, stroked her dark hair. And all I could think of was "black cat and Siamese kitten." And then I realized what the sound was. They weren't talking to each other. No. They were purring to each other.


MUSIC: ACCENT ... AND OUT


TOMMY: (UPSET) But, Professor Fairweather, what am I gonna do?!


PROF: Now, Tommy, you must get hold of yourself. This whole thing has disturbed you to the point of hallucination.


TOMMY: Nonsense, Professor. I heard them! I tell you, I heard them purring!


PROF: Fantasy! Sheer fantasy. Just because the man does have a tail, you're imagining--


TOMMY: I'm positive he's a cat.


PROF: And you cannot stand the thought of Vivranka marrying--


TOMMY: I can't stand the thought of her marrying anyone. But a cat! It's monstrous! What am I going to do, Professor?


PROF: Well, you might have the S.P.C.A. pick him up.


TOMMY: (EXASPERATED) Oh, please, Professor!


PROF: (CHUCKLES) Oh, I'm sorry, Tommy. I know you're serious. (GETS AN IDEA, AMUSED) Wait a minute! I just thought of something. (LAUGHS) Oh, no -- it's too ridiculous!


TOMMY: What? Tell me; what?


PROF: Oh, Tommy, you're a bad influence. You're leading my reason from the narrow path of scientific method to the doubtful fields of the supernatural.


TOMMY: What are you talking about?


PROF: (CHUCKLES) Well, I was thinking of a story I read once. Oh, it's turned up in one form or another in the folklore of every land on Earth, I suppose. It has to do with a traveler - who saw within a ruined abbey, a procession of cats, lowering into a grave a little coffin with a tiny crown on it. Filled with horror, the traveler hastened away from the place, and when he reached his destination, he couldn't help telling his host of the strange ritual he had seen. Well, scarcely had he finished when the host's cat, who'd been lying in front of the fire, leapt to its feet and cried out, "Then I am King of the Cats!" and disappeared in a flash up the chimney.


TOMMY: (PUZZLED) So?


PROF: Well, proceeding upon your premise that Monsieur Tibault is a cat, you will grant that he's a very extraordinary cat -- a cat who could presumably one day be King of the Cats--


TOMMY: (BEAT, REALIZES) Of course. Of course. Yes, it might work. I'll pull it on him tomorrow night at Aunt Emily's dinner party. Only--


PROF: Only what?


TOMMY: Well, he won't buy that "ruined abbey" part.


PROF: Well, then use your imagination! Um, make it Central Park.


TOMMY: Sure! Sure, why not? Bring the story up to date. (REHEARSES) "A funny thing happened today on my way up from the office--"


MUSIC: SCHEMING TRANSITION ... QUOTES PROKOFIEV'S "THE CAT" ... THEN BEHIND TOMMY--


TOMMY: (NARRATES) Aunt Emily outdid herself. Her dinner-table was a poem of spring flowers, gold plate, the purest white linen, the candles fluttering ever so little in the warm night breeze that came through the open French doors. Time and again through the first three courses, I tried to get into the stream of conversation, but when Aunt Emily's on, this is practically impossible. Tibault and Vivranka, seated on either side of her, were oblivious of everything. They ate little and never took their eyes off each other. Finally, the plates were being taken away and I knew Aunt Emily was going to make her announcement during the dessert course. I just had to get my two cents' worth in first.


EMILY: (LAUGHS) I will never forget that summer! Eden Rock was never gayer, and after the duke and the duchess arrived-- Well--!


TOMMY: (INTERRUPTS AWKWARDLY) Uh, a funny thing happened on my way up from the office this evening--


EMILY: (ANNOYED) Tommy, I was about to tell--


TOMMY: (PRESSES ON QUICKLY) A funny thing happened on my way up from the office this evening. I was taking a shortcut across Central Park when I came upon the darnedest thing. In a little clump of bushes I saw a procession of cats -- oh, six or eight of them -- and they were carrying a little coffin toward a tiny open grave, and on the coffin was an exquisite little golden crown-- Now, isn't that the strangest thing?! (NO ANSWER, NARRATES SLOWLY AND QUIETLY) Silence. The guests looked at me as though I were quite mad. That is, all except Tibault and Vivranka. Tibault looked at me, the end of his tail flicking above the edge of the table -- and Vivranka looked at Tibault, the way she had that night at the concert: tense, breathless, her eyes blue-flame. At last, Aunt Emily spoke.


EMILY: (COOLLY) Well, Tommy? Are you quite finished?


TOMMY: (DEFLATED) Er, yes, Aunt Emily. That's - that's all I had to say.


EMILY: I should hope so. (RESUMES HER STORY) Well, that summer, when the duke and duchess came down--


TIBAULT: (INTERRUPTS) Excuse me, Mrs. Culverin.


EMILY: (OBSEQUIOUSLY) Oh, of course, Maestro.


TIBAULT: (TENSE BUT RESTRAINED AND POLITE) Tommy? You are quite positive of what you saw this evening?


TOMMY: Oh, yes. Yes, you don't go around making up things like that.


TIBAULT: No, of course not. Yet one must be sure of the details. Now, there was a crown on the coffin, you say?


TOMMY: That's right.


TIBAULT: A golden crown?


TOMMY: Yes.


TIBAULT: With tiny pearls on it?


TOMMY: That's right.


TIBAULT: You're absolutely sure?


TOMMY: Absolutely.


TIBAULT: (BEAT, THEN A LOUD, ECSTATIC BELLOW) Then I am King of the Cats! (MEOWS EXTRAVAGANTLY ... THEN LEAPS OUT THE WINDOW BEHIND--)


TOMMY: (NARRATES, QUICKLY) He leapt to his feet from his chair to the table and in one bound disappeared through the open French window. And an instant later Vivranka followed. 


SOUND: VIVRANKA HOWLS LIKE A CAT ... THEN LEAPS OUT THE WINDOW ... SHE AND TIBAULT CONTINUE TO HOWL AND MEOW EXCITEDLY, IN BG


TOMMY: (NARRATES, QUICKLY) As she disappeared from the balcony to the alley below, I caught just a glimpse of something protruding beneath her silken-sheathed skirt. (STUNNED, SLOWLY) It was a black-tipped golden tail.


SOUND: MEWLING OF VIVRANKA AND TIBAULT UP AND OUT AS THEY DEPART


TOMMY: (BEAT, NARRATES) And that's why I have become an ailurophobe -- a cat hater. So is my wife Gretchen. Er, we were married shortly afterwards. But then Gretchen never did like cats in the first place -- especially Siamese cats.


MUSIC: COMICAL JAUNTY CURTAIN ... QUOTES PROKOFIEV'S "THE CAT"


ANNOUNCER: From Hollywood, THE CBS RADIO WORKSHOP has presented "The King of the Cats" by Stephen Vincent Benét, with Byron Kane as Tommy. Music arranged and conducted by Amerigo Moreno. Included in the cast were Jeanette Nolan, Helen Kleeb, Peggy Webber, Joe Kearns, and Jay Novello.


MUSIC: LIGHT CLASSICAL ... IN BG, UNTIL END--


ANNOUNCER: Next week, from New York, the Workshop will present a psychological study of the do-it-yourself movement, "The Day the Roof Fell In" by Charles S. Monroe. SUSPENSE, Radio's Outstanding Theatre of Thrills, follows over most of these stations with a chilling story of "The Man Who Stole the Bible." For a half-hour of breathless terror, stay tuned to this frequency. You won't regret it.

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