Characteristics of Samuel J. May continued:
"A STRANGE REQUEST
Mr. May was so brotherly towards all his fellow-men that the humblest persons felt perfectly sure of his sympathy, and approached him with such faith and freedom as are seldom inspired.
He befriended a poor woman and her daughter. The latter was an invalid, and, while her mother was away at her work, she enjoyed the companionship of a fine cat. One day Mr. May was told that these persons had called upon him. He found them in the parlor. The mother had a basket which contained something that was nicely covered with a white towel. Mr. May's first thought was that they had brought him some gift; but he soon noticed that they were very sad. When he asked what troubled them, they burst into tears, and told him that boys in their neighborhood had set dogs on the cat, and it had been worried to death. Mr. May expressed his regret. Then the mother said that the cat's body was in the basket, and they had brought it there to see if it could be buried in Mr. May's premises. They did not own their house-lot, and they feared that if the cat should be buried there it would be dug up by the dogs. " We should not think of asking such a favor of anybody else; but we thought that, perhaps, you would do it for us." Amused, and yet touched by their perfect confidence in his good-will, Mr. May said to the mother, "It is too damp for your daughter to go into the garden until every thing is ready; but if you will come with me I will try to oblige you." They selected a spot between two currant-bushes, and Mr. May took a spade and made a grave large enough to contain the basket and its contents. Then he went for the daughter, and escorted her to the place. After "the funeral," Mr. May was thanked most profusely, and the women returned home. For some time afterwards the ladies of his own household kept threatening to put this sign on the front gate : " S. J. May, Undertaker for Cats."
(Illustration is a detail from Albrecht Dürer's engraving of Adam and Eve)