“Tea and ham,” requested the old Duke of Hamilton to one of his servants.
The earthquake sent the family members back to the city, in an apotheosis of panic and media frenzy that rivaled with the earthquake itself. The Duke of Hamilton stayed.
In the old living-room, roofless and torn to pieces, were a few chairs and tables. A cupboard leant against the remains of an ancient stone wall. That’s where the cat sat.
It was a black cat, slim, his eyes of a piercing yellow. He came out of nowhere one day, investigating the comings and goings of the last few servants still working for the Duke. He didn’t like people. As a matter of fact, he hated people. He had spent his days running away from the cruel pranks of the Duke’s grandchildren. However, the black cat was happy now. He could finally have some peace, even if amongst destroyed furniture and collapsed walls.
It all started when one day, he got curious and walked up to the living-room. A man sat at a table, sipping some tea.
“Here, kitty.” The Duke handed him some ham.
He enjoyed the cat’s company. The cat enjoyed the Duke’s company. So, from then onwards, they spent some time together every single afternoon, having a conversation of silences that both understood very well, while the Duke had tea and the cat had ham.
A few years later, when the black cat died, the Duke of Hamilton closed the castle for good and he never went back. The years he spent alone in that enormous crumbled home with the black cat, which became a good friend, were ironically the best years of his life.
“Tea and ham,” he whispered, old and frail, before he died surrounded by his loved ones. “Tea and ham.”