Disciples of Otis,
The tension in Tombstone climbs ever higher as we continue with The Legend of Kiddy the Cat.
Ike and the Cowboys returned to Tombstone late on October 24th to find Sheriff Behan waiting for them. At first, they thought he was looking to arrest them for the attempted robbery of the stagecoach, but then Ike noticed the small, cloth-covered bundle and Behan’s bloodshot eyes and tear-streaked cheeks.
When Sheriff Behan tried to explain what had happened, Ike Clanton would hear none of it. Possibly out of a subconscious feeling of guilt for his own neglectful actions, Ike became infuriated with the Sheriff and blamed Kiddy the Cat’s death entirely on him. He made arrangements for Kiddy to be laid to rest the next morning at Puss-in-Boothill Graveyard, the town pet cemetery that was eventually renamed “Boothill” after they started burying people there as well.
Sheriff Behan attended the service for Kiddy the Cat early on October 25, and he was shocked to see the epitaph that Ike had chosen to write on Kiddy’s tombstone. It simply said, “KTC, Shot By Sheriff Behan”.
In a strange twist of fate, Wyatt Earp’s cat Mrs. Stump had also passed away on October 24. She had died in her sleep on a comfortable bed at the ripe old cat age of 21. The Earps, Doc Holliday, and about 100 townsfolk were laying Mrs. Stump to rest in Puss-in-Boothill Cemetery at the exact same time as the service was being held for Kiddy the Cat. Wyatt had built an elaborate metal enclosure around Mrs. Stump’s gravesite stating that he wished to keep her safely contained, even in the afterlife.
When Ike Clanton saw Mrs. Stump’s gravesite, he became enraged. He believed the Earps were mocking him for not having kept Kiddy the Cat contained. This could not have been farther from the truth. Although Wyatt Earp did wish that Ike had been more responsible and prevented the untimely demise of Kiddy the Cat, he also felt great sympathy for Ike’s loss. He knew Ike had loved the cat, despite his stubborn refusal to keep him safely contained. At the cemetery Wyatt even tried to express his sympathies to Ike, but this only seemed to deepen Clanton’s anger.
As Wyatt walked away, Sheriff Behan, perhaps in an effort to deflect some of the blame Ike had thrust upon him for the death of Kiddy the Cat, told Clanton that he thought the Earps were to blame for Kiddy’s death. He claimed that since the Earps and Doc Holliday had rounded up so many cats, people didn’t see as many of them in the streets any more. This meant that they weren’t on the lookout for cats running across the road so it made Kiddy the Cat much more likely to get hit by a stagecoach.
Relieved to find a place to put all of his feelings of guilt and grief, Ike Clanton embraced the theory that Sheriff Behan had put forth. “Yes..”, he said, “The Earps are to blame, and come tomorrow, there’s gonna be a reckoning…”
Tomorrow- The conflict that defined the Old West comes to pass as we approach the conclusion of The Legend of Kiddy the Cat.