A stillness came over the audience, for stillness was one of their only options. It was standing room only, and a shrugging of the shoulders or a twitching of a tail from a Thwerl or Joat from Gerald McGrew’s circus, for everyone HAD to be there for this day, could result in a domino effect – especially if someone knocked over King Birtram on his red stilts. From the middle rows a diminutive Who, sandwiched between Horton and his be-trunked pal Harold, overcome by the heat and claustrophobia, began seeing purple clouds of wisteria, gasped, and then passed out. Horton and Harold’s haunches held up the Who without realizing their helpfulness. Mr. McElligot stood in the second row, behind Bartholomew Cubbins in the first row with his 500 hats upon his head. McElligot quietly seethed and contemplated knocking off hats 4 through 500 so he could see the stage and enjoy the view for which he heavily paid.
Bartholomew Cubbins had the highest hopes for the day, higher than his 500 hats, higher than even 5,000 hats. He had all kinds of hats – uni-feathered, bi-feathered, multi-feathered, and plucked. Sturdy ones, floppy ones, and floopy ones. He even had one with harnesses on the side to hold, along with a long straw, two cans of delicious nectar from the fruit of the kookleberry tree. Bartholomew had sent letters by Snarklebluss Express, telegrams, and sample upon sample in expectation for this momentous, nay historigicantical, day. If one of his hats was chosen, he’d be set for life. The hat would become famous. He would become fabulously and famously famous. Everyone on Mulberry Street would want one of the hats, one of his hats. Thidwick the Moose would buy two without a doubt. He was unclear as to how the Ooblecks would wear them as they were not blessed, like the rest of the audience, with hat-able noggins. Surely, he hoped, they would want one or more to place upon the mantle to proudly show off to guests during their weekly games of 72-card worpsnickle.
Before McElligot could topple Bartholomew’s towering stack, the lights dimmed. The stillness in the audience became stiller still and all chattering stopped mid-chat, letting a quietness heighten the import of the event. The still stiller stillness was even enough to bring the diminutive Who back to consciousness just in time. With excitement she and the rest of the audience watched as the red, velvety curtains were separated by a pair of blue-footed zazzle-yazzel birds.
In the center of the stage stood a table of eight legs that was not much taller than the diminutive Who. The table was alone on stage, but not in lonely or sad way. The table knew the part it was playing in history. The table proudly held an object covered by a black satin sheath. Sworn to secrecy, the table knew the import of what it held, and tried to keep all eight legs from trembling. A smile grew upon the table somewhere under the satin sheath at the thought of his generations of grandchildren wanting to be told the story of their grandfather’s role in today’s event over and over and over.
From stage left out walked a cat, calmly and quietly, belying his true nature. Bulbs from cameras of the press men, ready to pop and shine, sprang up like jumping jangos from Juno. The cat approached the table, and a final stillness finally stilled all sixteen members of the still still-resistant Stiller family. The quietness even shushed itself.
Bulbs began to flash, forever recording the marvelous event. With a muted flourish, The Cat danced his white-gloved fingers up to the top of the mysterious object. With a pinch and a yank that would make a yak yell, The Cat whisked away the cover to reveal his . . . Hat!
The hat – his Hat! – that will make him known around the world, loved, and cherished beyond his wildest dreams. The audience gasped and cheered and, those that could blort from blort holes blorted and those with a yeeper valve let out yeeps with unrestrained enthusiasm. Horton and Harold hooted, startling the diminutive Who who fainted again. Thing 1 and Thing 2 vibrated with excitement in the wings.
Before placing The Hat atop his pate The Cat lifted it high with furry arms and proudly paraded it back and forth for all to see. Returning to center stage with the table, its smile now uncovered and stretching from leg two to leg seven, The Cat slowly, firmly, historically placed the now famous Hat on the spot it would forever live.
The Cat thricely bowed and, as if given permission by The Hat, began to dance along with the crescendo of cheers, blorts, and yeeps. Alas, one other sound could be heard entwined with the audience’s jubilation like a cherlopin vine – the weeping sounds of Bartholomew Cubbins, who had not among his 500 hats a towering red and white stovepipe hat to offer the Cat.
A tailor of thirteen fingers (all the best are) peering around still stilted King Birtram, quietly thought to himself that something was missing and began sketching designs in his head. The bow tie was not yet there. It would come later, but with much less fanfare.