One day she even had an answer for a kitten in a bad way, brought to young Robert by a schoolfellow (you'll find this story on p. 83):
Once, in a narrow entry that ran behind the street, Iggy wandered up to me with a black, snake-like object that jerked stiffly on his hands, then lay still, staring. I stepped back, afraid.
"It's a kitten," he said. "Some rotten pig's rolled it in hot pitch off the road! Now it's gone hard."
"What - What can we do?" I asked.
"Your old lady," he said, "she's the one." (Ignatius, for some reason, held my mother in awe and always assumed I feared her too.) He came with me to the entry end and I took it in at the back door. Face set, Mother examined the dreadful offering. "Put it down," she ordered at last. Then, going into the shop, she scooped up a lump of lard and dropped it into the frying pan. Soon we were kneading warm oil into the kitten's fur, after which she washed it with soap and water.
"How's the moggie?" Ignatius asked later.
"Like a lump of wool now!" I told him. "We're going to keep it," which seemed to please him.