Updated: Feb 25
.. ‘Yes’ Rag decided, laying tummy down on the garden wall, his hind legs dangling down one side, ‘it was definitely on May 7th that he had first laid eyes on what he thought of, at the time, as a large, pulsating cactus. He remembered the date because it was the Sunday following Martha’s birthday party, and what a day that was. The children had arrived early on Saturday afternoon and, from the start, Rag had been alarmed.
The children were high on expectations, full of energy and simply delighted to have a real live ‘stuffed toy’ to play with. He had been picked up, turned upside down, had his tail and whiskers pulled and been argued over in a tug-of-war manner, to the point where he had had to claw his way to freedom.
This, naturally, had lead to howls and cries of pain and dismay culminating in him being unceremoniously deposited outside. Indignantly, he had marched over to the shed, clambered onto the ‘lean to’ on the side and sprung up onto the shed roof, out of reach and safely hidden from view. It wasn’t until early evening when all was quiet that he had hesitantly made his way to the kitchen door cat-flap, cautiously peered inside and tiptoed over to his food bowl, staying alert in case of the need to make a quick exit. Fortunately, the only sound was the familiar ticking of the clock and a muffled voice from the newscaster on the television set in the lounge. All was well again in the Durrell household.
The following morning Rag sat on the stony garden wall, eyes half shut, enjoying the soft glow of the spring sunshine bathing him in a blanket of warmth. He looked down and there it was. Had Mrs Durrell planted a new bush he asked himself, and if so, why was it throbbing? He put his head on the side in quiet contemplation.
This needed closer inspection he decided. In one elegant jump, Rag landed on all four paws on the ground next to the ‘moving bush’ and gave it a little sniff. To his surprise it gave off the distinctive whiff of animal and not of plant as he had expected. Lifting a front paw he gave it a little push and then jumped back aghast when the creature rolled itself into a prickly ball. Whatever it was, this creature was clearly unusual and full of surprises. At this point Rag decided that the best course of action would be to wait and observe. Patience is something that most cats have in abundance and Rag was no exception.
As any owner of a cat knows, homed, well-fed cats love nothing more than to spend a lazy day curled up in comfort. Half an hour went by while he waited, head on paws, for something to happen. His patience was finally rewarded as slowly the little animal stirred and its head popped out from beneath the coat of spikes. Rag was thrilled. He put on his friendly and welcoming face not to frighten the little fellow, and looked down at the sweetest and gentlest face he had ever seen. He was enchanted.
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