“Will you just look at that dog” declared Snuffy witheringly, “It hasn’t the remotest idea.” Pingu opened one eye and yawned. Snuffy was sitting on the back of the bedroom chair watching Hamish and Lily playing down in the orchard.
Sighing, in the certain knowledge that if he did not get off the bed and come and look, Snuffy would go on and on and on and on…Pingu uncurled, jumped off the bed and padded over to the window.
Hamish was brandishing something black and red in the air and cavorting around trying to attract Lily’s attention.
“That’s Evil Penguin” explained Snuffy.
Suddenly Hamish threw the toy clean over the quinces to the other side of the orchard.
“Good throw” Pingu drawled “We’ll make a cricketer of that boy yet.”
“Yes but Lily’s supposed to fetch it and just look at her…”
Lily had run over to Evil Penguin and given it a good shake. However, having taught the errant bird a good lesson she then turned around and chased her tail for a bit before trotting back to Hamish.
Hamish did not seem at all put out and was running across the orchard to begin the process all over again.
Pingu tilted his head on one side and gave his ear a scratch.
“But Snuffy old bean we don’t fetch things either – you’ve always been very strict about that. Rule number 1, no obeying commands from the humans, show them who’s boss.”
“That’s entirely different – we are cats – Officer class – it’s up to us to set the rules and impose order.” As he said this Snuffy flexed his claws menacingly. “Dogs, on the other hand, are simple working beasts, they need to be told what to do or they get confused.”
“Well Hamish and Lily seem happy enough.” Hamish and Lily were now rolling down the slope of the front lawn emitting hoots and yelps of merriment.
“That’s the trouble with the youth of today” no discipline whatsoever. Nothing short of anarchy, that’s what it is…”
Snuffy drew himself up to his full height (which was slightly less than Pingu’s but as Pingu spent most of his time lying down it was rather hard to tell) and stalked out of the room.
Pingu rolled his eyes, padded over to the bed and nestled down again amongst the blankets. “Now where was I” he purred, and closed his eyes.
Snuffy strode out of the house towards the little wooded belt between the garden and Sir George’s barley field. This was fine hunting territory, and it was unusual for Snuffy to come back without a mouse or two. He might bring a mouse home for Dad….Sound chap that – spends a lot of time on the sofa – making himself available for stroking duty. Important to show appreciation to the staff after all…….
When Pingu woke up the sun was getting low in the sky and the birds were darting in and out of the beech hedge chattering to their neighbours as they settled down to roost for the evening.
It was getting close to Sofa Hour.
Pingu peered around the living room door. Dad was poised for action, newspaper in hand, cup of tea on the table, but Snuffy’s reserved spot on the comfiest cushion (Dad had, quite rightly, squeezed up to make space) was empty. “I wonder where the old boy has got to?” Pingu mused.
He squeezed and wriggled through the cat flap “that thing’s definitely seizing up – I used to get through no bother….” he grumbled and wandered across the terrace. One of the Aunties (a stout guinea fowl called Veronica) waddled up. Pingu asked if she’d seen Snuffy – but there was no getting any sense out of her…
He padded on down to the pond. Lily was there looking speculatively at the water and dabbing her paw in and out. She hadn’t entirely got the hang of water yet- it was quite clear that a B.A.T.H was a very bad thing, but the pond was full of jumping frogs and Lily felt it might be quite fun to play with them.
Lily eyed Pingu warily. Snuffy had “imposed discipline” rather vigorously the last time Lily tried to play. She edged back a little. “Oh don’t mind me” purred Pingu “I don’t stand on ceremony, too much faff altogether- you haven’t seen Snuffy – err I mean Major Snuffy – have you?”
Lily tipped her head on one side – it helped with the thinking – and then snuffled the ground. “No but I can definitely smell him, Lieutenant Pingu”
“Well well you are a clever little thing after all.”
Lily bounced with pleasure nearly knocking Pingu off the stepping stone. “Steady there, little lady – you’ll have me in the drink! Now where has Major Snuffy gone do you think??”
Nose to the ground, Lily ran across the back track to the rusty little gate which let to the woods.
“Ah, in hot pursuit of a mouse I’ll warrant” declared Pingu. “You wait there – he’ll not be pleased if you frighten it off.” Pingu melted, yes, he definitely melted, into the undergrowth, quite invisible apart from the white tip of his tail as he wove in between the piles of fallen logs and the tangle of brambles. But Snuffy was no where to be seen.
“Come on old boy” he meowed, it’s Sofa Hour!”
A plaintif echoey meow filled the wood.
“Stop mucking about, I don’t believe in ghosts….” Replied Pingu, but he looked around nervously. The strange muffled meow came again, it seemed to be rising up from under his feet.
“Rum do”” said Pingu. “Lily, come over here and listen to this.”
Lily bounded over and immediately started scratching around in the undergrowth, digging like mad.
“Now is not the time for rabbiting” began Pingu but he stopped short when a hole began to open up in the undergrowth and Snuffy’s meowing became louder and clearer. Pingu stuck his head down and saw Snuffy balanced precariously on a metal spar running across a deep, dark well. Far below Snuffy there was a shine of water. “Are you stuck old bean” meowed Pingu
“No I’m just composing poetry….of course I’m stuck!”
“This reminds me of that when we were kittens and you jumped on the bin with the flippy lid. You ended in with the peelings till Dad got home. Dad and I had a good old laugh about that…d’you remember”
“Now is not the time for reminiscing” said Snuffy icily. “Do something!”
Lily turned and bounced off towards the house. Iona was in the kitchen in pyjamas and slippers negotiating for a biscuit. Lily grabbed her pyjama leg and tugged. “Get down Lilly”. Iona held her ground, Mum seemed to be weakening and was reaching for the biscuit tin. Lily ran around the table and in a rearguard action grabbed Lily’s slipper which was dangling off. She ran for the door, Lily hopping after her.
Seeing a fine chase in action, Hamish sounded the view halloo and raced after the pair, quickly overtaking Iona who was eeking and ouching on the stones with her bare foot. Lily bounded for the wood barking at top volume, scattering the Aunties and Harry the pheasant who by this time had wandered over to see what was afoot.
Hamish charged after and nearly fell into the well himself, toppling over Lily who had abruptly skidded to a halt next to Ben.
“Meeeeow” wailed Snuffy insistently from deep in the well.
Hamish looked down startled and saw two green eyes peering up out of the darkness. He thrust his arms down and then yelped himself as Snuffy dug her claws in. clambering up his arms and over his neck in his haste to get out.
The brigade trooped back to the house, Hamish wearing his scratches with pride as befits the saviour of the day. Iona, who had retrieved her slipper and caught up by now, was busy explaining her critical importance to the mission as first responder.
“Er Jolly good effort Corporal Lily” said Snuffy as he turned to the cat flap “Good fetching that.”
“Yessir, thanks sir” panted Lily who wagged her tail with pride all the way around the corner to the kitchen door.
“Well you have been in the wars” said Dad later, budging up to let Snuffy have more of the comfiest cushion. Snuffy purred and snuggled closer, rolling over slightly so Dad could tickle his tummy.
“Reminds me of when you were a tiny kitty and you jumped on the swing bin. You were stuck all day on the peelings ’til I got home…”
Snuffy sighed wearily and closed his eyes.
Pingu looked at Lily lying in front of he fire and most definitely winked.