Part 11 ‘I’ll Be Off Then”
Mr. Dylan eyed his sleeping friend with dismay. ‘Yes, well…er… I’ll be off then,’ he stuttered trying hard to sound casual. All he heard in answer, was in fact the loud, vulgar snoring of the old tom-cat.
“I’ll get off then …. shouldn’t take me long …. they’ll be looking you see …. don’t want them to worry.” Poor unhappy Dylan. He padded around and around vainly trying to stir his fat friend into some kind, any kind, of action. He didn’t know how to get home without Tombo. The field, which earlier had been alive with sunshine and fun, was now dull and strangely subdued, the sun dipping low behind the trees. A rather large cow shuffled close to the two cats, tearing greedily at the tufts of grass. Then Dylan made a big decision; with or without Tombo he would find his own way back. He pushed his nose at the big cat hopefully once more, but …. the response was negative. So without so much as a backward look, Dylan set off across the meadow, in what he fervently hoped was the right direction.
There were no signs …. no houses to guide him; so he stopped every few yards, nose in the air sniffing, hoping to pick up some kind of scent he could recognise. Though sadly many stumbles and grumbles later he was still in the same field, hopelessly lost. He sat down and compulsively began to wash his face; after all, lost he may have been but there was no point in his being dirty as well.
Without warning a loud bang cracked through the air, tearing the peace and quiet of the meadow apart. Birds flew up from nowhere filling the skies with angry wings and screams of irritation.
Dylan cowered and froze with fear; the thud, thud of his heart beats sounding off like a time bomb. He sensed everything around and was as scared as he was, he flattened his body close to the ground, trying in sheer terror to disappear altogether. Another BANG … split through his head; black crows wheeled above him protesting loudly at the disturbance. Dylan was now so petrified he was physically shaking from head to foot.
CRASH …. as if by magic, Tombo slumped heavily by his side. “ Oh … Tombo … Tombo, I’ve been so scared, there was this loud bang and I don’t know what it … and … “BE QUIET,” spat out Tombo viciously. Dylan cowered almost out of sight. “When I say MOVE … you’d better be ready to do just that,” advised the big cat. “Those bangs you hear … that’s a gun being fired at US.” “But who would … why would …” Dylan’s voice trailed away to a croak.
“Because, my young friend, WE … have been poaching rabbit; on a good day I manage the odd pheasant, on a very good day … I might nick both, the man with the gun doesn’t like that … he’s trying to kill us.” Tombo’s sombre words chilled Dylan’s mind. His eyes grew large and black with the sickening fear that gripped him.
The old cat sensed the effect his words were having on the kitten, he went on. “The man is called GAMEKEEPER … he is your enemy young ‘un, don’t ever forget, for if he catches so much as a glimpse of you …his gun will blast you into little pieces, so small your body will never be found.”
Published with the kind permission of Mrs Sylvia Hood.