Part 12 “It’s All Your Fault”
“My body …will never be f..f..found,”repeated Dylan. “B.. b.. but why? It was you who killed the rabbit. I hardly t.. t.. tasted it, you caught it, I think it is all your fault.”
“Shut up and be ready to do just as I say,” hissed Tombo. The big cat showed no sign of fear: The gamekeeper, who was now not so very far away, was an old enemy of his. A state of war existed between the two, permanently. “About half this field away is a huge old tree. Lift your head carefully, you should just be able to see its topmost branches, even from here.” Dylan silently obeyed, nodding to Tombo – yes, he’d spotted the tree. “That is where we are making for,” instructed the old cat,” children play in that tree climbing and swinging. The gamekeeper isn’t going to fire his gun in that direction, not with the chance there might be kids around, he isn’t.”
Tombo sniffed suspiciously, cocking his ears to every sound. He was pretty sure the gamekeeper had moved a lot closer to them both, but he didn’t mention this to Dylan. There seemed to be no point in alarming the youngster more than he had to. Tombo just hoped and prayed that when the time came to move, Dylan wouldn’t freeze.
“When I run, don’t try to keep up with me, ‘cos you won’t” said Tombo grimly. “Make for the tree but don’t run in a straight path, weave and bob about, That way the man will find it more difficult to kill you.” Putting just enough emphasis on the word ‘kill’ to draw an instant reaction from Dylan. “I’ll weave and I’ll bob, Tombo, I will, I will.”
An assortment of flies and insects gathered and buzzed above the two hunters, obviously scenting the rabbit blood. Tombo watched them uneasily. They were a dead give-away. It wouldn’t take long for the gamekeeper to spot them and so pin-point exactly where the poachers lay low. The older cat tensed, ready for the long run to the tree; it was a dangerous moment, once they’d shown themselves, they had to keep on moving. He was perhaps a little concerned about the kitten. “But if the kid didn’t make it … tough luck.”
The atmosphere was electric, heavy with concentration from Tombo. While Dylan, scrambling his thoughts together was trying desperately to remember all his friend had said. One sentence thundered through his head, “don’t run in a straight path…”
“Now!” bellowed Tombo, and shot away, slicing through the long grass like a true professional.
For a second, though only a second, mind. Dylan stayed, completely immobile, not twitching a whisker. Then, he took off. Black, beautiful, sleek, the young cat roared after his partner in crime like an express train at full throttle. Swinging his body left to right, left to right as he was told.
Another blast from the gun pounded his ears. Momentarily he faltered … losing his footing as the ground suddenly dipped away … he rolled over and over … now he was back on four legs, moving with the precision of a race horse. His eyes picked out the all important tree, he was nearly there .. only yards away when crunch! He braked to a skidding halt. Sitting directly in his path, Tombo was calmly washing his face. “You did alright, young ‘un, not bad. Don’t fret, he won’t shoot now we’re this close to the kids.” This confident voice did much to quell the fear still gripping Dylan. “Are you sure?” insisted the kitten. “Certain,” Tombo assured him. “As a matter of fact, here he comes.” Dylan reeled, stiff with shock. The gamekeeper strode up to Tombo wagging his finger angrily. “one day, my lad, one day you’ll bite off more rabbit than you can chew, then I’ll ‘ave yer.” He walked off, puffing violently on his pipe. Tombo smiled, wickedness spreading over his face like treacle on warm toast. “Come on, Dylan, old mate, let’s get home, it must be almost supper time.”
Mr Dylan’s eyes were popping at what he’d seen. How brave… how cool… he was so lucky to have a friend like Tombo: what adventures they would share.
“They’ll never believe me, when I tell them all about this at home,” said Dylan excitedly. “No … no, I don’t suppose they will,” answered Tombo smiling.
Editors Note: This is the last of the Mr Dylan stories written by Sylvia Hood in 1976. I would like to thank Sylvia for allowing walkington-life to publish the stories and I am sure she will be pleased that the stories have been appreciated by many blog readers.