I Feel Sick
As Tombo picked his way through the lush green of the undergrowth, he could hear the young kitten puffing and panting behind, trying desperately hard to keep up with the older cat. Yet Tombo didn’t relent or slacken his speed. He knew young Dylan could be a good hunter one day, so feeling sorry for him now wouldn’t help any.
Tombo seemed aware of every sound drifting through the woods. And in turn the birds up in the trees knew full well where Tombo was making for, and twittered noisily broadcasting the facts. Poor Dylan for his part was aware of nothing… except the thorns pulling and catching his legs, and the small branches whipping back from Tombo as he pushed through, stinging Dylan across the face. ’Wished I’d never come,’ he thought, ‘that clever clogs couldn’t catch cold never mind a rabbit.’ Though it must be remembered that Dylan still had no idea what rabbit looked like. Tombo slowed from his jog-trotting to a walk, for this Dylan was grateful. The huge tom-cat edged his way delicately through a thick patch of nettles before squeezing under an old overgrown fence. Dylan scramble after him, to lose Tombo now… it didn’t bear thinking about.
Stretching out before the cats, an emptyness of meadow-land, beribboned and bewitched with huge clusters of buttercups. The two of them stood on the fringe of the bushes, and as if to welcome them, the sun broke the clouds, switching on the flowers like a thousand fairy lights. Tombo sniffed the air. ‘There’s a dog nearby with a man,’ he told Dylan, ‘but not to fret they won’t pass this way.’ He sounded sure of himself, so Dylan was happy to accept this. The breeze gathered itself gusting a path through the flurrying grasses. ‘Come on, and keep close,’ instructed Tombo, ‘we’re going to cross open space now.’
Dylan would have gladly welcomed a rest but didn’t dare suggest it. Instead he dutifully fell in line behind Tombo as they began their long trek across the meadow. There was no particular danger, but an old timer like Tombo took no chances. He would stop every few yards, sniffing the air, sensing all there was around him. Cows grazed nearby, but they were no problem. They left him alone and vice versa. Funnily enough the grass was proving a bit of a handful for Mr. Dylan. In parts it swirled and towered over him, then in some places it was so thick it was quite a battle to get through. But the journey across the meadow was seemingly uneventful; Tombo did spot a couple of young pheasants, but they were not to be his quarry… not today. He stopped suddenly, so suddenly in fact Dylan almost collided into the back of him. ‘See that?’ asked Tombo quietly. ‘What… where… what is there’ spluttered Dylan trying hard to sound intelligent. Tombo gave him a withering look; had he done the right thing, bringing this greenhorn along. ‘In front of you,’ pointed out Tombo, ‘where the grass is flattened, that’s the way they come.’ Dylan assumed ‘they’ meant rabbit. ‘Come on we’ll squat back here and wait, shouldn’t take long.’ Tombo lay low looking at times as though he could be dozing, but Dylan knew him better than that.
The afternoon air was becoming warm and heavy, time didn’t seem to be important; the hunters were quite prepared to wait. Well… one hunter was, after about five minutes Dylan began to fidget ‘Flippin heck,’ if he’d known it was going to take this long… his eyelids hung heavy. A large white butterfly landed unsuspectingly on his paw, as the kitten bent to sniff, it fluttered above his head, whereupon Dylan promptly rolled on his back clawing at the air trying to ground the menace for good.
‘Shhhhh, will you be quiet and keep still,’ hissed Tombo, very angry indeed. Dylan starred back with wide eyes, ‘wasn’ my fault,’ he mumbled sprawling himself out again; ‘No need to get… ‘ but Dylan had no chance to finish his grousing, Tombo’s whole body was alerted; the kitten watched him fascinated, something… was heading towards them, he felt excited yet just a tiny bit scared. Tombo stayed cool, feeling very sure of himself. His fur prickled with the anticipation of a kill, he knew everything depended upon his sense of timing.
Dylan drew back startled as Tombo leapt past him making a kind of gurgling growl; he heard a squeal, then the air became silent. Tombo stood triumphant, a dead rabbit lying between his legs. ‘Don’t just stand there, get stuck in if you’re hungry,’ Tombo invited. A partridge startled by the sudden activity flew up, Dylan watched as the old tom-cat began to eat. He gulped… ‘Please Tombo, I feel sick.’
Published with the kind permission of Mrs.Sylvia Hood.