New moon, Month of the Dead Horse, the Year of Clotted Cream (which the humans call 1824)
‘Greetings, fair citizens of Hobart Town. I, Harry-le-beau, world-famous hunter, have come to save you from—’
‘GREETINGS, FAIR CITIZENS OF HOBART TOWN—’
Bah, I am wasting my breath. The colonials do not even turn their heads. All they are interested in is the captain of the Sir Henry Nelson, stepping out of the rowing boat and onto the shore.
Idiots! I am more important than any captain. But where are the trumpets to announce my arrival? Where are the saucers of milk and the haunch of venison on a silver platter? Where is the lieutenant governor of the colony, waiting eagerly to carry me ashore on a blue velvet cushion?
Nowhere in sight.
Instead, I am forced to jump out of the rowboat like any common traveller. No, worse than that! Just as I reach solid ground, someone drives a herd of pigs across my path, and I barely leap out of the way in time.
See how I am insulted?
If this is the way they treat me, I say to myself, I shall not stay! And, with a twitch of my beautiful tail, I turn back to the rowboat.
But fate moves in strange ways. I have my paw on the gunwhale, ready to leap aboard, when I catch a scent that drives all insults from my mind.
So, the reports were true. [sniff sniff] They are here [sniff sniff], thousands of them. [sniff sniff sniff] They are probably spying on me, from beneath the jetty, or from the cellars of half-built houses. They are probably smirking at each other, and whispering that here is another foolish feline come to answer the colony’s cry for help. They are probably planning to nibble my toes off and drain my blood while I sleep, as they have done to so many others.
But I am not just any cat. I am HARRY-LE-BEAU, the scourge of vampire mice from Vienna to Rome!
First however I must find something to eat. I am weary of the ship’s rats, which are scrawny and full of little bones that get stuck between my teeth. I would rather like to taste the famous kang-oo-roo. Or perhaps an opossum.
And then a long nap, of course.
And a wash.
And a little more kang-oo-roo, followed by a stroll around the half-built town. It will give heart to these simple folk, just to see me and know that they are no longer alone.
Then another nap.
A careful check of my claws.
And THEN I will be ready …