I am woken in the early hours of the morning by another cat, a scraggly orange tom, who seems to think this is his bed. I tell him, politely, that it may have been his bed once, but now it is mine.
I make myself a little bigger, and remind him, more loudly, that I am in it, which means it is very definitely miiiiiine.
He says it is hiiiiiiis.
I say it is miiiiiiiiiiiine.
His back arches and he begins to sing his battle song. It is not a very good one. ‘I will kiiiiill you,’ he sings. ‘I will eeeeeat your liver. I will claaaaaaaw ouuuuuut your eyes.’
If he sang such a crude ditty in Berlin, every cat in the city would laugh at him. But he is a colonial, and does not know any better. I take pity on him, and set about showing him how it should be done.
First I arch my back (but much more beautifully than he did). I bristle the hair on my tail, and lash it from side to side. My eyes are black; my ears are flat against my skull.
‘Your deeeeaaath is near! Fall doooooooown before me! Deeeaaath comes quickly to aaaaallll who challenge Harry-le-beau.
‘Your deeeeaaath is here! Your naaaaaame will be forgotten. Your booooones will be scattered, for daaaaaaring to challenge Harry-le-beau!’
My voice soars. My words are poetic. My song is glorious! If the orange tom had any sense he would run for his life.
Instead, he sings louder.
So of course I sing louder still.
All around us, dogs begin to bark and howl.
The night is filled with a splendid noise, and I am clearly winning. I am sure my opponent is just about to run away – when an ignorant human empties a chamber pot over us.
The orange tom flees in one direction. I run (with far more dignity) in the other. With dogs howling on all sides, I scramble up a wall and down the other side. I dash past a chicken coop, up a path and through an open door, scattering drops of stale urine everywhere. A kitchen skivvy screams at me and throws a plate. I dash through another door, and another—
And find myself in a bedchamber, with moonlight coming through the window.
The man in the bed sits up and stares, as if he has never in his life seen such a handsome cat. He has a long face, and the fur on his head is thinning, but he is plump enough, and looks prosperous.
Oh good, I think, pleased with how things have turned out. Perhaps he will invite me to breakfast.