I leap up onto the bed, which is covered with an embroidered rug. The pillows are fat and soft. I doubt very much that their owner has to make do with crackly mice wings and rotting skin. He probably eats raw kang-oo-roo three times a day, with a bowl of cream for dessert. I am looking forward to breakfast.
But first to introductions.
‘My dear sir,’ I purr. ‘I am Harry-le-beau, the scourge of vampire mice from Brussels to Rome. You have probably heard of me. And will be pleased to make my acquaintance.’
And then, of course, I set to work cleaning my paws, which is the polite thing to do after an introduction.
I expect the human in the bed to clean his paws too. Even in the colonies, good manners are important.
Instead, he lights the candle by his bedside. Then he bellows, ‘Montagu!’
There are noises in another part of the house. The man and I glare at each other. He still has not cleaned his paws. I wish I had not told him my name.
I hear footsteps, and a second man comes running, carrying his own candle and wearing a robe over his night shirt. He is lean, and reminds me of a tom cat I once knew, who would snatch a fish from your mouth, then deny he had ever done such a thing. I dislike him on sight.
‘Your Excellency?’ says the new arrival.
I prick up my ears. Your Excellency? The man in the bed must be the lieutenant governor. Which means he WILL have kang-oo-roo for breakfast!
I am willing to forgive him for his lack of politeness, and start again. But he doesn’t give me the chance.
‘Ah, Montagu,’ he says. ‘Get rid of Stinky Tom here, would you?’
Stinky Tom? Moi????
Before I can protest, Montagu scoops me up, with his hand gripping the back of my neck as if I were a kitten with its eyes not yet opened. I try to wriggle out of his grasp, but he holds me too firmly. I cannot escape!
I glare up at him, and hiss, ‘Do you not know who I am? Put me down at once, human!’
He smiles, turns his back on the man in the bed and whispers, ‘Behave yourself, Harry-le-beau, or His Excellency will have stewed tomcat for his breakfast.’
It is then that I hear a snigger from the pocket of his robe. And smell that smell.
Montagu has been taken over by vampire mice. And I am his captive.