I, Harry-le-beau, who once dined with the Maharajah of Travancore and his mother (who was, of course, the power behind the throne, though few realised it except for me), am now an outlaw. Or, as they say here in the colonies, a bushranger.
It seems that Sarah has been intending to run away for some time, and join her friends in what they call ‘the bush’. And now she has done so, taking me along with her.
(It is not a bush, but a cave. I do not know why these colonials cannot speak sensibly, but they take the most simple words and change them to mean something else entirely.)
I am grateful for the rescue. But could Sarah not have brought some cushions along with her? And some cream? The cave is uncomfortable, the men are ill-mannered, and all I have eaten in the two days we have been here is lizards.
The only good thing about this place is that it does not smell of vampire mice.
Do not think I have forgotten them. I am still set on saving the colony, even though the colony does not deserve it. I will destroy the vampire mice and the great She-demon too, or die in the attempt.
(Please refer to my previous diary entries for funeral details. Black horses, plumes, 21-gun salute etc. A lying-in-state might be nice too, so my admirers could weep over my exquisite corpse.)
But first I must recover my strength, which was shattered on the treadmill. Right now I cannot even walk, much less fight–
‘Snookums!’ calls Sarah from the front of the cave. ‘Dinner!’
I am there in an instant. Sarah’s sweetheart Matty (who I can hardly tell apart from the other bearded ruffians) is holding out a well-chewed chicken bone.
‘Is that all?’ I ask (when I have finished gnawing the bone). ‘You called me from my sick bed for that?’
‘Food’s a bit short at the moment, Snookums,’ says Sarah. ‘But the lads are going hunting first thing tomorrow.’
I prick up my ears. Hunting? I like hunting!
‘Look at him,’ says Matty. ‘You’d almost think he understood what we’re saying.’
‘Course he understands,’ says Sarah. ‘He’s a clever boy, aren’t you, Snookums?’
‘Then maybe we should take him hunting with us,’ says Matty, winking at the other beards. ‘We could do with a bit of help, couldn’t we, Jonesy?’
One of the beards nods laconically. ‘Aye, we could. We’re going after emu tomorrow, and they’re always tricky, even though they can’t fly. Having Snookums with us’d make all the difference.’
I am deeply offended. I do not know what an emu is, but the name is very small, so I suppose the creature must be, too. A sort of wren, perhaps. Except it cannot fly, so it must be a wren without wings. I could kill a dozen of them without disturbing a single hair of my beautiful tail. After all, I have hunted two-headed rats through the sewers of Paris! I have fought the giant worm of Edinburgh! In Warsaw, I have–
‘Poor Snookums,’ says Sarah, lifting me onto her lap. ‘No need to look so scared. Of course we won’t send you hunting. But you’ll still get something to eat when the lads return. Maybe a whole leg of emu if you’re lucky, what do you think of that?’
They all laugh again. But it is not funny. I wriggle out of Sarah’s grasp and stride off, more offended than ever. A leg? A teensy little bird leg? Do they think I would be satisfied with that?
No. They mock me now, but tomorrow I will show them what I, Harry-le-beau, am capable of. I will follow them. I will snatch their tiny prey from under their noses.
Tomorrow, I will hunt the wild emu!