The Story of Saint Catrick
© 2000 by
Dr. Catrick is a professor at the Feline University in Catropolis. As a young cat, he had a life changing experience that set him on his mission in life, to proclaim that animal species can and should live in harmony. All the while, the rodents are rising up against cat rule. Catrick and his friends encounter political agendas, prejudices, and countless other reasons for not doing the obvious.
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"As one reads this book there are many different things that can come to ones mind ... the getto wars between different gangs or ethnic groups. The Nazis and the Jews, The revolts in Ireland, or the Blacks versus the Whites. About peace makers or what one has to face in this generation. Using the animals instead of people the author has written this in such a way as one can let their imagination take them to places that could relate to them in some manner..."
-- Lynn at Goodreads.com
(first four chapters):
- Chapter the First -
A Gentlecat and a
history • in which Catrick enrols in the School of Hard Knocks •
Professor Catrick unwittingly starts a student movement •
his latter days, people who knew him often referred to Catrick as a
'saint and a scholar'. After his passing, nobody contested the
designation. Though there weren't any miracles attributed to him -
except, perhaps, the opening of blind eyes (the inner ones, that is)
- and no posthumous appearance (unless one counts the dubious claim
by a hamster who happened to be drunk at the time) he did die a
martyr's death, so the epithet stuck.
in his career, before anyone began to think of him as a saint,
Catrick was simply called a 'gentlecat and a scholar'.
gentlecat he was indeed, as he was of royal Siamese extraction, of
the ancient Siswart clan, and was even said to know a few words of
Siamese, taught him by his mother.
for being a scholar, he had studied, as all young gentlecats do, at
the Royal Feline University. He received his Ph.D. in Cultural
Felidaeology (the study of feline social customs), and later,
occupied the professor's chair in that department. This scholarship,
of course, pertained to his gentlecatliness - hence the designation,
'a gentlecat and a scholar'.
in reference to the later epithet, 'a saint and a scholar', that was
from the School of Hard Knocks, which offers the only scholarship
that prepares one for sainthood.
of noble blood, Catrick was a citizen of the Kingdom of Catropolis.
Royal Siamese cats all enjoyed a privileged position in Catropolitan
society but Persians, even more so. The king of the realm was a
Persian Cat, King Catticus III of the ancient Gorbeh clan, who tended
to favour Persians over all other pedigrees. However, as Catrick's
grandfather had distinguished himself in the Dog Wars and exhibited
outstanding loyalty to the Crown, this was a mark in their favour
whenever Siswart family issues came up in the royal court, so the
family always received favourable treatment.
Dog Wars were an important event in the history of Catropolis. In
them the cats fought to establish their kingdom, and finally
overthrew the Cocker Spaniel dynasty. Ever since, dogs tended to
behave themselves, and either worked in their fields in the rural
parts, or did jobs as beasts of burden or as saddle dogs. There were
never enough of them allowed in any one place at a time to cause any
trouble -- that is, except for the wild dogs packs that inhabited the
frontier areas to the West. Every so often they made raids on the
settlements near the frontier. Usually the victims were rodent
communities, but whenever they threatened the feline populations, it
was cause for a military campaign.
such incident occurred when Catrick, just out of kittenhood, was of
the age to perform his tour of military service. He had hardly been
inducted and made a corporal (as cats of noble blood are), when his
whole regiment marched right off to the frontier to fight the wild
dogs. It was probably the events of this campaign that began to shape
the thinking of young Catrick; or shall we say, it was his first
lesson in the School of Hard Knocks. His regiment met with disaster,
and Catrick had to flee for his life, wounded, until he finally lost
consciousness somewhere in the pastures and hedges of County Mullen.
he came to, he found himself in the home of a family of field mice.
Still not in good health, and with a broken foreleg, he stayed with
them for several months, until he had fully recovered, his foreleg
had mended, and they thought it safe for a cat in military uniform to
show his face outside. Despite being a cat, the mice treated him as a
member of the family, and when it was time to go home, there were
tears shed, both by the cat and the mice.
had been presumed dead, so it was with great joy that his family
received him back again. The fighting then took another turn for the
worse, and the mouse family that had befriended Catrick, were either
killed or had to flee. All Catrick could find later were the ruins of
their humble cottage.
typical cat response would have been, 'What's one more family of
mice?' so nobody understood Catrick's sorrow at not finding his
friends. Catrick was forced to keep his sadness to himself, but
something on the inside had changed forever.
of the usual methods of training at the School of Hard Knocks is
never quite knowing whether one is normal or not. Things that seem
quite sensible to ones own mind, are nonsense to everyone else. Why a
cat would place any value whatsoever on a family of mice was just the
sort of issue that kept Catrick wavering on the edge of social
self-confidence. Why, Catrick's own forefathers were mouse hunters!
Even today, though the sport was officially banned, many cats
accepted in polite cat-society were still known mousers.
was full of social exchanges with cats of every type. As Catrick
began his studies at the university, he met them all. Sometimes, he
would feel emboldened to speak up against the cruel sport of
mouse-hunting, or the value of a mouse's life. He lost a few friends
at the outset, and even made a few enemies. As time went on, however,
Catrick wearied of losing friends, so he became quiet about his
feelings so that, by the time he was a professor, he seemed just like
any other cat. Later, when he was the head of the Felidaeology
department, he even laughed along with the others when a colleague
told a rodent joke, but something inside never felt right.
day, he told his students the story of the mouse family that
befriended him during the Wild Dog Campaigns. The fire that had once
burned inside Catrick, suddenly started doing so once again, just for
a few minutes. The kittens saw it, and the next day, they begged him
to tell it again; and a day later, again; and again. Each time, the
fire burned more intensly. Usually, that was in a class room, but
sometimes, they were out on the campus grounds during breaks when the
kittens were idly chatting and asking him questions. Then, the fire
that lit his eyes would kindle the imaginations of his pupils.
result was that Catrick soon found himself the unwitting leader of a
small and growing group of students and junior professors who met for
lunch to discuss the place of rodents in society. Now and then, the
topic would turn toward equel justice, and the bigoted attitudes on
the part of most cats. Some of the kittens began to develop strong
opinions, and a few even began to foster friendships with their
wasn't a thoroughly willing leader for such a group. He did see his
earlier self in some of the enthusiastic young cats whose opinions
were taking shape, and some of this tugged on his heart strings so as
to further fan the fires. He also had a wide circle of friends among
the senior professors and aristocratic friends of the family who took
exception to the unbridled free-thinking of the youth. Now and then,
he tried to defend the youthful energy of his young friends while
with the seniors, only to be rejoined with a 'humph' or a sudden
change of subject. Also, just knowing about the influence he was
having would put some off.
about that time, the Rodents Revolt was beginning to pick up steam.
Catrick's position began to look awkward indeed.
the Second -
Vladimer Rodenski • David Mousecovitz • the kitten student
movement attracts the attention of the rodent front • of the
ancient Ratsburg dynasty •
de facto leader of the rodent revolution was a rat answering to the
name of Vladimer Rodenski. His original home was the rodent ghettos
of Catropolis where he grew up, but since becoming a fugitive of
justice it was more often the hedges and the byways of the counties.
started out in life as a good little rat, and with his intelligence
and nimbleness, it looked as though he would go as far as a rat could
in a cat dominated society. His parents had taught him to be
satisfied with his lot, and satisfied he was. That was until his
father was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, and mistaken
for a troublemaker. The cat-wardens chased him as far as the rat
neighbourhood where the neighbours banded together to fend them off.
The end result was, both of Vladimer's parents and several of the
neighbours were taken away, the house boarded up, and young Vladimer,
left to roam the streets.
then, he did well for himself, and got into as little mischief as he
could. He even continued to attend school, until the school master, a
cat -- schools run by rodents weren't allowed in the city -- began
giving him notes to take to his parents demanding his school fees.
Then, he simply stopped going to school, and spent more time looking
for food. It was when winter approached that life for an honest young
rat without a home became hard to cope with. But banding together
with other street urchins made the living easier, though not the
staying out of mischief.
he grew into an adult, Vladimer Rodenski continued to develop into a
street-wise survivalist with a resentment against the society that
had made him that way. He learned well from every mistake. From each
tangle with the authorities, he gained know-how in avoiding further
trouble. Whenever he managed to get jobs as a messenger, or other odd
jobs, he used the opportunity to observe cat life closely. The
attitudes of the cats he met daily taught him to hate their culture,
but not so much that he couldn't learn a thing or two from them. He
learned what made cat society purr, and ways to turn it to his
advantage. Gradually, he pieced together his knowledge of every level
of society to form ideas of how an ideal rodent nation could work,
given the chance. He spread his ideas via the print media.
his experience and his charisma drew others to him until his name was
a household word in every rodent home. Of course he was too dangerous
to be allowed to run free in the city, so he fled to the counties.
education that he managed to obtain for himself enabled him to write
persuasive pamphlets, which the underground printing presses
reproduced by the thousands, and the network of rats and other
rodents that had joined his cause distributed throughout the kingdom.
Some of the presses were literally underground, operated by moles.
of Rodenski's closest colleagues were his cousin, Ivan Von Ratsburg
and a mouse named David Mousecovitz. Ivan was the nephew of
Rodenski's mother, who was of the Von Ratsburg line of noble rats.
Long, long before, in ancient history, the forebears of the Von
Ratsburgs were a dynasty of rat kings, the last one being defeated by
the Nutcracker in a fierce battle, which was later celebrated in a
ballet presentation of that name. Rodenski was only reunited with
that part of the family since becoming a fugitive, but from the
moment they met, Vladimer's and Ivan's hearts were bonded by the
cords of family ties and a common cause.
Mousecovitz was a most valuable contact mouse for the mouse
community, as he was on many of the inter-village mouse committees,
and even had a seat on the Kmousett. That's where the experts in
mouse law meet to discuss the finer points of proper mouse conduct
and inter-community relations. Also, he was quite an accomplished
violinist, and was often featured in the concert halls of Catropolis.
He had even gained the respect of the cat community. His activities
in the rodent liberation front were, of course, under cover.
Mousecovitz was travelling, one day, from Mouseburg to the twin
cities, Red-Leicester and Double-Goucestershire, on his bicycle. In
the basket in the front was propped his violin case, and strapped to
the back was a carpet bag containing files, a couple of legal
volumes, some sheet music, a change of socks and underclothes, a
towel, a night-shirt and a toothbrush. In Mouseburg, he had just met
with a subcommittee of the Kmousett, and now he was on his way to
play at a concert in Double-Goucestershire.
swerving to avoid puddles and rocks that jutted through the gravel
road he kept his eyes peeled for a cottage of a certain description
that someone had discretely passed on to him in the pub across from
the Kmousett chamber. At one point, he stopped to ask directions from
roof? All the cottages down this way have thatch roofs, mate -
delicious too, I might add if one can reach them. Green window boxes?
There's two houses just up the road with window boxes, mate.'
you very much, sir.'
was enough for David. He went on his way while the sheep went back to
his grazing. The house he wanted would also be surrounded by thick
bushes and a hedge. The first house he came to had green window
boxes, but it had a tile roof, not thatch. That's the last time he'd
ask directions from a sheep! But the next house answered to the
gave the secret knock, and soon the door was opened a crack by a
squirrel whom David knew as Roary McNut.
it is you, come on in!' said Roary.
laid his violin case and carpet bag down by the coat rack, the
sqirrel took his coat and hat, and directed him into a room joining
the corridor. There was a fire roaring in the fireplace.
Mouscovitz, good of you to come by on such short notice.' It was
Rodenski, who was seated by himself at the end of the wooden table
with a rat-pint of ale. 'I knew it must be you from that squeeky
bicycle of yours. When will you get that thing oiled? Roary, be a
good squirrel and get this gentlemouse a mouse-pint.'
a mouse-pint, thank you,' said David. 'So, Colonel Von Ratsburg
hasn't arrived yet?'
on his way.'
you given any thought to the question of the new order?' David asked,
when Roary had left the room.
are your views on the subject?'
that the cat kingdom is a monarchy, and the abuses of power are
readily apparent, it would be much simpler to rally the sentiments of
the wider rodent community by declaring our new order as a republic,
with the opportunity for all animals to be represented in a
parliament,' answered David.
will be representation in any case. A king can have limited power,
and preside over a parliament, with the additional benefit that he
could act as a guarantor of democracy.'
that doesn't seem like such a sharp distinction as would a republic.'
distinction,' said Rodenski, 'is that we are rodents; they are cats.
This is a war of liberation - of the rodents throwing off the
shackles of cat rule. Once we have obtained our liberation, we can
have a republic, or we can have a monarchy. Let the rodents decide
that for themselves. That way, we don't have to be tied down by any
campaign rhetoric. That's the beauty of it!'
nodded, with a gleam of realisation in his eyes.
then, came the secret knock from the door.
that will be Colonel Von Ratsburg,' said Rodenski.
the door to the corridor opened, and in strode Ivan Von Ratsburg,
still in his great-coat, with a sword hanging by his side. The coat
looked like part of a military officer's uniform from a bygone
ho!' he said in his usual booming voice (booming to a rat or mouse,
but still probably on the squeaky side to anyone else).
you could make it, cousin,' said Rodenski.
to be sure,' said David.
rat pint along with a mouse pint of ale were brought in.
what's this meeting about then?' said Von Ratsburg.
ideas I have, but before we get into that, there's something I wanted
to ask you about: The grape vine has it that the kittens of the Royal
Feline University are sympathetic to our cause. Can either of you
fill me in?'
yes,' responded David. 'It appears that a certain Dr. Catrick Siswart
has opened some of his pupil's minds by relating his war experiences,
in which he was befriended by a mouse family somewhere in the region
of Co. Mullen. It appears that the mice saved his life.'
responded Rodenski thoughtfully. The look on his face showed that he
didn't know what to think of a cat having any sense of appreciation
whatsoever towards a mouse.
did this happen?' enquired Von Ratsburg.
the Wild Dog Campaigns.'
the mouse family still there?'
would have to find out more, like their names and other details.
There were many refugees from that area that the mouse councils had
to account for. Some of them returned after the campaigns, but quite
a large number resettled elsewhere,' said David.
said Von Ratsburg, 'Some benefit can be achieved by making contact
with the kittens. Can they be made to work for us?'
their own community?' said David.
young minds can be made to do anything.'
said Rodenski, 'You have contact with the university. Why don't you
try to feel them out and find out anything you can about them, and
perhaps see if you can influence some of them.'
fact,' said David, 'Right after my concert in Double-Goucestershire,
I'll be playing first violin at the university auditorium for a
performance of the Nutcracker.'
snorted Von Ratsburg almost choking in his ale.
was also taken aback, but it was he who brought calm. 'Come, come,
Ivan, it's an opportunity. He has the chance to mingle with the enemy
and forward our cause. In a war, one must stoop ever so low at
ever so low,' muttered Von Ratsburg with a leery glance.
turning kittens against their own community,' muttered David in
other issues were brought to the table, and after they were resolved,
David excused himself and went on his way.
the squeak, squeak, squeak of his bicycle faded out, Rodenski turned
to Von Ratsburg, and said, 'He was of the opinion that the new order
should be republican.'
that the position of whole mouse community?'
mice are free thinkers.'
did you say to him?' asked Von Ratsburg.
said the issue is not republicanism versus monarchism, but freedom
from cat rule, and that we don't have to be tied down to any
doctrine. Once the rodents have achieved victory, let the rodents
decide for themselves.'
where you must be careful. You promise them a choice, and what will
they choose? The mice are free thinkers, as you say, and of course
they'll choose a republic. What about the squirrels? What about the
rats will be on our side, certainly,' said Rodenski.
yes, the rats. Remind them of the past glories of the Ratsburg
empire. They will rally. If it came to a show of force, the rats are
the strongest of all the rodents by far.'
in a fight, we'd win, hinds down. But let's hope it doesn't come to
fighting with our fellow rodents,' said Rodenski.
your power of persuasion, Vladimer, and my military prowess, it
won't, I assure you.'
was a pause in which Rodenski wondered if his cousin believed it as
firmly as he himself hoped it.
Ratsburg added, 'You can also rest assured that the Ratsburg throne
will be yours at the outset -- with the condition attached, of
to the cats, no offspring will ever proceed from my body. As my
nearest relative, the throne will pass from me to you, and on to your
then, is to the revival of the Ratsburg dynasty,' said Ivan, lifting
his ale mug. Rodenski did likewise.
it was Von Ratsburg's time to leave.
wearing his cocked officer's hat, he whistled. Out from the pub
around the bend sprinted Pepe, his chihuahua. Von Ratsburg saddled
him and climbed on to his back.
Señor Ivan?' enquired the Chihuahua.
Mullen,' he said, bracing himself.
once, Pepe took off racing in the direction of County Mullen, barking
as he went, Ivan expertly clinging to his back.
stop the infernal barking, Pepe,' ordered Von Ratsburg.
Señor,' said Pepe.
• • •
Mousecovitz played an entire violin concerto by Mousezart, followed
by a couple of short pieces by Tchaicatzky rendered for the violin.
The mice of Red-Leicester and Double-Goucestershire applauded and
applauded, and after several curtain calls, he played, for an encore,
Johann Mauss' Tails from the Vienna Woods, following which, they all
called it a night.
put up in the tavern, and by early the next morning, was peddling
away on his squeaky bicycle towards Catropolis. It was still early
for the performance of the Nutcracker, even the rehearsals, but David
had been given an assignment. It would be best, he thought, to get
right to the bottom of it with all the time he had.
the Third -
lessons in the School of Hard Knocks • Catrick meets Mr.
Mousecovitz • in which Catrick is imprisoned for his association
with the student movement •
was more disturbed than ever by what he was hearing. This was beyond
just befriending a mouse, or cultivating a relationship with a
rabbit, or a rat. Some of the kittens were even joining the rodent
demonstrations, and a couple had been jailed for a night for throwing
rocks at cat-wardens during a riot that ensued.
of students were lodging protests to Dr. McTabbie, the president of
the university. He, in turn, called for Catrick and sat him down to
do some explaining. Catrick assured him as best he could that all he
had done, really, was tell the story of the mouse family that had
rescued him during the Wild Dog Campaigns, and encourage the
fostering of friendships with mice and other rodents. Nothing more.
And he absolutely didn't condone the subversive activity that some of
the kittens had been indulging in of late.
McTabbie was half satisfied and let him go.
a mouse here to see you, Dr. Siswart,' said the administrator, as he
arrived in the professors' chambers. 'Also, some of the students
would like to see you in the dining hall.'
you, Miss Fritz.'
walked first to his office, where he met a grey mouse in a dusty
suit, holding a bowler hat.
Mousecovitz at your service, Sir,' said the mouse with a polite bow.
Siswart at yours. What may I do for you?'
handed Catrick a calling card, and said:
a member of the Kmousett, and I'm on several of the mouse boards, and
I'm actually in the city to direct the performance of the Nutcracker
in just a few days. I thought I would like to make your acquaintance,
as I believe we share some common interests.'
Mr. Mousecovitz the violinist! I'm a leading admirer of yours,' said
Catrick. 'Why don't you sit here while I confer for a few moments
with some of the students, and then we can go out for a sandwich.
I'll ask Miss Fritz to fix you a cup of tea in the mean time.'
was pleased to wait. Catrick met briefly with the students, and told
them sternly that things were going too far and had to be put on hold
for a while before they all landed in the soup. There would be no
meetings of the 'Phillorodent society' for the foreseeable future.
his way back to his office, he noticed some cat-wardens in the
reception area. He rejoined his guest, and was beginning to put on
his hat and overcoat when there was a loud bang at the door.
was three cat-wardens. 'Dr. Catrick Siswart, I place you under arrest
for subversive activity and encouraging unrest.'
a mouse here too!'
doubt part of the conspiracy. Bring him along for questioning.'
protested Catrick. 'This is David Mousecovitz, he has nothing to do
with any of the unrest, I assure you. He's a…'
be the judge of that. Come along then both of you.'
they were led along, Catrick mumbled non stop to David, 'I sincerely
apologise for this - I mean - this is a thoroughly unexpected turn of
events, and you shouldn't be mixed up in all this - oh dear me -
please accept my apologies...'
apologised to so profusely by a cat was almost enough of a surprise
to David to offset the shock of being arrested.
they were finally bundled in to a cell, he had one or two questions
to ask of his would-be host.
Siswart, I understand you knew some mice in County Mullen. Can you
tell me their names?'
family name was Isaacs. Aaron and Rivka Isaacs, and their seven
children. Avram was the oldest, next was Naomi, then Nachaama, then
Joel, and the twins, Yachov and Yochannan, and the youngest,
was impressed that he remembered their names so well as to recite
them without hesitation.
did you come to meet them?'
told his story, and soon David saw, for himself, the light burning in
his eye as he told it.
was quiet for a while. There were two questions going around inside
his head now. One had just been asked by Catrick, which was, could he
find any clue of the Isaacs family's whereabouts. This, he promised
to look into. The other, he was silently asking himself, which had to
do with his mission to probe the kitten movement, and Dr. Siswart.
There was much more here than he had dreamed. Could he simply turn
them around and use them to fight their own kind, and then be rid of
them - as seemed to be Von Ratsburg's idea?
had a few more questions, but mostly to do with Tchaicatsky, the
Nutcracker and his other works. By the time the prison warden came to
call for Catrick, they were deep in conversation, like old friends,
discussing subjects of interest to them both, music, opera and
began by grilling him about his association with the mouse. He
assured them that this was none other than David Mousecovitz, the
violinist, who was scheduled to direct the performance of the
Nutcracker at the university auditorium just a few days hence. He had
come to discuss subjects of common interest, no doubt because of an
essay Catrick had written recently regarding the relationship of
Tchaicatsky's Nutcracker and the development of cat culture and
historical understanding. Though Mr. Mousecovitz hadn't actually
broached that subject, he was positive that was the reason for the
visit, as several notable personalities had already expressed an
interest in his research and conclusions.
wardens and investigators conferred among themselves, and concluded
that the arrest of David Mousecovitz had been a mistake. Someone went
to fetch him from the cell, and after verifying his credentials,
they went on to the original reason for the arrest. Catrick found
them much more difficult to convince than Dr. McTabbie. Finally, the
chief investigator decided to call for a hearing in a few days to see
if there was sufficient evidence to bring charges. Inquiries would be
made, but in the mean time, Catrick would be confined to a cat cell.
in a cat cell, as opposed to a mouse or rat cell meant that he had
tea five times a day: once in the morning with eggs, toast and baked
beans; mid morning and mid afternoon with cake and biscuits; at noon
with a tin of cat food; and in the evening with sardine sandwiches;
and last, there was a saucer of milk at bedtime. The mattress was
soft and without fleas, and included a pillow of goose down, and
clean sheets. There was also an overstuffed arm chair, and a
newspaper was brought every morning.
the lessons previously learned from the School of Hard Knocks was
that of not taking such things for granted. The solitude of the cell
made for just the right atmosphere for yet another lesson to sink in.
had clearly landed on all fours in the middle of something. Just
what, he wasn't quite sure.
had he done? Just as he had told Dr. McTabbie and the interrogating
officers, all he'd essentially done was tell his story. What was it
about a story of the kindness on the part of some field mice that it
should spark such a response among the kittens? So far, he could see
nothing wrong. But then, there were the extremes - some kittens
actually siding with the rebels.
the way to his cell, he had seen inside some of the mouse and the rat
cells. How thankful he was that Mr. Mousecovitz didn't end up in one
of those! Then, he was surprised by the comfort of the cat cell. Why
such a big difference? Why should he get tea and biscuits, when all
the mice and rats got, were dry crusts and smelly tap water?
of the kittens, he now remembered, when taken in for his part in the
rioting, had demanded to be put into the same cells as the mice. When
he first heard about that, Catrick just shook his head, and sighed,
'Kittens! What next?' Now, he could see why.
see things that adult cats either don't see, or else take for
there was injustice was now more obvious to Catrick than ever. Ought
he to have joined in with the demonstrations? Well, perhaps not, but
at least, the kittens were putting words into action.
could have gone on forever lamenting the injustices against the mice
and other rodents, while continuing to enjoy his privileged status as
a cat - a Royal Siamese at that! But when his pupils went out and
began doing according to what they believed, what was his reaction?
'This is going too far!' 'No more meetings of the Phillorodent
Society!' 'This is fanaticism!'
they were, perhaps, but who was guiding them?
Catrick. Who else?
how was Professor Catrick guiding his pupils?
he winced a time or two when someone suggested throwing a rock
through the big window of the royal palace; said, 'Come, come, be
serious,' when another suggested they all join the rodent
demonstrations; slapped his forehead when a few of them actually did;
and finally cancelled all further meetings.
had he ever offered a positive suggestion? It was always no, don't do
that, no that's too much - always what not to do, but never any
so they were misguided. And who had misguided them?
Catrick was guilty of encouraging unrest and subversive activity.
Maybe he did deserve to be put in prison.
did he deserve to be sitting in a cat-cell, when the rodents …
thoughts must have gone around and around in the same circle at least
a dozen times. When he came yet again to the part about making
positive suggestions, he suddenly found himself stumped.
positive suggestions could he have made?
can a group of kittens do to address the injustices of society?
had he done himself? He couldn't help but feel that something he had
done was right, but what?
had told his story. What was it about that story?
a can of tuna cat chow served with a bun and a cup of tea, he curled
up on his bed for his afternoon catnap.
he woke up, he continued to lie there, his tail slowly going around
and around in every direction while his mind went over the events of
that adventure long long ago, and his sojourn with the Isaacs family.
remembered that every time the subject of the wars came up, Mr.
Isaacs would take down the big book from the mantelpiece and read one
of his favourite passages:
will judge between the nations
arbitrate for many species.
they will hammer their swords into plow-blades
their spears into pruning-knives;
will not raise swords at each other,
they will no longer learn war.
was he reading about? Mr. Isaacs said it was the one who made all the
animals. He would, one day, restore everything to the way they were
at the beginning.
wolf will live with the lamb;
leopard lie down with the kid;
young lion and fattened lamb together,
a baby mouse to lead them.
and bear will feed together
young will lie down together
the lion will eat straw like the ox.
kitten will play on a cobra's hole,
puppy put his paw in a viper's nest.
will not hurt or destroy
on my holy mountain,
the earth will be as full
the knowledge of the Maker
water covering the sea.
Isaacs had read those passages so often, Catrick remembered them by
heart. Just now, the act of going over them again and again in his
mind was doing something for him. He did that until he went to sleep
was awakened by the arrival of afternoon tea and biscuits. His drowsy
mind had jumbled up the lines, and he was thinking, 'The cat shall
lie down with the rat.'
spontaneously, he asked the uniformed cat who brought the tea, 'Can I
please make a request to the prison warden?'
call him for you,' he said.
the warden came to the cell.
request to be placed in a rat's cell,' said Catrick.
warden looked at him as though he were just slightly off in the head,
but said, 'Okay.'
a guard came and ushered him down the corridor, through an iron door,
down another corridor, and into a bare cell with only a wooden bench
on the far end. His tea and biscuits were left in the other cell,
actually wasn't as bad as it seemed at first. For the rest of the
day, he took cat-naps, interspersed with the lines from the big book
going through his head.
was happier here.
the Fourth -
A Taste of
which it's made known what a squirrel has under his kilt •
Colonel Von Ratsburg trees the cats • fair dinkum sheep •
news for the presses • Rodenski suggests an easier line •
squirrel militia was lightly armed, but that didn't matter to Colonel
Von Ratsburg. From where he, his Chihuahua, and the rat militia
waited, hidden behind the bushes, he could see both the squirrels and
the advancing cat army.
cats had never fought squirrels before, so they weren't sure what to
expect. They continued to advance as the squirrels simply stood,
jeered, threw nuts, while a few of them ran to the forefront, turned
around, lifted their kilts and wriggled their bushy tails at them.
this, the cats sighed, rolled their eyes, but continued to advance.
Von Ratsburg kept his eyes on the cat captain, who now had his sword
up in the air, ready to wave it down as the signal to fire. He was a
good judge of cat actions, so just a split second before the cat
captain should have yelled 'fire', Von Ratsburg gave a shrill
that, all the squirrels turned their bushy tails and ran for the
trees across the meadow.
instead of yelling, 'fire', the cat captain yelled, 'charge!'
the meadow, the squirrels began scampering up the trees, and into the
branches. As soon as the last squirrel was up, the cats reached the
trees, and they began to follow the squirrels up. By the time, the
cats reached the branches, however, the squirrels were jumping from
tree to tree, and away from the cats.
Von Ratsburg gave two shrill whistles, and from somewhere behind him,
off to the side, ran a pack of wild dogs barking feroclously. The
cats that had remained on the ground, including the captain, looked
and immediately they, too, fled up the trees.
the cats, who are not adept at jumping from tree to tree, were in the
branches, peering at the dogs below, who were dancing around, barking
and yelling 'Hee Hah!'. The squirrels were now out of shooting range,
so the cats began to find their positions, and take aim at the dogs.
before they could do so, Von Ratsburg gave three sharp whistles, and
the rat militia appeared from behind the bushes and began firing at
the cats in the trees until they were falling like ripe fruit.
dogs, as Von Ratsburg had promised they could, devoured what they
were able, put the rest into sacks, but left the weapons and
ammunition for the rodents. This was fine with the dogs, who much
preferred their Smith and Moussen revolvers to the rifles used by the
army. Those cats that remained, the rats ordered down at gun-point,
and took prisoner. The dogs, with the cat sacks slung over their
shoulders, began marching off. Their leader, 'Mad' Mutt Roverson,
waved Von Ratsburg a friendly goodbye.
stay in touch,' said Von Ratsburg.
take care now, ye hear?' said Mutt.
the Western half of County Mullen was held by the rodent front - for
the time being at least. Von Ratsburg knew the cats would soon be
back in greater force. Then, Mad Mutt and his dog pack would again be
of valuable help. The squirrels would also be vital, and now that an
important victory had been won, the rabbits, chipmunks and moles
would be emboldened to take part. However, now that the local rat
militia had a taste of victory, they could confidently handle the
rest without Von Ratsburg's presence.
Ratsburg consulted with the lieutenants, and prepared to depart for
County Blakeston. This time, he didn't go dressed as a colonel. After
such a direct confrontation, the cats would be on the lookout. In
just a few short hours, all roads in and out of the western half of
County Mullen would be closed. Von Ratsburg had to make his exit
before that happened, as there was work to do in other parts of the
dressed in the tattered outfit of a farmer, with a straw hat instead
of the plumed colonel's hat, he set off on Pepe's back for County
Blakeston. Pepe wore his new broad brimmed hat, a present from one of
the wild dogs. They went along the roads for as long as they dared,
and then began sprinting across pastures and over hedges. Pepe knew
how to jump, and Ivan, how to hang on. What sheep they passed just
looked. One of them asked, 'Where's the fire, mate?'
they came to a major road, Ivan asked a sheep, 'Have any cat patrols
been through here?'
do you want to know, mate?'
you know what they're like. I'm sure you wouldn't want to tangle with
them, would you?'
fair dinkum law abiding sheep, we are, mate,' said the sheep. 'Why
should they tangle with us? It ain't even shearing time is it!'
keep calling me "mate", but you won't even give a helping
hoof. Bark, Pepe!'
barked, and the whole flock of sheep scattered across the pasture.
Ratsburg decided to chance it, and they took off down the road. The
wind was in their face, so Pepe could catch the scent if there were
any cat patrols ahead. On the road, Von Ratsburg could rest a bit,
not having to hang on so tightly.
far along, they smelled feline, so they took to the pastures again.
next day, after spending a night under a hedge, and travelling along
in the same fashion, he finally reached the cottage where Rodenski
was hiding out.
did it go at the front?' Rodenski asked as soon as Von Ratsburg sat
We just need to get the word out through the underground networks and
will have the whole rodent community emboldened for action.'
we must mobilise the militias on the east side in time for the cats
to do massive troop movements westward,' said Von Ratsburg.
strategy, Colonel. Hit from all sides at once. The moles will be here
this afternoon. Give them all the details, and they'll have it off
the presses by tomorrow. By early next week, word will have reached
the city. Then, no doubt, Ratsloff and Ratsovich will make maximum
use of it.'
Ratsloff and Ratsovich know the ways of the city like no one else.'
Ratsburg was hungry so a meal was brought in. After some more talk
about strategy and victory, Von Ratsburg said, 'Have you felt out any
of the other rodent leaders regarding their ideas for the new order?'
don't think they're too enthusiastic about simply having a rat
dynasty take over from the cat one. I didn't suggest that overtly, of
course, but I could sense concern about who is to have the balance of
power when the time comes. I think our own expectations must be
lowered a bit, as far as that goes.'
Ratsburg frowned. After a pause, Rodenski continued:
we simply have a parliament, with a moderator or a president, and
then each species can set up its own style of leadership, I think the
Von Ratsburg line can fit within that kind of framework as
representing the rats.'
could be a start,' said the Colonel. 'But I think with your influence
and my skill, we can do much more than that.'
sure that under such a system, I would gain the presidency, and from
there, we could slowly work our way into a permanent leadership role
still controlled by a parliament! The ancient Ratsburgs weren't
encumbered with any such thing.'
a new age, cousin. we may have to bend a little,' said Rodenski.
sighed, Von Ratsburg, 'but … '