This chapter is from the "Kittens: A Family Chronicle" book, by Svend Fleuron.
Red became more and more reckless—and the wretched Box, who often saw her from his kennel, suffered the agonies of Tantalus!
His defeat in the manure-well had not reformed the cat-nihilist. He was still in the mood for war, and bent upon taking a bloody revenge.
For two whole weeks he has been chained up—but now the farmer's wife herself resolved to take him in hand. His constant assaults on all cats, and especially his occasional outbreaks on her own, have for a long time given her great annoyance.
Every day he spends several hours sitting in a basket of hay in the kitchen together with five little newly-born kittens, which crawl squeaking round his legs and body. By this treatment they hope to make him accustomed to cats!
He is watched very closely; the slightest suspicious movement on his part brings a crack on the head from ladle or poker. The little ones also treat him with the utmost disrespect: they hiss at him and spit right in his face!
When the "lesson" is over for the day and he is shut out of the kitchen, his sensitive mind is in such a turmoil that he scarcely knows what he is doing. The most weird things happen: he sees cats everywhere—the sun it-self turns into a huge, shining cat-face—and with hair on end and tail between his legs he makes a frantic charge towards it. . . .
One day just after his lesson Box meets a little red cat-devil out in the garden with an eel-skin in its mouth.
Black cats and grey cats were bad enough— but red cats turned him into a raving maniac!
He chases after the thief, who makes for the rye-field. The cheeky little red-skin does not trouble to abandon her "catch," and even has the sangfroid to stop in her flight to dig it down!
The delay was almost fatal—and had she not been lucky enough, when crossing a strip of fallow ground on her way to the cornfield, to run across Grey Puss, who was stalking young peewits, there is little doubt as to how things would have ended.
The old she-cat, realizing the state of affairs, unhesitatingly takes her kitten's place. She runs right across Box's nose and inveigles him after her into the cornfield. To do battle in the open is not her intention at all; she knows far subtler tactics!
Once among the corn, she quickly contrives to lose sight of the dog; and then lies down in ambush, waiting an opportunity to attack in the rear.
Box is not smart enough to suspect her design. Feeling, as always, that he is the undisputed lord of the fields, he rushes about barking angrily and aggressively. Matters are taking their usual course, he thinks!
That devil of a cat has of course hidden herself somewhere, and imagines his nose cannot find her—as if a cat were not the simplest of all creatures to track down. . . . Why, every straw touched by a cat simply stank!
Box is easy to deceive, and runs right into the trap set for him by the little field tiger.
He has not the slightest idea how it happened—but this he knows: that the clawed she-devil is sitting on his back again, and is already tearing his skin to shreds.
His howls are so loud, and Grey Puss' growls so deep and threatening, that they are heard at the burial-mound. The kittens start up from their day-doze and, fully understanding what is taking place, begin to strut about with stiff legs and erect tails, uttering little half-growls at intervals. "Madness" goes one better: he makes off through the corn towards the scene of action. ...
He is a real little cat-sportsman!