This chapter is from the "Kittens: A Family Chronicle" book, by Svend Fleuron.
Over hill and dale as far as the eye can reach stretch line after line of stacked-up corn-sheaves. The golden oats and the light-yellow barley and wheat, have fallen asleep at last—heavy and listless under the clear, blue harvest sky. The spring's soft call to growth and love, the summer's vibrant note of lust and passion, have worked their will and ripened every ear. Out here in the fields, in Nature's sun-baked forcing-house, are none—none who have not found and drunk to its dregs the strong, sweet wine of fruitful life. They have sprung into being, grown up, fructified—now they bring forth their seed and yield themselves to fate. . . .
One sunny afternoon, while the spiders spin their webs and the pimpernels blink their little red flowers, Grey sets out hunting through the rye stubble.
Suddenly she hears the squeak of a mouse from a heap of rakings—and becomes instantly stiff and rigid, her ears forward and tail bent.
The mice are indeed holding a feast in the rakings; the company is joyous and boisterous at the sight of such a good spread.
With shining eyes Grey cautiously lifts her forepaw and moves it slowly, very slowly, forward; silently she puts it down on the ground—and now she brings her back leg forward too, raising it high in the air to avoid the stubble. But just as she is about to put it down, the mice become suddenly silent— and she has to remain for a long time in her uncomfortable position.
At last the happy squeaking begins again —and Grey completes her step and commences a fresh one.
It takes her a whole quarter of an hour to move two yards; but to her it seems no longer than a minute.
When stalking, she falls into the most extraordinary attitudes: she crooks her back, stretches forward her neck, and curls like the bed of a stream round stray stones and loose ears of corn; but at last she is so close that the mouse-feast is directly under her nose.
Noiselessly she leaps forward . . . plunges into the heap of straw; makes one swift, fatal stroke with her forepaw—and pulls out a small, earth-coloured mouse, which she puts straight into her mouth.
As she walked away she felt and looked very proud of her victory. True, she would have liked to torture her victim; but she had been too ravenous to wait!
It was soon an everyday event for Grey to capture a mouse! She, the little, short-legged, big-eared kitten, who was herself rather like a big rat, had become indeed the terror of the small nibblers.
But she had another string to her bow!
For hours she would lie in wait by the side of the big bog-pool, and fish the gleaming shell-fish out of the water with lightning strokes of her paw. Regularly in the early morning she would creep down to the pond, and sit on the extreme edge, without paying the least attention to the splashing of the small waves. On one occasion she even plunged head first into the water—and came up again with a large, wriggling carp in her mouth.
She was not only a mouse-cat, but a fish-cat too!