Patrick has got a new friend and I wish he hadn’t, owing to the tiresome way the affair reacts on Roddie.
Poor Rod! Cats in the garden do make him so mad, and the worst of it is that he allows the creatures to get on his nerves. I mean, he’s not content with chasing them out when they are there. He tries to chase them out when they’re not there at all, and there are moments when I fear that he is heading for a breakdown.
For instance, there was a time when Mr. Dhu, taking his leisure of an afternoon, took it comfortably asprawl in his armchair, where he would snore peacefully until tea and ginger nuts recalled him pleasantly to the post of duty.
But now, since Pat’s friend Goofy arrived, Roddie spends the afternoon camping out on the arm of the divan with his head on a corner of my desk; a hideously uncomfortable position which has the sole advantage of enabling him to look into the garden every time he opens his eyes.
The result is that about every half-hour he utters a sudden and alarming squark of rage, falls off his perch with a thud and hurls himself madly into the garden. I look up and see him leaping up against the wall in an agony of excitement, but not a sign of a cat can I see anywhere.
“What on earth do you think you’re doing?” I ask him when he comes back, and he gives a sheepish sort of grin, mutters that he ‘thought he heard something,’ has a drink, climbs back onto his perch again, and the whole nerve-racking business is repeated ad nauseam.
If I shut the garden door it doesn’t improve matters, because then he leaps round the room on his back legs, making such horrible noises that I have to get up and let him out.
Mind you, I quite agree with him that Goofy is a nuisance. No amount of chasing will persuade the old idiot that he’s not welcome, and five minutes after being hustled over the wall he comes mooning back with his gurgling cry of “P-a-at! Pa-a-aaat!”
Yesterday he excelled himself. Roddie and I came in and found him sitting in the doorway, and in the chase that followed he lost his head and flew straight up our old tree stump, scratching loose a long strip of bark, which fell on Roddie’s nose.
He was naturally furious. “Hi!” he yelled, “come down, you cad!” and Goofy (there’s no doubt he’s a bit touched) tried to scramble down the other side, lost his footing, and as Roddie rushed round the old ass descended on the back of his neck, and was over the wall before Rod could recover.
“Come in and calm down,” I said. “You’ll get scratched if you aren’t careful, and I think he’s gone for good this time.”
But after all that, in less than half an hour, we heard the old cry outside: “Pa-aat! Pa-a-aat!” and the business started again.
You know it’s a job trying to get young Roddie to pose for a drawing. In the dark days of the winter you can’t see him properly because he’s do black, and in the summer—well, in the summer it’s even worse, because there are so many things to distract his attention.
Last Sunday afternoon, for instance, I thought I’d do a sketch of him. He was tired after his walk and propped up in rather an amusing position in the corner of his chair fast asleep, so it seemed a good opportunity.
Quietly I got a drawing pad and pencil, but as soon as I had made two strokes he opened an eye and saw me looking at him.
“Hullo,” he said self-consciously, “what are you doing?”
“Nothing,” I said hastily, “nothing at all. Go to sleep.” I ostentatiously looked the other way, and after a moment he dozed off.
“That’s good,” I thought, and started again. Three strokes, and I found him regarding me fixedly. “I believe,” he said, with suspicion, “that something’s going on. What is it?” and he sat up.
“Really,” I assured him earnestly, “it’s of no consequence. Please go to sleep again.” So he fidgeted about for a minute or two, and at last composed himself in an entirely new position so that all I could see was a shapeless black mass with one foot sticking out.
This was rather a blow, but I quietly got up and moved to a position where I could get a better view, and tried again. Unfortunately, hardly had I started when the voice of Goofy (Patrick’s cat friend) sounded from afar, and Roddie came to life with a jerk.
“What’s that? What’s that?” he exclaimed, craning his neck to see out of the window. “That voice again!”
“No, it isn’t,” I said hastily. “It was just an echo. There’s nobody there, really.”
Mr. Dhu looked at me doubtfully. “I’m not so sure,” he muttered, listening intently. However, the sound wasn’t repeated, so eventually he settled down—in a new position entirely. But I refused to give in and once more returned to the attack—and instantly the dog next door started barking.
Now, that is a thing that Roddie cannot and will not have; with one bound he was out of his chair. “How many times,” he growled, “have I spoken about that?” and he rushed furiously out, shouting for silence.
I regarded my drawing pad sadly; what I had done looked more like a rough map of the Underground than the study of a dog. Then I suddenly noticed Pat stretched out along the back of the settee, and decided to sketch him. He had been motionless for quite an hour, but as I looked he sat up suddenly.
“A fly?” said Pat, glaring round. “No? Oh!” and he yawned and sprawled again.
“That’s better,” I said—but just then Roddie returned panting. “Silenced him,” he declared.
“Hullo, there’s old Pat, sleeping again. Hi, Pat, wake up!” and he sprang on the settee, gave the cat a violent nudge, and a minute later they were going full speed across the lawn.
What a life!
Excerpt from the blogger’s book, MacDuffy’s Reader . Joseph Harvill, ed. Tartan Scottie Press, 2007. Story and illustrations by C.B. Poultney, 1931.