Friday, December 19, 2008

An Intruder At Spring Rock

Lancelot guarding some quilt blocks I was working on in case the intruder tried to steal them.

We had an intruder last night just as I was settling down in bed. I was reading my book about the archaeology of dead (a great Time Life book - I thoroughly recommend it) when it seemed that one of the Neanderthals had come to life! The only way I can describe the sound was heart wrenching. There was moaning and caterwauling (literally as it turned out) and other otherworldly noises coming from very close by indeed. I stopped reading the better to concentrate on where the sound was coming from. I couldn't pinpoint the source of the wailing so I called to Graeme, who was still at his computer, to check if Lancelot was inside and locked in a room in which he didn't belong. I knew it wasn't Tristan or Guinevere. Tristan was on the end of my bed, standing at attention and bristling from every hair follicle, ready to spring into action should the call to arms come, and it wasn't the sort of sounds I associated with the ladylike Guinevere.

Graeme, as ever, wasn't eager to go searching for a black cat at night time and grumbled as he went from room to room giving them a cursory glance in case any cat came forward and surrendered itself. I knew if there was going to be a proper search done it would have to be by me, so I got up and thoroughly searched each room. It's a small house so it didn't take long. The noise had stopped even before I had begun my search, so not finding any black cats lurking in the shadows, I went back to my book. Within seconds the noise started up again so this time I jumped up and headed for the front door, with Tristan in hot pursuit. If there was going to be a cat fight he wanted his share. I found Lancelot on the path to the houseyard gate fluffed out to the size of about four black cats and crouched low casting threats of murder and mayhem into the darkness. Tristan bounded down the steps and stopped just short of Lancelot to see if he could see what Lancelot was seeing. Lancelot decided a cat in the hand was worth two in the bush and taking Tristan's head off was just as good as dealing with whatever he was threatening out there, and proceeded to put thought into deed. I swooped on the two of them, grabbed Lancelot and headed for the front door. There I found Guinevere coming out to see what all the fuss was about so I ordered her inside too. I called to Tristan to come back but he feigned night deafness (closely related to night blindness he tried to convince me later) and refused to budge.

Once I'd deposited Lancelot in the house I returned to retrieve Tristan, picked up Lancelot who was heading out the door again uttering dreadful threats to all and sundry and shooed Guinevere back in with my foot, I closed the front door and settled down to read yet again. It wasn't long after this that Graeme came to bed and we settled down to sleep. It was just as I was snuggling into my pillow that That Sound started up again. I asked Graeme if he'd opened the door and he told me not only had he opened the door, he had shut it again with the cats on the other side because they were all prowling about like cats who wanted to go outside. Any cat inside looks like a cat that wants to go outside to Graeme. I was very strong and didn't hit Graeme over the head with a pillow. I got up yet again and opened the front door. A pale orange flash took off from the porch and headed for our little bush area of the garden. Three house cats proceeded to dash off after it but I managed to catch the two boys and convince Guinevere yet again that she didn't want a part of this war.

This isn't the first time a feral cat has visited us on our front porch. We had a little black kitten come and move into our spare room one night and settled himself on the bed. Life was looking good for the poor little thing when he was quickly surrounded by three anti squatter cats all of whom gave him a number of good reasons not to think of settling in. I didn't know what the noise in the spare room was all about, but suspected that Lancelot and Tristan were at it again so I barged in to deal with them (once again I was almost asleep when the battle began). For once in their lives Lancelot and Tristan had united against a tiny common enemy. As I entered the room the little black flash whizzed past me. Cats were one thing, but humans entering the fray were another matter entirely. He returned a few days later and was again seen off by The Gang of Three. We haven't seen him since. I was more than ready to adopt him and teach him the joys of being domesticated but there was no way I could get close enough even to introduce myself.

Anyway, back to last night's intruder. I could see his eyes shining from the bushes and knew if something wasn't done to put him off the whole idea of settling down on our front porch for the night thus inciting the resident cats to voice their disapproval at the top of their very loud voices, I wouldn't get any sleep. I walked to the end of the porch, shone the torch in the general direction of the shining eyes and made half-hearted threats to back up Lancelot's threats of dismemberment if he returned to the scene of his crime. I don't think he believed a word. Animals seem to know by some sixth sense that I'm a push over for the entire animal world, bar spiders. Still, he left us in peace and quiet for the rest of the night. All three cats were as twitchy as if they'd received an electric shock, and their puffed out tails and raised hackles only enhanced the electric shock similarity. They spent the night jumping at small sounds and muttering threats under their breath.

Not the best environment in which to get a good night's sleep but better than diving outside to break up a four way cat fight on a regular basis.