‘Nothing like a bit of sunshine to warm the cockles of the heart,’ thought the cat as he lay on his back making sure he was in the middle of the wide shelf; he had a fading memory of the time he didn’t and rolled off and he didn’t fancy another upside down visit to the ground.
‘Can’t be bad’ he sighed softly as he turned his head but then suddenly quickly came alert.
‘I wonder what they are looking at’ he thought as he noticed his friends across the garden sitting silent and all looking in the same direction.
‘Better have a look’ he thought, turning over on to his tummy and looking down into the border that passed close to his pen.
‘Oh No! Not him again!’ muttered the cat as he saw the soil moving between the flowers. ‘Now what?’
‘Hullo Cuckoo!’ called the squeaky voice as the mole pushed his head up through the mound of soil.
‘Who are you calling Cuckoo?’ asked the cat with some annoyance.
‘That’s what you said your name was the last time I was here,’ replied the mole in surprise.
‘I said Kugu’ replied the cat, with irritation. ‘Say it, say Kugu’.
‘Cuckoo,’ replied the mole.
‘Oh, just call me Tom for goodness sake!’ replied the cat in exasperation.
‘But you have a proper name and lots of cats are called Tom,’ replied the mole sulkily. ‘It’s not my fault if I can’t say it.’
Then he added: ‘Have you found a name for me?’
‘Not one I could repeat in public,’ replied the cat as he gave the mole with a quizzical look.
‘What is it?’ asked the mole.
‘First things first,’ replied the cat, ‘you have ears don’t you?’
‘Of course I’ve got ears,’ replied the mole indignantly. ‘Do you think I’m a freak or something?’
‘Keep your fur coat on!’ replied the cat with a laugh. ‘Right, turn one of your sound detectors this way and then repeat after me’.
‘I’m ready!’ replied the mole as he turned his head.
‘K,’ began the cat. ‘As in king’.
‘K’ repeated the mole.
‘U,’ continued the cat, ‘as in Up and Under’.
‘U,’ answered the mole.
‘Now the difficult bit.’ continued the cat. ‘G as in Geronimo, say that’.
‘G,’ answered the mole.
‘Not like that dopey!’ replied the cat. ‘You said it like Get up and Go. I said like – er…,’ the cat paused for a moment as he thought,. ‘What’s that wet stuff on the grass in the mornings?’
‘Rain,’ replied the mole.
‘Give me strength,’ muttered the cat, ‘I think you’ve had your head on inside out and your brain’s got rusty. It’s Dew for goodness sake, Dew, you know, like Dew drop. Say Dew’.
‘Dew.’ replied the mole.
‘Now you’re talking,’ replied the cat with a hint of relief in his voice. ‘Now say it all together like this; ‘KuuuDEWDEW’.
‘Kuuu DEWDEW!’ replied the mole.
‘You’re nearly there’ replied the cat. ‘Now say it again only this time all one word and shorter,
Kugu! Like that.
‘Kugu!’ replied the mole triumphantly. ‘I said it!’
‘Good boy,’ replied the cat, ‘Now what do you want? I thought you had gone to live in the wilderness’.
‘I did,’ replied the mole, pausing for a moment as he looked up at the cat.
‘Would you do me a favour?’ he asked.
‘Now what?’ muttered the cat’.
‘Would you jump down please?’ asked the Mole. ‘The sun is in my eyes and all this looking up makes my neck ache’.
‘Oh I suppose so,’ sighed the cat as he jumped down and sat at the wire almost level with the Mole. ‘That better?’
‘Lots better,’ replied the Mole. ‘I can see you properly now and I don’t have to squint.’
‘Now then Shorty, why aren’t you down the wilderness like any sensible mole would be?’ asked the cat.
‘Is that my name?’ asked the mole in delight. ‘Is that what I’m called now?’
‘No it isn’t! It was a slip of the tongue and don’t ask me what that is,’ he quickly added as the mole started to speak. ‘Now what about the wilderness, why aren’t you down there’?’
‘I did and I was,’ replied the Mole. ‘But I don’t seem to be able to settle’.
‘How do you mean can’t settle?’ asked the cat. ‘You have it made down there, all that space and soft soil, not to mention the grub, what more do you want?’
‘It’s not that,’ replied the Mole, ‘it’s the noise, and other things’.
‘Noise!’ answered the cat with a laugh. ‘I thought you were supposed to be the noisy one’.
‘That was before’ replied the Mole, ‘here it’s different, it’s that Robin’.
‘What’s wrong with the Robin? He hasn’t been pecking you has he?’ the cat asked as he began to laugh.
‘You wouldn’t laugh so loud if you had it all day long!’ shouted the Mole. ‘All he does is whistle, whistle, whistle. I wouldn’t mind so much if he knew the words but he doesn’t and it’s not funny, and it’s even worse at night!’
‘Why, what’s wrong at night?’ asked the cat with some surprise.
‘It’s the rabbits,’ replied the Mole. ‘All they do all night is run around stamping their feet and it got so bad last night I had to sleep with my hands over my ears, not to mention the roof coming in’.
‘You’ll get used to it,’ replied the cat with a smile.
‘But I might not!’ replied the mole, suddenly taking the cat by surprise as he asked: ‘Can I come and live with you?’
‘Come and live with me?’ replied the cat with something approaching incredulity. ‘Come and live with me? You must be off your trolley! For one thing there isn’t room and another thing I get visitors’.
‘What visitors?’ asked the mole, ‘I can’t see anyone’.
‘They only come to visit’ replied the cat. ‘They don’t stay and anyway, some of the girls wouldn’t take kindly to having you in here’.
‘Mmm I see,’ said the mole. ‘I’d best be off then’.
‘Good thinking Mole’ replied the cat. ‘No offence mind’ he added as he began to rise.
‘That’s alright Mr. Kugu’ replied the mole, pausing for a moment as he looked at the cat, an then adding: ‘Will you do me another favour before I go?’
‘What now?’ asked the cat as he stopped from turning away.
‘Tell me a story,’ asked the Mole.
‘Tell you a story!’ exclaimed the cat with genuine surprise. ‘Tell you a story? Who do you think I am, Johnny Morris?’
‘Who’s he?’ asked the Mole. ‘Is he another cat?’
‘Oh, never mind’ replied Kugu with a hint of despair. ‘I don’t know any stories’ he continued, ‘In any case, not the sort that you would like’.
‘Haven’t you any books?’ asked the mole. ‘Story books, you must have some books in that big house of yours’.
‘Yes I’ve got books’ replied the cat with a hint of resignation. ‘Wait there for a minute’ he added as he turned and walked through the flap, re- appearing a few minutes later with some books under is arm.
‘I’ll hold them up,’ he told the mole bringing the books from under his arm ‘and when you see one you like, tell me and I roll it up and slip it under the wire, then you can take it with you but I want it back. And think on - not covered with soil, mind,’ he added as he looked the mole in the eye.
‘I can’t take it with me,’ replied the mole as he pushed his hands up to his face and wiped the tears away.
‘Now what?’ exclaimed the cat. ‘What have I said now?’
‘I can only read pictures’ sobbed the Mole. ‘I don’t know any words’.
‘What have I done to deserve this?’ muttered the cat, pausing to think for a moment.
‘Ok ok’ he finally told the mole. ‘Don’t get carried away, dry your eyes and let me shuffle through this little lot’.
‘Here’s one,’ he said, showing the front of the book to the mole. ‘This might be ok’.
‘There’s a cat, and a bird!’ the mole cried in excitement. ‘What’s it about?’
‘If you hush for a minute I’ll tell you,’ replied the cat as he turned the book and opened the front page, ‘are you ready?’
‘Just hang on a jiff whilst I get comfortable,’ replied the mole as he levered his shoulders out of his hole. ‘Wont be a sec’ he added as he put his elbows on the edge of the hole and settled his head in his paws. ‘I’m ready Mr. Kugu’ he said, beaming as he looked at the cat.
‘Right, here we go then,’ began the cat, ‘The owl and the pussy cat went to sea in a…’
‘It’s not about water is it?’ cried the mole anxiously. ‘I don’t like water, not deep water without any bottom’.
‘Strewth!’ muttered the cat under his breath. ‘What do you like’ he asked the mole as he looked up.
‘I don’t know really,’ replied the mole with a rather forlorn expression in his eyes.
‘Have a look at this one then,’ replied the cat as he showed the mole another book.
‘There’s a mole, and a frog,’ replied the mole excitedly. ‘What’s that one about?’
‘Let’s start again,’ said the cat, asking the mole if he had his hands over his ears.
‘Course not!’ replied the mole indignantly.
‘Right then,’ replied the cat. ‘Press your lips together and breathe through your nose,’ his request getting a nod from the mole in reply.
‘Here we go then…’ began the cat. ‘Tales Of The River Bank’ and before you butt in again, Mole it’s only a river, it’s not deep… in fact you could walk across with your feet on the bottom. He held his finger to his lips and nodding as he looked over the top of the book.
The mole looked up at the cat and nodded back, his head was slightly to one side as he sat enthralled as Kugu began to tell him the story.
‘Once upon a time, not a long way from here’ began the cat ‘there lived a frog, he was a toad actually and he was a bit of a dandy, sort of a snappy dresser if you like and one of his pals was a mole, a bit like you,’ Kugu added with a smile as he looked over the top of the page, noticing that the mole’s eyes were beginning to close.
‘Won’t be long now…’ he thought to himself as a smile came to his lips. ‘And these two, the toad and the mole lived on the river bank’ he continued and then looked up as he heard a slithering sound.
‘Bye for now Mole,’ whispered the cat as the mole fell slowly asleep and disappeared down his hole. The sound of snoring reached his ears from inside the hole. Can’t beat a bedtime story,’ chuckled Kugu to himself as he jumped back onto his shelf to enjoy the sunshine… and some peace and quiet.