BAKED SALMON AND RASHER For Children OF MOUSE A LA SNAIL of All Ages . .
By Peter Thompson
What has happened already: The people and animals in this *tory
AMADEUS, a fine black cat with an honourable position In the household of the DUKE and DUCHESS OF PRUFOOTLE.
STANISLAUS, a white poodle brought from Paris by the Duchess. At first Amadeus tries to have him sent atiay, but after the fiasco of a mass protest against poodles, organised by all the eats of Frufootte, the two animals are friends.
Among other friends of Amadeus are GINGER, a farm cat, WILLIBALD, monsecateher to a local inn, and MRS GIZZARD, who sells toffee apples by the castle gate. Her thin daughter, DELPHINIUM, dislikes Amadeus and Amadeus dislikes her.
TITUS OWL, whn lives in a tree, rivet; Amadeus shelter when he is lost In the Great Forest.
This is the tenth part of the story.
IT was late in the morning when Amadeus awoke ; and a small hole in the wall just above his bed was full of intense white light. As he was washing himself the old owl entered. " Ah, so you are awake at last," he said. " I've been in several times to wake you up, but you were sleeping so peacefully that I did not like to disturb you. It is good to sleep while one may. I suppose yon feel very happy and comfortable now " " I feel I could dance all the way to Prufootle : but before doing that I feel I could feed a great cleat."
" Of course. I knew you would. How splendid to feel like that. I can't remember when I last felt that I wanted to dance. One gets old, you know. Old and dull. Then of course there is this wretched insomnia. I find it almost impossible to sleep—except for a little while after the mid-day meal. When night conlies I feel I have to be getting on with my work; yet I know very well it's useless, dreary work," He was talking more to himself than to Amadeus; but the cat, who felt almost guilty because he was so happy and strong while the poor old owl looked tired out and sad, said encoura.gingly• "Oh, I'm sure its not useless; why a wise person like you—" "I'm not wise. I write hundreds and hundreds of sermons which will never be spoken. They are eloquent sermons, and it is very clever of me to do it.. But you cant call it wise. And dear, dear me, here I am talking away and you're simply starving, There, that just shows how really stupid I am. Where would you like breakfast? Here, or in my study, or—I tell you what—why not have it on my sun balcony? It's a glorious morning. The air is lovely after the snow."
AMADEUS thought breakfast on the sun balcony an excellent idea, so whilst he continued washing and grooming himself Titus prepared breakfast in the kitchen. Presently he came again Into the bedroom carrying a tray on which there were three plates with silver dish covers on them, another plate with nothing on it except a design of autumn leaves and a small wooden egg cup, and a large thick white mug of cocoa with a dose-fitting little feather skirt to keep it warm. "Are you ready?" asked Titus, " Yes," said Amadeus, giving a last pull at his bright 'scarf which he had tied round his neck; " quite ready."
Titus led the way. They went upstairs, past the hall by which they had entered, up and up. The staircase went round and round, and the higher they went the narrower became the
steps. Every so often there was a landing, painted cream like the hall, with pictures on its walls and doors leading out of it. "In most of these places I keep things," explained Titus, indicating with a shrug of one shoulder some doors as they went across a landing.
Higher and higher they went. At first there had been little lamps here and there in the wall of the staircase, but now they were not necessary, for little holes had been cut In the wall through which the daylight streamed like long fingers of chalk. "Tired?" asked Titus. "Oh, no," said Amadeus, though he was feeling rather puffed. It got cooler as they went higher. The doors on the landings now were painted green and red, and some even had pictures upon them: pictures of the forest, rather crude pictures. " These are my summer quarters," said Titus. "I usually move up here in May. It's so much healthier after the snow has gone, and the winds are warm and the sun shines all day. I painted the pictures on these doors myself. What do you think of them? "
Amadeus thought they were bad, but he had already hurt the old owl's feelings about his poetry, so he said, " Beautiful. Beautiful."
" you sound a bit spent of breath," I said Titus. "We're nearly at the top." The staircase wound round a few more times, then suddenly they were in the full blaze of the morning sun. They came out from the rustic archway that was over the last step, and walked on to a broad, smooth wooden platform with two wicker chairs and a table on it. Titus put the breakfast tray on the table while Amadeus went to the edge of the platform, which was circular in shape. and leaning over the wooden rail, looked down. He quickly straightened up, and stepped back a little, for it was a long, long way to the ground. "How high is it here? " he said. "I am giddy," "Oh, you'll soon get used to it —besides, you've got nothing in your stomach. Come and have some breakfast."
Amadeus sat at the table and lifted up the first silver dish cover. Underneath were three small blue eggs. He ate them. They were delicious, but he was still very hungry. He lifted up the second cover, Underneath was a slice of baked salmon garnished with minute rashers of mouse, minced snail (not the shell part, of course), mushroom, and rose leaves In oil. He ate. Half-way through he said: "How
delicious," and licked the edges of his mouth with his tongue. When he had nearly finished, he said: "But Mr Owl, aren't you going to eat anything? "
"I had my breakfast a long time ago, old fellow."
Under the third silver cover were two
piles of toasted muffins and a small pot of nettle jam (sometimes railed Dog's Delight). • " Wonderful," said Amadeus. " but Mr Owl, I can't possibly eat all this. Besides, isn't it awfully boring for you just to watch me eat?'
I love it," said the owl earnestly. "It reminds me of the days when I used to have an appetite. Now get on with it You can eat all that easily." And he did.
AFTERWARDS, while he sipped his cocoa, Titus pointed out landmarks in the forest and beyond the forest
"Over there is the oak tree where you saw that silly girl; and then if you look
beyond that but rather to the left ynu can see a sort of gap In the trees by the edge of the forest. That is the Prufootle road."
" So that's where I've got to go." said Amadeus. " I ought to be starting soon," "But surely you'll stay and have a mid-day meal first. Why it's after eleven, you know. You must stay."
"No," said Amadeus, " they will be worrying about me at the castle, and besides it is putting you to a lot of unnecessary trouble, isn't—"
"Nonsense, nonsense. There's no trouble in cooking a little food, and it's a treat to have someone to talk to. I can tell you it is lonely here in the winter. I sometimes think it is not very good for me to be here all alone, doing nothing except write sermons and brush the cobwebs out of the cupboards." The cat and the owl were silent a little; the sunshine soaked into them. Presently Amadeus stood up and again went, to the edge of the platform. He looked about him and sniffed the air. The snow glistened in the sun. "It is a pleasant spot, don't you think? " asked Titus.' Amadeus did think see "I don't come here much in the winter. It's usually too cold. But in the summer, in
the evenings, when the gnats swarm at the foot of the trees, and the birds call from the high branches, and there is colour in the sky I like to sit here by myself and dream."
" Did you build this place yourself?" asked Amadeus. "Well, I only designed it and helped to carry the wood up," said Titus modestly. " Two woodpeckers, friends of mine, excellent fellows, did all the donkey work. They
come up and have lea here sometimes in the summer. But they're rather shy. They never say much, and one of them is inclined to giggle; so there's not much I can talk to them about except the weather and the current tree rumours. But I don't suppose they find me very interesting HE stopped, and walked over to where Amadeus was standing. " What's the matter? " asked Amadeus: hut. the owl stood quite still and did not answer. After a while he started: " There, did you hear that? " " Hear what? " Listen." " But there isn't anything to listen to." "Oh yes there is. There! " This time Amadeus heard far. far away the sound of a dog barking. " That's a dog, isn't it? " said Titus.
" Yea. I wonder . I wonder . . The sound came nearer. " I think," said Amadeus, "I think I know that sound. I think it is Stanislaus. . . ." Then he explained to Titus who Stanislaus was. The cat and the owl stood a long time trying to look across the forest, and presently they saw something bright red, some way off and far below. It, came nearer. It was Stanislaus clad in a red cloak with a grey fur collar. He wore a grey fur hat, round and smelt like a Cossack hat. His long white nose was blue at its tip, and every so often he called in a thick nasal voice: " Abadeus! Abadeus! "
" Poor creature." said Titus, "he looks