A NEW FOSTER-MOTHER FOR KITTENS. [To THE EDITOR OF THE
"SPECTATOR."] SIR,—A somewhat similar incident to that recorded by Mr. Egerton in the Spectator of June 3rd took place some years back at Northrepps Hall, near Cromer, the seat of the late Sir Fowell Buxton. A large colony of parrots and macaws had been established there, for whom a home had been provided near the house in a large open aviary, with hutches for them to lay in. But the birds as a rule preferred the woods, at any rate during the summer, only coming home at feeding-time, when, on the well-known tinkling of the spoon on the tin containing their food, a large covey of gaily plumaged birds came fluttering down to the feeding-place, presenting a sight not often to be seen in Eng- land. The hutches being then practically deserted, a cat found one of them a convenient place to kitten in. While the mother- eat was away foraging, one of the female parrots paid a chance visit to the place, and finding the young kittens in her nest, at once adopted them as her own, and was found by Lady Buxton's man covering her strange adopted children with her wings. Whether this practice was continued, as in Mr. Egerton's case, or only adopted on this one occasion, I cannot say.
May I be permitted to add another count to the in dictment against the " odious " and " odorous " black-beetle or "cockroach," formulated in your amusing article on "Household Pests "P The wretched creature is very fond of the paste with which in former days (one seldom sees them now) the paper titles of books were affixed to their backs. When living on the Undercliff of the Isle of Wight, my house swarmed with these foul insects. They drowned them- selves in one's milk, swam in one's soup, and nibbled one's pastry. They even invaded our beds ; nor was it conducive to a night's calm repose, on turning down the bedclothes, to see one or more of these wretches scurrying away over the sheets. We laid traps for them—a very clever dodge—by filling soup- plates with beer, with a fringe of split sticks resting on the ground, by which they might climb, and after having drunk their fill, lose their heads, tumble in and be drowned. The abundance of these pests may be gathered when I say that one morning we found between twenty and thirty of various ages, sizes, and colours drowned in the beer in our own bedroom. My study having the kitchen fireplace behind it, was a favourite resort for these horrible insects. On the shelves by the fire- place there were a number of volumes with the white paper labels I have spoken of. These labels, to my annoyance, I found gradually disappearing ; not peeling off, but wasting away in comminuted fragments. For some time this was a mystery to me ; at last, while I sat writing late at the other side of the room, I was conscious of slight rustlings and scrapings by the fireplace, and on examining my bookshelves I found the cockroaches making their supper on the backs of my books.
Subsequent alterations in the house removed the kitchen, and the loss of the warmth which cockroaches so much delight in made them shift their quarters, and the injury to my library ceased; and the kitchen being in a remote part of the house, their visits to the bedrooms became less frequent. Like the writer of the article, I tried a hedgehog. The worthy animal did his best. He devoured cockroaches to repletion, an over-full meal sometimes making him almost a greater nuisance than the insects themselves. But what could one do among so many ? He died at last, I believe, from over-devotion to his task, and his praiseworthy but ineffectual attempts to rid us of the pest came to an end. Not so the pest itself, and but for the structural alterations I have mentioned, and carefully stopping all the crannies in which the cockroaches nestled by the fireplace, it would have been as great as ever. EUMUNT VENABLES, 36 Brook Street, Bath, june 19th.