5 DECEMBER 1952, Page 24


The farm-cat belongs to no one. He shares the barn, the shippon, the straw-shed With whatever creatures are there. He comes out, when it suits him, to lap a saucer of milk., but his affections cannot be bought like those of the fat, sleek, domestic cat. He is far from fat. Every sinew of him is strong, and his body is lithe. He could become a beggar at the table, but the wild is in him. His hackles rise too easily, and his nerves are taut. When he hunts the drystone wall, he does it in earnest. He can sit an hour waiting for the vole to run, and he is a master at crawling up on unwary sparrows. I caught sight of him in the Dutch barn. He was watching something in the straw, and, when he sprang, he made me jump. In a minute he was off with a mouse trailing from his mouth. He ran across the court and slid under the stable-door. When I followed I peered in and saw him. He tensed, watching me with suspicion, and then carried the mouse into a dark corner. I hadn't the heart to increase his anxiety by opening the door and following to see what he would do.