committed had been confined to the official larder. Now, however, it had evidently got its hand in, and wasabout to commence operations upon a more extensive scale. The Tabby Terror had begun. Where would it end?The general opinion was that something would have to be done about it. No one seemed to know exactly whatto do. Montgomery spoke darkly of bricks, bits of string, and horse-ponds. Smith rolled the word 'rat-poison'luxuriously round his tongue. Shawyer, who was something of an expert on the range, babbled of air-guns.At tea on the following evening the first really serious engagement of the campaign took place. The cat strolledinto the tea-room in the patronizing way characteristic of his kind, but was heavily shelled with lump-sugar, and beat a rapid retreat. That was the signal for the outbreak of serious hostilities. From that moment its paw wasagainst every man, and the tale of the things it stole is too terrible to relate in detail. It scored all along the line.Like Death in the poem, it knocked at the doors of the highest and the lowest alike. Or rather, it did not exactlyknock. It came in without knocking. The palace of the prefect and the hovel of the fag suffered equally.Trentham, the head of the House, lost sausages to an incredible amount one evening, and the next day Ripton,of the Lower Third, was robbed of his one ewe lamb in the shape of half a tin of anchovy paste. Panic reigned.It was after this matter of the sausages that a luminous idea occurred to Trentham. He had been laid up with aslight football accident, and his family, reading between the lines of his written statement that he 'had gotcrocked at footer, nothing much, only (rather a nuisance) might do him out of the House-matches', a notificationof mortal injuries, and seeming to hear a death-rattle through the words 'felt rather chippy yesterday', had comedown
that is to say, with the exception of his father, who said he was too busy, but felt sure it was nothing serious. ('Why, when I was a boy, my dear, I used to think nothing of anoccasional tumble. There's nothing the matter with Dick. Why, etc., etc.')Trentham's sister was his first visitor.'I say,' said he, when he had satisfied her on the subject of his health, 'would you like to do me a good turn?'She intimated that she would be delighted, and asked for details.
'Buy the beak's cat,'
hissed Trentham, in a hoarse whisper.'Dick, it
your leg that you hurt, wasn't it? Not--not your head?' she replied. 'I mean--''No, I really mean it. Why can't you? It's a perfectly simple thing to do.''But what
a beak? And why should I buy its cat?''A beak's a master. Surely you know that. You see, Prater's got a cat lately, and the beast strolls in and raids thestudies. Got round over half a pound of prime sausages in here the other night, and he's always bagging thingseverywhere. You'd be doing everyone a kindness if you would take him on. He'll get lynched some day if youdon't. Besides, you want a cat for your new house, surely. Keep down the mice, and that sort of thing, youknow. This animal's a demon for mice.' This was a telling argument. Trentham's sister had lately been married,and she certainly had had some idea of investing in a cat to adorn her home. 'As for beetles,' continued theinvalid, pushing home his advantage, 'they simply daren't come out of their lairs for fear of him.''If he eats beetles,' objected his sister, 'he can't have a very good coat.''He doesn't eat them. Just squashes them, you know, like a policeman. He's a decent enough beast as far as looksgo.''But if he steals things--'