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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 4 (July 1, 1936)

The People of Pudding Hill — No. 7

page 56

The People of Pudding Hill
No. 7.

[All Rights Reserved.]

Mr. Tom Goes Fishing.

One of the things Mr. Tom liked to do best was to lie in the sun, and think. Mr. Tom was the tabby cat who lived with the people in the cottage on Pudding Hill, and the things he thought about as he lay in the sun were sometimes things he liked to do, and other times things he would like to have. It might be poetry, and again it might be flying.
“Fishing” —said Mr. Tom

“Fishing” —said Mr. Tom

Lately he had been thinking a great deal about fish. It seemed to him that if he knew for certain that he would have a nice piece of fried fish for supper, he would be the most contented cat in the world. The trouble was that the people in the cottage very seldom had fish—not for weeks and weeks had they had it, and Mr. Tom began to wonder if he could not go and get a piece for himself.

Fish he knew came from the sea. His mother had told him that when he was a little chap, but she did not tell him how, and so he thought that nice pieces of fried fish could be found by the sea. From where he lay on the verandah he could see the sea. He looked very hard and long at it and decided that he would go down to the sea and get a piece of fish.

Mr. Tom rose and stretched himself, arching his back and scratching his claws in and out along the verandah rail, then he jumped down and set off along the garden path.

The first person he met was Miss Amelia, the tortoise.

“Where are you going?” she asked somewhat surprised to see him about at this time of day.

“Fishing,” said Mr. Tom, remembering suddenly that that was the proper word to use.

“Where is that?” asked Miss Amelia.

“It isn't where,” said Mr. Tom, “it's what.”

“What is?” Miss Amelia looked puzzled.

“Fishing,” said Mr. Tom, and with an airy wave of his paw passed on.

At the gate he met Jock, the Scottish terrier pup; they were very good friends, but Mr. Tom thought Jock a little too bouncy.

“Good morning,” he said rather stiffly.

“Hullo,” said Jock, “are you going far?”

“I'm going to the sea,” said Mr. Tom, “Fishing,” he added importantly.

“My word,” Jock wagged his tail excitedly, “I'll come with you,” and without waiting for an answer he ran on ahead down the path.

At the foot of the hill, he sat down and waited until Mr. Tom caught him up. Mr. Tom had never been to the sea before, but he pretended he knew the way, and set off in what he believed to be the right direction.

“Hi,” said Jock, who had often been with the people of the cottage, “you're going the wrong way.”

“Well,” said Mr. Tom, “you can go this way if you want to,” but he followed Jock along the other road all the same.

It was much further to the beach than it had looked from the verandah, and Mr. Tom was properly tired and a little cross by the time they got there; he told Jock he thought they ought to sit down and wait awhile.

“What for?” asked Jock.

“Well it isn't quite the right time for fishing yet,” said Mr. Tom.

“Oh!” said Jock, “you mean the tide.”

“Yes, that's it—the tide,” Mr. Tom said, although he had really no idea what the tide might be. Then he settled himself down by a rock which smelt deliciously of fish, and went to sleep.

Jock, however, could never sit still for long. He ran up and down and poked his nose into crevices and under stones, he barked at seagulls and splashed about at the edge of the water until even he began to feel tired. He sat down and looked about him, his ears laid flat and his little pink tongue lolling out with the heat. All of a sudden he pricked up his ears and drew in his tongue. The beach had become entirely surrounded by water.

This, he thought, was what Mr. Tom had been waiting for, so he woke him up and told him about it.

“Oh!” said Mr. Tom yawning, “Oh— ah—yes—fish—it does smell fishy here, doesn't it?” He was quite rested after his nap and very hungry.

“Now,” he said to Jock, “you go that way and I'll go this, and we'll see who can find a piece of fish first.”

“What's it look like?” asked Jock.

“Well,” Mr. Tom laughed in a rather show-offy kind of way, “fancy not knowing that. It's brown and crispy and smells delicious. It has very spiky bones in it which you must be careful of and sometimes it's a little too hot to eat at first.”

So they went off in opposite directions, Mr. Tom getting hungrier and hungrier, sniffing this way and that in his eagerness to discover the piece of fried fish which he was sure was to be found on beaches.

(Continued on page 60)

“Mon,” cried Jock, “did ye see yon?”

“Mon,” cried Jock, “did ye see yon?”