Saturday, January 28, 2006

Saturday Silliness

One of my favourite books is a rather silly one. Yes, I admit it – it is silly. Good fun, though. It was written in 1889 by a fellow named Jerome K. Jerome and it is called Three Men in a Boat, To Say Nothing of the Dog. Because it is old, it is not under any copyrights. Because it is popular, it is available online. In my opinion, it is much better to read it in book form – particularly if your copy is really old, as mine is (a Christmas present from Juanita a few years back). I’ve read it aloud to my older children a couple of times, and they’ve read it themselves a few times. Fun for all ages, as they say.
I may post little snippets from time to time, just to whet your appetite. Here’s an excerpt that will introduce you to the dog, a fox terrier named Montmorency:
We were, as I have said, returning from a dip, and half-way up the High Street a cat darted out from one of the houses in front of us, and began to trot across the road. Montmorency gave a cry of joy - the cry of a stern warrior who sees his enemy given over to his hands - the sort of cry Cromwell might have uttered when the Scots came down the hill - and flew after his prey.
His victim was a large black Tom. I never saw a larger cat, nor a more disreputable-looking cat. It had lost half its tail, one of its ears, and a fairly appreciable proportion of its nose. It was a long, sinewy-looking animal. It had a calm, contented air about it.
Montmorency went for that poor cat at the rate of twenty miles an hour; but the cat did not hurry up - did not seem to have grasped the idea that its life was in danger. It trotted quietly on until its would-be assassin was within a yard of it, and then it turned round and sat down in the middle of the road, and looked at Montmorency with a gentle, inquiring expression, that said:    "Yes! You want me?"
Montmorency does not lack pluck; but there was something about the look of that cat that might have chilled the heart of the boldest dog. He stopped abruptly, and looked back at Tom.
Neither spoke; but the conversation that one could imagine was clearly as follows:-
THE CAT: "Can I do anything for you?"
MONTMORENCY: "No - no, thanks."
THE CAT: "Don't you mind speaking, if you really want anything, you know."
MONTMORENCY (backing down the high street): "Oh, no - not at all - certainly - don't you trouble. I - I am afraid I've made a mistake. I thought I knew you. Sorry I disturbed you."
THE CAT: "Not at all - quite a pleasure. Sure you don't want anything, now?"
MONTMORENCY (still backing): "Not at all, thanks - not at all - very kind of you. Good morning."
THE CAT: "Good-morning."
Then the cat rose, and continued his trot; and Montmorency, fitting what he calls his tail carefully into its groove, came back to us, and took up an unimportant position in the rear.
To this day, if you say the word "Cats!" to Montmorency, he will visibly shrink and look up piteously at you, as if to say:    "Please don't."

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