That rat removed about one foot in one bound in one-fortieth of a second, and he let rip one squeal in the process that sent away every other rat into the nearest available hole as if it had been fired there from a spring. Then the lady hedgehog took the Heaven-sent opportunity to complete her rolling-up completely, and Prickles took his own created opportunity to roll up almost more completely, and—well, they were rolled up into two balls, you see, and there is nothing more to be said about them. The rats did that, but it was all they did, except hurt their noses presently, and delicate, pink, hand-like fore-paws, and make ’em bleed on prickles. They were very angry indeed, those unspeakable ones—very angry; but it didn’t make any difference to the hedgehogs. They were there; they were rolled up; they were together. What could make any difference after that? And at last, when the rats gave them up as a very bad job, they went away together, and that’s all there is to say. Together clinches it, you understand.
Upon a day Hawkley came to the district, and took up his abode in a cottage of four rooms. He “did” for himself. Every housekeeper will know what “did” for himself means. But he did for himself in another way also. He came to read up for an exam. He told everybody this, which was one reason why he would be seen at ungodly hours, when no one was about, going to and from lonely spots, with a pair of blue glasses on his nose, a book under one arm, and a walking-stick with a silver band and a tassel—he was always careful to display the silver band and the tassel—under the other.
Then Nemesis descended upon him.
He was caught by Colonel Lymington’s head-keeper on Colonel Lymington’s most strictly preserved wild-bird sanctuary, shooting certain rare birds—many rare birds. Now, the colonel prided himself on his sanctuary, and upon the number of rare birds he had living therein, and the colonel was wroth. Hawkley had, in fact, ruined the sanctuary, and taken or slain pretty well every other bird worth having in the place, so that five years would not make good the harm he had done. Moreover, it was shown in the evidence that Hawkley had been able to accomplish his work by aid of a folding pocket-rifle with a silencer on, and his cat—especially the cat, whose name was Pharaoh.
No words of the keeper’s could be found sufficiently to revile that cat. Indeed, the head-keeper went speechless, and nearly had epilepsy, in trying to describe it to the Court, and if it had done only one-half the things that the keeper asserted, it must have been a very remarkable beast indeed; the magistrate said so. In consequence Hawkley got rather heavily fined, and went. He went more quickly than was expected, because the police got a telephone message from the police of another district—several other districts, I think—to say that he was “wanted” for precisely the same game there: and Hawkley must have expected this, for he walked out of the court with a grin on his face, and was no more seen.