The one-eyed Reilly

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The "one-eyed Reilly" was a wary and wise cat from a farm behind the house.

The conquest of the Keyes boys II

During a catless period the Keyes boys were ever so resourceful at filling the void. On the other side of the hedge at the top of our garden was a farm. As well as the Jersey milk cows for which the farm was noted there were dogs and cats. The dogs were cross, almost cross enough to keep us out of the orchard. The cats were fairly wild too. Not for them a life of languishing by the fireside and snoozing in the beds. These were farm cats and eeked out an existance on the farm on scraps while performing their vermin control duties.

Sometimes they were known to stray though to our garden on their patrols and one of them in particular was a fairly regular visitor. It was an ageing black male cat with only one eye. We surmised that he lost his eye in a fight at some stage earlier in his life. Even though he was a tough-looking old guy, his coat was sleek and shiny. In spite of missing an eye, there was nothing wrong with his sight because, at the very sight of one of us, he was off, scampering back though the hedge.

This worldly wise creature impressed us greatly and, having named him 'the one-eyed Reilly', we set out to domesticate him. We reckoned that the first stage of the plan would be to lure him into a trap with tasty morcels, pieces of corned beef in fact as this seemed to be the staple diet of cats in our house. We needed to get him from the gap in the hedge at the top of the garden all the way down into the shed, where we could slam the door closed behind him and commence the process of introducing him to 'life of Reilly' that lay ahead of him.

It was far trickier than we thought. If we placed too many morcels too close together, he had his fill half way down the garden and returned home, place them too far apart and he lost the trail. As well as this, if he got even the slightest glimpse of his hunters, and he scarpered. A whisper or an giggle, and he was gone. The task was proving extremely difficult. We thought of intercepting him closer to the hedge with DIY cat traps made of cardborad boxed or orange creates, but he was too wily. He never ventured into them or if he got near, the trap release mechanism, a long string running down to the shed, gave the game away. This canny cat eluded all attempts to capture him and what's more, he appeared to be fattening on the corned beef. The 'one-eyed Reilly' was far too wise an old cat to be conned by mere amateur hunters like us. In time, we gave up on him and turned or sights on some more inexperienced felines from the farm, namely Titch and Patch.

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