Continuing The Pond People. If you missed the beginning, click here to Meet the Mirlings
Grandad mourned for the river he could never revisit. Molly couldn’t understand why he would want to. Here, in the pond, he didn’t have to dodge water voles and herons – whatever they were. (She pictured a heron as another kind of cat.)
‘There must be something we can do about that cat.’
Flash’s brow creased. ‘It doesn’t hunt mirlings though, does it? It doesn’t come in the pond?’
She realised that Flash’s sprint had been all for show. He hadn’t cared about saving the goldfish. She tried to explain in a way he would understand.
‘They’re our fish the cat’s taking. We’ve watched them grow. We tend their spawn and shelter the hatchlings so some will survive. We don’t do all that so that the neighbour’s cat can eat them instead.’
‘And w-when you’ve trained one,’ said Flo, ‘and it’s learned to trust you, it’s heart-breaking to find it’s gone from the pond.’
‘You train them?’ Flash looked interested now.
Grandad explained, ‘The gentle ones gets taught to carry mirlings on their backs, so us oldies can ride without having to cling on like fishlice.’
Eddy’s eyes glowed. The water around him vibrated. ‘Some are untrainable–’
‘Only because they’re m-more sensitive.’
‘–and they try to throw you off. We take bets on who can stay up longest.’ He weaved and ducked to illustrate the perils of rough-riding. Flo ignored him.
‘We could take turns to watch for the cat.’ She reddened when everyone looked at her. ‘Draw up a rota…’ her words drifted away.
Molly generally listened to Flo, who came up with some good ideas. This wasn’t one of them.
‘Sorry girls,’ said Flash. ‘You’ll have to count me out – too busy.’
‘Busy posing at the pump.’ Eddy muttered from a safe distance.
‘Cat’s gone,’ announced Grandad. ‘Must be feeding time.’
The head of a tan and white terrier appeared over the edge of the pond. Mojo, the dog from the house, didn’t approve of cats in his garden. His tongue lapped the water, sending out ripples to meet those from the waterfall.
Behind the dog a man tapered towards the sky. Pellets of fish food plopped into the water. Their fishy smell drifted to Molly’s nostrils.
Fish came from every direction. Within seconds the pellets were almost gone, and the feeding frenzy began to quieten.
Out among the feeders, Eddy hovered over a young fish. He made contact in front of its dorsal fin, and it shook to throw him off. He whooped with delight as it bucked and plunged toward the deeps.
Molly watched until they were out of sight in the churning water. She turned to see Flash watching too before he looked away.
‘What an idiot!’ He waved. ‘See you later, girls. Nice to meet you, Grandad. Good luck with that cat.’ He took off with a flick of his body.
Flo stood behind her. ‘Give him a chance, M-molly,’ she said. ‘He’s got n-nobody.’
‘He doesn’t need anybody. I’m sure he can do anything he wants all by himself.’
‘He probably saved your l-life.’
She remembered her fear… overshadowed by the indignity of being shoved out of the way.
‘Eddy doesn’t like him either.’ Flo sighed. ‘I’d hoped he m-might make friends with the n-newcomer.’
‘That’ll never happen,’ said Molly. ‘They’re too different. Your Eddy takes nothing seriously, and Flash takes himself very seriously indeed.’