This quaintly written 1800's anecdote makes a jewel out of a strange friendship.
* * *
Extraordinary Friendship of a Cat and Turtle Dove.—Well do I recollect returning home from school for my Christmas holidays, and finding that our family of cats (housed in our outbuildings, for keeping vermin in minimum) was numerously increased ; and my first request was, " Oh, do come and see the kittens." One of the tribe," a little tabby," was the general favorite; and he seemed to be somewhat conscious of this pre-eminence, for he pushed his companions aside, and battled stoutly for a full share of the contents of the milk-pan: the very necessary result was, that "Dick" (for so we named him) grew a fine young cat, and his sleek coat and purring habits, as he came and rubbed his head against your foot, or fondly sprung upon your shoulder and smoothed your cheek, won't easily be forgotten by many who think of early days as lovingly as do I. A friend of ours wanted a cat; and as the well-known tenderness of this family was almost proverbial, we decided upon sending them Dick as a present. Oh! what a sensation it caused when we put him in the basket for his new destination! and what thoughts we entertained upon the probability of seeing him in his old haunts one morning, he having found
"There was no place like home ;"but we were not acquainted with cat nature so well as we opined; for Dick had sense, like many men, to keep a " good berth " when they have found one. He was put on a little soft stool before the fire, fondled, petted and spoiled; for there he sat all day long in the parlour at his mistress' feet, purring and sleeping, and indulging in his golden day-dreams. It chanced that, a few months after Dick's location in his new home, his fond mistress received a present of a dove from a distant relative, whose cognomen was " Tom,"—" pretty Tom." And a pretty dove he was! Oh, how proud to take his morning ablutions, and plume his soft feathers! how sly in turning round his expressive eye! and how affectionate as he pushed his bill against your closed lips to kiss you! how joyous his coo-coo! and how gladsome a companion for Dick! See—see them both in the parlour, eating of the same crumbs; all the animosity that should naturally exist is lost,—the best of friends from the very first trial. Bright are the eyes with joy, as all the family look at the interview, when Tom is put on the carpet. He goes strutting towards Dick, cooing in his most glorious manner,— and Dick listens, charmed by the Orphean notes, and makes no stir, no spring, no movement. Oh! happy animal and bird! your friendship has begun; and, so happily formed, how long will it continue? Sure, too good to last; but no, for sixteen years were they daily companions, never once disagreeing or betraying any hostility. Often was Tom perched on Dick's soft back, enjoying the warm fire; and often, by instinct led, they travelled abroad into the garden, and walked proudly round the little paths. Oh! happy friends! but their happiness, being earthly, was limited; for poor Dick, in December, 1846, pined and died. The loving attentions he experienced are often needed by poor starving outcasts; but yet they availed not, for his hours were numbered: he died, and was buried in the garden. His companion survives, for this last Christmas I saw him; but in his eye we all fancied that brightness was not found which in earlier days we certainly saw there sparkling.—E. R. Twinn; Bowburgh,near Norwich, March, 1848. -
from (1843-1916). The Zoologist: a monthly journal of natural history. London: J. Van Voorst [etc.]. v 6, 1848. 2131-2132.