Henrietta's Capers by Ruddock
Henrietta had 'that' look about her. I could tell from the day she arrived that the peace and quiet I had enjoyed for so long was at an end.
Floyd said he quite liked the look of her, the swaying hips and her beautiful red eyes. Pansy polecat reserved judgement, she said she thought albino was wishy-washy; that the lustrous pearly coat was ugly; that the red eyes were sickly - jealously might have been the motive for these statements for Pansy's eyes were black and beady and she had a mean temper.
We three tried not to pay her much attention to start with. We tried to ignore her, but Etta wouldn't be ignored. One morning as we all pretended to be asleep (Floyd kept giggling and I had to nudge him), Etta passed up and down the row of snoozers, then with a high pitched squeal she jumped up and down on our heads. Exaggeratedly we yawned and stretched but still Etta bounced and cavorted until we all ended up in a ball laughing our heads off, even Pansy, severe as she could be ended up wiping tears of mirth from her eyes.
Mum heard us laughing and came to see us and we were all given a tasty snack to eat.
Later that day as the sun was hot we were moved to a large enclosure on the grass, we had shade at one end, a big bowl of water to play in and several toys (I was not allowed to play with my bucket and spade anymore as I can only think my mud-pies were not appreciated). Henrietta, as usual ran from end to end, throwing toys up in the air and bouncing like a rubber ball, chattering and squealing (at one time she hit her head on a wooden strut and we all thought she had knocked herself skew-whiff). but no, off she went again. Watching her endless games was very tiring and before long, my lids felt like lead. Pansy and Floyd curled up and passed out and soon I joined them.
It must have been several hours later because the sun had moved overhead, that we stirred back to life. Pansy muttered to Floyd that Henrietta was for once, not in evidence. "Don't complain" said Floyd "enjoy the peace while it lasts", But it didn't seem right somehow not to be leapt on from a great height then we all noticed a hole dug away from the under the enclosure. Pansy scuttled off through the dug-out closely followed by Floyd. I went to follow but got stuck in the hole as I had tended to be a bit porky of late and wriggle as I might I could not move.
I didn't want to shout for help as my weight brought contininous digs and wry comments every day but if I wanted to keep up with the advance party I needed help. By now my skin and, dare I say it, layers of fat, had rolled up around my head and had almost hidden my ears and their screams of laughter brought tears to my eyes as they were meant to be my friends and I considered it unkind to laugh at people with problems. By now my dignity was in tatters and my feeling smarted like anything and with all the carry on my skin was now completely over my head. Floyd dug a hole next to the one in which I was wedged, but wouldn't push, he said, until I promised to go on a diet. "OK, OK," I said, "anything, but just push me out, I can't breath".
With a soft squidgy plop I exited onto the grass, puffed, but otherwise none the worse for wear. As always on these occasions, now I was comfortable again, I wished I hadn't made that promise to Floyd. But he would hold me to it I knew so I made up my mind to be good.
Anyway back to the hunt for Etta. Her scent had lead us to the hay barn where we clambered up to the top bale, sniffing hard. Dad had recently been building avaries for the owls and there were several pieces of wood leaning against the bales. Floyd clambered on to one and whoosh! he he went to the bottom, very fast. Pansy scampered aboard the slide and shrieked as she gathered speed on her way to the ground, "Oh Ruddock, do have a go, it's so exciting!" I straddled the wood and held on for dear life. Wow! Wind in the whiskers, this was very good fun indeed and, by mutual consent we each had one more turn on the slide before resuming our search.
We decided to split up to cover a larger area and my nose led me to a blank wall, or so it seemed. With a bit of excavating I managed to make a hole underneath just large enough to get my head in to have a look around. I wished I hadn't. I froze. Two huge orange eyes were peering at me with evil intent. The owner of these marmalade jars had huge fluffy feet and big claws. Above the feet were two stout legs of tree-trunk proportions; above those a great canopy of feathers spoke of huge limbs and the size of the head made me quiver with fear. The two feather ears now appeared, several yards long it seemed as they turned in my direction the eyes blinked menacingly.
"Sorry to bother you...ah...your Majesty...but I'm looking for my friend, have you seen her?"
"Go forth, little fat person and look the wooden building. My ears tell me that is where you will find your friend. You did well to ask one as wise as me, but remember, next time I see you (and here there was a long pause) I'll eat you!" The voice rose to a deafening crescendo and as I withdrew my head I could see the two massive wings start to beat.
I almost left my whisker pouch hanging on the wood. I had withdrawn my head so fast and I poked my tongue out in the direction of the owl - just to prove to myself that I wasn't as frightened as I had thought. Old marmalade pots was right however, as it was indeed in the wooden building that I eventually found Pansy and Floyd still hot on the trail of the missing Etta.
Sure enough we found Henrietta exploring the many cages of rats and mice that Mum loved so much. We poked fun at them with their bald tails and Rantzen teeth and quite an argument developed between Pansy and a mother rat with three or four ugly babies who had the cheek to say to Pansy that we smelled like skunks. She was the wrong ferret to say that to and Pansy pushed the whole cage off the shelf onto the floor. It went down with a huge clatter and we all skidaddled before we were found out.
Turning left and going at full tilt we found ourselves at the top of the muck heap where we burrowed deep into the moist warmth and settled down for a much deserved nap.
Sadly, Mum found us, and the cage of upturned rats. She either couldn't or wouldn't understand the explained circumstances and made certain that our house was well and truly secure when she put us all back to bed.
The moral of this story is just that - please make sure your ferrets are safe and where they should be - not only could harm have come to the rats and mice, but we ferrets could have wandered off and got lost - or worse still, been picked up by someone who doesn't understand us.
Don't we deserve looking after?