(See previous post for the background. I have blogged this story before somewhere, but rather than tracking down and repeating the previous version I have decided to retell it.)
Young girls on holiday can become rather lazy early in the morning. Thus it was that quite often I was elected to do the beach exercising of Magic Socks. On one such occasion I was strolling past the side of the house in the direction of the sea with an eager horse following closely – head just behind my shoulder – when we saw a lone mongoose just ahead of us. Although we would often catch glimpses of our resident mongooses they were quick to dive out of sight as soon as anyone came near, so I was delighted to get such a good view. Socks and I stopped in our tracks.
To my surprise, instead of fleeing, the mongoose turned to face us and stood up with paws tucked into his chest. Looking straight at me, he gave an eager chirp. I was just wondering how I could call the family to view this remarkably unafraid animal when his actions became even more astonishing. With a few more chirps, he scampered straight towards us!
Eyes widening, I watched him as, ignoring Socksie, he headed directly for my leg. Eyes bulging, I watched him as he climbed up my pants and shirt to perch on my shoulder. Mouth hanging open in utter amazement, I squinted sideways at him sitting there happily.
Socksie was observing him with far less surprise from the other side – after having got used to a cat companion, and to a tame Mynah bird we had rescued as a chick perching on him from time to time, cheeky small creatures didn’t ruffle him.
As for the mongoose, he hardly glanced at the horse, but gave me a friendly look. ‘Chirp!’ he said again, and then reached down into my shirt pocket and lifted out my packet of cigarettes – it is amazing what they can do with their hand-like little paws. Deftly, he flipped open the lid, and extracted one. Then he dropped the box back into the pocket.
It can well be imagined how stupefied I must have looked by now. I wondered wildly whether I had suddenly been transported into some Alice-in-Wonderland world. At this stage, I fully expected him to say casually, ‘Got a light, mate?’ and I was on the verge of groping for my lighter …
His next action started bringing some sanity into the situation. He simply munched on the cigarette, with every evidence of enjoyment.
Naturally enough, the morning ride was postponed for some time while the family met my new friend, and while we discovered that he had been abandoned somehow as a young baby, found by our next-door neighbours, and raised by them without our having become aware of it.
It is surprising that he had become isolated. Usually mongooses have a designated ‘escort’ for a group of young ones (not necessarily the parent), who will shepherd them and forage for them until they become self-sufficient. I think his mother must have had something happen to her when he was still too young for any ‘escort’ election to take place.
At any rate, after that he would come visiting us from time to time, and when the neighbours went on holiday he lodged with us. What a character he was! Fortunately Coojee and our many other cats and dogs of the time took it all very philosophically.
Here are the latest pictures of some of our present residents:
© Colonialist November 2013 (WordPress)