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Page 27 of 32
The Tale of Daisy

There are sharks. And minnows. And lots in between.

"Sharks in Ballyshannon? Are you mad?"

I didn't say there were sharks in Ballyshannon.

"Sharks in the Erne? Hawks first. Now sharks. It's me's the fool to be listening to you!"

You're not listening. That's the trouble. This isn't about sharks or hawks. It's about a cat.

"A cat! What next?"

Yes, a cat. Not any cat. A special cat.

"'The Cat of the Erne', no doubt. Did Partholan own a cat too?"

No. It wasn't Partholan's cat. It was our cat. No! That's not right. Nobody owns a cat. We were her people.

"It was a she?"

She was a she. Not "it".

"And did she have a name?"

Yes, she had a name. All cats have three names. Everybody knows that. But her people name was "Daisy".

"Three names--"

Look. One more word from you and I won't tell you the story.

Let me see now. Where was I? There are sharks. And there are minnows. And lots of fish in between.

There are the known fish, and the unknown fish, the fish yet undiscovered in the oceans of the world. Just the other day, didn't someone land a one-ton squid?

There are fish without number, and fishes with numbers. The story of the three fishes and five loaves has been told many times.

"It was two fishes!"

Three fishes. Two fishes. The exact number doesn't matter.

"It's in the Bible. Look it up!"

Look, wiseacre. I'm telling the story. Just bidh do thost! Chubba row! Shut up!

This is the story of Daisy. Daisy wasn't a big cat. A finely boned cat. White breasted. Pink tongued. Tortoise-shell back.

Daisy liked milk, mice, and, in season, the tomcat next door. And the tomcat next door to that, and so on all the way down to Campbell's, the butchers.

But, above all, Daisy liked fish. Loved fish. With an all-consuming passion. Freshly caught. Straight from the river. With a little wiggle still in them.

To Daisy our only purpose on earth was to satisfy her every whim. And in summer her main whim ran to jenkins.

Jenkins? Minnows. Fidlins. Cutlins. Depends where you live. On the Erne they were jenkins.

Every day Dad and I would try our luck with the evening rise. The minute Daisy saw the rods come off the hallstand, out in front she would bound, and race to the river before us. There she would wait. Impatiently. Tail a-quiver. Prancing on against our legs. Grovelling shamelessly. Pleading. Begging. All self-reserve gone. Until one of us, to get some peace, would relent, reel in, tie the tiniest fly we had to a cast, and start fishing for jenkins.

Each movement of the rod was followed by Daisy, head and eyes going back and forth, like a hypnotised tennis spectator. Then a half leap with joy when a jenkin flashed back to the bank.

We had to be quick to get the hook out before she pounced on her prey.

Having dined, she would leave us alone, head back to home, to care for her current kettle of kittens.

She was the fishin'est cat I ever knew.

"The Cat of the Erne?"

No. Just Daisy.

"But you said cats have three names."

Yes, they do. And one of them's always a secret. Old Possum knows that!

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