first friend used to come and keep me company as I lay in my
pram in the garden by the front door. My mother only became
aware of this one day when there had been a light snowfall and
paw marks on the pram. After that she had the maid supervise me
more closely. I
if I ever
saw my friend again and have no recollection of
appearance, though I am told
was black and had
and a long bushy tail. I fancy we must have had many a fine conversation
instilled in me the philosophy of feline freedom and
the secrets of
(JUST Response, 25 October 2005)
The overnight snow had stopped now, and the garden was a
desert of white. The little boy sat poised at the window,
gazing out with a look of disappointed expectation on his
chubby face. His little friend the robin redbreast, who had
rapped daily at the window for food, had not been seen for
nearly a week.
The breadcrumbs were in their usual place, and the bread was
fresh too. So why didn’t he come and eat them? Oh please come
and see me … I’m still your friend. And he wondered why his
friend would not come back.
The old lady agreed to walk round the garden with him, but he
would have to get well wrapped up first. Their hands clasped
together, the two stooping figures wound their way along the
path, the little boy keeping up with her with his shorter
steps. All at once he cried out:
–– Oh grandma! Look, look! All your beautiful roses – they’re
all gone now. We won’t see them any more.
–– They’ve all died away for the winter. But don’t worry –
they’ll grow again next year.
The little boy thought for a moment.
–– Will grandpa grow again next year too?
The old lady stood still and did not answer.
Suddenly something made the little boy turn round. Perhaps it
was his little friend trying to tell him something … He looked
and looked, but the robin redbreast was nowhere to be seen.
All was still. Only a slight wind shook the frail branches of
the cherry-blossom tree.
(1980, repr. in JUST Response, October 2005)