“You know, the trouble with rats? Is that we are so adaptable!” The comment brought squeaks of approval from the mass of furry dark bodies that had gathered to listen to the Wisest Rat in Chatham.
The speaker was an old storyteller, very well known in the rodent community. Tonight he was to tell the adventure of Great Ancestor Toby and the Cavalier.
Everybody sat perfectly still and waited for the Wisest Rat in Chatham to begin. He cleared his throat and started to speak.
“Now as we all know, Great Ancestor Toby would love to roam the docks here in Chatham but it was always at his peril.
You see back in those days Chatham Dockyard was fraught with a terrible danger, ‘The Sharp-claws.’ They were the meanest, nastiest bunch of cats that have ever lived. They owned Chatham Dockyard and nobody messed with them. If they did they were usually cat knapped and never seen again.
To Great Ancestor Toby though, it was just a game and he would quite often wander onto their ‘patch’ to watch the ships that fascinated him so greatly. He was so quick and cunning that they never caught him.
That was not to say that he never had any close scratches. There were a few occasions when he reckoned he had only just escaped by the skin of his incisors and he would lie low for a time and move away from Chatham Dockyard.
It was during the dark times of war between men that the adventure on the Cavalier occurred.
One night when the moon was full, Great Ancestor Toby went to investigate a great commotion that was occurring on the dockyard. Humans were running to and fro and there was a lot of excitement and shouting.
Unbeknown to Great Ancestor Toby though, the Sharp Claw family had set a trap for him. They had employed the services of an assassin, a huge ginger tabby from Scotland called Fangus. He was apparently a distant cousin of the terrible family.
The ginger ninja struck with amazing speed and held poor Ancestor Toby in a grip that was as strong as a dog. It seemed as if all was over for him when suddenly the fat tabby had a hairball attack. This gave Great Ancestor Toby the chance he needed to escape.
However this Tabby was a professional and quickly gave chase. The pursuit led round and round Chatham Dockyard, in and out of every nook and cranny, under the feet of humans and finally onto the steps of the cavalier.
Into sleeping quarters, over bunk beds and into every part of the ship they went. It became a terrible game of cat and rat that continued without letup for many days and began to take its toll on both the hunter and the hunted.
Finally about a week later, the chase led onto the gun decks of the huge vessel. There was pandemonium everywhere because the ship was in mid battle. The humans on the deck were far too occupied to notice a cat chasing a rat around; they were much more concerned with something else that was out there in the ocean.
It was at this point that Great Ancestor Toby thought of a plan, he would lure the ferocious Fangus into one of the long tubes that was making deafening banging noises.
Up along the barrel he ran toward the end that made the huge booming sounds, for a second he paused and then disappeared from the fat cats sight.
The plan worked perfectly and the ginger ninja fell for it hook, line and whisker. You see, it appeared just as Great Ancestor Toby had wanted, that he had ventured down the huge barrel, when in fact he had simply run underneath.
The fat assassin in his fury ran down the barrel thinking he had at last cornered Great Ancestor Toby but he was sorely mistaken and suddenly there was a big bang and he was never seen again.
Now although Great Ancestor Toby had seen off Fangus the Sharp Claws killing machine, he knew that they would want revenge.
So when the ship returned home a week later, Great Ancestor Toby walked down the steps of the Cavalier and left Chatham Dockyard – it was for good this time."