Kepler and the slipper
Fast asleep, Kepler is a cuddly bundle of innocence. Awake, he’s mischief personified.
His particular specialty is shoes. If I drop a slip-on on the floor ready to put on, it’s gone before I can get my foot in it.
The day he took my slipper for a long walk, I wasn’t in the house. I was in the courtyard and saw him trotting by with it in his mouth.
He laid it down tantalisingly just at the entrance to the orchard, then as soon as I got near, picked it up and proceeded with it.
He ran all the way through the orchard with it, dropping it on occasion for a rest and a chance to enjoy watching my efforts to catch up.
His timing was impeccable. He cut it fine but was never actually in danger of being caught.
I picked up sticks and tried to lure him into making an exchange, but he refused to be distracted.
I called and shouted, entreated and threatened.
Finally, more than three hundred yards from the house at the very end of the drive, just where a pipe goes under the road and marks the boundary of our land, he gave it up and left it sitting in the undergrowth.
If he’d taken it any further, and particularly if he’d gone onto the neighbour’s land, I’d have had to abandon the chase.
And if I’d stopped pursuing at any stage, the prize would have lost its value and he would probably have dropped it somewhere, to be discovered months later as a mushy wreck.