Elter many a wandering fox, who, although dwelling so near the city,
could not be prevailed on to abandon their roguish habits and live in a
civilised manner. These birds were particularly to their taste, and it
required the greatest agility to keep off the cunning invaders, for,
though they had no great courage, and would not attempt to resist a bold
dog, they frequently succeeded in eluding all vigilance and getting off
with their booty. Often, too, a stray cur, sometimes two or three
together, from the lowest classes of the population, would, when moved
by hunger, make a descent on the preserves, and battles of a fierce
character not seldom occurred, for, unlike the foxes, they were never
unwilling to fight, but showed the utmost ferocity when attacked, and
were often the aggressors. But those were not all. The grounds were
exactly opposite that part of the city of Caneville known as the "Mews,"
and occupied by the cat population, who have a general affection for
most birds, and held these preserved ones in particular esteem.
Fortunately, the water that interposed was a formidable barrier for the
feline visitors, as few pussies like to wet their feet; but, by some
means or other, they frequently found their way across, and by their
dexterity, swiftness, and the quiet of their movements, committed
terrible ravages among the birds. When Sir John had told me all this, he
led the way down the hill to the small house under the tree. It had two
rooms, with a kennel at
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