One morning Missy woke up to the strangest smell she’d ever experienced. It wafted down the stairs and onto the sofa and seemed to be trying to lure her to its place of origin.
She fortified herself with a bowl of biscuits and went upstairs to investigate. The aroma was ever more powerful and seemed to be emanating from the ruined house next door. With a giant leap, she scaled the netting that was supposed to keep her out of said property and went to investigate the neglected garden.
Missy had always been a keen botanist. She loved the feel of the plant leaves as she walked through them or hid behind them, despite the fact that she got told off for dragging them into the house on her long silky fur. The person she looked after complained occasionally and rather bitterly, she thought, about having to remove her discoveries, which mounted up impressively on the kitchen table.
In her dreams, Missy didn’t fantasize about massacring mice and birds, but instead of heading up a mighty river in South America or Darkest Africa, with a trusty guide and cat food provider, seeking out hitherto undiscovered species of plants and meeting new and interesting animals along the way. She would camp out by the river, being courteous to crocodiles and polite to piranhas, and explore the surrounding jungle, inviting newfound friends for dinner (as long as they brought their own) and arranging her plant specimens in height order. She’d heard of a river called the Limpopo, which attracted her. She’d had a limp once after falling down the stairs and wanted to see if it had received the help that it needed and had fully recovered.
There were no rivers in Gozo, so for the time being she had to content herself with foraging amidst the ruins next door. She’d located the source of the aroma. It was a small, round, tightly packed leafy thing. She played with it for a little while, as cats do, and then picked it up delicately in her jaws and took it home. A little mystery for the Gozo Cat Detectives to solve. She plonked it onto the kitchen floor and they all studied it closely. Ziggy tried to eat it but pronounced it quite the most disgusting thing he’d ever attempted in his culinary investigations (which were many and extremely varied). Max did his George Best impersonation and knocked it around the chairs and bounced it off the kitchen cabinets, but it was Whistler who came up with the answer.
“It’s a Brussels sprout. Only eaten at Christmas, I think. I remember licking some turkey gravy off one as a kitten.”
“A sprout from Brussels” mused Max. “Is it some form of EU size-regulated cabbage? It’s very small, poor thing. I wonder: how did the Brussels sprout come about?”
“Max is a poet,” laughed Missy, and they all fell about laughing, apart from Max, who was feeling quite proud of himself in an Ogden Nash kind of way. He decided not to mention this though, for fear of being classed as an intellectual.
“I shall try to find out” he said, and sloped off upstairs to have a hide under the duvet and think of words that rhymed with purple. He was there for quite a long time.
The Brussels sprout had become increasingly battered as the afternoon wore on, due to feline footballing activities, and also had taken on a rather yellow, sickly look.
“I think it’s dead,” said Missy, sadly, and small tears formed in her opalescent eyes.
“We shall bury it under the orange hibiscus,” said Whistler. “It’ll provide nourishment for the soil, and if you want to, we can try to grow Brussels sprouts this spring, though I think it’s a bit hot for them over here. It seems to rain a lot in Brussels.”
“We could grow one in the shower,” said Missy.
Whistler sighed inwardly and started digging a hole for the Brussels sprout.
Missy popped it in and Whistler covered it up.
“Do you think we should say a few words?” asked Ziggy.
“I have a poem,” said Max. He cleared his throat.
“Farewell, Brussels Sprout.
It’s not Christmas and you’re out.”
The Gozo Cat Detectives all agreed it had been a moving ceremony and a fitting tribute to a very strange vegetable.