Christmas was coming, and The Gozo Cat Detectives were hoping that the goose was getting very fat indeed. The goose, however, was planning a flight to a vegetarian country.

Speaking of flying, it was one morning at the beginning of December that Arthur the sparrow landed on the electricity lines, just as Whistler was having a dust bath. He was really enjoying the abrasive, itch-relieving sensation, and felt slightly annoyed at being interrupted.

”Is Max about?” asked Arthur, swaying somewhat violently in the chilly wind.

Whistler shook himself and mooched down the stairs to find Max, who was watching television. It was his latest hobby. He particularly liked the shopping channels. They took his mind off thinking.

Max tore himself away from a particularly hideous piece of cheap jewellery and ran up the stairs, where he found Arthur sitting in the bougainvillea flowerpot, looking very depressed.

“What’s the matter, Arthur?”

“It’s my son, Peter. He’s the one you recommended art classes for. They did some good, and he seems very keen on painting pink flamingos, but he’s still not as young male sparrows should be. I’m very worried. He shows no interest in girls and I don’t know what to do. Have you any ideas?”

“Why not invite him over here?” said Max. “Maybe he needs to talk to someone who isn’t family. I promise not to eat him by accident.”
“I’ll drop him off in a couple of moments. Be gentle with him – he’s my favourite of the last brood.”

Within the promised moments, Arthur reappeared with Peter. He was very blonde for a sparrow and appeared to have bits of pink tinsel wrapped around his tail. He bounced around on the roof as if to a mysterious rhythm unheard by others. Max stared at him in what he hoped was a meaningful way, wondering what to suggest.

“I have to fly,” said Arthur. “Good luck and remember not to eat him.”

… to be continued

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