Chapter 1 part 8

After her earlier mistreatment, Kahinoor had no intention of coming back down the chimney for some time. At last the rough one decided to try a direct approach and, rolling back his sleeve, he reached deep inside the chimney. As he moved left and right he finally found her, crouched back into the furthest corner. Gently, he stroked her until he could feel exactly how she was laying and then he struck, grabbing her round the middle with his hand. There was no doubt that he was stronger than her but he was terribly afraid of hurting her. Also of course he was half upside down with his arm in a strange position. So it was that with eel like gyrations she managed to free herself and was gone.

Kahinoor had not expected the assault. She didn’t know what they had in store for her next and she certainly saw no point at all in hanging around to find out. Once free, she struck upwards in the dark to a more secure level. This she found several feet higher up on another ledge, this time in near pitch blackness.

Amidst a great deal of mutual recrimination the humans tried numerous ploys to retrieve her. First they got a torch and shone it up the chimney. It allowed her to survey her surroundings in more detail but didn’t reveal so much as a glimmer of a reflection from her eye to them. Next they put a bowl of milk and a succession of delicacies at the bottom of the chimney, but she was far too clever to be caught by that. They even tried leaving the room and pretending that they had gone in order to lull her into a false sense of security. It didn’t work, of course, for she was far more patient than they.

In short, she outlasted them. They disappeared upstairs and returned in their work clothes bearing sheets with which they covered the main furniture and carpet. Then, with a look at the clock to confirm the fact that they were now late anyway, they left the house. It was quiet in the room once they had departed, only the regular ticking of the clock disturbed the peace. Even that was but a distant murmur high up inside the chimney.