Eileen Mayos illustration till "Broomsticks"
Miss Chauncey's cat, Sam, had been with her many years before she noticed anything unusual, anything disturbing, in his conduct. Like most cats who live under the same roof with but one or two humans, he had always been more sagacious than cats of a common household. He had learned Miss Chauncey's ways. He acted, that is, as nearly like a small mortal dressed up in a hairy coat as one could expect a cat to act. He was what is called an 'intelligent' cat.
But though Sam had learned much from Miss Chauncey, I am bound to say that Miss Chauncey had learned very little from Sam. She was a kind, indulgent mistress; she could sew, and cook, and crochet, and make a bed, and read and write and cipher a little. And when she was a girl she used to sing 'Kathleen Mavourneen' to the piano. Sam, of course, could do nothing of this kind.
But then, Miss Chauncey could no more have caught and killed a mouse or a blackbird with her five naked fingers than she could have been Pope of Rome. Nor could she run up a six-foot brick wall, or leap clean from the hearthmat in her parlour on to the shelf of her chimneypiece without disturbing a single ornament, or even tinkling one crystal lustre against another.
Miss Chauncey, och Sam, bor mitt ute på en hed, (i det fulaste hus som någonsin byggts) utan några grannar inom synhåll. Jag känner mig lätt befryndad med miss Chauncey:
As for Miss Chauncey herself, she was a niggardly eater, though much attached to her tea. She made her own bread and cookies. On Saturday a butcher-boy drove up in a striped apron with her Sunday joint; but she was no meat-lover. Her cupboards were full of home-made jams and bottled fruits and dried herbs—everything of that kind, for Post Houses had a nice long strip of garden behind it, surrounded by a high old yellow brick wall.
Miss Chauncey är djupt fäst vid den kolsvarte Sam, och de lever i bästa sämja — ända tills Miss Chauncey börjar lägga märke till att Sam beter sig underligt.
Novellen "Broomsticks" ingår i "Collected Stories for Children" från 1947, för vilken han erhöll "The Carnegie Medal". Jag är inte helt säker på att jag skulle ha uppskattat berättelsen som barn — men nu gör jag det, mycket för det detaljerade småpratet, som gör att berättelsen långsamt tar form. Walter de la Mare skrev ju gärna om det övernaturliga — kanske gör han det även här, men man får aldrig någon förklaring till händelserna.