Only once have we seen the mongoose truly discombobulated.
Our neighbour Hawk-Eye Kath likes to put an egg on their large front lawn occasionally just for the pleasure of watching a mongoose boot it around until it strikes something hard and cracks. On this day she placed it in the middle of the mowed grass and she and my wife waited for the performance.
As usual the mongoose’s head appeared over the far edge of the lawn to check out the scene and spotted the egg. It ran up and was settling the egg under its belly to thrust it backwards when all hell descended.
It came in the form of a large black and white polka-dotted bird much bigger than the mongoose with a wicked black beak and a big, back-sloping red casque like a fireman’s helmet: a guinea fowl. And it came down like the wolf on the fold, screeching, cackling, claws flying, its bird brain set on saving this unborn avian from the ravenous predator.
The mongoose fled. Precipitately is an under-statement. It ran with its hands figuratively on its head with the guinea-fowl hurtling close behind like an angry old woman beating a thieving urchin about the ears with her brolly.
When the mongoose vanished into the shelter of the canary creeper thicket the guinea fowl patrolled up and down until its temper dropped below boiling point then ambled back to the lawn, where the two women were falling about with laughter.
It cocked its head to look at the egg but clearly did not know what to do with its prize, having won the battle. No way was it going to cosset it, a lonesome egg of indeterminate provenance. Who knew where it had come from or what was inside.
So the guinea fowl went on its way to scratch around in the flower beds, leaving the egg intact in victory in the centre of the green, until Hawk-Eye Kath added it to the lunch omelette.
Next week’s episode will start with a series on Mice …..