I politely encouraged him. "With your years of experience, you must have caught a great many." As expected, he saw the opening and rushed in. "Not so many. Maybe, I suppose, some thirty or forty," he replied with evident satisfaction. He then continued. "When it comes to rats, I can handle a hundred. I can handle two hundred. Weasels, though, are another story. I nearly met my end with a weasel." "You don't say," I affirmed my interest. Kuro blinked his large eyes and went on. "It was last year's spring cleaning. The master crawls under the veranda with a bag of quicklime and, wouldn't you know it, he flushes out a weasel. A big fellow." "I see," I show him I'm eager for more. "A weasel, anyway, is not much larger than a rat. Thinking to run the rascal down, I'm off in pursuit and finally corner him in a gutter." "Well done!" I applaud his effort. "Listen to this, though. Just when I think I've got him, he turns tail and sprays. To this day, I smell a weasel on sight. It's enough to turn my stomach." Just telling the tale, it seems, evoked a phantom stench, and he rubbed his front paw cross his nose. I felt a bit bad for him and tried to brighten his mood. "But it's curtains for any rat that crosses your path. You're a master at taking them down. It's that diet of rats that's fattened you up and shined your coat, isn't it?" Oddly enough this question of mine, intended to lighten his mood, seemed to produce the opposite effect. With a dejected air, he sighed deeply and explained. "I pains me even to think of it. Hard as I work to catch those rats -- there's nothing so low-down as humans. They confiscate one's catch, and off they go to the police box. At the police box, they don't care whose work it is, they pay out five sen per rat. I've earned my master a good yen and a half, yet not once has fed me decently. 'Human being' is a euphemism for thief." Despite his lack of learning, Kuro knew how things were. He was viscerally upset, setting the hairs of his back on end. For my part, I was feeling a bit uneasy. I tactfully begged my leave and headed home. From that day on, I resolved to never chase rats. Nor did I accompany Kuro on his other scavenging raids. To sleep is easier than to feast. A teacher's cat, it seems, takes after a teacher. If I'm not careful, I may end up dyspeptic.