The Warden needed to have a certain very obnoxious pest eliminated ... and he knew just the pest-eradicator he needed....
rossed the stream and went up the hill on the other side, the other followed the stream up the valley.
* * * * *
The Harn followed Ed's movements, observing carefully. It needed a specimen from the other world, and this biped would serve nicely, but it might as well learn as much as possible about him first. It could always pick him up some time before he returned to his own world. Just to make sure, it sent a stinging unit to guard the entrance.
* * * * *
All his life, except for a short period in France, Ed had been a hunter, never hunted. Still, you don't grow old in the woods by jumping without looking. Coming into a new situation, he was wary as an old wolf. There was a little shoulder right above the fork in the trail. He stood there for several minutes, looking things over, and then went down and crossed the stream at the next riffle, above the ford. By doing so, although he did not know it, he missed the trap the Harn maintained at the ford for chance passers-by.
The Warden of several worlds finds one of his planets infected with a nasty carnivore, the Harn. So he decides to open a doorway between two worlds that ends up being essentially in sixty year old Alaskan trapper Ed Brown's front yard. Then the Warden waits to see what happens.
An imaginative, absorbing story. The only character, Ed, is very well done.
A warden with responsibility for the ecological health of multiple worlds implements a creative method of pest control. Excellent story.
Multi-level alien contact story that is strong in every way. Written in 1959, it's far better than most of what's been written since. Why? Because it's focus is on telling a great story.
The writing stands out from most fiction because the author knows the taste, feel and truths of wilderness living. The telling effortlessly conveys the thoughts of the main character in a plain, easy way. The aliens are original and a reasonable extrapolation from known terrestrial biology. The 'warden' is yet another layer added to the mix.
Best of all, if you enjoy alien stories, this story is a total blast to read.
A Warden of several agrarian planets has a problem on his hands; An nasty alien called the warn who is depleting all the game and is about to bud into many little nasty aliens.
He fears the warn's natural predators might make a bad infestation worse, so he turns to earth and opens a door between earth and the problem planet to get a human "predator" to hunt and kill the warn.
The door opens in Alaska and it entices a hardbitten Alaskan trapper/hunter/tracker/loner type to enter because of the promise of good hunting.
The warn and the Alaskan battle it out to the bitter end. No surprise who wins, but the battle is ever so much fun to follow.
Cat and Mouse originally appeared in the June 1959 edition of Astounding Science Fiction and was nominated for a Hugo in 1960 in the short story category.
The author, Ralph Williams (1914-1959) was the pen name of native Alaskan Ralph Slone, and is memorialized in the Ralph Williams Prize for Speculative Fiction.
Cat and Mouse takes place in Alaska where recluse Ed Brown discovers a door to another world and discovers the threat of an alien invasion.
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