Herbert is a large ginger-and-white tomcat, sturdy, handsome and laid-back in nature. I'm not sure where he comes from - I suspect he's a barn cat from one of the local farms. Herbert comes round periodically to court my three girls, Tigger, Bear & Marley.
Unlike the other local toms who pester, chase and scare our cats, Herbert is the perfect gentleman. He gives a yowl to let them know he's around, and then waits for them to come to him if they want to. And if they don't, Herbert is happy to leave it at that.
Bear and Marley (I'm afraid I don't have a photo of Herbert)
The cats react in their individual ways, Tigger with regal, world-weary disdain, giving the cat equivalent of rolled eyes and an audible 'Tut!'.
Bear runs up to him in exuberant tomboyish excitement - 'Come on, Herbert - let's play!!!'
Marley takes one look at Herbert's muscular shoulders and fine whiskers and turns to girlish jelly, rolling coquettishly on the ground at his feet.
Herbert remains perfectly genteel and courteous with all three of them. Masculine and assured, yet polite and chivalrous he reminds me of the hero in an old western - big, imperturbable, slow to anger, yet undoubtedly a force to be reckoned with. And always, always well-mannered around the womenfolk.
Last night, I was awoken by an unearthly racket in the garden. The cats were woken too - Bear was quivering on the bed beside me, Tigger was halfway up the stairs looking freaked out and growling. When I got to the kitchen, Marley was staring out of the window in horrified fascination.
The hair-raising half-animal, half-human sounding shrieks were unmistakably fox. It sounded as though at least three were engaged in mortal combat just outside the window. However, when I turned on the exterior light (which only momentarily interrupted the cacophony), I saw that there was only one fox - and Herbert.
Herbert was perched on a raised flowerbed by the wall of T's workshop - and the fox was making repeated dashes at him, bark-screaming and snapping, obviously trying to drive him away. I'm not sure what Herbert had done to so enrage the fox, but the animal was clearly furious and determined to see him off. And Herbert was clearly just as determined to stand his ground.
Marley and I watched with our hearts in our mouths - the fox had the advantage of both size and fierceness. But despite the fox's frenzy, Herbert calmly stood his ground, gazing steadily back at the aggressor and refusing to budge an inch.
Eventually, the bewildered fox realised he had met his match in Herbert and padded off sullenly into the night.
I went out to make sure Herbert was uninjured (he was), then our hero took his leave too, leaping agilely over the garden wall.
That really is one cool cat.