Runty was grooming Stolly when the front door bell rung. The kittens dashed under a cupboard.

"That must be Old Aunt Po,” called Mrs. Tam.

catsoup ch03 v03“The lady from upstairs?” June was in her bedroom practising for Chinese dictation.

There was a new voice. Then flip-flopped feet, passing by. Feet with dirty toenails. Dirty, curly toenails. They stopped a tail away.

Old Aunt Po sniffed. Sniffed again.

“Do you have a cold?” asked Mrs. Tam.

“No, no,” said Old Aunt Po. “I thought I could … smell something.”

Oh dear. Had Stolly had a little accident again? Mrs. Tam couldn’t see any evidence.

Runty poked his head out. The new voice had wispy white hair and a wrinkled face.

He ducked his head, a second too late.

"Oh! You have a new cat,” cackled Old Aunt Po.

"Two. Kittens, actually," replied Mrs. Tam, lowering the tea tray to the table. “We rescued them during the typhoon. They’re a bit of a nuisance really. This flat is too small.”

"Bit of a nuisance, hey?” repeated Old Aunt Po.

"Well, they scratch our furniture, and run around as if it's Happy Valley,” joked Mrs. Tam, going to the kitchen to fetch some dried plums.

Runty stole another look. Old Aunt Po was staring directly at him! “Come here, liddle puddy,” she wheezed.

Mrs. Tam poured the tea. Old Aunt Po slurped some. Noisily sucked a dried plum. “If you don’t mind me saying, I think one cat is quite enough for a ten-year old girl.”

“Well, they’re brothers,” said Mrs Tam.

“If they ever need looking after, just call me.” Old Aunt Po’s face cracked into hundreds of lines.

Stolly snuggled closer to Runty. His brother’s fur felt comforting.

"That’s useful to know," said Mrs. Tam, and laughed.

“Mum, I can hear you!” called June.



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