The door between the kitchen and the restaurant swung open. "Cat soup for table four," shouted a waiter.
"Two more cats, Carver Jo," shouted Cissy the Cook, turning up the gas. She needed to make another batch of soup to keep up with demand.
The kittens didn't understand her words. But the smell told them everything.
Carver Jo's eyes roved over the cages of shivering animals. Unhooking a door, he grabbed a black cat by the scruff of her neck.
It was as if his fist was grabbing the kitten's necks. "Stop!" they cried.
But then someone was yelling outside, behind them: "There they are!" The voice sounded familiar.
The kittens were lifted, struggling and pawing. By June. A jubilant June. Tears dripped down her face as she cuddled them. After she'd worked out that Old Aunt Po was capturing cats and selling them to Cat Soup Shack, she'd insisted that the old wrinkly bring her.
"I told you I don't catch kittens," grumbled Old Aunt Po.
But wait a minute, thought June. If Old Aunt Po hadn't caught the kittens, what were they doing here? And why were they wriggling and mewing so? Didn't they want to come home?
Stolly was the wriggliest. How else could he show these stupid humans that he'd found his darling mama? That she was in grave danger? That he'd die of grief if June took him back to her human box.
Runty extended his claws. Almost scratched June. Instead, scrambled onto her shoulders and looked longingly into the kitchen.
YOWL! What he saw gave him super-hero strength to leap back onto the window ledge.
Carver Jo was rooting in Mama Mao's cage. He poked a cat, then another, checking for the meatiest one.
Then Stolly was yowling too.
Mama Mao! She'd been picked!
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