Now cats are not stupid. Like pigs and cows, they know when they're on death row. Snake and chicken meat were sizzling in Cissy's wok. She'd stirred in the tree fungus, black mushrooms and fish glue. Added ginger, scallion, starch and salt. Even sliced the chrysanthemum leaves.
All the soup needed was two more cats.
And there was Mama Mao dangling from Carver Jo's fist.
"Attack!" yowled Runty, flying from the window sill. He landed on Carver Jo and sank his claws into Jo's neck.
"Ow!" shrieked Jo.
"Anything wrong?" shouted Cissy from above the roar of her wok.
"Oooowww," screamed Carver Jo, as Stolly's claws ripped at his thigh. He dropped Mama Mao, who landed awkwardly.
Cissy waved her ladle wildly. "Get off him," she shouted.
Round and round the cats ran, with Cissy closely behind, closing in.
At the first opportunity, Runty leapt out of the window, followed by Mama Mao; Cissy's ladle missing Stolly by a whisker.
The cats ran under a bush.
Runty's eyes gleamed green in the moonlight. He hesitated, remembering June's tears. Should they run away from her?
Because June was determined to catch them. Lying on her stomach, her hand reached towards them.
And there was Old Aunt Po, looking old and sad.
"Mama!" cried Stolly, burying his nose in her fur. She was thinner, less furry. But smelt sweet as milk.
"Hurts," mewed Mama Mao. Her back leg hung long.
"What happened?" mewed Stolly.
That decided Runty. "You'll never have to hunt again, Mama," he said. "We'll curl together in soft feathers."
"Eat salmon biscuits for breakfast," mewed Stolly.
Salmon? Mama Mao smiled at her sons. She felt so happy to be reunited. And her leg, and back, throbbed.
Maybe she's stay for a moon or two.
"Thanks guys," she mewed.