“Who disturbs my slumber?”
The husky mew of a fellow feline drifted up from beneath an over-stuffed sitting chair in the corner of the room.
“It is I, Terry” I replied, a little puzzled that she did not already know who I was. “Surely you have noticed my announcements?”
An over-stuffed cat of epic proportions languidly sashayed into view. I would like to have said that she was quite a beauty, but that would have been something of an untruth. Indeed, her fur was wonderfully thick like smoked velvet and her big green eyes shone like bedeviled glass. But her snout was rather squashed and her cheeks so fat that they almost swallowed her eyes. A disconcerting swish swish indicated an impatient tail flicking across the floorboards as unsheathed talons caught themselves on the polished wood.
“I do not trouble myself with such things,” she replied, exposing needle-sharp fangs in a gaping yawn. Her coat rippled and bristled as she awakened her massive bulk.
“Right. Well, I am here now and no doubt the creatures will soon be making great preparations for my welcome proper. If you intend to remain in my lair I should inform you that anything above the size of a vole is mine and you will be expected to limit your requests for tummy rubs to occasions when I am asleep.” I thought my terms were more than fair. I did not want my new subjects exhausted by fussing such a porcine puss.
“Your lair? This is my lair.” Lady cat narrowed her eyes and stretched herself to her full length, like a great velour sausage. “I am The Master’s Cat.”
This came as something of a shock. I had heard much talk of The Master’s Cat, of course, from Onion Flower and Green Bacon. I knew it as a vicious beast, fierce and unfriendly. And certainly not a lady.
“You do realise that everyone thinks you are a chap, don’t you?” I retorted, trying to keep my whiskers straight. “And it is no small wonder. You look like a fluffy pig.”
“How rude you are!” she replied with outraged indignation. “I shall have you know that I am magnificent. All my creatures say so. In any case, I have no gentleman’s equipment to speak of.”
“Well, neither do I these days so that proves nothing.”
“No doubt that is because you are not a gentleman!”
“But at least I am not a pig!” she hissed at me but I was not perturbed. “Listen. I am claiming this lair for myself and Onion Flower. You had best make yourself scarce.”
“… Onion Flower? Oh.” The Master’s Cat was suddenly on the back paw. “You know she is not here, don’t you? She has gone adventuring with Shouting Whiskey and that one in the top hat… Cherry Noodle.” She spoke this name with a great tremble in her voice. I know this Cherry Noodle. He does indeed wear a fine top hat that I plan to leave an announcement in just as soon as I can. He will be delighted, no doubt.
“Do you know when she will return?” I ask, trying not to show my concern. I do hope she will be back.
“They are looking for a thing. I don’t know what it is. But Green Bacon seems to think they will be back very soon indeed.”
Excellent news! I would have just enough time to prepare the lair and ensure that everything smells as it should – namely, of me.
“Good, then” I said to her, nose proudly in the air. “I shall let you share a spot with Cherry Noodle, seeing as you two are both rumbunctious beasties.”
This suggestion seemed to cause quite some upset. The Master’s Cat made the most hideous noise – like a human singing or some such thing. The mewlings she uttered were not discernible to me, but she leapt – claws a-flash – right towards my very nose…