Two stone lions stretched comfortably across the opposite pavement. They looked proud and tall but had kind faces. HSBC bank loomed behind them.

A tram screeched to a halt and its angry driver shook a fist at a pizza delivery man crossing the concrete. "Now!" mewed Runty, darting forwards.

catsoup ch09 v01The kittens scampered across the zebra crossing, taking care to avoid a mass of tramping feet.

"I'm Mr. HSBC and she's my missus," said the lion with the ball.

"Made in Britain with the finest copper," bragged Mrs. HSBC.

"And this is Central," said Mr. HSBC, raising his paw.

Runty and Stolly held their tails high with respect.

At that moment, there was a gigantic roar from across the street. Two other lion statues were sitting, stiff and proper, outside the Bank of China. Their manes were curled tightly and their sharp teeth glittered in the sunshine.

"Ignore them," roared Mr. BOC. "We govern this territory now."

"And the future is mine," squeaked a cub, clamped under Mrs. BOC's claws.

Mr. HSBC rolled his eyes.

With a fast-beating heart, Runty told him about Mama Mao and the missing cats.

A passing school girl stopped in front of the kittens and dangled something saliva-drooling delicious. "You like beef jerky?" she said.

Runty twitched his whiskers.

"Keep away," mewed Stolly.

"Jump into my belly," urged Mrs. HSBC.

"Don't do it," shouted Mrs. BOC, gnashing her teeth.

"It's a trick," roared her master.

"Nonsense. These cats have important business for the Lion Rock King," hollered Mr. HSBC.

The school girl dropped the meat and ran. But other people had heard the commotion and were crowding around.

Quickly, the kittens jumped on a pedestal and squeezed into Mrs. HSBC's hollow body.

It was dark inside but there was some refreshing rainwater to drink.



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