Early next morning, when a pigeon landed on Mrs. HSBC's head, Mr. HSBC swiped it dead.

"Thank you for your hospitality," mewed the kittens, the taste of bird still fresh on their lips.

catsoup ch10 v01"Remember, catch the first bus going north," called Mrs. HSBC.

To play safe, the kittens jumped on the first bus that came along. "Cats," a schoolboy gasped, as they bounded up the stairs and hid under a seat.

The bus stopped and started. Legs came and went. Mobiles rang. Stolly covered his eyes with his paws.

Gradually, the bus ran more smoothly. Runty spotted butterflies and heard cicadas singing. No more shops and offices and noisy tourists. Instead, trees and mountains and sky.

Then the engine stopped and the driver swigged tea.

One window was open. Runty slipped through it, effortlessly. Stolly, stuffed full of bird, followed. Head, front legs - no problem. But his tummy? No way. Stolly strained and pawed. He even tried going backwards.

Runty anxiously looked for another exit. What was that thunderous noise? The driver - snoring.

Stolly crept past him ... and landed in a puddle.

Runty quickly licked the mud off.

But that was the Lion Rock King? Solid rock? One craggy head? Two stone paws?

It must be!

With grass under paw, the kittens ran up the mountain as fast as their little legs would carry them. Thinking of Mama Mao's sweet smile, Stolly overtook.

But it was Runty who heard the trickle of water first. A creek! He padded down to the muddy banks. Careful not to wet his paws, he drank deeply. What a pleasure to feel cool water sliding down his throat.

Stolly lapped faster. As if the brothers were in competition.

Which gave Boo the Burmese python the opportunity to slither closer.



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