Of Unashamed Felinity

When the Deed's Discovered

They were all sleeping again. Now might be her only chance. Demeter's eyes, goldenrod in the half-light from the upstairs rooms, scanned the mass of fur for signs of wakefulness but she saw none.

I can escape and find Mother before she gets here and the two of us can leave London together, she silently plotted.

She began inching her way along the outskirts of the lair, soundless and wary, past the makeshift stage and headed toward the curtain exit.

She looked back at Bombalurina, lying with Macavity on his pillow of authority and sighed. She seemed happy here, happy enough that Demeter wouldn't risk the possibility of her alerting everyone to this stealthy departure.

"Goodbye, Bomba," she whispered, then turned to scurry through the curtain.

"I can't let you do that," said that young striped tom, appearing from nowhere to block the passage.

He had seemed nice before when he and the pretty tiger molly were entertaining everyone. Why did he now look so stern? Why did he have that menace in his voice?

"Please," Demeter mewed, capturing her reflection in his toffee brown eyes, "I just want to leave. I won't tell anyone about this place. Just let me go."

In answer Mungojerrie sat down in front of the curtain and, with a little shake of his head, Demeter knew she was trapped.

"Let her go, Jerrie," said a voice behind her. "Why does she have to stay?"

Demeter turned and saw the pretty tiger, looking at what she presumed to be her mate with a frown.

Why indeed. Mungo wasn't entirely sure but knew it wasn't only because of a shiny tiara. Everything that Macavity did was because of his history and his former comrades, Griddlebones had told him, but didn't explain why. Mungo remembered being a young kitten lying wherever the lair was and hearing the formidable feline murmuring to himself Munk...Scat...Munk...

But he couldn't explain that to Teazer, so he held her eye and whispered simply, "Mac wants her here."

"And you're going to help him hold her prisoner?" Rumpleteazer asked, her whiskers twitching in irritation. She put a front paw on the other molly. "Come on, Demeter," she said. "It's time for both of us to go."

"No," Mungo said, standing and arching his back as though preparing for a fight.

Teazer's eyes flashed in anger and disbelief. "Are you going to try to hold me too? Was that the plan all along? You've just been doing your fath—". She stopped with a sudden intake of breath, bringing a paw to her opened and too free mouth.

Mungo sneered and nudged her through the other side of the curtain to the empty and darker anteroom. She whipped around and flung a paw at his face, which he blocked with his own. "Do you really think you're that much smarter than I am, Teazer? I've know for a long time that he's my father. I asked Griddlebones and he, unlike you, didn't try to deceive me."

"So you're doing his bidding!" Teazer spat in fury, the hair on her back raised like that of her jungle ancestors just before pouncing.

Mungo looked at her, his eyes narrowed to caramel slits in disappointment. How could she believe that he had so little feeling for her? Did she care no more herself than to think him capable of using her that way? Didn't she understand that if Macavity woke and found her gone with the other catta that he would tear through all of London looking for them?

He lifted his chin and looked down on her as an impersonal guard might. "If that's what you believe," he said softly. "Just go back inside. You and Demeter aren't going anywhere."

Hostility radiating from every follicle and hissing furiously, Rumpleteazer returned to the main room of Macavity's lair as a hostage. How had she allowed herself to be fooled? A handsome animal, a tantalizing thief that she'd taken to her heart, only to suffer this humiliation and disillusionment. How Sarah Jane would laugh if she knew.

With their noses in the air, she and an equally incensed Demeter stalked back to a corner away from everyone else, the heart-broken heroine vowing that she would never, ever speak to that horrible Mungojerrie again.

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