Mean Like a Minx
A sharp, warm wind ruffled Rumpleteazer's fur and pulled back her pointed ears. She surveyed the scene carefully. This wasn't one of the busier times of day in the park so there were fewer children and nannies. That was good, Mungojerrie had explained to her, because nothing escaped a good nanny's notice.
She hopped up on a wrought iron bench and made a play of grooming herself while she chose her victim.
She quickly rejected an elderly woman, wrapped in shawls despite the heat, who beckoned for her. Teazer knew that she was just too tempting and that the old woman would try to spontaneously adopt her. There was a little boy with his mother. They reminded her of her family's son, Robbie, and his mother. But the boy was a dripping, sticky mess with a rapidly melting strawberry ice cream cone. Teazer did not want that anywhere near her beautiful coat. Across the sidewalk, a man took out his handkerchief to dust off an area on the bench comparable to his rather large backside. He sat and fanned himself with his homburg hat then leaned on his bumbershoot.
She purred with satisfaction. Here was her man. Who would be in the park in the middle of the afternoon, dressed like that in a linen suit, except someone who wouldn't really miss one of his treasures, plus his lumbering roundness ensured that he wasn't likely to give chase.
Mungojerrie, watching her from the visible, arched roots of a chestnut tree, nodded in approval at his clever catta.
"Yes," she'd answered smartly when Mac had asked her if she'd ever stolen anything. She'd gone on to say that she often took things from the family's eldest, prissy Sarah Jane, when she pulled her striped tail or screamed at her for shedding on her counterpane.
Sarah Jane would later find herself missing a ribbon or trinket or, even once, a tightly folded note from an ardent young swain, that preteen Sarah Jane had had to explain to her mother, who had found it among her knitting skeins.
"Hmm," Rumpletezer now mused. Macavity had said that he wanted something shiny. She watched the sun catch the metal of a ring on his hand, the watch fob at his waistcoat, his throat where the blue striped cravat came together—all too difficult to snatch from him. Then she saw a sparkle on the bench where he'd laid his hat. The light tan felt glinted with the man's club insignia. "I can get that."
She looked over at Mungojerrie behind his natural bars and wagged her tail to signal that she was about to strike. He moved away from his cover in a wide, stealthy circle, to provide a diversion, if she should need it.
Like her evolutionary antecedents prowling in the veldt, Rumpleteazer was off of her bench, across the walkway and on the man's bench in a flash, her eyes trained on the tack pin.
The man had his own diversion in the form of two young women, strolling the promenade to soon pass in front of him, their light, lacy summer dresses exposing dainty ankles and hinting at more.
Teaser and her instinct crept the last few inches that separated her from her prey, opened her maw, bit down on the disc and yanked it out of the topper.
"What!" shouted the man, finally realizing that there was a game afoot. He reached out for the little bandit then cried out in pain and surprise as another cat pounced on his head with an angry growl. The screech from that animal sounded anxious, as if urging the other to run!
The man's arms and hands flailed uselessly above his head, as the larger tiger cat leapt to the ground and took off on the tail of the other.
The man stood, aghast, rubbing his bald pate where he'd felt the stick of the claws.
"Oh, are you hurt?" asked the young women, hurrying over to him.
The man put a brave smile on his red, chubby face. "No, no. I'm fine. I'll just have to get another pin from my club, the Stage and Screen. Perhaps you've heard of it..."
Mungojerrie raced just ahead of Rumpleteazer when they were well away from the park and signaled for her to stop.
Her chest rose and fell with her panting breath, the pin still clutched in her teeth, as she looked up at him for approval.
She received it, with a dip of his head under her chin that lifted it in a nuzzle. Her heart rate should be slowing now that she'd stopped running but with him so close, it wasn't.
"Good show," he purred low and slow in her ear. "Mac will be pleased."
She grinned and the silver plated circle in her mouth reflected in the dark mirror of her eyes.
Mungojerrie stared and swallowed the lump of feeling that must wait for a more appropriate setting. He cocked his head in the direction of the Tomb and the proud pair ambled that way, eager to present the evidence of Rumpleteazer's successful maiden hunt.