I’ve rescued two other Folk over the past several days. I think Leaffrost told others–many others–about her rescue, as both times, Folk sought me out to tell me that others were trapped. I didn’t make it to the last Meeting, but I think something might have been said there, too. Others I meet are looking at me with…respect. It’s…nice. I hope it will last.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Felisa was once again stalking through the byways of the M’an-nest, senses on the alert. She had a feeling there was another trap out there somewhere, and she was determined to find it quickly.
And sure enough, near the docks, she suddenly caught a complaining yowling. She raced through the night, quickly tracking it down. It was Thunderhead–a contentious tom, as his name indicated, and was among the Folk who had most plagued her life with teasing. Felisa listened carefully, but didn’t hear any M’an-folk coming, so she strolled forward, her whiskers arching in amusement.
Thunderhead spotted her and threw himself against the bars. “M’anchild! Thank goodness you’ve come. You have to get me out of here!”
Felisa sneezed in laughter. “I don’t *have* to do anything.”
Thunderhead gaped at her. “But…but you know what will happen!”
“I do.” She sat down just out of paw range of the box, wrapping her tail about her paws, looking at him intently.
Contentious he might be–even cruel at times–but Thunderhead wasn’t stupid. It didn’t take more than a minute for him to realize what Felisa was waiting for. “All right,” he growled, looking down. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry I teased you so much.”
“And what is my name? My *true* name?”
“Fargazer.” He looked up at her, and his tone softened. “I’m sorry, Fargazer. Please let me out.”
Felisa stood up immediately and walked to the door. With the ease of practice, she lifted the metal bar to the right position, slid it back, and pulled open the door. Thunderhead sprang out, then stopped and looked at her. She saw a welter of emotions cross his face, but all he did was duck his head to her respectfully, then dashed away down the alley.
Felisa dragged the plate of food out and ate it contentedly, keeping an ear open for any approaching M’an-folks. As she cleaned the last of the tuna from her whiskers, a mischevious thought sprang to her mind. She seized the plate and dragged it back into the box. Then she shouldered the door closed, seized the metal bar in her teeth, and with a little wriggling slid it back into place. She tested the door, and it didn’t open.
‘Ha!’ she thought as she sauntered away. ‘Figure *that* one out, Big One!’
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Dr. Ambrose Martel lowered his binoculars, suddenly realizing that his mouth was hanging open, and had been for some time. He shut it with a snap and shook his head, hardly believing what he’d seen with his own eyes.
When he’d first found his trap empty, with the door hanging open, several days ago, he’d just assumed that he’d been careless and hadn’t latched it properly. He simply took it away, waited a couple of days, and set it out again.
But it had happened again. And again. At that point, Dr. Martel had to conclude that it was deliberate. Someone was disturbing his traps–most probably, one of the city’s urchins. After several hours of thought, he decided that, in a couple of days, he’d reset the trap, then find a place to watch unseen. If it was an urchin, a simple stern talking-to, and perhaps some money, should take care of the problem.
He’d never considered *this.* A cat–a *cat*–was opening the traps. A cat had figured out how to raise the metal latch and slide it aside to open the door.
‘That’s the one,’ he thought with sudden exaltation. ‘That’s the one I need.’ But how to trap it? That was definitely going to take some thought. He left the upper-floor storehouse he’d hidden in, and went outside to collect his trap. It might take him several days, but he was determined to succeed.