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Dec. 11 – Is a Cat’s Testimony Admissable in Court?

Lisa strolled back toward New Babbage’s main gate. She’d been unable to sleep for the cold, and didn’t want to prevail on her cat friends to warm her.  Instead, she’d gone for a nice long walk outside the city, letting the briskness of her stride warm her up.  She went far enough away from the city that the sky cleared above her, letting her see the crystalline sharpness of the stars.  The walk was refreshing to her spirit as well, letting her revel in true solitude.  A falling star flashed overhead, its path pointing toward the main gate. She smiled as she followed the omen.

Her smile faded, though, as she saw a small form dashing through the entrance.  Even with her diminished human senses, it didn’t take Lisa long to recognize her brother, Fourclaws.  He was yowling at her, but she couldn’t make out his words.  Fighting the snow, Lisa picked up her own pace, closing the distance with him.

“What is it?” she asked anxiously, skidding to a stop in front of him.

“The M’an you told us to watch,” Fourclaws replied.  “He and some others set fire to buildings by the place where Beryl works!” (Lisa had, after some thought, told the cats Arnold’s Feline name from his… well, one could say his previous life. “Beryl” was less awkward to say than “Large-Cat,” and “Arnold,” of course, couldn’t be said at all in Feline.)

“He what?!”  Lisa rocked back on her heels at the news.  “Are the M’an-folk there all right?”

“I think so.  They were able to put out the fires before they spread, but the buildings fired are in bad shape, I think.”

Lisa looked grim.  “Have you told Beryl yet?”

“No,” Fourclaws replied, looking rather abashed.  “There was so much commotion, I couldn’t have gotten his attention without being… obvious.  So I decided to try to find you instead.  I didn’t know you’d decided to wander so far.”

Lisa nodded, rueing her impulsive decision.  “Come on–let’s go see what’s happening now.”  Lisa picked up her heels and dashed away, Fourclaws running along beside her.


They were still shoveling snow onto the dying embers when Arnold was finally able to walk away from the scene.  The blaze might have been contained to only one building, if the steam horse hadn’t tried to ‘help.’  It was a good thing the owner of the Mariners Revenge had already moved out…

Arnold felt no loss over the destruction of the house or the paddy wagon which it had held, but whoever had done this had been trying to send a message… and he wasn’t going to ignore that.

He made his way back to the asylum, intending to complete his duties, when he heard a familiar yowl from across the yard.

Lisa saw that she’d gotten Arnold’s attention and waved wildly at him, gesturing him to come over. “Is everyone all right?” she asked as he neared her.

“No one was hurt,”  Arnold assured her.  

“My brother, Fourclaws, has news,” she said, gesturing down at the cat who was sitting patiently by her feet. “He saw who set the fire.” Lisa looked at Arnold soberly. “It was Cortman. He and a few others.”

Arnold sighed, and looked down at Fourclaws, “How many were-“ He stopped as he remembered that the cats had no concept of numbers. “Were they M’an-folk who often entered the place?”

Fourclaws considered Arnold’s question for a moment, then arched his whiskers forward in assent. “Yes, I believe they were.”

“Did anyone else see them?” He continued, “A M’an?”

“No, there were no other M’an-folk around. These ones made sure of that before they set the fire.”

Arnold nodded, “Thank you, Fourclaws.”  He turned his attention back to Lisa, “If no one else saw them, there’s probably not much we can get anyone else to do about it.”

Lisa nodded, though she felt a little disappointed. “I’ll be sure now to stay close by, in case something else happens. That way, the other cats can find me sooner, and perhaps we’ll be able to do something then.”

“If you can catch him in the act we’ll be able to tell someone… Holmes, Bookworm, Jedburgh–someone.”  After a moment he added, looking at the fading bruises on her face, “Just don’t let him catch you.”

Lisa ruefully smiled a little. “Indeed.” After a moment, she looked at Arnold keenly. “Tell me–who works at the Asylum now, besides you and Dr. Solsen?”

Arnold considered his answer for a few moments.  Dr. Maddox was still recovering, though she told him that she would be back soon and there was no way to know when Heliotrope would return.  He was still the only orderly at the moment.  Finally he responded, “There is one new doctor that Canergak has interviewed and an assistant, but I haven’t met them yet.”

“But no one to do the small things?” she persisted. “The cleaning and fetching and such. A…” She paused, searching her memory for the term she wanted. “A maid-of-all-work?”

“No,” Arnold admitted, “That has fallen to me often enough.”

The small smile on her face turned mischievous. “Why not me, then?”

Arnold looked taken aback by her sudden offer. “You?”

She nodded, abruptly turning sober. “I do want to work steadily soon, but it would be good if I could do it in a small way first, with someone around who knows who I am and can guide me when I find myself out of my depth. Working with you at the asylum would fit those needs. Besides, then I could keep an eye on Tenderpaws myself.”

Arnold stared at her, evaluating her offer and all of her points.  She was probably right; this would be a good way for her to slowly integrate into the world of men, and at the same time keep an eye on things in the asylum when he wasn’t around.  Still, there was one problem. “You do know that means you’ll have to be near Canergak as well?”

Lisa nodded. “I know. I promise, I will keep my claws sheathed.”

“All right,” Arnold said as he stretched, ready to make his way back to the asylum.  “I’ll see what I can do.”

“Thank you.” She watched as Arnold made his way through the lingering smoke to the entrance to the asylum. Then she knelt down by the patient Fourclaws and explained what it was she hoped to do.

“Good,” Fourclaws said. “You need some purpose in your life again–beyond simply dealing with one crisis or another.” He mrrr’ed a little in amusement. “Roofslide is currently watching Mad-Growler, so I’ll go and get some sleep now. You should, too.”

Lisa nodded, giving him a parting skritch on the ears. Then she made her way through the early morning light to the Sneaky Vole. Settling down in her own small corner, head pillowed on her pack, a thin blanket draped over her, she soon drifted off to sleep.

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