Felisa waited at the edge of the northern woods all afternoon, looking across the plain toward New Babbage, wondering what she would see. Her siblings and friends who had stuck with her in the city now huddled around her, helping to keep her warm as she waited.
Finally, as evening began to darken the skies above, she sat up, staring. “There,” she said to the others. A plume of smoke was rising above the level of the city wall; she judged it to be coming from the area of the Van Creed building. She waited, biting her lip. But nothing followed; there was no mighty explosion, no sign of monsters in the air above the city–even the plume of smoke rather quickly dissipated. The advancing night continued undisturbed. Finally, Felisa looked down at the others.
“I think they succeeded,” she said. “But let’s go make sure.”
They trotted south across the open ground, seeing the unblemished wall growing before them. They climbed up to the Palisade gate and peered cautiously inside. All was as it had been when they’d left. In unspoken accord, they slipped from shadow to shadow, making their way west to the Van Creed building.
They didn’t have to get too close to see what had happened. That building was in ruins, but everything else was untouched. “I think they really did do it,” Tealla said in amazement.
Felisa looked at the wreckage, trying to find a way through. “I wonder if anyone found the notebook,” she mused.
Softstone butted against her legs. “It’s too dangerous for you,” he said firmly. “We’ll search for it.”
Felisa gulped. “Be careful.”
Half an hour crawled by, with Lisa jumping at every sound of shifting material coming from the wreckage. Finally, though, all the cats assembled safely before her again.
Tealla spoke, her whiskers dropping. “We saw many things like what you described, but nothing carried your scent.”
Felisa laid a hand on Tealla’s head. “It’s all right. I know you tried.”
“But do we really know it’s safe to return?” Softstone asked.
“No–but I know how to find out,” Felisa replied. She’d heard the other urchins talking about the party at Brunel Hall that was to be held…if the city didn’t come to an end. So, followed by the cats, she trekked through the alleyways until she was near Brunel Hall. Then, leaving the cats behind, she sneaked forward and hid by the door. A few moments of eavesdropping told her all she needed to know.
Hurrying back to her friends, she smiled. “Go spread the word,” she said. “We can all return.”
The cats arched their whiskers forward in happiness, and turned away to return to the woods and find the Elders. Felisa, meanwhile, went back to the hideout in the Imperial Theatre, ready for a warmer sleep than she’d had last night. Inside the Theatre, though, she found a group of chattering urchins, who pounced, ready to tell her everything that had happened.
Once that was done, one of them said, “You’re coming to the Urchin’s Ball tomorrow, aren’t you?”
“The…what?” Felisa looked at him, confused.
“It’s a dance for us urchins,” said another.
“But…I don’t know how to dance,” Felisa said. “And I don’t have anything else to wear, and–“
“That don’t matter!” exclaimed the first urchin. “An’ we need some fun–you included! You’ll be there if’n we have to drag you there, so you may as well decide to come on your own.”
Lisa looked around at all the urchins, and their determined expressions, and sighed. “All right. I’ll go.” ‘What am I getting myself into now?’ she wondered as they finally let her crawl into a bed.