Cats have always said that Griddlebone, the fluffy white Persian of the Growltiger incident, was a heartless, evil, cold-blooded traitoress. I know that this is not true.
You don't believe me? That's too bad, because I have proof. The story I am about to tell you truly happened, I pledge my life on it! I saw all these events with my own life. I know that they are true, though it may seem hard for you to accept it. I don't know what will be harder for you to believe.... that there are ghosts or that the most famous traitor since Mistoffelees himself has a heart....
I was a young queen when all this happened. Just about your age, in fact, maybe a bit younger. I was working for Macavity at the time. Wait - don't judge me before you know me! Working for Macavity was my only option. I was a streetcat, abused by my former humans, and starving when Macavity took me in. In gratitude, I worked for him.
I knew Griddlebone well. She was a good friend of mine. I found her to be an intelligent, sweet, kindly-hearted queen. As further proof of her lovingness, she had three kittens whom she loved more than her own life, more than Macavity's life, more than the Everlasting Cat Herself. Maybe that's why Bast allowed these events to happen....
Griddlebone's kittens were named Victoria, Tumblebrutus and Etcetera. They were Growltiger's kittens, but he was dead, and Griddlebone had raised them by herself. Then she decided that Macavity's Lair was no suitable place for three young, impressionable kittens to grow up, and she received Macavity's permission to send them to the Jellicle Junkyard to be taught.
The kittens went to the Junkyard with no little argument. Victoria, in particular, vehemently longed to stay with her mother, but Griddlebone wanted the best for her kittens, and sent them to the Junkyard with no further discussion.
I was with Griddlebone when she received The Letter. We had been out thieving together, and were coming back to the Lair, gloating over our bagful of human and feline treasures. A diamond ring, in particular, caught Griddlebone's eye, and she was trying it on when Rekanart, one of Macavity's henchtoms, came up to us.
Rekanart looked unusually solemn. The burly black tom commonly had a goofy grin on his broad face, so this somber expression made both Griddlebone and I pay attention instantly. "What's the matter?" Griddlebone asked. Rekanart said nothing, but gave Griddlebone a letter.
The envelope had already been torn, but this was to be expected - Macavity read all the letters that the Pollicle Postal Service delivered to the lair. Griddlebone read the letter through once. Her blue eyes widened, and, with a choked gasp, she read it again. "No... no, it can't be... my kittens... my darlings...." she whispered.
Rekanart had already left. I took Griddlebone's paw and led her back to the Lair, where I got her to sit down in her chamber. She was frozen, but the anguish on her face made me read the letter. It was from Old Deuteronomy, the leader of the Jellicles.
"Dear Griddlebone. We, the Jellicles, regret to inform you of the death of your kittens, Victoria, Tumblebrutus, and Etcetera. They, along with their protector Jennyanydots, were attacked and killed by a rabid Pollicles three nights ago. We have already performed the funereal ceremonies. Sincerely, Old Deuteronomy."
I stayed with Griddlebone for the rest of that night and for that day, when, like all nocturnal cats, we slept. I don't think Griddlebone slept that day. I woke up at about noon to find her kneeling on the floor, staring at the ceiling, her lips moving soundlessly.
I've always been rather good at reading lips, and I did so now -- Griddlebone was murmuring a prayer to the Everlasting Cat. Yes, even streetcats believe in Bast. You Jellicles aren't the only ones who need a feline deity.
Griddlebone was asking Bast for one last night with her kittens. She continued praying even as I lay back down on my cushion, but I was as sleepless as the grieving queen that day.
The next few nights were hell for Griddlebone. She did not go thieving, but stayed in her chamber, praying to the Everlasting Cat and crying. I brought her food, but she didn't eat it. As her strength waned, I found myself praying to Bast as well, asking the Everlasting Cat for Griddlebone to have one night with her kittens. Just one last night.
I continued to sleep in Griddlebone's chamber, which is how I was able to view the events that follow. Of all this tale, they are the most fantastic, the least plausible. What happened was this: Griddlebone was in her usual place, kneeling, staring, and praying. I was seated on my cushion, pleading with her to eat some of the tuna I'd brought.
Pawsteps sounded in the hall, and the door creaked open slowly. I thought I'd faint when I saw the pure white face of Victoria peer through the opening. Griddlebone had her back to the door, but seemed to sense something, because she slowly turned around and saw her three kittens, come back to life.
Other henchcats of Macavity's lair claim they heard a banshee that night. In truth, it was Griddlebone, shrieking with joy. She threw herself at the kittens, hugging them tightly. I noticed, as I supposed Griddlebone did not, that the kittens were uncommonly quiet - like Rekanart had been that fateful night - and that they had a strange, pearly white glow about them....
"Come," Griddlebone said to her kits, pushing them toward the tray of tuna and cream. "Come, eat with me! Eat with your mother, my own, my darling kittens." Ignoring the tempting scent of the tuna, the kittens all three shook their heads, and Victoria spoke. "We cannot eat of your food, mother."
Griddlebone looked a tad put out, but shrugged it off, and her glance fell on the basket full of cushions in the corner. "Come, my kittens, my sweets - today with mother you'll sleep." The kittens shook their heads once more, and Victoria spoke again.
"We cannot sleep today, mother, for in three short hours the sun shall set and night will fall. With the sun, we set, and the Heaviside Layer waits." Griddlebone stared at Victoria, unbelieving, and dismissivly waved a paw.
She proceeded to talk to her kittens, about this and that, the diamond ring she had stolen, the latest gossip about how Mungojerrie had been found flirting with another queen and Rumpelteazer had refused to go on robberies with him, about the new cat burglars that Macavity had found, and on, and on, and on. She didn't seem to notice that her kittens were silent, but sat and watched her solemnly.
I don't think there was a cat in that room who did not feel the setting of the sun that day. There was no window in the room, yet we all knew that it was night. Griddlebone's chatter ceased, and the kittens rose with one accord. "Good night, mama," they said in unison. Then they turned and left through the door.
Griddlebone sat silently while I got up and opened the door. There was no sign along the lengthy corridor of three kittens, glowing or not. With a sigh, I returned to my cushion. The events of the past three hours finally caught up with me: I had seen three ghosts.
Macavity had decided I had been idle long enough. Though he allowed Griddlebone to continue mourning, he sent me on a burglary with Mungojerrie -- Rumpelteazer was still mad at the orange tom, and refused to thieve with him.
When I got back to the lair, it was nearly midnight, and Griddlebone was nowhere to be found. I asked some of the cats about the place if they had seen her, and it was Rekanart who knew.
"She went to the River," he said, smirking loonily. The River. That would be the large dock on the River Thames, only about five minutes walk for the average streetcat. I hurried there as fast as I could, tossing a "thanks" over my shoulder for Rekanart.
I reached the dock in one minute, running all the way. As I stopped to catch my breath, I saw Griddlebone. She was standing on the very edge of the dock, gazing into the murky black depths of the river. The moon overhead cast a radiant light over her, and it's watery reflection was brilliant.
Before I could move or say a word, Griddlebone had whispered something to the moon, and stepped forward into the water.
Would any but a grieving mother kill herself over the death and re-death of her kittens? And if anyone has a heart, it would be a grieving mother. Can you say now that Griddlebone is heartless? Cold-blooded? Evil? If this story is not proof of her loving nature, my name is not Bombalurina.
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