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The Silence of the Cats

slb
Waiting forlornly by the dusty inbox for a new PO'BMC installment.

Something... anything...

kaw
Goddammit, said Diana ...

slb
spiritedly adjusting her...

kaw
... blonde wig, if this doesn't get Jack back into my ...

slb
... balloon, I'm giving up on men and...

js
opening a teashop in Dorking. But first I must

dac
pay Babbington to quietly ...

js
dress up as a

jsh
serving wench and inveigle

slb
the Admiral to reveal Jack's next posting.

dac
Meanwhile not a hundred miles away as the crow flies (but considerably more by any civilised form of transport), Doctors Maturin and Skinner were standing outside a rather splendid shop admiring a sign reading "Dr Skinner's Statistical Cat Emporium".

"I believe 8 out of 10 cats prefer your business Doctor" said Maturin thoughtfully.

"Where the preference of the cats can be considered a constant that would seem to be true" answered the proud proprietress, "But I hope to expand to cater for the sophisticated urban platypus and hope you can help me".

Maturin thought of Jack's new or posting for a moment then replied....

slb
"Cats will be in short supply where we are going but there may be an opportunity to pick up an ornithorhynchus anatinus. Carefully, carefully, of course." He paused again and took his companion's hand. "My dear, will you not reconsider? It is an unusual request, I grant, but of national importance and as who should say personal interest."

js
"Oh, you have talked me into it!" cried La Skinner. "I will shut up the emporium, and leave it the capable hands of my assistant, Burnfield." And then, in a muttered aside: "Capable if he stays off the Vegemite, that is."

"But tell me, Stephen, will I be able to bring

srz
...a comfortable supply of these rather extraordinary

dac
..but strangely alluring.....

srz
triple-refined

js
purple

sdw
"Hush now," said Stephen, patting her hand. "It will never do to speak of

dac
"Oh Maturin" interrupted Skinner urgently , "So vital are the......

js
items in question that I can't

sdw
"Pattens!" cried Jack, who had just

dac
steadied himself with a stay, bracing against the switching plot lines.

The web of stays, plot lines, ropes and rope-like contrivances receded, and as his vision cleared Stephen found himself in the great cabin with the grave but smiling face of his friend looming above him.

slb
"What a fellow you are, to worry us so. Muttering of pattens, and cats, and balloons and dear cousin Diana, and talking foreign watch after watch."

Stephen shifted in the cot and whispered, "Jack, so you live after all, but what of...

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