here is Charlene's story:
‘Is she all right?’ asked A Diamond As Big As The Ritz.
‘She’s fine.’ The Old Curiosity Shop hissed, waving a paw at A Diamond As Big As The Ritz, to indicate that he was meowing too loud. ‘She’s just thinking.’
‘Maybe I should talk to her.’ The Diamond As Big As The Ritz said, even louder. ‘She’s been thinking for an awfully long time.’
‘I don’t think that’s a good idea.’
They were talking about
The Old Curiosity Shop knew A Diamond As Big As The Ritz was asking about Manila because A Diamond had a thing for black cats (The Old Curiosity Shop also knew that A Diamond As Big As The Ritz meowed a bit too loud, not because he was deaf, but because he’d gone a little mad and scruffy at the edges since Jackie O had dumped him for Cloud Atlas. Since then, A Diamond As Big As The Ritz got into the habit of striking up conversations with the other cats during inconvenient moments—like when Lisping John Murphies was on the verge of catching the mouse scuttling out of a hole in the galley walls, or that time he’d interrupted a stare-off between Ethan Hawke and rare nude celebrities, making the latter blink— Ethan Hawke had purred, eyes shut with mirth, as rare nude celebrities miaowed, green eyes and pink mouth wide open in frustration. The other cats grumbmewled among themselves because A Diamond As Big As The Ritz had lately taken to calling everyone by a nickname—he called Childleg ‘baldy’ and 1994 had hissed at being called ’94.’
Frankie Sparo told Papercut that it was a shame Mr. Whiskers, Mr. Pickles, Gardenforce and Ben had stopped A Diamond As Big As The Ritz from jumping overboard the day he’d discovered Jackie O with Cloud Atlas stretched out under her parasol on the poop deck. But The Old Curiosity Shop, the eldest of a litter of seven and a very patient cat, told everyone that they shouldn’t be cruel).
But back to Manila: it was true that she spent quite a bit of time on the mast—sitting by herself for hours, staring out at the sea, even during the full moon parties when everyone got together to caterwaul. Everyone wondered what she was thinking, but cats being cats, they respected her privacy and didn’t ask questions.
Purrlock Holmes said that
‘How do you know?’ asked Catson.
Purrlock Holmes took the smoked salmon out of his mouth and said, ‘Elementary, my dear Catson. The way she pricks up her ears, like she is listening for a mouse.’
Purrlock said that he’d heard
Blackbird overheard this conversation. That night he climbed up the mast bit with a bit of herring in his mouth for
She thanked him and started munching on the herring. Blackbird sidled closer and pawed her behind.
She bristled and hissed, and a few moments later Blackbird skulked back on deck with claw marks on his ear. The other cats pretended not to notice and listened to the record, but A Diamond As Big As The Ritz pointed to his ear and said ‘Mmmmmrrrahaha!’ which resulted in an all-out catfight, all claws and flying tufts of fur.
Up on the mast,
‘Hello my tweet.’ He said.
‘Mwhat took mew so long?’ She said.