Only a month into the voyage Suleyman came looking for Salt. He and his family had apparently run out of fancy food, and they were desperate. One day Salt was napping on the warm surface of the ships anvil when he heard an imperious voice behind him.
“Might I have a word, young tom?” Suleyman said .
“Sure,” Salt said. He sprang down from the anvil and started his stretching routine. He extended each back leg out one-by-one as far as it would go and gave it a wriggle of satisfaction. Then he bowed his head down between his front legs and stuck his tail and his rear-end as far in the air as he could. He gave a little shudder of joy as the kinks worked out of his spine. Then he turned to Suleyman and tilted his head to the side in a questioning gesture.
“You see, our Mistress has suddenly run short of provisions. She was unaware of how rapidly things spoil on this ship, and as a result has had to abandon many of our fine things. As she is now entirely dependent on her ships ration for her own food, she feels that we cats should begin to provide for ourselves. Besides, Constantinople, has been craving fresh meat,” Suleyman said.
“Slink said I could start patrolling the bow of the hold. Toady has been feeling a bit peckish, and Three-toed Larry and Black Moll have their hands full in the stern. You’re welcome to join me,” Salt said.
“Into the bowels of the ship, you can’t be serious?” Suleyman said.
“That’s where the fattest rats are, down near the bread room,” Salt said.
“Very well, lead the way,” Suleyman said.
Salt skirted around the sandpit where they kept the cook-fire, dove under the johnboat and through the officer’s quarters. He didn’t stop to look at Suleyman’s females, huddled in the back of their baskets. He dodged around the whipstaff where the bosun was steering the ship. Then he plunged down both sets of steps to the hold. Now he had to make his way to the bow. He bounded over a hill of barrels lying on their side and tunneled under a pile of crates that went all the way to the ceiling. When he came out, he turned around and waited for Suleyman.
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