After the cold of the street the atmosphere, as they entered, slapped them in their faces like a warm, wet flannel. The interior, a high, baroque hall, imposing yet tawdry, was suffused with a golden light that paled as their eyes adjusted from the darkness outside. Gilt decoration peeled, flock faded, an ornate stucco ceiling was water stained, with patches of mould in the corners. There were cast-iron tables with marble tops, a tiny serving hatch through to the bar and a small proscenium arched stage with faded reddish, pinkish, brownish, sort of velvety curtains. Upon the stage a select half dozen of the Kittens of Chaos were climaxing an enthusiastic and bizarrely unconventional interpretation of the can-can whilst the few remaining customers were buttoning their grubby raincoats and preparing to leave.
The gang were seated at one of the larger tables, its marble top cracked across and beer stained, and, waited on somewhat inconsistently by yet more of the kittens, They were fed and watered. Eventually replete and becoming drowsy in the comfortable warmth, after a long and adventurous day, they were joined by Consuella Starcluster who distributed hubble-bubbles charged with an invigorating catnip and herbal mixture.
“Wee’ll get hyou all tucked up soon.” she crooned in a deep toned and thickly Hispanic accent, “But feerst wee must go overrr the plan. The Vicecrrream van ees all but rrready foor the landwarrrd assault and weell deparrrt afterrr brrreakfast. Yourrr crrrates arrre loaded aboarrrd the Coleyfishtrrrawlerrr Lorrrd Ancasterrr, Meesterrr Boz, but eet weell be thrrree tides beforrre she ees rrreadied forrr sea and hay full crew ees not yet found. I would suggest that on such a dangerrrous mission hyou weell need someone expendable and have instrrructed ourrr ageing pot-boy, Berrrt Wold, to settle hees affairrrs and make rrready to accompany hyou to sea.”
It was decided that Aunty Stella, being an accomplished cat wrangler, should lead the overland rescue in the Vicecream van with the Kittens of Chaos. Consuella kitted her out in an elegant, fitted great coat of sage green, with matched piping and brass buttons, which perfectly complemented her magenta hair. She was accessorized in thigh length black boots with four-inch heels, Astrakhan hat and a fur muff that looked like Blofeld’s cat. For the rest of them there were winter weight Russian telnyashkas (those striped t-shirts made famous by the heroes of Kronstadt), itchy red woollen long-johns, faux-fur lined parkas and stout Doc Martin boots.
Phoebles expressed concern regarding his untried sea-legs and was assured that there would be a more than adequate supply of ginger biscuits, at which news Ferdinand brightened no-end.
“Gingerr beescueets arrre thee finest prreventateeve forrr mal de marre as yet deevised by man, leettle one.”
All foreseeable eventualities covered it was time for a well-earned rest and they proceeded upstairs to their assigned and comfortable sleeping cubicles.