This is the next chapter of our serialised story for children. (NB: Just like BCE dates, the chapter numbers go backwards.)

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Chapter 8

In spite of what you may think, Spookie doesn’t spend all day indoors reading books and making things. Sometimes she likes to get out in the fresh air.

Now Sunderland is full of junk shops, with interesting things in the window. She was passing one such shop when she saw a beautiful Egyptian cat. He was just her height, even though he was sitting down with his back legs. But he was standing up tall on his forepaws, long-necked, proud and slim. He had Egyptian writing all over his front, and fancy eyes, with a long tear-duct and a single eyelash like you see on Egyptian mummies. He looked to be made of solid gold, and she instantly fell in love with him.

She had so wanted to go to Egypt with Dyspepsia, and was disappointed she had to stay at home. But here was a bit of Egypt which could be all her very own, provided he wasn’t made of solid gold, which would cost a bit more than she could afford.

She went in the shop and asked: was it solid gold? The shopkeeper tapped the Egyptian cat with his knuckle and it sounded hollow, so he let her have it at a fair price and she went home, got a trolley, went back to the shop and wheeled it home. She stood it by the fireside (all cats love to have open fires to sit in front of) and fetched a cloth to give it a good polish because it had got all dusty in the shop.

Now she would have company tonight, even though it would be silent company, but that was all right by her.

As she was polishing the back of the statue, just above the tail she found a tiny trapdoor the size of your thumb. It reminded her of the battery compartment in the TV controller, and sure enough there were contacts inside, just like you’d expect to see. But that was silly, because they didn’t have batteries back in those days, surely.

She went out and bought a card full of button cells, and tried two of the biggest ones, AG13s, in the cavity. They fitted perfectly, and when she closed the trapdoor and turned the cat round, its eyes were glowing a beautiful blue.

She was a little disappointed though. If it had batteries and glowing eyes it couldn’t be a genuine antiquity – it must be a modern ornament made to look like an ancient Egyptian cat. But she was delighted with how pretty it looked. She peered back down at the battery compartment to check the lid was closed properly, and she saw some tiny writing.

It wasn’t like the Egyptian writing, carefully engraved in hieroglyphs. It was crudely scratched, as if it had been done with the point of a nail. But she knew it was ancient Greek script, of a type called Koine, which made her revise her opinion about the cat being a modern ornament.

She couldn’t read ancient Greek: it was one of the things she hadn’t had time to learn when she was a kitten. But she got a piece of paper and copied down the writing as carefully as she could. While she was at it, she thought she’d copy down the hieroglyphs too, on another piece of paper.

Then she took both sheets of paper along to Sunderland Museum to show the curator because she didn’t want to be bothered lugging along the whole cat. But just to show what it looked like, she took a photo of it with her smartphone.

…to be continued.