For two nights in a row there was a persistent pathetic mewling, and we wondered about noise outside our bunkhouse. We found the kittens huddled miserably in the hollow under the steps and gave them warm milk in droppers. That and lots of stroking made us feel better, and we stayed up all night with the trembling bodies curled in the hollow of our crosslegged skirts.

Their eyes were barely open, and Jessie's father picked them up the next morning. I washed that skirt twice and it still smelled like cat piss and fear.