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It was the first time Zhang Zian had ever been in Jinmen. He had heard of the long history of this ancient and famous munic.i.p.ality before, and had always wanted to visit, but unfortunately, he had no time to go sightseeing or taste the local snacks today — he was here for airport pickup.
a.s.suming the flight encountered no delays, the seven Abyssinian cats were expected to arrive here today.
Because there were no direct flights between the United States and Binhai City, the flight had to be transferred at an airport somewhere.
Due to the frigid weather, Zhang Zian couldn’t afford to let the seven cats wait a few hours on the tarmac. If bad weather caused any flight delays, the cats might even have to wait a day or two. After consulting with Adams, Zhang Zian decided to transport them to Jinmen Airport, where the quarantine inspection was the most loose, and then he would pick them up himself.
Today was not good for sightseeing. The frost, which occurred exclusively in the northern regions of China in autumn and winter, had enveloped the city. Although there was not much fog in the airport, Zhang Zian learned from the rolling electronic signs that several flights had been delayed. He was very worried about whether the flight containing the seven Abyssinian cats had successfully landed.
A uniformed employee of a shipping company approached him with a loaded cart, upon which was placed a large wooden box. The wooden box was so large it could almost contain a hippopotamus. Zhang Zian did not pay attention to this person at first, because he thought it was unnecessary to place seven cats into such a huge wooden box.
"Mr. Zhang Zian?" the shipping company employee pushed his cap up and asked.
Zhang Zian was surprised, "Yes."
"Please show me the bill of lading," said the staff member.
Zhang Zian took out the bill of lading and handed it to the staff member, his eyes looking at the big wooden box. He whispered to himself. What’s wrong with Adams? Why did he use such a big box?
While the employee was checking the bill of lading, Zhang Zian circled around the big wooden box a few times, and then found on side of the box the eye-catching sign of the United States Department of Agriculture, the label "living animals" in English, as well as vertical arrows indicating the box should be placed upright. Obviously, this was a USDapproved air transport wooden box, which was available in many pet stores and pet carrier companies in the United States, but Zhang Zian had never seen such a huge one.
At the top of the flight box was a sheet bearing the telephone number and address of the pet consignment company entrusted by Adams and the name and telephone number of the consignee, Zhang Zian. Photos of the seven Abyssinian cats were also attached to the sheet in a row.
After the staff from the shipping company verified Zhang Zian's bill of lading, he opened the large wooden box from a side.
The large wooden box's safety door was snapped and not locked, presumably to let the airline employees help the animals get out easily in case of an emergency—of course, objectively speaking, this method also increased the risk of pets escaping or going missing.
To be honest, Zhang Zian had received empty parcels shipped by domestic transportation companies before, so he was really nervous that when the big wooden box was opened, it would be empty inside. Even if he refused to sign and immediately contacted Adams, he was afraid that he would never find the seven Abyssinian cats again...
As the safety door opened, Zhang Zian kept staring firmly inside, holding his breath.
Seven chocolate-colored kittens were nestled together, their fourteen eyes turning to look at the source of light at the same time.
Zhang Zian was relieved!
Now he understood the benefits of a large wooden box. There was plenty of s.p.a.ce inside, especially for the lively and active Abyssinian cats, and enough s.p.a.ce had been provided for them to move about. In addition, the wooden box also had a fixed wooden basin filled with water and food, as well as a cat litter box—of course, there was only one wooden basin and one cat litter box, since it was impossible to prepare a set for each cat.
Perhaps due to the b.u.mpy journey or that a few of them were naughty, the floor of the wooden box was covered with water stains, cat litter and food debris, in addition to the inevitable smell of feces and urine. Given that they had crossed half a world, the situation right now was actually impeccable.
To prevent them from accidentally escaping, the shipping company employee did not fully open the safety door. He was standing together with Zhang Zian at the door, carefully examining the seven cats.
"One, two, three... all seven cats have survived," he counted. "Sir, are you satisfied with our service?"
Zhang Zian put his arm into the wooden box and dipped his finger in the water. It was cold.
This was what he was worrying about – that the drinking water might freeze if the outdoor temperature at night at the Jinmen Airport was lower than in Binhai City. But this had nothing to do with the quality of service of the pet carrier company.
"Very satisfied," said Zhang Zian honestly.
"Please sign here."
Zhang Zian signed his name on the receipt handed over by the other party.
Just as Zhang Zian was signing and filling in the date, the staff member of the shipping company noticed the air boxes that Zhang Zian brought, and then asked in a puzzled way, "Sir, are you going to use those?"
No wonder he was puzzled, because Zhang Zian had only brought two portable air boxes. It would be hard to stuff the seven cats in them, and the cats would barely have any s.p.a.ce to turn around in the boxes.
"Yes." Zhang Zian did not intend to explain more. He handed the doc.u.ments back to the staff member, "Thank you."
Zhang Zian was the recipient of these cats, so if the staff member was not satisfied, there was nothing he could do. The staff took the doc.u.ments and shook his head, as if feeling sorry for the fates of these cats. Presumably he was thinking that Zhang Zian did not cherish them.
Putting the seven cats into two air boxes, Zhang Zian picked them up, thanked the staff member again and left.
He went into a stall of a restroom in the airport, and as he did before, he put five cats into the game on his phone, and the remaining two were placed in the two air boxes. There were seven cats before he entered the restroom, and two in the boxes when he came out, but fortunately with numerous travelers coming and going to the airport, no one noticed these details.
Although he really wanted to play around in Jinmen, today was not the right time.
He had already booked the ticket for the high-speed train in advance, so he immediately took a taxi to the train station. It was very warm on the train, and after several hours of a b.u.mpy ride, he finally returned to Binhai City.
When he was back at the pet shop, it was already nine o'clock in the evening. Lu Yiyun had been looking after the shop alone all day, and had left work. w.a.n.g Qian and Li Kun also had finished their cleaning jobs and left. The shop was empty currently.
After he entered the shop, he pulled the shutter door down and locked it.
Fina smelled the new cats, jumped off of the cat tree and stared at the two Abyssinian cats in the air boxes. One cat was Wendy, that she had seen in the CFA venue.
Zhang Zian targeted the empty s.p.a.ce, releasing the other five cats one by one.
The seven cats had experienced almost an entire weary day, and some of them were listless. However, upon seeing Fina, they immediately surrendered to their knees and dared not to move.
Running about for an entire day, Zhang Zian collapsed, exhausted, like a sack of mud on the couch.
Fina had been indignant since she found out about what happened to the chocolate-colored Abyssinian cats in the CFA arena. Why did cats need the recognition from humans? Therefore, though Fina was lazy usually, she mustered her energy to help them. Not only would this urge Zhang Zian to accept them from Cathy’s will, but it would make them popular, thus proving that those stupid humans were wrong!
A very important reason that Fina was so furious was that Abyssinian cats had close lineage to her, second only to the modern Egyptian Mau. Fina regarded them not only as her subordinates, but also her close relatives. Just like Fina, Abyssinian cats loved jumping to tall places, were light and graceful, had sweet voices, and hated being picked up by people, unless the persons were very close to them.
"Is the music ready?" Fina turned and stared at Zhang Zian.
"Yes, but do you really want to do this?" Zhang Zian took out his cell phone, accessed the music player, and then opened the music library.
"A promise must be kept," she said proudly.
"All right." Zhang Zian did not want to discourage or provoke her.
He knew that Fina wanted to teach them a special dance, of which the complexity of the ch.o.r.eography and the gracefulness of the moves had surpa.s.sed the previous dances. It was an ace card prepared by Fina, tailored to the Abyssinian cats, and was not easily grasped by ordinary cats.
Abyssinian cats had a very popular nickname—the "ballet cats", because of their elegance. These cats had incredible motor capability and jumping abilities. They could jump as high as Ashera cats that were many times larger than them in size.
"Which ones are the most beautiful, according to the stupid standards set by humans?" inquired Fina, with contempt and disdain.
Zhang Zian straightened up from the couch and selected four Abyssinian cats, including Wendy, taking into account their conditions, genders, ages and sizes. The remaining three cats would be served as breeding cats, according to the studbooks recorded by Cathy.
"Are you sure?" asked Fina.
Zhang Zian nodded.
"What are you waiting for? Let's go!" said Fina impatiently.
"Music!" Richard shouted while fluttering its wings.
Zhang Zian clicked the "play" icon, and the piano music of Dance of the Little Swans started to flow inside the shop.