Mercurio peered out from his hiding place behind the tall cupboard. He didn’t see Theo anywhere. That cat was always lurking somewhere, waiting to pounce.
After checking once more that the coast was clear, Mercurio took a nervous step.
What was that sound? Mercurio dashed back behind the cupboard.
A terrible clanging and banging noise rang through the house. Then it happened again. Mercurio had to know what it was. Leaning out just enough so that his whiskers peeked around the cupboard’s leg, he held his breath and listened.
Two tiny pleasant notes filled his ears. Then—another terrible bang.
He had to know what was making such an awful noise. Even Theo did not make that much noise. One eyeball at a time, he looked out from his secret spot.
Maria, the master’s daughter, was sitting at a huge contraption. Her hands were hovering over a long row of black and white keys. Just as she brought her hands down to strike them, Theo dashed into the room.
Mercurio knew he should hide, but he had to know what that device was. As long as Maria was there, he was safe. She wouldn’t let Theo pounce on him.
Theo raced right up to the bench Maria was sitting on. Maria reached down and scooped him up into her arms. As Theo stretched out a paw toward the keys, Maria swatted it away.
“No, Theo! You cannot touch my new piano! That was Father’s rule when he got it for me—no cats allowed!”
Mercurio smiled. He still wasn’t sure what a piano was, but if there was a, “No cats allowed,” rule, he liked it!
Maria set Theo down on the floor beside her bench and continued to plunk at this key and that until she tired of her first day of practice. When she finally left the room, Theo followed at her heels.
Finally the coast was clear! Mercurio scampered across the floor to the piano. He shimmied up one leg and found himself staring at the long row of black and white keys. Carefully, he took a step and—
Oh, no! The key made music for him, just as it had for Maria. He tried to step to the side, but he got another loud sound. What was he going to do?
He heard the sound of claws in the hallway. Theo was coming!
Mercurio dashed to the top of the piece of wood that stood at the head of the keys. His eyes swam at what he saw, and his stomach felt like it didn’t want to hold on to the piece of cheese he had eaten for lunch. Inside this piano was a maze of wires and strings, tiny parts that all had to work together to make music.
He glanced down. Theo was almost to the piano. Mercurio had no choice. He jumped in.
Theo hissed and bounded onto the bench Maria had been sitting on. Another short jump landed him on the keys—and made the most awful crashing sound!
Mercurio ducked under the long row of strings. Theo tried to follow, but his giant body was far too big to slip through the tiny space. Mercurio ran to the far end of the piano where the strings were the longest. Theo swiped his paw at him. Mercurio squeezed himself into a tiny ball.
Theo swung his paw twice more, but could not reach him. He turned and leapt back over the edge of the piano, brushed the keys with his paws, and landed on the bench.
Mercurio could hear his heart pounding in his chest. Was he safe? Had Theo given up?
“BOOOONG!” A terrible, low, vibrating sound echoed all around Mercurio. A small hammer-like arm had struck the string right beside him. He dashed toward the other end of the piano. Theo ran up the keys, striking every one with his dreadful paws.
What would Mercurio do when he reached the end of the piano?
Mercurio heard Maria’s father bellow.
Theo dove from the piano bench and bounded toward the door.
Theo was never heard from nor seen again. Curiosity may have spelled the end for the cat, but it saved Mercurio Mouse.
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