18 April, 2012

the cat and the fiddle

The cat sat beneath the window listening to the child inside practising her violin. The violin screeched and yowled, once in a while producing a clear note before descending once more into screeching strings. All the while, the cat sat - not quite cringing. Every now and then it crept forward a few steps and then sat again, as if it were itching to do something about the sound.


Finally, the neighbours pulled out their ear plugs and sighed with relief. Today's practice session was over. The little girl carelessly dropped the instrument and bow on her bed and skipped out her bedroom door, her duty to mandatory music lessons done.

Taking a careful look around, the cat crept to the window and squeezed in, sniffing the air for danger. The smell of freshly baked cookies wafted into the room and there was also a hint of the sour odour that denoted the possible presence of mice in the vicinity. The cat had caught them last week and so disregarded any thoughts of mice. Cookies didn't interest it either. It was the violin that it only had eyes for.

With a light leap up onto the bed, the cat purred to the fiddle that was shining in the light and whose wood grains striped the body like a tiger. Patting the violin into a comfortable place, the cat placed a paw over the scroll and plucked at a few strings. The strings twanged sadly and the cat shook its head. The poor thing hadn't even been tuned.

Awkwardly, carefully, the cat nudged at pegs and fine tuning knobs until it was satisfied with the sound. Then picking up the bow in its soft mouth - the bow still taut, the cat drew it across the strings and sighed, wriggling with excitement at the sound. Starting slowly, the cat played until it felt the vibrations buzzing through it head via the bow too much for its jaw to be able to hold on any longer, nevertheless attempting to finish with what it thought was a flourish.

There was a sharp intake of breath and the cat's head snapped up to look at the door. The little girl stood there, a perfect imitation of her mother standing just behind the girl, hands over their mouths. With almost a snarl at being caught like this, the cat snatched up the fiddle, flying out the window after a brief knocking struggle at the window and disappeared into the bushes. Before mother or daughter could free themselves from their amazement, the cat was back and gone again, taking the bow with it.

Mother and daughter rushed to the window, but saw nothing. No cat. No violin. No bow.

They never saw the cat again, but every now and then during a fine spring night, when the neighbourhood cats came out to play, they heard the sound of a fiddle playing and the cats singing with it.

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