Before I print my story I just want to add a little explanation. In St. Peterburg, Russia, there is a museum know as The Hermitage museum. Besides the wonderful works of art they have many cats in the cellars, from the olden days of the Czar (it was a palace) and they are there for the main job to keep the mice under control. I have been to the museum in Russia, but unfortunately did not visit the cats. This link http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7029370.stm might explain a bit more. Anyhow I wrote this with those wonderful cats in mind.
It was a dark quiet night, the sun had set over the river and the museum had closed its doors to its last visitor. It was not just a museum, but had works of art from all over the world attracting tourists every day. Tasha was glad that it was now empty, she could now sleek her way in between the exhibits sniffing for any new smells. Her favourite room was the one where they hung the paintings. The oil paint had a smell of days gone by, particularly where the paintings from the old masters were hanging. She was never in the museum during the day; too many people and too much noise, and the humans in charge did not like to see her there. When evenings came she could roam at her own will. There were no humans, they were in their homes. Ivan the night watchman would go for a walk around the rooms now and again to check that all was in order, but he knew Tasha and Tasha knew him, so there was no problem.
She was staring at one of the paintings showing a house somewhere in the country surrounded by fields and she suddenly heard a noise. It was coming from the little room where the cleaning troop kept their mops and brooms. She then saw the door slowly opening to the room and hid behind the curtain. The curtains were so thick and heavy, she was certain she would not be seen. It was then that two men appeared.
“Igor, don’t make so much noise. I don’t want to be heard.”
“What are you worried about Fedya, there is no-one here except for the night watchman, and he is too old and lazy to bother with us. It was a good idea to hide in this room before they locked up the museum. No problem about breaking in. Getting out will also be an easy task, we just stay in the room until the museum is opened in the morning and sneak out. They will never notice.”
“All the same, be careful, I really do not want to serve a prison sentence again. The last one was bad enough.”
“Oh yes, I remember, but after all we would not have met if we had not both been in prison.”
“So don’t get sentimental, and now to the work.”
Tasha watched and heard what was happening. As soon as the men walked into a dark corner, she sprang back to the heating pipe and disappeared inside. In a few minutes she was back in the cellar, where she lived with the other cats.
“Felines, listen, we have a problem. I was in the museum and there is someone there.”
“Of course there is someone there” answered Koshka “Ivan is there and looking after the museum.”
“No, Koshka, you don’t understand. There are two men and I think they want to steal something, they were talking about being in prison and being quiet before Ivan heard them. I am sure they have something bad in mind.”
“Tasha have you been sleeking through the heating pipe again. You know our human feeder, Valentina, does not like us to be in the museum. She said we cats should stay in the cellar and keep the mouse population under control.”
“I know, but I so love to wander amongst those old things now and again, they smell so full of old memories.”
“What’s up Koshka, is Tasha getting sentimental again about that old stuff upstairs.” Yuri, the leader of the cats, arrived on the scene.
“I am not getting sentimental Yuri, but I think there are robbers in the museum. I am sure they will steal a painting. Come and have a look for yourself.”
“OK Tasha, the things I do for a female cat. Are you coming as well Koshka?”
“If you say so boss.”
and the three cats followed Tasha through the pipe, although Yuri had to really squeeze through a bit as he was not longer the youngest and had put on some weight over the years.
“You know cats, this pipe walking is not my sort of thing. I am really out of training. Are we soon there Tasha.”
“Shhh Yuri, I can hear them. Be careful when you leave the pipe. Make a quick dash towards the curtains.”
The three cats were as quiet as possible and they were soon peeping from under the curtain towards the sound of the men’s voices.
“Igor did you hear something.”
“There is no-one here.”
“I thought I saw something move behind the curtain over there.”
“Probably a mouse, there are a few around, although I heard the cats are still kept in the cellars.”
“Oh yes, the famous museum cats; living the life of luxury, getting fed and looked after. I would have got rid of them a long while ago.”
“Did you hear that” said Koshka “they are not very nice men. They don’t like cats.”
“Look Yuri, Koshka, they are taking the paintings out of the frame. I think we should do something. Valentina and her friends are so good to us, and we should repay it somehow.”
“You are right Tasha” said Yuri “I have an idea. It is very dark in the museum, and we all three are black cats. Now we sleek out when they are on their way with the stolen paintings.”
“They might see us.”
“No problem. You and Tasha will run before their feet to make them fall and I will look after the rest.”
For a cat this was really not difficult. As soon as Igor and Fedya made their way with the paintings the cats followed them.
“Igor what’s that” were the last words Fedya said, before he crashed down to the floor. Igor rushed to his help, but that was a mistake as he also landed on the floor. The floors were wooden and hard.
“Come Igor, we must go, something is wrong.”
“Fedya, forget it. I think I have broken my arm on the hard floor.”
“Ok, then I will take the paintings and go. It is our only chance.”
“Fedya don’t leave me. I have a black monster staring at me. I think the place is haunted.”
“Rubbish, there are no monsters.” Fedya tried to leave but again fell over something lying in front of his feet.
“Help me Igor, you are right, that monster is looking at me as well. Aw, I think I have broken my leg.”
Yuri now had the situation under control, as chief cat he did look threatening in the dark with his glowing yellow eyes. Tasha and Koshka ran off to find Ivan the nightwatchman who was having a quiet sleep on a chair in his office. They made such a noise with their meowing that he followed them and they lead him to the two sorry figures of the robbers who were now laying helpless on the floor, Yuri keeping a watchful paw over them. Ivan called the police who arrived quickly and the two robbers were soon taken away, but in an ambulance as they had a few injuries from their accident.
The cats returned to the cellar, and were quite proud of their night’s work. The next day Valentina gave them each a portion of their favourite fish, but told Tasha that her trips in the museum were finished for a time.
Tasha did not mind, as a cat she did not understand humans so she did as she wanted. She just loved to smell and see the exhibits in the museum.
Pictures and Words: Week 1 A New Beginning