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Authors: Sylvia Olsen

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Murphy & Mousetrap

BOOK: Murphy & Mousetrap
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MURPHY and mousetrap

Sylvia Olsen

Copyright © 2005 Sylvia Olsen

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data:

Olsen, Sylvia, 1955-
Murphy and Mousetrap / Sylvia Olsen.

(Orca young readers)
ISBN 1-55143-344-3

I. Title. II. Series.

PS8579.L728M87 2005     jC813'.6     C2005-901127-0

First published in the United States 2005\

Library of Congress Control Number:
2005922035

Summary:
When Murphy, his mother and their cat Mousetrap move back to the reserve, Murphy is sure that both he and the cat are going to be miserable.

Free teachers' guide available.
www.orcabook.com

Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage's Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP), the Canada Council for the Arts, and the British Columbia Arts Council.

Cover Design and typesetting: Lynn O'Rourke
Cover & interior illustrations by Darlene Gait

In Canada:

Orca Book Publishers
Box 5626 Stn. B
Victoria, BC Canada
V8R 6S4

In the United States:

Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 468
Custer, WA USA
98240-0468

08 07 06 05 • 5 4 3 2 1

Printed and bound in Canada

For Adam

1

Murphy plunked his schoolbag on the hall floor and stuck his hand in his pocket. He rummaged through the stones he had picked up on the way home from school until he felt the apartment key on its loop of string. Mom had made him promise to wear the key around his neck so it wouldn't get lost, but it tickled when it hung against his body. And it strangled him when he pulled his sweatshirt over his head, so he had stuffed the key in his pocket.

He slid the key into the lock and jiggled it back and forth until the door opened.

“Hey, Mousetrap, I'm home,” Murphy called.

He walked through the living room to his bedroom and threw his coat and bag on the bed.

“Mousetrap, where are you?” Murphy said. He placed his hands on his hips like Mom did when she really meant what she was saying.

“I'm coming,” he called.

He kicked off his shoes and walked softly on his toes.

“I'll find you.”

Each afternoon after school Murphy and Mousetrap played the same game. As soon as Mousetrap heard Murphy open the door he ran to one of his favorite hiding spots. When Murphy called, the cat stayed perfectly still. Every afternoon Murphy stood in the living room, hands on his hips, acting as mad as he could muster. Then he tiptoed from room to room, peeking in corners and closets and cupboards.

“I'm coming, ready or not,” Murphy said in his sternest voice. He slipped into the bathroom, pulled back the shower curtain and peeked into the bathtub. It was empty.

He tiptoed back into his bedroom, lifted the corner of his bedspread and peeked under the bed. He checked around the books stacked under the computer table and glanced behind the computer monitor: that was Mousetrap's favorite sleeping spot. He loved to lie next to the warm screen, but Murphy had a feeling he wouldn't be there when the computer was turned off.

“You little sneak,” Murphy called out. Sometimes, like today, Mousetrap picked such a good hiding spot that Murphy had trouble finding him. Although Murphy liked the game, he got a lump in his throat when, after a few minutes, he couldn't find his cat. He worried that one day Mousetrap might not be there. Could Mousetrap have found a way out of the apartment? Could he have climbed out the window and wandered off?

“Come on, Mousetrap!” Murphy called. This time he had a quiver in his voice. “I know you're here.”

Mom's room was next. As he entered, he thought he saw the edge of the bedspread twitch slightly. Murphy tiptoed across the
floor and lifted the bedspread. Mousetrap's thick fluffy white tail sprang out from under the bed. Murphy dropped to his knees and gathered up his cat.

“I got you,” he said. He buried his face in the furry ball. “Good hiding spot.”

Mousetrap was just as happy as Murphy when he was finally found. He rubbed his soft face against Murphy's cheek and climbed up onto his shoulders. He curled around Murphy's neck and hung on as Murphy went into the kitchen and made a peanut-butter-and-jam sandwich. When Murphy was finished he sat down at his computer to scan the Internet for Web sites that would describe the stone he had found on the way home from school. Mousetrap stepped off his shoulders, crept across the keyboard and tucked himself into his favorite spot beside the computer screen.

Murphy dug in his pockets and pulled out a handful of stones. Dirt, leaves and sand spilled onto the floor as he laid the stones in a row on the computer desk. Most of the stones were gray, or gray and black or white. But when he had passed the park that afternoon he had wandered up the path instead of staying right on the sidewalk as he had promised. Out of the corner of his eye, Murphy had glimpsed a dark green stone unlike anything he had ever seen. It was wedged in tight next to a rock outcropping. After he pried it out, spat on it and rubbed it against his pant leg, the stone glistened like a marble.

Mousetrap lay in a sleepy pile with his eyes open just enough to watch Murphy place the stones into a pile.

“So, Mousetrap,” Murphy said, passing the small green stone in front of his cat's half-open eyes. “What kind of stone do you think this is?”

Mousetrap's ears shot up and he opened his blue eyes wide. His tail was curled around his body, and the tip rested under his chin. It twitched as he examined the stone.

Murphy waited patiently as if Mousetrap would identify the stone, before he placed it next to others. Soon Murphy had three piles. Each pile contained similar stones. Mousetrap and Murphy examined the stones
and the Web sites until they heard the key turn in the front door. Then Murphy grabbed Mousetrap and ran into the bathroom. He jumped into the bathtub and pulled the shower curtain around them. He tucked his cat onto his lap, took a deep breath and held on until he heard the door open.

“Murphy, I'm home,” Mom called.

She shut the door and walked through the hall to the kitchen. Murphy heard plastic bags drop on to the kitchen floor and then a shuffle, which was probably Mom taking off her coat and throwing it over a kitchen chair.

“Mousetrap,” Mom called. “Where are you?”

Murphy didn't move, and Mousetrap stayed perfectly still. Murphy imagined Mom standing in the living room with her hands on her hips.

The living room floor creaked as she stepped toward Murphy's bedroom.

“Murphy, I know you're here.”

Her steps moved into her own bedroom, and Murphy heard her open the closet and say, “Where are you two?”

Her footsteps got louder and louder. Murphy caught another breath and squeezed
Mousetrap. Just as he was about to jump out to surprise her, Mom pulled back the shower curtain.

“Gotcha!” she cried. She pulled Murphy and Mousetrap out of the bathtub, hugged her son and stroked Mousetrap on the head.

“You scared me,” Murphy said.

“You scared me too,” Mom said with a laugh.

Murphy had lived with Mom and Mousetrap in the apartment for as long as he could remember. His dad lived in another city in another province. Murphy didn't know much about his dad except that Mom said Dad left him three things: his blue eyes, which weren't like Mom's at all, his blond hair and his name, Murphy. Mom had decided to call her son Murphy Jones: Dad's last name first, Murphy, and Mom's last name second, Jones. That was just about all Murphy knew about his dad.

His dad had left before he was born, so it had always just been the three of them. Mom said Murphy was only two months old when neighbors down the hall moved out and left
Mousetrap behind. When Mom came home from work, Mousetrap, who was just a little kitten at the time, was wandering up and down the hall. Mom picked him up and took him home. He was a tiny ball of white fluff. Mom said he looked like a snowball, his hair sparkled so much. Mom figured Mousetrap and Murphy must have been almost the same age, so they both celebrated their ninth birthday on October 30.

Murphy knew that cat years made Mousetrap much older even though they were both born at the same time. That didn't make much sense to Murphy, but most of the time Mousetrap did act like an old cat. He preferred to lie around the house curled into a tight ball fast asleep. Sometimes Mousetrap played with Murphy, games like hide-and-seek. But he didn't run around like he did when he was younger or play with invisible things or jump at things that Murphy couldn't see.

“Murphy, come and set the table,” Mom called.

BOOK: Murphy & Mousetrap
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