Horace – Part 3

Part 3 

The part during which the flour box explodes

The only thing that is stronger than Horace’s compulsion to collect things is his love of cakes.

Unfortunately for Horace, on this particular Tuesday, he made the greedy mistake of coming back for more.

Four-legged-friend had been forgiven. Littlest had stopped stomping and had shared her cakes stickily with her friends. The crumbs that had been generously shared with the floor were now in Four-legged-friend’s tummy. He was ‘sleeping’ on his cushion, with one eye open, watching the remaining cakes. Littlest had gone to watch a film.

Horace peeped out from one of the bookshelves. He almost shoved a TV chef off the shelf but caught the book just as it reached tipping-point and man-handled it back into place, between a book on Great British Garden Birds and another listing 101 things to do with herbs. He surveyed the kitchen closely. If he jumped, he would land on the table, next to the covered hillock of cakes. To the right of his target, the victoria sponge recipe card was propped up on a cookbook stand, partially blocking Horace’s view of the opposite side of the kitchen; completely blocking his view of the floor and of the dog cushion.

Felonious Kleptosquaters are fairly good jumpers. But they can’t fly. To be a great jumper you need longer legs than Horace’s. And you need to be better than him at judging distances.

Horace leapt. Mid-way between bookshelf and table he realised he’d mis-calculated and started to panic. He appeared to think that wheeling his arms round, making big circles in the air would take him a little further. It didn’t. And that making a running motion with his legs might do the same. That didn’t either. He started to fall. Unluckily for him, Four-legged-friend still had one eye open. Luckily for him, a wheeling hand caught the back of a kitchen chair, soon followed by the other hand and then his feet which plunged through the rungs of the ladder-back and got entangled into a clinging, panting mess of Horace, pointed shoes, striped scarf and coat tails.

Four-legged-friend nearly jumped out of his skin.

Horace quickly disentangled himself and climbed to the top of the chair. He stood straight, balancing on the narrow edge of the back and started to swing the chair, timing – with the precision of someone who had done it many times before – the moment of stepping – nonchalantly – onto the table before the chair swung back and crashed to the floor. He shook himself down, smoothed his coat tails, adjusted his hat and grinned. Briefly. As Four-legged-friend’s muzzle suddenly appeared at his knees.

For the next few minutes, Horace ran round and round the hillock of cakes as Four-legged-friend ran round and round the table.

By the time I came in from the garden, Littlest was in the kitchen shouting at Four-legged-friend who had stopped running and was now barking at the table. Chairs and stools were strewn across the floor. The kitchen bin had been knocked over and a box of fresh eggs was slowly sinking into the rug next to the cooker. I could see that Four-legged-friend was torn between continuing to bark at the table and turning to feast on the unexpected supper that had somehow appeared all over the floor.

At first Horace was nowhere to be seen. That was before the flour box exploded. And I saw briefly exactly what height a white-coated, white-haired, white-trousered, white-hatted-and-booted Felonious Kleptosquater is. Then a floury, flurry of snow obliterated everything.

I lunged towards the table, tripped over a chair, crashed into a pile of plates and pushed the hillock of cakes onto the floor. Horace escaped. Later, a white-dusted Four-legged-friend had a very full tummy and belched contentedly – if rather niffily – all night.

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