The Squirrels and the Coconut

The cat flap clattered noisily behind them, echoing in the vastness of a strange room. The sisters moved closer together, staring in awe.

“It’s like a cave,” whispered Harriet.

The ground was smooth and slippery, covered with a regular pattern of crossing lines; rows of strange stones jutted out from the edge of the walls, curiously shiny. Images of their amazed faces, ears stiff with shock, met them on all sides, some wavering like reflections in water, some strangely distorted, some frighteningly clear, and their claws scratched loudly on the smooth stony floor.

“Where’s the coconut?” whispered Harriet.

“It must be over there,” replied Hazel, pointing to the row of stones under the window. Bravely, she scampered across the weird floor and jumped onto yet another shiny object about the size of a tree stump. She surveyed the strange room from this height, but there was still no coconut to be seen. Again she jumped, this time landing on top of one of the strange shiny objects.

“I can see it! I can see it!” she cried. For there indeed, resplendent on a heap of fruit, like an emperor among his subjects, was the coconut.

Excitement swept through Harriet.

“I want to see it too!” she cried. She ran across the floor, leapt onto the shiny stump, and onto the kitchen cabinet (for so it was) and raced over to Hazel, who was eyeing the coconut with avaricious awe.

“How do we get it down?” Hazel wondered. “It might break and it’s too heavy to carry.”

Harriet surveyed the kitchen (for so it was).

“Wait there,” she said. “I’ve got an idea.” She leapt back down to floor level and scampered around the kitchen, returning pushing a large pile of material.

“Look at these,” she said, “They’re like the horrible shawls that Mrs Screech wears. We can pile them up on the ground and push the coconut off the edge. They’ll make a soft landing for it, like a bed of leaves.”

Hazel was impressed.

“Come and help me lift it off the fruit.”

They climbed over the artistically arranged fruit and, grabbing the coconut by its tuft, they dragged it off the fruit. Some of the fruit scattered around the bowl, but that didn’t matter.

The coconut fell onto its bed of tea towels and clean washing (for so it was) and settled there comfortably. Hazel looked at Harriet in admiration once again.

They pushed the pile of washing and coconut across the floor to the cat flap, dragged it through by its tuft, and sat for a moment, exhausted, outside.

Harriet stared lovingly at the coconut, and brushed its rough fur with her paw.

“Stop stroking the coconut,” said Hazel impatiently, “We need to get it home.”

But it was not easy. The coconut rolled awkwardly when they pushed it and was almost too heavy to be dragged by its tuft. They were tired after their adventures in the strange cave, and the moon, still watching them with gentle amusement, did not tell of daring quests in strange lands, but of home, and safety, and sleep.

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