The life of Murr

Chapter One Murr's childhood

Of Murr's parents very little is known, and as for his grandparents nothing is known at all. One of his ancestors was truely of noble birth. This, in any case, is indicated by what Murr did, as we will read.

Murr's mother was called Maureen and his father Murphy. Murphy used to live in a rubbish dump, while Maureen stayed with a family, in a house. Maureen was black and Murphy was tabby. Murr was the only one of all their children born white, all the others either black or tabby. Murr was a very handsome and most refined cat. He was born refined, nobody had to teach him manners.

Murr found his mistress when he was only fifteen days old. Then he was still not old enough to lick milk from a plate.

His childhood was wonderful. He played when he wanted, he ate when he wanted and he had all that he could wish for. He slept on his mistress's cushion buried in her long hair.

Chapter Two The exploits of Murr.

Murr was not only concerned with himself; he never left his mistress's side, and he did lots of things for her.

For instance, when his mistress was upset Murr would jump upon her lap and, taking care to pull in his claws, standing upright on his back paws he would dry her tears with his front left paw, while gently stretching out the right one on her shoulder. He did it all so delicately that he never once scratched her cheek.

Murr had a unique talent: he knew how to tell the time. Nobody could explain how he was able to tell when the proper time for something had arrived and how he never mistook it. In the evening before going to sleep his mistress might ask Murr to wake her up at 7, or at 8, or at 9 o'clock - on different days different times. And yet on each occasion he woke her up quarter of an hour before the time she had asked. Olga half awake would stroke him by the hand, and Murr would look at her a little astonished almost to say: "But you asked me to".

However, Murr's most heroic exploit was the capturing of a herring from the neighbour's balcony. It happened like this. One evening Murr's mistress told him that there wasn't a thing in the house to eat. "I'm sorry", she had said, "Tomorrow I will go to the shop and buy something". Murr listened and winked, as if he had understood and as if he intended to promise something, almost to announce: "We won't die of hunger"! Waking up the next morning his mistress saw on her bed-cushion a big fat herring and Murr glowing with pride. Almost to say "Eat it, and bon appetit". Where did this herring spring from? His mistress knew from where it came. Murr had climbed up on the neighbours' balcony and had stolen it. The mistress went to give it back. The neighbours said to her: "Oh that herring, you can keep it for yourself!It has already given us a lot of entertainment just watching how that cat of yours managed to procure it. "It appeared that Murr had opened the lid of a casserole and, after having undone the elastic band of a cellophane packet in which there were three herrings, he had unhurriedly chosen the fattest one and had carried it off to his mistress. He hadn't taken a single morsel.

Once while staying in the country he brought into the house three unknown kittens and led then to his food bowl. His mistress sent them away so that Murr could eat, but Murr only sat there and started to mew: leave those kittens to eat first.

Astonishingly, despite his considerable intelligence Murr never learnt to speak. Just once his mistress saw him speaking in a dream. Murr was sitting in front of the frosted window, thoughtfully placing a paw on the glass then slowly and clearly and without expression he said: "what embroidary,...what embroidary,...what embroidary..."

Chapter Three The fall

Murr particularly loved to watch what was going on in the street sitting on the top sill of the window's little air-gap. This wouldn't have been so odd but it was dangerous. The mistress lived on the sixth floor. One evening his mistress was busy with a long telephone chat. Meanwhile, Murr as usual was sitting at the air-gap watching through the window interested in the passers-by or else looking out for birds. And while doing so he burbled like a Sputnik. Suddenly his burbling changed into a screach, right under the shocked eyes of his mistress, Murr fell out of the window. Luckily he landed on the porch roof. They spotted him there mewing and shaking.The problem now was how to get him down from that roof. There were only two ways: either to put a ladder up to him, or to take him in by the first floor window. On the first floor lived a rather grumpy little old lady who didn't particularly relish the thought of the owner dangling out of her window to retrieve a cat. But a boy came to the mistress's defence and remarked to the little old lady that "without cats you would be eaten up by mice!" The little old lady considered this idea and it made her a little ashamed of herself. So she granted permission for the boy to go and retrieve the cat. Murr was returned to the house and never fell out of the window again.

Chapter Four The loss

Murr vanished without leaving a trace. It happened like this.His mistress had gone away for a week and had asked her friends to visit Murr everyday and to feed him.Thus Murr ate well, anyway, the neighbours said so, having often heard his voice. He was crying and calling out for his mistress. Meanwhile his mistress was in the Crimea and didn't know how Murr was suffering so. One night she dreamt: it was as if in the dream Murr had put both his paws around a painting and was flying with it in the sky. After waking up she called Moscow and asked if anything had happened to Murr. They said that everything was fine. But the mistress felt that something had happened and she did'nt believe them. She asked again, insisting on the truth. Eventually they told her that Murr had disappeared. It seemed that the person left in charge had fed him and had accidentally left the balcony door open. Evidently Murr had jumped down from the balcony and set out to search for his mistress. He was never seen again.

And thus ends this story at least if someone hasn't chanced to find Murr - maybe he lives on today in another house.

This true story was written down by Katya Rudneva and Olga Sedakova. [Put into English by Gavin Brelstaff]

The End