The continuing Misadventures of Houdini Hamster.
Chapter 6—The Great Escape
Stirred up by all of the excitement, Houdini was like a robo-hamster. He paced around his cage. He stuffed his cheeks with the green pellets. As soon as Pippa and Brenda left, he rolled his can over to the poorly secured door. He wriggled through the door and jumped down to the book case his cage was on. No visiting the gerbils this trip.
Carefully he walked to the edge of the book case, climbing down a large picture book on the shelf below. Crawling from book to book, he descended three book shelves until he could safely jump to the floor below. He crawled around the perimeter of the children’s room, sniffing and swiveling his head in all directions.
The next morning, his cage was empty. Since it had gotten so cold, he had begun shredding the pine chips to insulate the front of his can, so his escape was harder to detect. Pippa’s first thought was that he had gone to visit the gerbil brothers, but L.C. and Dewey were alone in their cage eating breakfast. She carefully looked around the floor base and under the book cases. No Houdini.
She went back to the office and got some green pellets. She laid them down on the floor beneath Houdini’s cage. She hoped to set up a trail that the hamster would follow back to his cage. For the next hour, she explored the library. Still no hamster.
“Pippa, you need to leave for school now. He will probably be back by the time you get home from school.”
Pippa wanted to stay and keep looking for Houdini, “Please let me stay, Mom. I can go to school tomorrow.”
“If you want to keep caring for the animals, you have to go to school. Otherwise, no more Houdini, L.C., and Dewey.”
“Ok, but if he is not back by the time I get home, I’m going to look for him.”
By closing time Pippa was afraid that Houdini had escaped outdoors. It was so cold outside that even the field mice had tried to come into the library for food and shelter. Pippa had seen one climbing up the curtain. She had noticed that even though they were the same color as the gerbils, the head was shaped differently. If the wild animals were coming inside, how will Houdini survive?
Three evenings later, as Pippa sat alone in the library office doing her homework and thinking about Houdini, she heard a scratch-scrabble.
She turned her head. “Scritch-Scratch” seemed to be coming from under the book case behind her chair. She removed a few books from the bottom shelf. Silence. Then a few minutes later she heard “scratch-scrabble” again. It sounded like it was coming from underneath the bottom shelf.
Grabbing a flashlight, she lifted up the right hand corner of the bottom shelf. Two bright beady eyes stared back at her. This is my crash pad. Back off! His claws had shredded a silver dollar sized patch of rug to make a nest. Several green pellets were scattered around the nest. He seemed right at home. Pippa figured he had found water at night while he was roaming around the empty library. The only thing missing were the sunflower seeds he had neglected to take with him
“Mom, I found Houdini. He was under the book case in the office.”
She grabbed his soup can from his empty cage and tossed in a few sunflower seeds. He noticed the seeds before climbing into it. He gnawed on one as he rode the can back to his cage.
“Good for you, Pippa. Houdini is almost as good an escape artist as the real Harry Houdini.”
And Pippa is a good detective—next time I’ll need to find a more secret escape pad…