The Adventures of Henry Whiskers
1 NARROW ESCAPE
IN THE BLUISH-GRAY LIGHT OF early dawn, a young mouse slept soundly, cupped in the cushion of an old leather armchair. His long, sleek tail dangled limply over one side while a front paw draped across his charcoal brow. On the floor at the foot of the chair lay a book with its pages opened to a picture of a medieval knight dressed in a suit of armor.
Henry Whiskers felt as if he were a thousand
miles away, floating in a dream. It was a happy dream, and he began to chuckle—until something interrupted it.
“Psst! Henry! Henry! Wake up!”
Henry didn’t budge.
“Henry! You have to get out of here!”
Henry slowly opened one sleepy brown eye, then the other. He smiled and yawned. He uncurled himself and stretched, shaking out his paws. Just before he closed his eyes once more, he noticed the form of a familiar mouse in the distance. Jeremy.
“Henry!” pleaded the squeaky voice. “It’s getting light out, and Warden will see you! Run!”
This time, Henry’s heavy eyelids snapped open and he bolted upright. Warden was a tour guide. Panic gushed through him, and he scrambled off the chair and scurried across the floor.
“The book, Henry! Pick up the book!” Jeremy waved his big paw frantically through the air.
At that very moment, Henry saw a light flick on in the surrounding exhibit room. He almost somersaulted over himself as he skidded to an abrupt stop and turned around. His heart sank to his feet. He’d forgotten to put the book back on the bookshelf. And now Warden was at the entrance to the exhibit room.
Henry dove onto the floor and slid over to the book on his soft, white stomach. At that same moment, Jeremy retreated up the dollhouse chimney and out of sight.
In one swift move, Henry lassoed the book with his tail and raced up the shelves. He jammed the book back into the empty-toothed gap it had left and raced back down.
Crouched under a footstool, Henry waited for Warden to put out the wooden sign letting visitors know that the famous dollhouse exhibit was open. When his cue came, Henry made a run for
it. And as he ran, he promised himself over and over that he’d never sneak into the library again as long as he lived.
Henry could hardly breathe by the time he met up with Jeremy near the fireplace.
“Did he see you? What happened out there?” whispered Jeremy.
“No. I mean, I don’t know,” gasped Henry, panting hard.
“What do you mean you don’t know? How can you not know?”
“I don’t know. It was all a blur.”
A long silence followed as they thought about the possibilities.
“We better get home,” Jeremy said, “or someone will definitely notice we’re missing.”
Henry cast a quick glance back over his shoulder. The hair at the back of his neck bristled, and he clamped a paw to his mouth.
Jeremy followed Henry’s gaze. “Is that . . . ?” squeaked Jeremy.
Henry nodded, and then, as if Jeremy was reading his mind, the two of them high-tailed it out of the library, down a long hallway to a back set of stairs. Just before they plunged down the steps, they held each other back with a forepaw. A four-legged shadow with an upright tail slowly crept across the floor just below them. They spun around and darted through the pantry, leaped out of the house, and streaked across the exhibit room floor. They dove through a heating grate on the far wall and dashed down toward the ancient tunnels that weaved through their world beneath Windsor Castle.