never would have happened if Mersina had had a good night's
sleep. But her cousin Melvin had been visiting the day before,
and he left his toy telescope behind. Late that night, when
her mother was asleep, Mersina slipped downstairs.
She took Melvin's telescope out on the back porch and looked
at the sky. There were so many interesting things to look
at -- the mon, a shower of shooting stars… By the time she
went back in, the sun was almost ready to come up. And before
she knew it, her mother was shaking her, "Mersina, you'll
be late for school!"
day at school, Mersina could hardly keep her eyes open. When
she got home, her mother was dressed to go out. "Would you
like to come downtown shopping with me, dear?" she asked.
Mersina yawned. "I think I'll take a nap this afternoon."
Her mother stared at her. "A nap? Without my even telling
you to?" She shook her head. "Well, have a good sleep. I won't
Mersina stretched out on the bed. But as soon as she started
to doze, the doorbell rang. Then it rang again, harder.
right," Mersina grumbled as she went down to answer the door.
"Hello, little girl," said the man at the door. "Would your
mother like to buy some brushes?"
thank you," said Mersina and she closed the door. She hurried
back to her room and lay down on the bed again. Then the doorbell
rang again. She buried her head under the pillow. But the
bell kept on ringing. Finally she went down again. There was
a different man at the door this time.
you look like a smart little girl," he said. "I'm sure your
mother would like to buy you a set of encyclopedias."
already have one," said Mersina, closing the door. She stamped
up the stairs to her room and threw herself on the bed. She
lay there, staring at the wall. She was still tired, but she
wasn't sleepy any more. "If one more salesman rings that bell,"
she thought, "he'd better watch out!"
The doorbell rang.
The man at the door this time was holding a sample case. "I'm
Mr. Murphy," he said. "I'd like to show your mother our new
Handy Dandy can openers."
does it!" Mersina exclaimed. Stamping her foot, she pointed
at Mr. Murphy and said a magic word. In an instant, Mr. Murphy
disappeared. In his place stood a black and white tom cat.
The cat meowed plaintively.
Martina sighed. "I'm sorry, Mr. Murphy. I shouldn't have done
that. I'd better change you back now."
But just as she was pointing at the cat, there was a popping
noise behind her. "Boo!" someone shouted.
Mersina whirled around. It was Melvin.
getting pretty good at that," he grinned. "Just dropped in
for my telescope." He scooped it up from the hall table and
where was I?" said Martina, looking at the cat. But she couldn't
remember the spell she was going to use to change him back.
She couldn't even remember the spell she used to change him
into a cat. Melvin had startled it right out of her mind.
Just then Mersina caught sight of her mother coming down the
street. She snatched up the sample case and shoved it into
the hall closet, behind the boots and umbrellas.
you're up already," said Mersina's mother. "Were did that
cat come from?"
just, uh, walked up to our door," said Mersina. "Can we keep
her mother began, "you already have a parrot, and a horse
Mersina glanced quickly at the tiny horse on the mantel. "What
horse?" she asked innocently.
you really think I didn't know about the horse?" her mother
seen you slipping oatmeal to it every morning."
I never had a cat," Mersina said quickly. "And all witches
are supposed to have cats!"
right," said her mother. "As long as he isn't any bother."
For the next two weeks, Mersina tried to remember the spell
to change Mr. Murphy back to his human form. After a while,
she began to hope she would never remember it. He was such
a nice cat. She wondered if he remembered anything about his
life before he rang her doorbell. He seemed happy enough.
Then one day, while Mersina's mother was sweeping the hall,
she noticed the cat sniffing at the hall closet. "He's always
sniffing and scratching around there," she thought. "I wonder
if there's a mouse in the closet." She opened the door and
pulled out the boots at the bottom of the closet. Then she
spotted the sample case.
Dandy can openers!" Mersina's mother exclaimed. "What's this
sample case doing here?" The cat meowed eagerly.
When Mersina got home from school, her mother showed her the
sample case. "Do you have something to do with this?" she
Mersina looked down at her feet. "Well, um, ..." she mumbled.
Finally Mersina told her mother about how Mr. Murphy had rung
the doorbell and what had happened to him. "But can't we keep
him?" she begged.
I'm ashamed of you! He is a person!" She shook her head. "Now,
don't start crying. Are you sure you can't remember the spell?
Then we'll have to try Grandma's remedy."
Mersina's mother marched briskly into the kitchen and got
out her recipe book. She mixed some herbs in a saucepan and
heated them gently on the stove. Reading a magic formula out
of the recipe book, she poured some of the steaming liquid
into a saucer. "Here you are, Mr. Murphy," she called. "We'll
have you fixed up in a jiffy."
The cat looked at the liquid nervously. Then he began to lap
at it. Nothing happened until the saucer was empty. Then ...
The real Mr. Murphy, dressed in a neat pin-striped suit, looked
around wildly, then grabbed up his sample case and dashed
out the back door.
Mr. Murphy," Mersina called. But the next day she was sad.
miss Mr. Murphy," she said. "He was such a nice cat." She
grew sadder and sadder each day. Her mother suggested that
they go down to the Animal Shelter and pick out a new cat.
But Mersina just shook her head. "He wouldn't be like Mr.
Then one day, when Mersina got home from school, her mother
met her with a smile. "I was talking to Mrs. Berk next door
today," she announced. "Her tabby just had kittens. And she
says you can have any one you want, as soon as they're old
enough to leave their mother."
wouldn't be like," Morning began. But her mother pulled her
down the path to Mrs. Berk's house. There were the kittens
in a basket on the porch. And as soon as Mersina saw the little
black-and-white one, she knew.
Mr. Murphy," she whispered.
2013 The Silversteins