The Cat and the Fiddle Pub and Inn

I reached the village well after sunset. A gentle tug on the reins brought Maple, my roan mare, to a stop at the edge of the central square. Gazing around, I couldn’t help but notice a pub across the green. Light and music spilled from the open door along with laughter and the chatter of patrons.

A sign hung over the open door, swaying slightly in the soft spring breeze. I couldn’t quite make out the name from where Maple and I stood, but I could see what appeared to be a cat playing a fiddle.

“Whaddaya think, Maple? That looks like it might have a room for me and a stall for you for the night,” I murmured. Her left ear cocked back and she nodded her head. I’d long suspected that Maple understood everything I said to her and actions like this simply confirmed my suspicions.

I nudged Maple and she started around the green toward the pub. As we approached the gate to the stables that ran alongside, a young boy about twelve years old stepped out.

“Good evening, sir. Welcome to the Cat and the Fiddle,” he said.

“Good evening. Thank you. Do you know if there is a room available for the night?” I asked, swinging down from Maple.

“Yessir, I think there are at least two rooms, and both are very nice,” the boy replied.

“Wonderful.” I handed him two copper pennies. “Please make sure that Maple has everything she needs for a comfortable night. What’s your name?”

“Brynn, sir. And yessir, I’ll take very good care of her. She’s beautiful.” The boy rubbed Maple’s nose and she leaned her head into his shoulder. Maple had a wonderful sense for the true character of people, and it appeared that Brynn had made her list of favorites.

I grabbed my saddle bags and turned to the main door. “Thank you, Brynn. I’ll see you later.”

When I stepped into the main room of the pub, the music and chatter washed over me and slowly dissipated. A large man with a full beard and completely bald head was behind the bar and turned in my direction when he noticed the quiet.

“Evening! Welcome to The Cat and the Fiddle! What can I get ya?” he called with a big smile. At his friendly greeting the noise started back up again, and the tabby cat standing on the small dais next to the large fireplace, raised his fiddle and began playing a lively dance.

My eyes must have widened because the man behind the bar let out a huge belly laugh.

“Ah, and now you know the reason for the name of my pub! Meet Tabs, the fiddle-playing cat.”

“I do indeed. Very nice to meet you Tabs,” I said. The cat nodded at me without interrupting the lively tune he was playing.

“My name’s Asher. What can I get for you?” the barkeep said.

“Graydon. I need a room for the night for myself and my horse, and dinner if you have it,” I told him.

“I have both, and Brynn out in the stables will take care of your horse,” Asher said.

“Yes, I just met the lad. Very bright and seems good with animals. Maple took to him immediately,” I told him.

“Oh, yes. He gets that talent from his mother. She was always good with animals,” Asher said. Grief flashed in his eyes but was gone almost before I saw it.

“Your son?” I asked.

“Yes, and a very good son,” Asher replied in a quiet voice. “Alright then, let me show you to your room and you can come back down here for supper. Martin! You’re on the bar while I show this gentleman here to his room,” he said, calling to a man circulating through the room collecting empty mugs. The man nodded and made his way back to the bar.

Asher pulled a key from a box under the bar and gestured to me. I followed him to a staircase to the right of the bar. Once upstairs the noise from the taproom below was significantly less. Surprisingly nice rugs covered the floor of the narrow hallway, and everything was spotlessly clean.

I looked around in pleasant surprise. “You keep a very nice inn,” I told Asher.

He glanced back at me and smiled. “Well, I do depend on it for my living, and travelers do talk to each other so…” he lifted his large shoulders in a shrug.

“True, but you’d be surprised at how many innkeepers don’t seem to realize that,” I said.

“I know, that’s why I do it. When Brynn is old enough, I’ll set him up in the next village over and we’ll have two inns in the family, and both will have a good reputation,” Asher said.

“Ah, but will Brynn have a cat that can play fiddle?” I asked, smiling.

“Well, that will be for Tabs and his friends to decide,” Asher replied with a knowing grin.


This week at MOTE, AC Young challenged me with: The cat played a dance on the fiddle. This snippet just floated to the surface. My prompt went to Padre. If you need a quick break in your day, head on over to More Odds Than Ends and see what folks came up with in response to their prompt challenges. Refresh your brain and escape for a few minutes!

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