Leonardo and His Amazing Quest

October 9, 2008
By Jenna Buschmann, Collinsville, OK

Long ago, in a bell tower not too far away, lived a tiny mouse and his family. The mouse’s name was Leonardo, and he was a very peculiar mouse.

Leonardo was born into a family of six brothers and one sister, a sweet mother, and a pet human who came to ring the bells for mass.

Leonardo had his mother’s black, curious eyes, and was told to have his father’s sleek, grey fur. His father died long ago, long before Leonardo could squeak. The only sibling who remembered him was Leo’s only sister, Lydia, who never spoke, only sang.

But what made Leonardo so peculiar? Well, for one thing, Leonardo could speak eight different languages, including Swahili. But that was not his talent.

Everyone in his family had a gift. Lydia could sing, Leo’s twin brothers could finish each other’s sentences. Peter, the eldest brother, could cook amazing dishes, and Matthias could paint fantastic pictures. Aristotle and Hazelnut both could name every single star. But no one had a talent like Leonardo’s mother.

She says she discovered her gift when she first tamed the pet human. She had discovered, with Leo’s father, a piece of paper with mysterious scribbles on it. Leo’s father suggested they should eat it(he was a rather fat little mouse), but Leo’s mother began to decipher the marks.

“Once upon a time,” she read in a clear voice. The wild human, Vern, was polishing the bell when he heard Leonardo’s mother read. He dropped his rag and stooped over her.

“Did you just read, Miss Mouse?”

“Of course I did, Wild Human. And my name is Cornelia, by the way,” she answered, offended. Vern straightened his back and looked blank.

“Clearly you are not a dumb beast,” Cornelia wondered aloud. “since you can speak. I wonder if you’ll be an acceptable pet for my family and I?”

“I pet? Shouldn’t you be my pets?”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Now, Vern, be a good human and fetch me some books.”

And so the friendship—or petship—began. Leonardo loved to hear when his mother read those words from those huge books, and he enjoyed Vern’s company when he came to clean or ring the bells—which is how Leonardo discovered his gift.

The bells enchanted Leo. The sound of the high and low bells singing awoke him everyday, and relished when he could hear an entire song. Vern noticed how captivated Leonardo was with the bells.

About the time of Christmas, Vern gave Leonardo a very small, yet extremely useful, guitar. After hours of turning it just right, Leonardo began to strum.

At first it sounded like when Lydia gets scared—high pitched and shrill. But after a few moments, Leonardo created an elaborate song he made by himself.

“Oh, thank you so much, Pet Vern! Here’s a small bone for your thoughtfulness,” Leo exclaimed, handing a puzzled Vern a chicken bone.

From then on, Leonardo would play his guitar everyday, sometimes to Lydia’s voice, or other times to Cornelia’s stories. He especially liked that.

If Cornelia’s story grew intense, Leonardo began to make the guitar’s voice intense. If the story grew sad, the guitar would cry along with Leo’s siblings. If the story turned happy, the guitar would shout and rejoice. His siblings cherished every story time.

One cold day, Cornelia gathered her children to where the giant bell was kkept. It was close to Halloween, and it was high time for ghost stories. Leonardo had his guitar ready.

“Long ago, before these hills were full of life, death was living in this forest,” Cornelia whispered. Everyone shivered, especially since Leo began to make a shrill noise, quiet, but still very much there, and growing more eerie by the second.

The story went on, coloring a picture of rattling tombs, mice coming back from the grave, and a suspicious butler. Every mouse pup was captivated and leaned in subconsciously, holding on for dear life to the words.

“All of a sudden—out of the darkness arose the—”

A giant hand encompassed Cornelia, who was strangely calm. Every mouse squealed in fury and alarm. Leo dropped his guitar and charged at the hand, biting and biting, causing tiny, red droplets of blood to seep out. But the hand’s grasp stayed firm.

“Fee-fi-fo-fury—I want you to tell me a story!” a voice bellowed, making the huge bell ring loudly. Every mouse covered their ears.

“Alright, Mister Giant-- pardon me—what’s your name?” Cornelia asked cordially.

“Dronderick the Impatient,” the voice replied loudly.

“Quite well put, Dronderick-- I respect honesty. Well, see, just set me down and I’ll tale you a tale—”

“No!” the giant roared. Cornelia jumped a little but quickly composed herself.

“You go with me to my mansion and tell me story every night!” Dronderick demanded. Cornelia looked frustrated.

“Well, Mr. Donderick, I’m flattered, of course, but, you see, I have children to care for,” Leonardo’s mother explained. Silence. Then a huge finger, the size of a torpedo, pointed to a trembling Lydia.

“She take care of little mice. You tell me a story!” the giant instructed. And with that, he carried Cornelia away.

“Children!” she called out. “Tell our pet human what happened, perhaps he can help? I love you, children! Goodbye!”

Every mouse pup was crying. Lydia sang out insults to the giant, but in three strides, they couldn’t see their mother and her kidnapper.

“What will we do?” Aristotle whimpered. He was only a toddler mouse, and, although he was intelligent, he was very frightened.

“We wait for Vern like Momma said,” Matthias said assuredly. Leonardo picked up his guitar and tried to cheer up his siblings as they waited for Vern.

Finally, Vern appeared, this time with a dark-skinned, female Wild Human. She jumped at the sight of the pups, but Vern comforted her. Leo knew his mother didn’t like Vern bringing wild friends into the tower, but he and his family needed Vern’s strangely intelligent mind.

“Vern!” Leonardo shouted. The female fainted.

“For the love of Pete, Leo, did you have to scare her so soon?” Vern snapped as he tried to revive his friend. All the pups rolled their eyes.

“Vern, we have very important business-- Momma’s missing—well, actually we know where she is—we just don’t know how to get to Dronderick’s mansion.”

“Dronderick? The giant? Why in the world would he want a mouse?” Vern’s friend asked, clearly not “in tune” as Leo would put it.

“Their mother is a fantastic storyteller, Wendy. I suppose he grew impatient with his old storyteller,” he turned to Leonardo. “Now, Leo, I know what you must do. You see, Wendy is a map collector, fortunately for you. So, she’ll give you a map to take you to Dronderick’s mansion. By the time you get there, you’re sure to have a cunning plan.”

“Me? Why me, pet?” Leonardo snapped. Wendy gave Vern a puzzled look, but he ignored it.

“Because you’re the second eldest son! You see, Lydia has to be like your mother to these young mice, and Peter must cook and protect them. You, Leo, are strong and resourceful, and very gifted. Speaking of which…” Vern reached into his pocket and pulled out a sock for an infant—but it was very big to Leo.

“You may need this. I was going to give it to Hazelnut for his upcoming camping trip, but you can always return it after your journey.” Hazelnut grimaced at Leonardo, but Leo was glancing into the bag—er—sock. Vern’s finger gently shut it.

“You’ll meet a friend who will help you—you must meet him on NarrowPath. Until then, here’s your guitar to entertain you—and—look! I brought you a flute. Just move your paws around when you blow into it—I’m sure you’ll get the knack of it.” Vern handed Leonardo a shiny, small, silver flute and Leo’s guitar. After getting everything together, and many tearful goodbyes, Leo left for the journey.

As he began down NarrowPath, he began to play his flute. At first, he was a little rusty, but in thirty minutes, Leonardo created a complex song—a sad, then happy, then angry, then peaceful sort of song.

He was playing on his silver flute, when, all of a sudden, a black cat slinked his way towards Leonardo. He was very big, but very lean, and his black coat was extremely shiny. But surprisingly, this cat had, not yellow eyes, but violet eyes, that weren’t slanted, but very awake-like.

“Hello,” he greeted Leonardo in a clear voice, not the kind you’d expect from a cat. Leonardo started, but tried to remain calm.

“How do you do?” he replied politely, for his mother told him to be extra polite in times of danger.

“Pretty good. I just finished myself a nice big bowl of salad,” the cat answered.

‘Salad?’ thought Leonardo. ‘Cats don’t eat salad—they eat fish, bird and (gulp) mice.’ But instead he said:

“How interesting. my brother can make a scrumptious Caesar salad with homemade croutons- it’s his gift you know.”

“Oh, yes, I do. And your mother’s is storytelling, and you’re quite the musician, am I correct?”

Leonardo stopped short. It frightened him that a stranger— a cat stranger—knew about him. He began to walk faster.

“You’re frightened, aren’t you, Leonardo? Don’t be. Remember Vern told you you’d meet a friend? Well, here I am, your philosophical, vegetarian cat-friend. My name is Muse, by the way.”

Leonardo continued walking as he thought. If Muse knew Vern (even though Vern was just a pet), perhaps Muse could be trusted—perhaps.

“You turn left here, Leo. Unless you want to take the shortcut, which isn’t very pleasant,” Muse mused. Leo glanced up to see a fork in the road. The sign said “Easy Way, left. Tough Road, right.”

“What is Tough Road?” Leonardo said tremulously.

“A road with many obstacles, but the quickest way to Dronderick’s mansion. Do you think your gift could help us?”

‘What a strange question to ask,’ Leonardo thought to himself. But his mother taught him self confidence in times of danger, too, and so he nodded. Muse repeated the nod and walked towards Tough Road.

For awhile, the only thing near the road were trees and grass, but soon, the cat and mouse neared a bridge.

“I believe my talents are needed for now,” Muse murmured.

Suddenly, a giant toad hopped on the bridge. The toad’s massive body filled the entire bridge, and she opened her gigantic mouth.

“ANSWER MY RIDDLE AND YOU SHALL PASS!” she croaked. Muse stepped lightly forward, and fixed his violet eyes on the toad.


“An egg,” Muse answered, clearly unimpressed and disappointed at the easiness.

The toad looked down at him in astonishment. Still looking bewildered, she leapt off the bridge into the murky water below it.

“Fool,” Muse muttered. He walked across the bridge with an awed Leonardo trailing behind.

They continued on. Nothing exciting popped up for hours. And then suddenly, exciting popped up its ugly head in the form of a million spikes shooting out of the ground—it was impossible to pass. The sign next to the road said: “Remember what your mother told you.”

Leonardo’s mother told him many things. “Don’t eat poison ivy”-“Vern needs his bath”-“Don’t touch a hot stove or an angry raccoon”- and- “Be polite in the face of danger”. Leonardo’s light bulb went on.

“Excuse me spikes, but me and my friend wish to pass. May we please go through?” Leonardo asked as polite as he could.

“Oh! Sure, sonny! Good luck with your journey!” the spikes chorused, and went into the ground. Leonardo skipped across, this time Muse was awed, because all his mother told him was “Don’t drink that—it’s soap water.”

The journey tolled on, and then, suddenly, the two animals found themselves staring straight at a huge golden wall. In silver letters it spelt “The End”. But escape was not so easy.

“Hold up a minute!” a voice screeched. Just then, a golden bird, with the wings of an eagle and the tail of a peacock, swooped down to the startled travelers.

“Before you escape, a song you must shape!” she screamed. Leonardo and Muse silently agreed this bird was extremely obnoxious. But they listened to her instructions.

“Music you must make—but do not haste! For this music you shall create, shall not use any instrument.”

“That doesn’t really give your poetry persona a lift, ma’am,” Muse commented. She glared at him.

“Without an instrument? How in the world—” Just then, the light bulb once again flashed in Leo’s mind.

“Excuse me!” he shouted. The earth was quiet. He proceeded:

“I’m sorry to be a bother, but my mother’s life depends upon this! I need to create some music, Madam Nature, and I believe you can help me! If you wish, and I beg of you to, may you please let your grass become the string section of my natural orchestra?”

A thousand violins, or so it seemed, began to play from the hills. Leonardo quickly instructed the note arrangement, and the violin-grass began to sing.

“And, if it catches your fancy, which I hope it does, may you please, Thunder, be my percussion?” The roar of drums sounded from above everyone’s head. Leo hushed it enough to become a sweet pounding, like a passionate heartbeat.

“And, if I dare say, which I pray I might, may the wind become my brass?” Leonardo begged. A howl of trumpets flared, and soon, an amazing, moving, grasping song erupted through Tough Road, loud enough for Leonardo’s family in the bell tower to hear, and loud enough for his mother to catch the whisper of his masterpiece.

The bird began to weep; the emotion was so strong, With a brush of her tails against the golden door, the door swung open. The music began to fade, leaving the world in a gentle awe.

Leonardo jumped in surprise, because right before him, the giant’s mansion stood. Leonardo charged at it, his grief for his missing mother grew too much too bear. Muse pranced behind him.

Luckily for Leonardo and Muse, the large wooden door that opened to the house was opened a crack—just enough for Leo and Muse to quickly intrude. They scampered along the marble halls, looking desperately for a sign of Leonardo’s captive mother.

Finally, Leo heard her sweet voice echoing from a bed chamber. He tiptoed in, noticing the giant was getting sleepy, as his mother weaved a tale of Biblical genealogy, still, it was enchanting.

She caught Leo’s eye, and with a look of relief, nodded to him subtly, continuing her story very slowly. Muse seemed to be deep in thought, and turned towards Leonardo.

“Play your guitar, and get the heavens to play for you again—it will put the giant asleep!” he commanded in a hiss. Leonardo nodded, but doubted himself. What if the giant became more alert or even saw Leonardo and Muse standing in the doorjamb?

“Don’t doubt yourself, Leonardo. You are talented, you are unique—you can save your Momma,” Muse whispered, his lavender eyes intense. Leonardo thought for a moment, and then remembered something—Vern’s sock sack. Leonardo quickly opened it.

Inside there lay a book of Mozart’s lullabies and a small violin. Leonardo grinned as he began to tune the instrument. Then he lay his flute and guitar in front of him.

“Mother Nature, I implore with all my heart-- and what a meek heart it is!—that you send your winds to play my instruments with me.

A gentle breeze danced in the Dronderick’s house. Leonardo gratefully handed the wind the flute and the guitar. He then picked up the small bow, and began to glide it over the violin, like a swan swoops into calm water. A whine came, but not in an obnoxious form. This form was beautiful and possessed the giant’s ears like a ghost in the night. The wind began to play the flute, a sweet piping noise, gentle enough to rock the giant’s mind to rest. And the wind’s invisible fingers strummed the guitar like it was combing through grains of sand, and the giant was fast asleep, lost in the most pleasant dream Dronderick had ever had. Leonardo’s mother’s words wove into the notes like straw into a basket, a bright, calming, colorful basket. And then, very slowly, the mother took Leonardo’s hand and walked home with her son and his cat-friend.

A year passed. Vern and his friend Wendy were married, and had a baby boy named Leonard Cornelius. He was very handsome, and he seemed to have the gift of dancing. Every day, the boy grew more graceful. Leonardo loved to play for the young tame Pet Human, he was very entertaining.

Cornelia read to Dronderick, and even taught him how to read, even though his gift was clearly (to her) bird calls. He grew to be Dronderick the Getting Patient Very Slowly But Surely. He was very fun to practice climbing on, Leo’s twin brothers noticed.

Muse became part of the family, discovering the bell tower was connected to a church, which had a library. He soon fell in love with a white cat with orange eyes, her name was Ponder, and the two would stay with the mice and think all day.

Leonardo had become very close friends with Mother Nature. The two spent hours together, playing beautiful music, pleasing to all the ears that ever heard them.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Moral: Use your gifts to help others.

1 Peter 4:10

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