Mouse Trap

Things go horribly wrong when Mouse decides to surprise Father


Mouse Trap!

"Yeow, that hurts...ooh that hurts! Must go, must go now.” a solitary figure holding one hand very tightly fled as fast as his feet would allow, scampered through the tunnels from whence he came, and back to the sanctity of his chamber.
Unwrapping the throbbing limb from the confines of the tea-towel, Mouse examined his injury. All his fingers were twice their normal size, and Mouse fairly fainted with the sight.
“What to do, what to do?” Mouse paced his chamber, holding the offending hand high in the air, held firmly there with his good hand holding on tightly to his wrist.
A chittering from the corner had Mouse spinning round, “Arthur, Look!” he hurried over to where the racoon eyed the swollen hand with interest, yet turned away when the hand so obviously offered nothing interesting.
Mouse sulked. “Arthur don’t care”, ‘who would?... Vincent would!’ A cry of joy left his lips, “Must find Vincent!” Mouse hurried back to the entranceway, grasping his hand tightly out in front of him, Vincent would know what to do...he stopped dead, suddenly realising ...Vincent would tell Father.
“No good, no good.” back again he came pacing the room, his hand swelling ever larger before his eyes, the pain excruciating. He felt ill. And flopped wearily into his favourite chair, his only chair, while the chamber span around him.

“I can’t understand it.” William scratched his head, “Its one thing to have mice, its quite another to have them set off their own trap, and make off with the tea-towel. Something pretty funny is going on here.”
“Did you position the trap beneath the cloth as I instructed?” Jacob Wells, brushed a thoughtful hand across his bristled jaw.
“Sure did. That’s why it is so strange. I put it all up here, just like you said, away from little fingers. And this is where the flour always goes missing, and that’s another thing....” William shook his head, “Why flour? Why not biscuits, or crumbs, or cake, why is it always flour?”
“You didn’t tell me that.” Father told him thoughtfully.
“I didn’t think about it before. I just assumed, with all the little trails of flour, that something was getting into the jar, and dragging flour everywhere.” William told him quite perplexed.
“Have you seen any droppings?” Father asked him.
“No. That’s another thing, I’ve looked and looked, I’ve had all the cupboards out, looked into old boxes, there was no indication of mice anywhere, but for the trails of flour, I just cannot understand it.”
“Of course you know there is a solution, but I hardly think on this occasion...” Father began.
William finished for him, “Yes, I had the same idea a few days ago. One very big Mouse you mean?”
Father nodded.
“Its unlike Mouse to do anything like this. Something shiny perhaps, but flour ... whatever would he want with flour?” William scratched his head again. It was very mysterious.

Down in his chamber, Mouse was happier when the room stopped spinning, when his four walls didn’t want to cave in on him any longer, and when he had finally got his brain back into gear. ‘What would Father do?’ he asked himself. “Got it! Cold water!”
He hurried over to the jug intending on pouring some water into the bowl, but he found tipping the heavy water-filled jug with one hand became an impossibility. Mouse stared at the jug willing it to tip over for him, and when it did not, he plunged his injured hand into the jug itself. It was a tight squeeze, but oh the relief, the blessed relief! The icy water soothed his throbbing limb, and Mouse felt weak, and had to lean against the table for support.
It wasn’t until several minutes later when he came to extract his hand that he found it would not budge! He pulled and pulled, to no avail, and almost laughed. Now not only did he have a swollen hand, but on that same hand he had a jug as well!
A hot flush of embarrassment crept up Mouse’s neck and infused his cheeks, as he though of how Father would react. He would have a field day!
For the first time in his life Mouse understood the expression, ‘oh but would the ground open up and swallow me.’ He didn’t think he had ever felt so ridiculous, and that wasn’t the half of it. If he couldn’t get out of this mess himself, he would have to tell someone. And quick. His stomach rumbled, indicating it was almost tea-time. If he didn’t hurry to the kitchen soon, someone would come to look for him.
Perhaps if he broke the jug?
He thought about it, and wanted to do, he really wanted to do, but how would he explain that? Whatever would Father say? He might conclude that Arthur had done it, as he had broken the last one, and Mouse could hear Father now, “ Mouse, you know I only tolerate that racoon for your sake, but if I find he is the cause of any more broken crockery he will have to go. We must look after all we have Below, you know that.”
Mouse sulked again.
So if he couldn’t break the jug, how could he get rid of it?
Another rumble from his stomach, made him sigh, there was nothing for it, he would have to go to the kitchen, get some food for himself and Arthur and hope no one noticed when he only used one hand.
Looking around wildly, he hunted for something to put over his injured, jug covered hand, and spied the tea-towel, of course! he could use that.
Happily, well as happily as he could, he set off back towards the kitchen.

William was still wondering about things when Mouse came through the door. Mouse was unusually quiet, but then when Mouse had something on his mind, he often was quiet, and William would have paid scant attention if it hadn’t been for the tea-towel.
“Where did you find that?” William cried happily, making a grab for the tea-towel and trying to pull it away.
Mouse grabbed it back holding tightly, trying to keep it over his injured hand.

The gentle tug of war, became more intense, as William not understanding the situation pulled ever harder. And Mouse grew hot with embarrassment, the kitchen was full of tunnel dwellers enjoying their tea.
Vincent was there, sitting in one corner with...oh...Catherine of all Mouse really grew embarrassed, he really liked Catherine, and to think that at any moment she would see...oh! Now he really wished the ground would open up and swallow him!
And Father, and Mary, and Jamie, and Pascal, all those he knew well, had turned eyes to him, watching with bemused expressions, at him holding tightly onto the tea-towel, while William was intent on snatching it away.
“For God’s sake Mouse! Let go of it” William cried, “What’s the matter with you?”
Then to make matters worse, Father was standing there at his side, “Let it go Mouse, you’ll rip it.” Meekly Mouse let go of his end of the cloth and watched as it slipped away, revealing the jug beneath. Mouse looked down at his feet, he felt such shame, as Father took one look at the jug with Mouse’s hand inside and one look at William, then in a voice that spoke of his bewilderment, asked, “Mouse...why have you got your hand inside that jug?”
Mouse hesitated, and mumbled something, hearing across the room, a rumble of laughter start up in Vincent’s chest. That’s all he needed! “Pardon Mouse?” Father asked, exasperated, “Speak up boy.”
A burst of hearty laughter filled the air, as Vincent unable to contain it and assessing the situation much faster than his parent, realised the implication of Mouse’s answer.
Father glared at him, and watched with dismay as Catherine’s lips twitched with glee.
Taking the jug into both hands, Father tried unsuccessfully to prise it away from Mouse’s hand.
“Why in heaven’s name, did you have your hand in there in the first place?” he asked the humiliated lad.
Mortified, Mouse could only look up and stare. His eyes focused first on Father, and then timidly he glanced at all the faces around the room, forks poised half way to mouths, all were now watching the play unfold with interest.
Mouse shuffled uncomfortably, and whispered, “ Hurt it.”
“Hurt it...what your hand?” Father asked him drawing his brows together, Mouse nodded sheepishly, “Then why didn’t you come to see me...and why the jug, I’m sorry Mouse I still don’t understand.”
Mouse shook his head, refusing to say another thing. There were too many interested people around him.
“You’d best come with me.” Mouse cheered up, escape was at hand!
Until Father added, “on second thoughts, I probably have all I need here. William get me some washing up liquid please.”
William reached for the bottle of suds, handing them to Father without hardly moving from the spot, his eyes only leaving Mouse’s jug covered hand for a split second.
Father squeezed a large mound of soapy liquid into the palm of one of his own hands and rubbed it over as much of Mouse’s exposed hand as possible, allowing it to trickle down between his skin and the china, and then satisfied that it would do the trick, he began to wiggle the jug from side to side, apologising when Mouse winced.
At last, a heavy pull, and it shot off, to be grabbed by William before the slippery jug could fall to the ground.
Mouse rubbed his hand where the pressure of the jug had embedded, as Father took up his injured hand into his own...”Mouse! This is some injury, how on earth did you do it!”
Suddenly, William knew, it all stemmed from the re-appearance of the tea-towel really, the question was...’why was Mouse a flour thief?’

Later a very subdued Mouse stood silently in Father’s chamber with all the tunnel dwellers around him, as Father exasperated over the boy.
“Whatever are we to do with you Mouse? Huh? Answer me that?”
Mouse looked down at his feet, shuffling from foot to foot, eager to dart away, just like his namesake.
“Answer me! Why don’t you answer me?” Father cried, losing his temper somewhat.
Mouse fiddled with a loose thread on his jacket.
“Cat got your tongue, eh Mouse?” William asked in his jovial voice, then laughed out loud, as he realised how comical that sounded.
Everyone laughed along with him.
“I don’t know...” went on Father, “I just don’t understand it. Obviously we know how you came to be injured. You went in search of more flour, and set off the trap laid there for what we thought was a mouse of the rodent kind, that much is obvious, but why flour...that’s what baffles me...what could you possibly want with flour?”
“Surprise.” Mouse mumbled.
“Yes I heard what you said, I just don’t understand what you mean.” Father told him.
Mouse shrugged, looking up coyly. “For you.” he mumbled quietly.
Father’s mouth dropped open, as he repeated slowly, “A surprise... for me?”
William ventured a remark, “Perhaps Mouse would like to fetch this surprise and show us all what he means.”
“Yes Mouse, could you do that?” Father asked hopefully.
“Can’t.” Mouse told them, “Not ready, need more flour.”
“Oh Mouse whatever are we to do with you?” Father exasperated, then as an after thought added, “How much more do you need?”
Mouse grinned, “’bout a cupful.” he told him grinning mischievously.
“And if William gave you this cupful of flour the surprise would be ready for us to see today would it?”
“No, too wet, must dry out first.” Mouse told them.
“When then?”
“Maybe tomorrow.”
“All right then Mouse, go take all the flour you need, and show us why you needed it tomorrow, do you promise?” Father asked him.
Mouse beamed, “Promise, cross my heart and hope to die.” Mouse told him happily.
“Huh, don’t tempt me.” Father muttered.

*** *** ***

Back in his chamber, Mouse was busy. His hand now bandaged and feeling better, he used his other hand as best as he could, but the sticky substance was getting into places he wished it ought not. And he needed lots more, if he were to do it right. More maybe than a cupful. But wait! Hadn’t Father told him, ‘take all you need Mouse?’ this made him feel so much happier.
Much later with flour paste in his hair, in his eyes, down his nose (from when he’d scratched a persistent itch), and all over the bench upon which he worked so avidly, Mouse’s beaming eyes put the finishing touches to his surprise.
Completed at last, he sat back to survey his work. And he really felt proud of himself.

*** *** ***

The next afternoon he carried his masterpiece towards Father’s chamber, visualising the joy it would bring. He loved giving gifts, and he had seldom given anything to Father, but one day over breakfast he had heard Father tell Vincent wistfully, “What I miss most is the colours, and the I used to love the mountains, and the ocean...the more wild and savage the better...”
Mouse had pictured these things in his minds eye, storing the thought away to be put to use whenever he had the chance. And it came almost straight away. He couldn’t believe his luck.
Rummaging Above, at his favourite pastime, Mouse had found the ideal gift, and had carried it home happily. Yet it would not stay flat, and no amount of straightening it would make it lie still. Mouse had a problem.
Taking up one of his ‘How To’ books, he read with interest until he found the page he wanted.... ‘No Glue? How to make your on paste’. It was just what he needed.
Flour and water, that’s all it took, just flour and water, and William had plenty! Mouse could not believe his luck.

Carrying his masterpiece now he beamed as he held it out to Father, standing with all his dear friends who’d been awaiting Mouse’s arrival in his chamber.
“For you.” Mouse told him happily.
Father took the stiff wooded board from Mouse, turning it over in his hands to reveal the scene beneath and gasped.
Before him lay a large glossy poster stuck upon a wooden board, depicting a scene of majestic waves crashing against rocks over which lay a rainbow of stunning colours as the sun shone through the water spray. In the background were large jagged mountain ranges, and Father recognised the place at once. “I’ve been here!” Father exclaimed, “Vincent this is the place I was telling you about, you remember. Mouse where did you get this?”
“Topside.” Mouse told him, his eyes bright with joy.
“Now Mouse...” Father told him in a voice which held a touch of despair.
“Not stealing...found it.” Mouse told him.
Father smiled, he had to believe him, he’d get nothing from the boy from cross examination, he knew the folly of that by now, “But how did you know I’d like it?”
“Heard you tell Vincent.” Mouse told him happily, “Knew you’d like it.”
“Its beautiful Mouse thank you.” Father told him, “I shall treasure it always.”
Mouse beamed.
“Forgive me if I’ve missed something here...” William asked sometime later when mostly everyone had left, but for himself, Father, Mouse, Mary and Vincent, “but it still doesn’t explain why you needed the flour.”
Father looked up from his gaze of the scene, “Arh yes, I’d forgotten about that. Mouse why did you need the flour?”
“Paste.” Mouse told them. “See, no glue, use paste, flour and water make paste, needed paste.” he told them simply.
“Of course! And you needed the paste to stick the picture to the wooden backing. How very clever. Well thank you Mouse, I really am delighted with the gift, I’m only sorry you got hurt in the process.”
Mouse grinned, and started to laugh, “Mousetrap!” He cried, then jumping up raced off back towards his chamber, “Must feed Arthur.” He cried as he went by, making Vincent burst into laughter.

“Well”, Father said, a little later, “Where do you think would be the best place to hang it do you think.” he asked Vincent and Mary, for William had gone back to his kitchen, “Over here, or here perhaps?” He carried the picture around his chamber holding it up to the light, to see it properly.
“Beneath the most candlelight, would be best.” Mary told him, as she held it in place while he stepped back to see, “It really is spectacular, and no doubt you will want it where you can see it often.” She added.
Just then Vincent noticed something, “Father, do my eyes deceive me, or does that picture have a 3D effect?”, just as William came dashing back towards them, “I’ll kill him, I’ll kill him!”
“William! Whatever is the matter?” Father exclaimed.
“That kitchen...the flour...its gone...its all bloody gone.” William looked fit to burst a gasket.
Vincent burst into laughter, as he saw what had happened.
“I wish I knew what was so darn funny.” William retorted.
“The picture.” Vincent told the three mystified faces, “It is 3D, look!”
And so it was, wherever there were rocks and mountains, Mouse had artfully shoved huge mounds of floury paste which when set hard gave a 3D effect to all the rocky regions of the beautiful picture.
“Oh well,” William shook his head resignedly, “I guess its the thought that counts.” He laughed heartily.
Father smiled, “I guess I can’t complain. I did tell him to take as much flour as he needed, but I didn’t quite mean it that literally.” Everyone sighed, shaking their head. What ever were they to do with him...certainly the boy was a delight and a hindrance...but they wouldn’t have him any other way, and really there was only one thing left to say about his latest escapade...
Grinning broadly Father made everyone laugh as he told the kind hearted boy, "Oh Mouse, your heart was in the right place – its just a pity that your hand wasn’t!"

*** *** ***



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