Reader, you did not forget about our small mouse, did you?

Of course Gregory smuggled Despereaux upstairs by hiding him in the napkin, but the danger doesn’t end just because he’s back in the light.

“Acccck,” said Cook, “a mouse in my kitchen, in my cooking oil, in my measuring cup. You, Mig, kill him directly.”

Mig bent her head and looked at the mouse slowly sinking to the bottom of the glass cup.

“Poor little meecy,” she said. And she stuck her hand into the oil and pulled him out by his tail.

Despereaux, gasping and coughing and blinking at the bright light, could have wept with joy at his rescue. But he was not given time to cry.

“Kill him!” shouted Cook.

Mig does as she’s told, but she also shows sympathy to the poor little meecy. And as with many other things, she’s not too adept at killing mice. She drops him, and assumes the fall killed the mouse.

“Kill him even if he’s already dead,” shouted Cook. “That’s my philosophy with mice. If they’re alive, kill them. If they’re dead, kill them. That way you can be certain of having yourself a dead mouse, which is the only kind of mouse to have.”

While the mice aren’t outlaws, they are still at war with Cook.

Despereaux lifted his head from the large kitchen floor. The afternoon sun was shining through the large kitchen window. He had time to think how miraculous the light was and then it disappeared and Mig’s face loomed into view. She studied him, breathing through her mouth.

“Little meecy,” she said, “ain’t you going to skedaddle?”

Despereaux looked for a long moment into Mig’s small, concerned eyes and then there came a blinding flash and the sound of metal moving through the air as Mig brought the kitchen knife down, down, down.

Despereaux felt a very intense pain in his hindquarters. He leapt up and into action. Reader, he scurried. He scurried like a professional mouse. He zigged to the left. He zagged to the right.

“Gor!” shouted Mig. “Missed him.”

He manages to escape into the pantry, but at the cost of his tail.

Next time: a knight in shining armor…

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