It's been a tumultuous couple of days at MouseHouse. Bic had a narrow escape, an adventure a bit too big for his wee-mouse self, and his parents have a few more gray whiskers!
It started Friday night when he and Ben were supposed to be gathering thistle-down for Mama, and while intentions started off stellar, little imaginations soon kicked in. "Let's swing on the thistle stalks..." Bic invited. "We can still bring Mama's basket of down back in a few minutes... she won't mind."
Ben was worried. As adventuresome as he'd like to be, he also had a healthy fear of the dark, and darkness was falling fast. Ever notice how fast the sun sinks this time of year? "Let's just take one swing and then go home..." he admonished.
Well, as little boys will, one swing turned into just-one-more, and then one-last-one, and before they realized, darkness was upon them. And they still had to trek back from the woods, carrying the basket of thistle-down, and worse--all the way up Downspout-Timber to MouseHouse. Thankfully, Papa had just installed a bittersweet vine railing to hang on to--he did it for Mama, but they all benefited. So up they climbed, one behind the other, one pulling the basket behind him, the other pushing it in front. That is, until they were nearly to the top. Suddenly the basket got very heavy, and fearing that he'd lose the whole afternoons' work, Ben gave one last heave, over the top, and scurried to the front door, dragging it behind him.
"We're back, Ma..." he squeaked guiltily. Mama held the door open, waiting for Bic to come in too. He didn't. "Where's your brother?" she asked.
"Right behind me..." Ben answered on his way to wash up for supper. But Bic wasn't anywhere to be seen. Mama stepped out on the veranda, "Bic... ??" she spoke quietly. It's not wise for a mouse to holler at the time of day, you see. There are many mouse-enemies out after dark.
The light of Mama Hare's kitchen lamp shone out onto the big porch below MouseHouse and even part-way into the back yard. Fivelina scanned the area worriedly. Where could he be this time! Sir Fivel soon joined her. "I'll go down and retrace their steps," he stated as he began the descent. "Oh, do be careful, dear..." she urged.
Back inside, Mama, Ben and Betina ate their suppers with heavy hearts. Both Papa and Bic were in danger now, and there was nothing they could do.
The evening wore on, and soon it was time for the mouselings to be in bed. Much later, Sir Fivel came in, and at Fivelina's hopeful look, he shook his head sadly. "No sign of him... except I found this..." he held out a tiny piece of blue overall.
"Oh no... oh no-o-o!" she whispered brokenly. Sir Fivel put his arm around her, and they just held on. It was a long, sleepless night for them. Bic included, for he'd been snatched by Mr. Spookowl, right off Downspout Timber! One second he was pushing a basket of fluff, the next he was unmercifully grappled by sharp talons and then dropped into an icky nest of hungry owlings! Luckily they were all sleeping when he fell among them, and the resulting jostling and bickering between them, allowed him to scramble up over the side of the nest and hide in the mess of sticks and gunk beneath it. He was trembling so badly he could hardly hang on, and worse, he was bleeding from the talon wounds. But he knew it was vital that he remain perfectly still and wait for things to settle in the nest above him. Mr. Spookowl came back again and again, dropping things in the nest for the owlings, and the noisy jostling and bickering began anew. When it did, the whole nest shook and he could barely hang on. And oh, he didn't even want to think about which of his friends might've been dinner for those ravenous appetites, but he was desperately worried about Ben. What if Ben were one of them! Oh, if only they'd listened to Mama and just gathered the thistle-down and gotten home before dark!
Faint from fear and blood loss, Bic held on as long as he could, afraid to even try getting down out of that high oak tree. He finally fell asleep, wedged between two larger sticks at the base of the owl nest. It was nearly dawn when he was suddenly awakened by someone pulling on him. Startled, he squeaked in alarm. "Ssshhhh..." Papa warned him. "It's just me... Papa... we've got to get you down from here."
All was quiet in the nest above them, the owlings asleep, the Spookowl parents out looking for more prey. Papa soon had his wee boy on his back and down the tree. He stayed in the tall grass all the way back to the edge of Hare Hollow lawn, then pausing to scan the now-lightening sky for danger, he scurried to Downspout Timber. Up he went, carrying his wounded boy, thankful for the help of the Bittersweet Vine railing on this fateful morning.
Mama soon had Bic's wounds treated and bound, and had him tucked-a-bed. He was so weary and hurt, he hardly stirred despite the painful ministrations. His last thought before sinking into a deep restful sleep was 'Ben is safe and Papa saved me.'
How grateful I am too, this quiet Sunday morning, for deep rest and comfort, and for the One that has saved me from so much, for so long and will continue to care for me into Eternity.