The Mice in the Kitchen (Part 8, page 1 of 2)

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Part 8

Chapter 6

When Herta saw the mouse come into her bedroom, she wondered whether there was a plague in the house. She was seeing them everywhere, and maybe their presence had reached a worrying point.

The small rodent walked slowly towards her, who, sitting on her bed, with one arm laid on the knotted sheet that contained her few belongings —the few things she had been allowed to keep after her father's death—, watched it and realized that it was not the same mouse that had bitten the cook. This one was brownish-gray. Was it the one that was with the other mouse when they came through the main door?

The animal stood in front of her, despite the fact that, this time, Herta had been startled and had almost screamed at the first sight of it moving in the room. But the mouse, although cautious, had not been frightened by her reaction, and it had walked on, until this moment when the two of them were face to face, lit by the paltry candle on the bedside table.

It was carrying something in its mouth, which it dropped on the floor once it had made sure that the girl would see it. Herta slowly stretched out her arm, fearing that, either she might scare the mouse or she might get bitten.

It was a piece of paper with something written on it: Follow me, please. Help.

Herta had heard of carrier pigeons, but a carrier mouse? Besides, who could have sent it? She considered the possibility of it being a joke of her stepsisters, but it was really not likely: They would never had had the patience or the ability to train an animal like that. But, then, who? Would she have to go out of the house? Just in case, she grabbed her things; and the mouse, when it saw that she was standing up, started to walk. However, before leaving the room, it turned around, looked at the note, which was on the floor, and then looked at the girl, until the latter understood that she shouldn't leave it there.

They stepped in darkness towards the kitchen. At times, Herta lost track of the mouse; but it soon reappeared, until it finally stopped at their destination.

What she saw was even more incredible than the notion of a trained mouse. Was this possible? A mouse asking her to help another mouse? With a note? The shock prevented her from reacting. Recognizing the trapped animal made it all even weirder. Too weird.

The brownish-gray mouse wouldn't let her waste too much time. It quickly began to shriek impatiently. Herta shook her head, as if shaking away any thoughts, and proceeded to free the pearled animal from its trap.

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