Ceremonies and Celebration
Well, alot has happened in the last week. My class graduated from fighter school. I was at the top of the class of course. The experience was slightly ruined by the fact that runt boy came in second. He wasn't even supposed to graduate in my class - he started late - but BJ said he had earned it. Boy, I've never been so insulted. Anyway, I resisted the urge to kick him off the podium at the ceremony where I got a ribbon for beating all the other mice in sword fighting. I won shield, spear, and missile weapons of course, with my trusty ol' slingshot. Never leave home without it. Stompy won hand to hand. She floored 60 mice by knockout to win. Yow.
Then, as we were all celebrating, I got my first taste of ice cream! Woweee! Ice cream! It was so neat. The Kind Human put a bowl down for us and the mice all lapped it up until our snouts were frozen. It tastes so great.
You know, for five thousand years mice have been living with humans, and I bet that's the first time a mouse has gotten ice cream! What's up with that, huh? We've gotten a raw deal.
Well then, according to tradition, right in the middle of the celebration, a Mouse Knight stands up and takes Ghost as his squire. Then another knight stood up and took Stompy as a squire! Then another took someone else, and so it went - the finest were chosen. That little flea Scratchy wasn't though, and he had the nerve to look at me the whole time. HA! He was so disappointed. His head was downcast and he was crying. That'll teach him. He'll quit now for sure. I was afraid my master would take him, but he was only at the ceremony for a short time, and then he was called away by a messenger mouse over something important. It must have been real important, too. He wouldn't have left my graduation for anything stupid.
Then Nemo announced the rodents who had recently been adopted to good homes in the city. Shiva and Thor were among them! My boys...my playmates...they'd be leaving soon to have great, loved lives as pets in a good home. I was so happy for them, but kinda sad over losing them too.
Then knights who had just graduated stood up - mostly new ones (there were three) and each one announced their pilgrimage. One was going to the mountains, far away. He would return when it began to get cold again. Another would go visit the ants and bees, and spread word of our alliance to all the hives and nests that didn't know. The third one was going to go see the ocean. After they finished, Nemo was looking at me. I swallowed hard and stood up.
"I'm...going too," I said. Cheers and hoots greeted me from the audience. One mouse who I couldn't spot yelled 'about time!' I'd find him later and bite his rump.
"Yeah," I continued, "I'm going to go to... Ummm...the city!" More applause. I was making this up as I went along. But the city was dangerous. I couldn't think of a more daring quest. "To free mice from pet stores, spread the word of our existence, and to search out great evil ... and destroy it!" Mice stood up, hopped around, chirped and squeaked. Everyone loved it. I did too. It sounded grand. A worthy pilgrimage!
After the celebration I went to my master's cage to find out what was such a big deal and it was being guarded by ten armored mice! They let me in (lest I put the hurt on em'), and master came out of my momma's nest. His face was flushed, he was breathing funny, and he looked stunned but happy. Very happy.
"Come inside, Squibble. Be very quiet!" He dragged me into the nest box.
It was dark inside, but I could see and smell the babies. My momma had had her litter. She had five children. Tiny, wee things, the little pinkies. They squirmed and squibbed under her for milk. She smiled at me. It was a dream come true. I gaped. Those were my brothers and sisters. I had a family.
They were so small. They were so fragile. Was I ever that small and fragile? My momma licked me. She looked tired. I got to sniff one of the babies who was white. Of them all, only one was white. I asked my master why.
"Well, we don't know, Squib," he said. "It shouldn't be white. Your momma is a cinnamon colored mouse and I'm an albino. By all rights, having a white child is impossible."
"Then he's a miracle," I said. I looked at the wee white thing. He was cute. And somehow special. I knew it.
My master smiled broadly. "Yes, I guess he is. They all are."
I touched all of the little mice and my master said I should bless them. I asked what that meant and he said, "Say something good about them, so they have fine lives. You're a knight. It's proper."
I thought about it a moment. It sounded like a job for Nemo, but I was sure the Prophet would get to it soon enough. My blessing was just for fun. My master was indulging me...letting me feel important. So I did it.
"May all your children live worthy, healthy and righteous lives...from their first day to their last, my master."
He hugged me. I beamed. "That was a great blessing, Squibble. Thank you Sir Knight!"
I trembled with glee. "Oh, thank you, master!"
I finally had to leave to let my momma rest, but I would come back. I would always come back. I couldn't forget the faces of those teeny little mice. My family.
Outside the cage, as I was leaving to go back home, there was Nemo. And beside him was Scratchy! The little twerp. He had done something to get me in trouble. Well, it wasn't gonna work. I hadn't done nothin!
I zipped up to them both, making it clear I could run in a straight line. "Help you?" I said to Nemo. What if he was here to beat me up? I hadn't done anything!
But he smiled and looked at me kindly. "Squibble, little Scratchy was heartbroken that he wasn't chosen as a squire. He was second in his class and worked harder than anyone to achieve it; but nobody chose him because they all thought you would take him. He didn't want to come, but I dragged him here to ask you if you might consider..."
"Hell no," I said sternly.
Scratchy turned to go. He looked ashamed. As he should be.
Nemo caught him with his tail. He looked angry at me now.
"Squibble, you're jealous," he said.
"Of that little runt? No way!" I said. Scratchy looked mad then, and even had the nerve to rattle his tail at me! Why I'd...
Nemo held me back with his paw. It was like the cartoon where the big guy holds the little kid back by the top of his head. I just couldn't go forward to teach that little punk a lesson! My feet spun under me. I fell down.
I was so humiliated. "I hate that little cripple!" I chirped. "He'll never be a knight! Never! I'll challenge him myself if I have to!"
Nemo took Scratchy up in his arms. The little mouse was in tears. The prophet stared harshly at me.
"You have some hard lessons to learn, Squibble. Knightly lessons. Humility and compassion, for starters. Your honor wouldn't be worth one piece of grain if you challenged a crippled mouse. Especially after he beat you."
Oh! Oh the drama! How dare he say that to me! I got up to kick his sapphire ass, but he was already hopping off. I was really mad! I went down to the basement and beat up a bunch of big mice. Then I beat up some more. I jumped into the sparring ring and didn't leave until dawn. Boy. I might even have been able to hit BJ, I was so mad.
Afterward, when I was worn out and trembling with my rushing thoughts, I wondered.
Why was I so mad?
It sure didn't feel good.
What bothered me the most was that Nemo had never been wrong before.
Well, there's a first time for everything. Yessir.