The country mice

The country mice kept the promise, and returned the visit of their city relatives in mid-August. They had for long heard about the gastronomic delicacies of the city, and they couldn’t wait to savour them.  Think about it; every single day, roots, roots, and roots! Roots for breakfast; roots for dinner! Square and cube roots at school… Those roots were a nuisance! Never did they eat a piece of lard, a crust of cheese, a cutlet of salami, a piece of paper! Now, God forbid, they would finally go to the city and satisfy all their cravings. The lard, the cheese, their lives’ dreams were about to come true. The outing’s program was very exciting: 4 o’clock am: rooster. 5 o’clock am: sunrise. 6 o’clock am: start walking towards the city. 7 o’clock am: arrival in the city. Reception offered by the noble Mice family. 8 o’clock am: visiting of the main monuments. Breakfast in a delicatessen. 9 o’clock am: second breakfast, in a scavenger’s boutique. 10 o’clock am: packed breakfast, in a granary. 11 o’clock am: lunch à la carte, in a library. 12 o’clock pm: lunch, in a hotel. 1 o’clock pm: third lunch, in a private home. 2 o’clock pm: visiting of public gardens. 3 o’clock pm: fourth lunch, in a drugstore. 4 o’clock pm: fifth lunch: in the university auditorium. 5 o’clock pm: return to the country. 7 o’clock pm: arrival. 8 o’clock pm: sunset. 9 o’clock pm: cricket and frog concert. The set day, at six in the morning, Mr. Mouse, Mrs. Mouse and the baby mice, cleaned, polished, combed and curled, went to the city, in utter joy. When they arrived in the metropolis they where received by Mr. Rodilardo, that greeted them in name of the noble Mice family, that hadn’t been able to come and meet them, because a gang of cats was around. What are these cats? The mice asked. What? You don’t know? They’re little, ferocious domestic tigers that hate us mice. If only we had known that the city had these animals, we never would have come. Ah! No! Stay away! Be careful, and nothing bad will happen. Mr. Rodilardo kindly offered to take them to the museums and gave them a city map, that the country mice ate in seconds. The tourists were astonished to see homes, trams, electric headlights; but what most struck them were the delicatessen boutiques. How many good things! They entered, without being seen by the delicatessen’s owner. How incredible! Sausages as long as trains, mortadellas large as domes, rounds of cheese that looked like millstones, lard slices tall as walls, mountains of butter. Here, they had their first breakfast. Think of the meal! Once they came out of the boutique, they went to see a cage, sadly famous in the rodent world. And while Mr. Rodardo was recommending them not to enter it, a naughty baby mouse went on, but was no longer able to get out: it was a trap! One down! A little baffled by the incident, the mice went to visit a scavenger’s store, full of rags, old shoes and crumpled paper. Here they ate their second breakfast, with a dusty slipper that they ate in a couple minutes. Then they went to see the station.  A baby mouse started gnawing on a piece of lard that was leaning from a penthouse, the thread snapped, the shutter quickly came down and the baby mouse became a prisoner. Two down! What station of Egypt! –the mice yelled- this is a trap! The mice, baffled by this second incident, went to visit a granary, and here they ate their packed breakfast…of wheat. Then they entered a picture house. A baby mouse saw a piece of cheese in the dark room and happily started nibbling it, but a big, eye folded iron wire went off and the glutton got chocked. Three down! Ah, and this is a picture house? –the infuriated mice yelled- this, dear Mr. Rodilardo, is another trap! From the cinema they went to the library, where they had lunch à la carte. They gladly savoured a parchment book with miniatures and a Galileo manuscript. In a room there was a piece of chalk depicting a sleeping cat. –Look what a fabulous job – the guide said – the cal looks alive. The mice started dancing around it; the cat woke up, hissed, jumped and caught one. Four down! When they came out of the library they went to a hotel, climbed into the dressers and ate a second lunch. A glutton went into the dining room and ordered meatballs. After a few minutes pain was killing him. Five down! The meatballs were made with a rat-poison paste. Damned cook! In the meantime the others went to the upper floors, and frolicked happily about the rooms and corridors, with great fear of the ladies and waitresses. The manager caught one and delivered it directly to the police, saying it was a hotel mouse. Six down! After the hotel they went to see the kitchen of a family, where they had their third lunch, licking the plates, the bowls, the pans and the pots. After all the fun, they went, all greasy, to visit the public gardens. While the mice were contemplating a palm tree, it immediately bent down and smashed one of them. Seven down! Ah, here they call them palm trees? Obviously they don’t know anything about plants! In our area they call them brooms. Convinced of being from the country, some mice, began running on the meadows and beddings, jumping in the fishponds, climbing on the trees, and getting into mischief. A caretaker caught one and took him to administration. Eight down! They had their fourth lunch in a drugstore, with chocolate, biscuits, jam, sugar, etc. They much savoured the chocolates with rose liquor. So much better than roots and worms! They ate a bellyful. A baby mouse took a bath in a tin of petrol and miserably died. Nine down! The guide took them to visit the university, where a professor was explaining his students that the country mouse (Avicola arvalis) caused serious damage to agriculture. While he was yelling: -mice are the enemy!- our group, without suspecting anything, entered the auditorium, to eat their fifth meal, with the bread of science. Seeing them, the professor, the students and the janitor, armed with sticks and brooms, and yelling like crazy, started hunting odwn the mice, and they killed one, that later on ended up in the school’s museum, in a liquor vase. Ten down! The mice fled to a theatre, full of women that had come to hear the conference of a famous lion-hunting woman. Imagine what a sissy fest! In the most important parts of the speech, the women clapped, and shouted: death to the lions! When the mice entered the theatre the scene, all of a sudden, went mute: -The mice! The mice! – the lion hunter and many ladies fainted, others ran away like chickens with their head cut off. –The mice! The mice!-  The mice, that were now the only ones around, comfortably begun dining, nibbling all the spring instrument’s cords. The dog of the theatre caught one. Eleven down! Before they left, Mr. Rodilardo, that had remarkable connections, had all the mice that had been trapped or imprisoned, freed. At 5 o’clock pm they left the city and went towards their haunts, tired, scruffy, dusty. What a disgraced outing! –the country mice said- horray for the countryside, where there aren’t any cats, dogs, traps, brooms, poisonous paste, liquor vases, petrol milk… and mid-August outings! They dined, as usual, with worms and roots, that, that evening, were really delicious.