Irish Mouse Tales
Michael O’Leary, a mouse with a larger than average size tail, is a story teller who can hold audiences spellbound with his tales of daring and adventure. Michael, along with his two friends Patrick and Guido, lives on a farm in a remote corner of the Emerald Isles and it is here he holds his story telling evenings. Some of his yarns arere so graphic, small rodents have been known to suffer attacks of panic, faint clear away and have to be dragged outside.
Guido, however, is a different case; his stories, although they always contain a grain of truth, need to be taken with a large pinch of salt, but they are entertaining. As for Patrick, well at times he finds it just too much trouble to compete, so he doesn’t bother.
Michael O’Leary was relaxed and in an expansive mood. With his longer than average tail draped over one arm, perched nonchalantly on a bag of corn, he surveyed the motley crowd that had gathered for one of his storytelling evenings.
“Did I ever tell you about the time Patrick Shaunessy, Guido Rafferty and myself nearly met St. Peter?” he began.
For a while no one answered, then, “You did me,” piped a small vole. “You did me twice.”
Michael peered round to see where the voice came from. “Well, just youse keep quiet not to spoil the telling for the others then,” he warned. The vole scurried away into a dark corner of the barn.
“If there is any blame to be proportioned,” he continued. “Patrick Shaunessy was the instigator, therefore it’s on him I’ll be putting it.”
Patrick, whiskers flaying the air, shook his head vigorously.
“It’s not denying it that you are, is it, me old friend?” The look Michael gave the little mouse was enough to silence further protests. “After all, was it or was it not your idea that we should visit Father O’ Brien, and see if he had anything brewing?” The nod he received in answer to this question was barely discernible.
“Yes, if I remember correctly . . .” he paused for effect. “It was October, and Father O’Brien had gone away leaving his barn of a place unprotected. So, Patrick, Guido and myself decided to keep an eye on the place for the good man. Naturally we rewarded ourselves for the good deed, by sampling a few drops of spillage from his vats. Myself, I only had a wee sup. But Guido, his mother being one of those that came over on the boats, had a liking for the stuff and got legless.”
“You must admit, Michael, it was some of the best stuff that’s been brewed round here for a long time,” squeaked the unrepentant Guido, “and, if I remember correctly, your head was as thick as mine the next morning.”
Michael chose to ignore that remark and continued with the telling. “Blind drunk they were, the pair of them. I’ll admit my own vision was a bit blurred. But I was in a better state than the pair of youse. And,” he stressed, “if it hadn’t been for my clear thinking we wouldn’t be here now.”
“As I recollect, me old friend,” ventured Patrick. “It was my idea to tie the rope round Guido’s middle and drag him along behind us.”
“And was it or was it not my tail you hung on to for support?” Michael flicked the said tail angrily.
“And just whose idea was it to cut through that old Biddy’s garden, nearly getting us killed?” As Patrick grew more daring, his squeaks rose higher.
“It’s not an argument I’m looking for, me old friend,” Michael said. He could see that if he wasn’t careful, things would get out of hand, and the evening would most likely end in a free for all. “It’s just a telling of things the way I saw them.”
Patrick gave a mollified grumble. From the rest of the barn there was no sound. Those who had not heard the story before waited for its conclusion with baited breath.
“I knew we could be taking our life in our hands, taking that shortcut,” he admitted. “But things were desperate, and if it hadn’t been for Guido—” Guido tittered nervously. “—we’d have got away with it. We’d tiptoed through the cabbages, broccoli and carrots, crept along the gravel path and we were just about to pass the front door of the cottage, when Guido decided to wake up and give a rendering of O Sole Mio at the top of his voice. This set the dog barking, a wolfhound that bayed like the very hound of the Baskervilles.”