Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Once upon a time, in a land filled with danger and damsels in distress, with noble knights and lovely ladies, in a land where a man was valued not by wealth or stature but by the character of his heart, there lived a mouse who dreamed of great deeds. This mouse, though small, was noble and brave, chivalrous and courageous. But though the small grey mouse yearned to do battle with giants or dragons, he was but a mouse, considered too lowly and insignificant to be able to do anything.
Charlemagne the mouse was a mouse of honour though. When the other mice sneered at his high aspirations, he did not deign to retort. And when they were starving in winter, he graciously shared his cheese with them without comment. But one day, Charlemagne had finally had enough of the other mice’s teasing and bickering and never aspiring for anything beyond their hidden holes and stolen Swiss.
Early one morning, as the yellow sun, round as a ball of chedder, rose above the horizon, Charlemagne strapped his small sword around his waist, penned a note of farewell to his family, and set off in search of adventure and honour. As a knight errant, Charlemagne, being of a somewhat imaginative nature, had even written a code of chivalry for himself to follow, which ran as follows.
“I, Charlemagne, a true knight, have sworn to defend the innocent and helpless, to protect true love, to pursue goodness, truth, and beauty, and to never betray a friend.”
Though some might scoff at the grey mouse’s high ideals, Charlemagne would hold to this code of honour throughout all of his adventures, never once caving to the pressure of the world or giving up chivalry for comfort. And so, armed with a toothpick sword, some toasted chedder, and a wit sharper than either, Charlemagne headed towards the rising sun, a small grey knight against a world of compromise and cowardice.
After walking along the dusty road for several hours in the growing heat of day, the mouse began to grow weary. Stopping along the side of the road, Charlemagne sat down beneath the shade of a blackberry bush to rest. As he sat daydreaming of the adventures he might have, he heard a small voice calling, “Help me, please. Won’t somebody help me?”
Certain that a noble deed awaited him, the mouse leapt to his feet and swiftly followed the voice to a small stream. At the edge of the stream sat a young mouse, calling for help.
“What be the matter, little one,” asked Charlemagne kindly.
Attempting to dry his tears, the little mouse sniffled, “My boat, it’s going down the river and I can’t get out.” Looking down the stream, Charlemagne saw the large leaf floating down the stream out of reach, its flag fluttering bravely in the breeze. As he dove into the stream after the toy boat, Charlemagne had to smile. Here he was dreaming of adventures and deadly perils, and the first deed he was called on to perform as a knight was rescuing a child’s toy? What a queer sense of humor life had! Skillfully swimming down the stream, Charlemagne seized the leaf in one paw and paddled himself towards shore with the other.
Breathlessly he bowed and presented the smaller mouse with his boat. “Your boat, sir,” he gasped.
“Oh, thank you, thank you,” the mouseling squeaked. “It was my pleasure,” replied the courtly mouse, and with a shake of his rather bedraggled tail, he went on his way.