The Holiday Spy
Read by Jana
Written by Bertie
Picture courtesy of Deposit Photos
Dedicated to Cecilia, whose family supports Storynory on Patreon.
Hello, This is Jana,
And I’m dropping by with another mousy episode of Storynory. You may have heard our fable recently called The Cat that Went Ting-A-Ling. This introduced a family of mice, including the heroic Jimmy Mouse and the very clever Judith Mouse. At the end of the story, we explained that they had all gone to live in a cafe by the sea. Well if you have been wondering how they have been getting on in their new home, here’s an update.
The winter months are a quiet time for the cafe by the sea. The customers are mostly locals, including a couple of very hardy swimmers who dip in the waves every morning no matter how cold it is. After their swim, they come to the cafe to warm up and eat scrambled eggs and beans on toast.
The swimmers are very friendly with the cafe’s owner. One day they asked him why he had a tattoo of a cat on his arm, but no real-life cat.
“A cat would keep the mice away,” said one of the swimmers.
“Oh we don’t have mice here,” said the cafe owner. “They don’t like the sea air, you know.”
In this, he was mistaken. A mouse called Judith was listening to their conversation from behind the skirting board.
“This is good intel,” she said to herself. “The owner doesn’t know that we are living here.”
“Sadly,” continued the owner, “I’m allergic to cats and their hair makes me sneeze.”
“Phew, that’s fantastic news.” thought Judith.
That evening, during the family meetup, Judith shared what she had overheard.
“My confidential sources inform me that the owner will not be getting a cat for Christmas,” she announced.
And all the mice squeaked and cheered.
“SHHHHHHHHH!” Insisted Judith, Grandpa Mouse and Jimmy Mouse together. “The owner has no idea that we’re in his cafe. Stay as quiet as a mouse at all times.”
“Remember, Careless Talk Cost Lives!” Grandpa Mouse warned the clan.
The cafe owner was careless, and when he swept up at the end of each day, he missed plenty of crumbs. In fact, the family of mice were super lucky to be living in such an unhygienic place. Life was as sweet as it could be for them.
(And I must confirm what I said last time, that I still don’t want to eat in that cafe, even though the owner sounds like a nice person).
Now across the road, another family of mice had just moved into their new home. But they were not quite so lucky. They had chosen a fish and chip shop where the owners were really into cleaning and disinfecting. My type of people.
Even worse, they heard a rumor that the family who owned the fish and chip shop were looking for a kitten as a Christmas gift for their young daughter.
In short, the other family of mice needed to find another home before Christmas Day.
Now one night, Judith heard some scratching. She could recognise every single member of her family just by the sounds they made with their claws - but she could not recognise this particular scratching. So Judith very cautiously spied out of a tiny hole in the skirting board and saw a little gray mouse scouting around the edges of the cafe.
“Ha! An intruder!” She said to herself. But before she could raise the alarm, the little mouse escaped through the gap under the front door. Judith ran over to the door and peered through the gap. She caught sight of the little mouse scarpering back to the fish and chip shop.
Judith immediately woke up Grandpa Mouse and Jimmy Mouse and reported everything that she had seen.
“This is serious,” said Grandpa Mouse. “The fish and chip mice are spying on us. When they see how sweet our set-up is here, they will want to take over. This could mean war! They will invade us.”
“Then what are we waiting for? Exclaimed Judith. “Let’s take them out with a first strike. We’ll invade them before they invade us! Sneaky wins the day, that’s what I say.”
“Hmmm, hold on,” said Jimmy Mouse. Experience had made him more cautious. “We could be wrong about this. We don’t want to start a war just because we feel suspicious.”
Grandpa Mouse knew that a war between rival mice could be a very messy business. “I agree with Jimmy,” he said. “The wise course of action is to send a spy to the Fish and Chip Mice and discover their plans. Do they mean to invade us, or not? We really need to be sure before we do anything drastic.”
“That’s a brilliant idea!” Exclaimed Jimmy. “We need good information. Who shall we send as our spy?”
“Well,” said Grandpa Mouse, “We need a mouse that’s brave, quick thinking, resourceful and above all, totally trustworthy.”
“That sounds exactly like Jimmy,” said Judith.
“Just what I was thinking,” agreed Grandpa Mouse.
And so poor little Jimmy once again was chosen to carry out a dangerous mission. Before setting out, he found some reddish powder that the owner had accidentally spilled on the floor. He rolled in it to disguise his grey coat. Unfortunately, he had chosen cayenne pepper - and you can guess what happened. He immediately sneezed.
“This is no good,” he said to himself. “The first rule of spying is not to sneeze just at the wrong moment and get yourself discovered.”
“Atchoo!” He sneezed again.
“I hope that’s it. I’ve sneezed all I’m going to now. Well, I’d better head off on my mission.”
So little Jimmy ventured out and scampered across the busy road. Fortunately he narrowly escaped the fat tires of a truck and he arrived safely at the Fish and Chip shop. It was good timing. The Fish and Chip mice were holding a meeting under the floorboards.
The boss of the clan was a mouse called Magnolia, commonly known as Sweet Thing.
Sweet Thing was saying, “We all remember that cake shop down in New Orleans, it was the best we ever had.”
“We gotta get back to that shop!” said a voice.
“Unfortunately we can’t. They’ve bought two cats.”
“How about the cafe across the road?” suggested another voice.
“It’s too late. There’s a family of mice that just moved in,” reported the mouse that Judith had spotted.
Just as the conversation was getting especially interesting, little Jimmy Mouse couldn’t help himself. The cayenne pepper got up his nose and he sneezed again.
Some of the mice who were standing near him moved away. Nobody likes to be sneezed on, especially in winter when there are nasty bugs around. Now Sweet Thing had a mouse sense that told her the sneeze did not come from any of her children, or grandchildren or great grandchildren, or great great grandchildren. She had an intuition that there was a spy in their midst. And so she said:
“Here’s some top secret information which you must not share with anyone outside these walls. I have a spy living among the family of mice across the street. This mouse is highly placed and able to send me top quality information. Believe you me, if a mouse so much as sneezes over there, I know all about it within the hour.”
Now none of this was true. Sweet Thing did not have a spy. It was a lie meant for the mousy little ears of whoever it was that had just sneezed. And sure enough, when little Jimmy Mouse returned home, he very excitedly reported what he had overheard.
“Grandpa Mouse, Grandpa Mouse, there’s a top level spy in our midst. If any one of us so much as sneezes, the boss of the Fish and Chip mice knows about it within the hour.”
“A spy you say! A spy?” said Grandpa mouse growing very hot and bothered. “A traitor you mean! A traitor is the worst sort of mouse! We must find out who the traitor is right away!”
The story of the traitor spread like wildfire. Soon every mouse in the family was looking at their brother or sister or cousin or second cousin twice removed and thinking:
“Are you the traitor?”
And at the same time they were thinking:
“Does anyone suspect that I’m the traitor?”
Of course there was no traitor. It was all a false rumour made up by Sweet Thing. She wanted to set her rival family of mice against each other. When people or mice start to fight among themselves, they defeat themselves. There’s no need to fight them. This was all Sweet Thing’s cunning plan.
It wasn’t long before a brown mouse accused Judith of being the traitor: “You’re too cunning by half and you use all those long words to put people off the scent,” he said.
And a white mouse said that Jimmy was obviously the traitor, because he had been to a meeting of the Fish and Chip Mice. He even admitted it. He condemned himself out of his own mouth.
And other mice pointed the finger of accusation at Grandpa Mouse claiming he wanted to marry Sweet Thing and start a new family.
All these rumours started to fly around. Some mice even called for Grandpa Mouse, Jimmy, and Judith to be arrested and put on trial and found guilty.
“Can’t you see, this is a devious disinformation campaign? It’s called counter espionage and it's straight out of the spymasters playbook,” squealed Judith, exasperated. But nobody understood what she was talking about.
“It’s an old fashioned witch hunt!” squeaked Grandpa Mouse.
“I served this family with honour” complained Jimmy Mouse. “And this is how they repay me!”
But nothing they said put a stop to the poisonous rumours and accusations.
And I am sad to say that all this family quarreling and fighting happened around Christmas, which is meant to be a time of peace and goodwill. Perhaps the mice had it too good in the messy cafe. Life there was all but perfect.
On Christmas eve, the owner’s two swimming customers came in for breakfast as usual. They heard a lot of squeaking under the floorboards. The mice had forgotten their rules about keeping quiet. When they were quarreling they squeaked at the tops of their tiny voices.
“Bad news!” the woman swimmer said to the owner. “You’ve got mice!”
And so the owner bought a cat for his cafe afterall. He chose a handsome Siberian cat, that did not malt too much, and is good for people with allergies. And when the cat arrived, shortly after Christmas, the family of mice were once again homeless and looking for a new place to live.
And one moral of the story might be …
When life is good, don’t spoil it with pointless squabbles among yourselves.
It’s a slightly sad tale, but don’t worry too much, because I’m sure the family of mice did find another new home, and if you like these mousy stories, we can do another one in the New Year.
And that was The Holiday Spy, read by me Jana, for Storynory.com.
And I’m delighted to dedicate this story to Cecilia, whose family supports us on Patreon. Cecilia would like to be at school with our character, Katie the Witch! Cecilia, I hope your wish comes true, but in any case, thank you so much for supporting us. And hello to your mum Jen too!
May we wish you all a very Merry Christmas, good health, luck and success for the New Year!