31: THE INVITED AND THE UNINVITED

The great heavenly wheel of the seasons turned. Rains came, as they eventually do, blessing the parched earth. Trees blossomed and set fruit; fruit swelled to a fullness and ripened. And the time of grateful gathering came again to the Crow 'n Bear.

Spanakopitus's spirits fulled as bounteously as the rivulets and streams. "We must have a fine feast," he declared, rocking back on his heels and patting his slight rotundity, "and invite everyone. Everyone."

Spanakopitae chirped, "A capital idea, my dear, a capital idea!" and began a list forthwith. From the southern parts to the farthest galaxy, all whose lives had touched the Crow 'n Bear were invited: Fleenoci and Beanalsarion, of course (welcomed to bring Schnaphaunce), and Bang!opolis and Dazzle, the TrailMaster (with his trusty Polaris), the ZomMaster and ZomMistress, even little Screech the Churchmouse. None was excluded.

Spanakopitae, all a-twitter, called in her trusty Fromage de Maupassant. "It will be such a fine event," she reveled as he worked his magic on her hairs. "You come too!" And so everyone, absolutely everyone was invited. And everyone came.

Except for Blodget, the house guest unawares.

Snug in his secret habitation, reading mouse fiction by the light filtering through the chinks in the floorboards overhead, he heard each guest announced as they arrived. Their footsteps told who was Fleenoci, who Beanalsarion; their clickety claws told Snapdragon from Schnauphaunce. And the aromas of that succulent feast--ah, the aromas--seeped down into Blodget's snuggery. It was all a badger could do to keep his mind on his business.

32: Temptation
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