The next word Spanakopitus yelled was "FIRE!"

Thirty heads popped out of doorways. Sixty feet pounded for the scullery. A hundred buckets clanged in hasty brigade. Blodget dove for the hall closet, lest he be trampled.

There, alone in the dark, he thought about creeping back to his underground hideaway--to retrieve his mouse fiction before hastily departing, he told himself. But something stopped him. As surely as his conscience had sent him to rouse the Baron, some inner voice insisted that, for better or for worse, these people were now his friends and this place was now his home.

And so as the flames were extinguished and the clamor was dying down, Blodget peeked out of the closet. Tentatively he stepped into the hall.

"There he is!" bellowed Spanakopitus. "There's the lad who saved us all. Don't let him get away!"

Spanakopitae cooed. Dazzle crooned. Fleenoci sighed. The entire nightshirted congregation surrounded the little badger, who by now was unexpectedly shivering from the sheer confusion of it all.

"This surely and most truly is a hero," proclaimed Spanakopitus, whereupon everyone applauded. Then, turning to Blodget, he proclaimed, "Name your own reward, my friend."

"Please, sir, if you don't mind, I'd just like to go on as before, living quietly underneath your floor."

"Underneath my floor? Underneath my floor, you say?"

"Yes, sir, if you don't mind. It's cozy down there. But it would be nice to do it with your permission, if you see fit."

And that is how Blodget came to live permanently at the Crow 'n Bear, as a respected and honored member of the clan, with all rights and privileges thereunto pertaining.

And for that night and all the nights to come, everything was well at the Crow 'n Bear.