The mouse that came to Claude - photo by Claude of his new pet in my hands.
Claude’s experience with hamsters has been disastrous. A few days after he got the little creature, he forgot to put the rat-proof top on the old glass aquarium tank where it was kept. Realising this after he had already settled down for the night, he jumped out of bed, asked permission to go out and put the top on. Moments later, he came back in and collapsed on the floor in tears. It was plain what had happened, I didn’t need to ask. Claude and I took the mangled remains out into the yard and buried it.
I had been pleased that Claude had realised he would like to care for a little creature, so we returned to the pet shop in Cebu and bought two this time. On the way home on the boat one of the two appeared to have something wrong with it – it kept falling over sideways. By the morning of the next day it, too, was dead and buried. The third one soon developed the same symptoms, and two days later we were burying that, too.
Claude was downhearted. I didn’t know how to comfort him. But a little wild mouse heard Claude’s crying, understood his desires and came out into the back porch when Claude was there, allowing itself to be caught by him quite easily and not trying to escape again. Either that or the Great Mouse Spirit heard, and asked for a volunteer to keep Claude company. Whatever happened, it was quite unusual - mice do their best to hide from us humans here, as we persecute them for causing destruction, especially to my piano, whose dark interstices and supplies of chewable nesting material appeal to mice very much. Claude found himself in possession of this little creature, soft grey in colour but bright in spirit. The new companion settled down easily in the old glass aquarium tank, where Claude made a lego palace for it in addition to the plywood house in the corner which his Dad had made for him. The new pet doesn’t mind me handling it, either, though it prefers Claude. It gets a fair amount of attention, handling, choice food and loving care. I think this is better than a bought hamster. A mouse that came and said, “I want to be your pet.”