“My foot’s stuck! My foot’s stuck!” A little girl’s scream rushes over the water, across the green grass, and is heard as high as the treetops of the forest.
Brob-Ding the mouse, with his mouth full of sweet apple, pops his head up when he hears her cries. He swallows his food and glances over at Jacob the fox, and Mittens the bunny. There’s no movement from either of them. Jacob is fast asleep on his back with his feet in the air. Mittens is too busy sitting there, wide-eyed in her frozen-bunny mode, pretending as she does that no one can see her.
Brob-Ding looks down at his enormous, half-eaten apple that stands as tall as he is, but is MUCH wider. There’s a lot of food to be eaten there. The apple will keep him fed for the next few meals.
He glances up and says, “Hey, Mittens! Did you hear that?”
“Hear, what?” Mittens’ eyes shift in the direction of Brob-Ding but the rest of her doesn’t move a muscle.
“Ah, the scream… It sounded like it might be a little human girl?” He asks wondering if his mousy ears are playing tricks on him.
“I didn’t hear anything.” She says with annoyance as she maintains her frozen pose.
At that moment, Jacob swings his head in the direction of Brob-Ding while his four feet remain in the air and says, “Not our problem, kid. She’s a human. They would never help us. Why should we help her?” His two black eyes stare at him as if he really is waiting for Brob-Ding to answer.
“Help me!” A desperate scream echoes through the forest again.
Then, it’s quiet.
It’s an unsettling quiet for Brob-Ding because with his super-mouse ears he now hears muffled crying. It sounds like it’s coming from Stoney Stream.
Brob-Ding peers up at upside-down slumbering Jacob, and frozen-bunny Mittens. He blinks a couple of times at them and turns and swings his tail around and quickly scampers over thick grass, over huge black rocks, and occasionally stumbles over tree roots.
But Brob-Ding NEVER stops as he races in the direction of the faint sounds of a little girl weeping.
Once he is at Stoney Stream he pokes his head around the corner of a rock so the human can’t see him. There, in front of him, is a little blonde-haired girl in a green dress. Her hands are held over her eyes. Brob-Ding has seen this before in humans – it’s a sign of panic, of desperation – when someone doesn’t know what to do.
Brob-Ding bends his body as close to the ground as he can. He slowly creeps closer to the small girl’s leg that’s in the water and is wedged between two rocks. He doesn’t want to scare her in case she removes her hands from her eyes and sees him. She may scream, because humans are afraid of him. Or, just don’t like him. It could be either one.
Or, she may swat at him like so many other humans have done! It’s a terrifying ordeal. Brob-Ding wonders why he’s helping. There’s a perfectly good apple that he left back there where Jacob was sleeping, and Mittens was –
Well, doing whatever Mittens does. The apple will probably be gone by the time he returns.
Sounds of whimpering come from the small human. She rolls over and now has her face in the dirt. Brob-Ding pauses. The fur on his forehead wrinkles with concern. He hates watching anyone cry; whether it’s a bird, a fox, a rabbit, a deer, a bear, another mouse – and even if it’s a human.
Brob-Ding stands before the swirling water of Stoney Stream. He hates swimming and he’s not very good at it, but no one else is around to help the girl. He pauses for only a second. Then he takes his two front feet and places them together, as he dives into the deep water! His eyes open, he pushes with all front and back legs as well as his tail, as he swims towards the large trapped foot.
The foot is wedged between two rocks. He heaves, and pushes, and pulls at it and then he notices he can squeeze his tiny fingers between the rocks. With determination he chips away and loosens the dirt around it. He gives the HUMONGOUS stuck foot a final push while wiggling the rock. Finally, after great effort by a very tiny mouse, the foot kicks free!
And then, it wallops Brob-Ding!
He begins to spin out of control from the force of the kick. His mouth opens from the pain causing him to accidentally swallow cold water. Brob-Ding’s feet and tail spin out of control, his eyes are wide. Just then he remembers the words fox said to him before he left: they would never help us. Why should we help them?
Brob-Ding realizes he made a mistake.
Then out of nowhere, a human’s hand reaches up and scoops him from the water and places Brob-Ding on the grass.
“Thank you, mouse, for helping me.” A child’s voice whispers to him. “Are you alright?” She asks with slanted eyebrows.
Brob-Ding can’t speak as he lies there for a moment, frozen with fear, like Mittens. So, instead he nods his head up and down.
“You understand me?” She asks as her large eyes get a little wider. It’s as if her eyes could swallow him up.
Brob-Ding says, “Yes.”
“Wow!” The child says. “You can talk! I’m Kayla. What’s your name?” She says as a small crinkle forms in her nose and dimples appear in her cheeks.
“Brob-Ding,” he says.
“That’s an unusual name.” Kayla says.
Brob-Ding begins to lick his feet to clean them, while cautiously keeping one eye on her. You can’t trust humans. He doesn’t really want to provide an explanation about his name; the grooming session is a stall tactic. But her blue inquisitive eyes blink at him and there’s something in those eyes; a certain kindness he’s never seen before.
He peers up at her and says, “Its short form for Brobdingnagian. It means giant. My parents, they liked to read.”
Kayla erupts in giggles. “You’re so small! Why would they give you that name? Are you bigger than other mice?”
Brob-Ding’s eyes get glossy. She’s not the first one to make fun of him about his name, and his size. At school the other kids would tease him too. Once Brob-Ding was old enough he could have changed his name. But he didn’t, because his parents named him. Brob-Ding hasn’t seen them in a long time because they got tired of reading about all those places in the world like the Eiffel Tower, and Stonehenge so they left to travel around the world once Brob-Ding was able to take care of himself.
He misses them…
“No, I’m smaller than most other mice. They said they named me Brobdingnagian because I was small, but I had a big heart.” His eyes shift back and forth along the grass that surrounds him. He won’t look at Kayla. “My friends call me Brob-Ding for short.”
Kayla gently places a finger on the top of his head. He raises his eyes, and notices Kayla’s head is slanted to the right side and she says, “I LOVE YOUR NAME! It fits you.” She says as she nods her head at him.
“Can I call you Brob-Ding?” Kayla asks as she wipes the mud from her face.
“Yes!” Brob-Ding enthusiastically shouts.