I think I mentioned earlier that Elizabeth’s littermate Malcolm was visiting in October. He lives a long way away – someplace the two-leggers call The Yukon. Two-leggers everywhere say that name with a special tone of respect. It’s as if there is a sort of aura surrounding the place, and that aura rubs off somehow on The Yukon’s inhabitants.
Malcolm comes to visit us twice a year. He does a lot of work around the estate that we can’t do for one reason or another. He also helps my other two-leggers with their Spring and Autumn work. There always seems to be more to do around here then. He has a lot of energy, and he likes to go for long walks with me even though he works so hard.
The Fall also brings other visitors to the two-leggers’ house. I think they’re kind of sweet, myself, but the two-leggers don’t like them at all. Every morning Elizabeth goes into the room where the night before she had set a special box like my run only much smaller. And every morning there’s one of these little creatures waiting for her in the box. She takes it outside when she goes to get me, and we all three go for a walk together. When we get a great distance from the house (many little creature miles, that is), Elizabeth sets the box on the ground and opens up the ends of it. The little creature, which the two-leggers call a mouse, usually runs out after a few moments. Often it climbs up a twig and clings there looking at us. I can tell they are a bit bewildered. They don’t seem to like being outside. They want to be in the two-legger house where it’s warm all winter long, and they can’t seem to fathom what’s just happened to them.
I asked Elizabeth why she doesn’t let them stay in the two-legger house. There’s lots of room for the little guys there. She says that all they do is eat and breed. They have litters so often that soon they would take the place over, and they would chew through everything that wasn’t made of metal. I think she’s exaggerating. But the house belongs to the two-leggers, so I guess it’s up to them to say who stays and who goes. I have seen more than one mouse (and different types of them) outside, so I’m sure these ones she takes on our walks will eventually find friends to live and play with.
My two-leggers have other things they use to catch mice (that’s how they say ‘more than one mouse’) that get into the basement. Sadly, the mice that get caught in those things die. Kay and Elizabeth don’t really like using those ‘traps’ as they call them. As much as they hate having mice in their house, they don’t like killing them. For some reason, though, the box they use upstairs doesn’t seem to work so well downstairs. They keep talking about finding better mousetraps…
Life continued on. While Malcolm was here, he was in charge of setting up and running the trapline downstairs. Elizabeth still operated the box upstairs. I rather enjoyed our daily mousewalk but Elizabeth never seemed to enjoy the extra company. The object, you see, is to have no mice in the house and the traps proved that there were still mice hiding indoors. Malcolm joined the conversations about better mousetraps. He even took the talk a step further, adding a different model to his trapline.
He was in the big room with the view of the bay one afternoon. I was lying down against the door in the entrance hall where it was cooler. I can still hear everything that goes on from there, but I can’t see because when the weather gets colder, the two-leggers shut the door to keep the heat in their living area. I could hear Malcolm talking on the machine they have that rings sometimes and lets two-leggers speak to other two-leggers a long ways away – like in The Yukon. Suddenly, Malcolm made a noise that indicated he’d been startled, and a moment later, there was a click. He told the ring machine that he had to go, and set the part two-leggers talk into on its dormancy holder.
The click happened when Malcolm took this photograph. He always has his camera with him…. Elizabeth says this looks like a UFO photograph, or one from a pseudo-history publication, but given the speed at which things were happening, I think Malcolm did well to get a photo at all!
He began running around the room and moving things around. It sounded like he was chasing something but was being very awkward about it. I lay there, on half alert, waiting to see what happened. Two-leggers can usually take care of themselves in their own home. They don’t seem to appreciate me diving into the action. And anyway, I couldn’t have done much if even if I wanted to with the door between us shut. It sure sounded interesting, though…
He ran into the kitchen, made a sound of frustration and disappointment, rattled around some more, then came back into the room with a view and picked up the ring machine. In a minute he was talking into it again.
“Elizabeth? How do you set that live trap? I’ve tried a couple of times but I can’t get it to stay open.”
He didn’t say anything for a minute, then, “We’ve got a weasel in the house…. Yeah. It ran right up to my foot while I was on the phone to the Office. I almost got it in the vacuum hose, but it ran into the kitchen and now I think it’s under the range.”
Another minute of silence. “Well, I’ll try again with the live trap. I really don’t want to be catching a weasel in one of the traps downstairs…. Okay. See you when you get home.”
A weasel! Sounded to me like they had their better mousetrap. Yet Malcolm didn’t seem too pleased about this development. He messed around with Elizabeth’s mouse box for a while, then gave up.
When Elizabeth got home, she took some of my chicken and put it on a tilty piece in the box. Then she propped the doors to the box open so that when the mouse, or weasel, touched the tilty piece to get the food, it would cause the doors to fall shut. It’s tricky to set it up, but she’s had lots of practice.
The next morning when she took me for my walk, she had the box with her again. She was also wearing thick leather gloves. All the way up the hill the box rattled as the weasel fought to get out of it. It was very impatient. Angry even. It kept biting at the wire walls of the box, and I was glad Elizabeth wore those gloves. Weasel’s teeth looked pretty sharp!
The weasel really didn’t like being in the mouse box very much. I noticed that he ate all my chicken, though…
We let the weasel go at the top of the hill among some rocks where Elizabeth thought it would find food and shelter. It bolted out of the box and ran up the road, then back toward us and into the grass. We watched it racing back and forth through the weeds and rocks for about five minutes before it seemed to find a place it was happy to stay. Then we came back home for breakfast.
Malcolm didn’t get very many more mice with his trapline while he was here, and Elizabeth hasn’t taken any more mice for a morning walk, so I guess that weasel did his job pretty well before he left.
P.S. Elizabeth told me to tell you that Malcolm wasn’t trying to vacuum up the weasel, by the way. He thought if he could get it to run into the unattached empty hose, he could take the hose outside and let the weasel go without injury to either him or the weasel.