Mungo was tired, very tired, he had just finished a double shift at the acorn factory and was looking forward to getting home and putting his little feet up. Mungo lived with his wife Moira, and his daughter Maisie, in a lovely little nest he had built when he had first got his new job. They had originally lived in the centre of a noisy, dirty town, but thanks to Mungo’s new position in the factory, they had been given the chance to relocate and create a new home in this beautiful little village.
Mungo was a quiet, shy, little mouse who didn’t like to socialise much outside of his working hours, that said, if any of the garden folk ever needed his help, he was always first in line to lend a hand. His daughter, Maisie Marfont loved it here, she had made lots of new friends within the garden community and surprisingly, her very best friend, had turned out to be a cat called Pinot. Maisie’s mother, Moira, had also settled in quickly, she, Wendy Smithers the woodlouse, and Beryl Battersby the ground beetle, had become very good friends and often met up for a coffee and a chat once the children were safely packed off to school.
It was Friday 29th of December and today was Mungo’s first day back at work after the Christmas break. It had been a long, tiring day, and he was looking forward to getting home to his lovely warm nest and tucking into whatever delight his wife Moira had rustled up for him. As it was a Friday it would probably be grass and berry stew, this is what they usually had for dinner on a Friday evening. Tired from his long day, and distracted by thoughts of his rumbling tummy, Mungo didn’t notice the dark shadow that passed over head as he made his way wearily across the lawn.
Karacus was cruising low over the gardens of the village, he had a long trip ahead of him and would need a good breakfast if he was to have enough energy to reach his destination by sunset. Karacus was a huge Red Kite, a beautiful bird of prey with great long wings and a forked tail that twisted as he changed direction. Karacus wasn’t from the village originally, but had been staying with friends in the nearby town for Christmas. As he floated silently through the air, his beady eyes scoured the ground below. He was looking for something, anything, that would fill his tummy before he began his long journey home.
Mungo quickened his step as he rounded the bend that led him past the Christmas Tree and directly into the garden where he and his family lived. He smiled as he remembered the fun they had all had creating their very own festive tree, and at the memory of the wonderful carol concert they had held after the Christmas market just two weeks earlier. He was so close to home now he could almost feel the soft fur of his slippers soothing his tired paws, and the warmth of the hot berry stew that would warm his little tummy as he sat down to eat with his family. Suddenly, all thoughts of cosy slippers and hot berry stew vanished, as he felt himself clamped inside two large, powerful, claws. He gasped as the ground below him dropped away and he was lifted higher and higher into the air. He had never seen the garden from this angle before, being so small usually meant he didn’t actually get to see very much at all, but suddenly here he was, looking down on the tops of the trees and roofs of the houses below. The last thing Mungo remembered before everything went black, was just how beautiful everything looked from the sky.
Moira Marfont, Mungo’s wife, had eventually given Maisie her dinner, all be it much later than usual. She had then packed Maisie off to bed, telling her not to worry about her father, she was sure he had just been delayed at work and forgotten to call to tell them he would be late home. Once Maisie was safely upstairs in bed, Moira knew she had to do something. She hadn’t wanted to worry little Maisie, but when her husband hadn’t returned home, she knew something had to be wrong. She must act quickly and knew exactly who she must go to for help, Pinot, Pinot would know what to do she was sure of it.
Moira let herself out of the nest quietly, so as not to wake Maisie sleeping upstairs. She was across the lawn, under the hedge, and clambering through Pinot’s cat flap in a flash. Once inside she knew she had to be careful. Humans were not keen on garden creatures inside their homes, even if they were the kinder, animal loving type of human, they never seemed too pleased to see a rodent or bug in their home.
The next hour passed in a blur of activity. Pinot was marvellous, as Moira knew he would be. He had begun by gathering as many garden creatures as possible, first putting them into little groups and then by giving each a different area to search. The smaller creatures like the beetles, woodlice, ants and spiders were to search the local areas, the squirrels, rabbits and foxes were to check the areas slightly further afield, whilst the bird population were instructed to scour the areas as far out as the horse field and right down to the banks of the river. It was going to be a long day, but they wouldn’t give up until Mungo had been found, hopefully, safe and well.
Luckily, for the garden folk, they had been able to begin their search during daylight hours, as Mungo, being a mouse, was of course a nocturnal creature. Being nocturnal meant he worked through the night and slept through the day, quite the opposite routine of humans, and luckily, many of the garden folk too. Moira had first raised the alarm at 8 o’clock that morning, it was now 4pm and almost dark, sadly, there had been no sightings of Mungo from any of the returning search parties so far. Moira was understandably, beside herself with worry. She had now been joined by an equally distraught Maisie, who and woken to an empty nest and was now desperate for any news of her father. Pinot knew that due to the failing light it was now time to call in Hilary Hootle, head of the gardens night patrol team. Being an owl she too was a nocturnal creature and had excellent night vision, exactly what they needed now the sun had well and truly set for the night.
The search headquarters had been set up on the paving stones, which housed the bird bath, and the Christmas tree. As each of the parties returned they would first report their findings to Wendy, Wilhelmina, and Beryl, all of whom were in charge of coordinating the search teams. Pinot and his team were just returning unsuccessfully, to the garden, as Matthew Featherstone flew low overhead, yelling at the top of his voice.
“We’ve found him! We’ve found him! We know where he is!” screeched Matthew, as he and his search party landed beside the bird bath.
“He is safe, a long way from home, and a little bruised and confused, but thankfully safe.” Matthew continued excitedly.
A huge cheer rang out around the garden as the news spread that Mungo had been found. Moira and Maisie promptly burst into lots of noisy, but happy tears, such was their relief at this wonderful news. Pinot joined his friends at the bird bath and congratulated everyone for all their hard work, he then called for some quiet so Matthew could explain exactly where Mungo was, and who, if anyone, was looking after him now.
Matthew Featherstone explained, how poor little Mungo had been snatched from the garden on his way home from work by a passing Red Kite. Luckily, after Mungo’s initial shock of becoming airborne had worn off, he had managed to wriggle free from the Kites claws and time his drop just as they flew over the river Thames. Mungo’s quick thinking had probably saved his life, as the water had lessoned the impact of his fall, and he had been able to swim safely to the side of the river. Once there, he lay exhausted, and bruised from his ordeal, until a little while later, when he’d been found by a kindly water rat called Rupert. Rupert had noticed Mungo’s distress right away and had taken him back to his burrow for some food and a rest. It very quickly became obvious to Rupert, that Mungo was far more worried about how his family would be feeling without him, than he was about any of his cuts and bruises. Rupert had promised Mungo that he would do everything he could to make sure he got back to his family as quickly, and safely, as possible.
Matthew then went on to explain how he and his search party had decided to check the river banks that ran the entire length of the village. They would go as far as the train tracks to the east of the village, and as far as the old stone bridge on the west side. It was by this very bridge that Matthew and his team, had spotted the unusual activity below. Being Magpies meant they were very nosey birds by nature, so it didn’t take them long to decide they should fly down and investigate further. And thank goodness their curiosity had got the better of them, as this was where they had found little Mungo Marfont, safely in the care of Rupert, the kindly water rat.
It was nearly 4:30pm by the time Matthew had finished his account of how they had found little Mungo, and almost 5 o’clock, before all the search parties had returned wearily, but safely, to the garden themselves. Pinot and his friends decided that part one of Mungo’s rescue had been a huge success. There was great relief amongst the garden folk that Mungo, although a long way away, was safe and warm and would be just fine until they were ready to begin part two of his rescue.
It was with plans of this second stage rescue already forming in his mind, that Pinot said goodnight to his friends promising to meet them all by the bird bath at first light. Pinot needed to get his thinking cap on, as it was certainly not going to be easy returning Mungo home safely all the way from the banks of the river Thames to their garden.
Part Two of Mungo’s rescue will be published on Pinot’s ‘more stories’ page next Saturday 6th January.
1/ Where does Mungo Marfont work?
2/ What do you call an animal that sleeps during the day and is active during the night?
3/ Can you name three types of birds of prey?
If you would like to purchase a copy of The Day Pinot Pepper Turned Blue, by Julia Roberts, it is available to order from all good bookshops, here at Amazon or direct from the publisher at pegasuspublishers.com