It was 7:30 in the morning and almost 24 hours since Mungo Marfont’s unfortunate encounter with Karacus, a large, hungry, bird of prey. Karacus was a visitor to the village and had flown in to stay with his friends for the Christmas holidays. Unfortunately for Mungo, just as he had been on his way home from work, Karacus had begun his hunt for breakfast to keep him going on his long journey home. Spotting little Mungo crossing the lawn below him, Karacus had swooped, clamping the little mouse firmly between his powerful claws, before soaring off, back to the clouds above. Thanks to Mungo’s quick thinking, and his excellent wriggling skills, he had managed to break free from Karacus’s grip. He timed his fall from the clouds perfectly, dropping just as they flew over the river below. The water had thankfully cushioned Mungo’s fall meaning he had escaped with only a few minor cuts and bruises. Once safely back on dry land, Mungo had been found by a very friendly water rat called Rupert. Rupert had taken pity on poor Mungo and taken him home to his burrow to dry off and get some much needed rest. Now, 24 hours later, Mungo was still with Rupert. He was safe and warm but very anxious to be reunited with his wife Moira, and daughter Maisie, who he knew would be missing him terribly.
Pinot had arranged to meet the rest of the garden folk by the bird bath at first light. He had been up most of the night devising a plan that would see little Mungo Marfont returned to his family as quickly and safely as possible. It was certainly not going to be an easy task, as Rupert’s burrow, where Mungo was staying, was right down by the big stone bridge on the west side of the village. Getting there would mean a journey of a little over two miles which would involve crossing two minor and one very, major road.
Before heading to the bird bath, Pinot called at the Marfont’s nest which was located under the decking in next doors garden. He had promised to collect Moira and Maisie and give them a lift to the bird bath where the search headquarters had been set up the day before. By the time Pinot arrived at the nest, both little mice were already outside waiting for him. He barely had time to lower his tail before they were clambering aboard, eager to get the day started and have their beloved Mungo returned to them.
By 7:45 am most of the garden folk were present and keen to hear Pinots plans for part two of Mungo’s rescue. Pinot began by calling the names of everyone he would need to accompany him on the trip, after clearing his throat and calling for quiet, he began;
“Firstly, thank you all for coming, as you know we have a very important day ahead of us. Grigio and I spent a lot of last night working out the best way to get Mungo back to the garden and back to his family as soon as possible. I am going to start by calling a list of names, if your name is called would you please make your way to the paving stone on the left of the bird bath where Grigio is waiting to give you further instructions” announced Pinot. He then began to call the names he and Grigio had selected the night before.
“William and Douglas Smithers, Barry Battersby, Sidney Chalker, Patrick Potter and Matthew Featherstone. Of course, myself and Grigio will also be on the trip” said Pinot.
“For all of you not travelling with us today, your help here at headquarters will still be very important. Wendy, Beryl and Wilhelmina, like yesterday, will once again be on hand to answer any questions you may have on our progress. They will also be receiving regular updates via Matthew and Patrick, who will be flying back and forth with information on what time we can be expected home with Mungo, this will hopefully be before nightfall.” Pinot then thanked everyone for listening and scampered over to join Grigio and the rest of the group to make sure they had everything they needed before setting off on their trip.
By 8:30 am, the rescue team had received all their instructions and knew exactly what they had to do. Pinot and Grigio were to share the return journey, carrying Mungo for a mile a piece. Barry, Sidney, William and Douglas would be required to each take one of Mungo’s little feet, before burying themselves deep within the cats fur. Matthew Featherstone had been given the very important job of reading the traffic lights. These lights were located on the busy main road that would need to be crossed twice, once on the way there, and of course, once on the way back. Although cats could see colour, they could not see it as well as birds or humans so, as Matthew Featherstone was a Magpie, his eyesight was very sharp indeed and he would be key to making sure the rescue party got across the busy road safely. Patrick Potter was the trip navigator. He would be required to lead the party to Rupert’s burrow and then lead them all home again. Both Patrick and Matthew would also be required to keep the rescue headquarters updated as to the parties progress and estimated return time.
At last they were on the road. Wendy Smithers and Beryl Battersby had made a pack of sandwiches, and Sandra Chalker had made a lovely box of fresh of muffins for the little group to take with them so they wouldn’t be hungry on their journey. They had set off at quite a pace and were making good time arriving at the busy main road within an hour of leaving the garden. Both Pinot and Grigio were feeling nervous about crossing this particular road, and understandably so, it was very busy with lots of cars and lorries roaring past at terrifying speeds. Matthew Featherstone had done his best to reassure them that he was quite an expert at traffic light reading, so they needn’t worry, he would have them across the road safely and on their way again in no time.
Matthew flew to the top of a street light a little further up the road where he could see the red, amber, and green lights clearly. Whilst the lights were green, both cats stayed out of sight under the hedge at the side of the road, as soon as the lights changed to amber, Matthew let out an ear splitting squawk to signal they should now make their way to the edge of the road. 3 seconds later, he let out a series of rapid squawks which meant the lights were now red, and the little group should run as fast as possible to the other side of the road. Pinot and Grigio didn’t need telling twice, on hearing Matthews squawks, both cats dashed across the road faster than they had ever run before, ending up seconds later on the small gravelly track that would eventually lead them over the stone bridge and down to the river bank below.
Patrick Potter had so far, done an excellent job of leading the rescue party to the river bank, all he had to do now, was get them safely to Rupert’s burrow. The undergrowth that lined the banks of the river was very thick and made finding small burrows very difficult, unless of course, you knew in advance where to look. Luckily for Patrick, Hilary Hootle the garden barn owl, had been very clear on the exact location of Rupert’s burrow and had told him just where he would find it.
Patrick flew from tree to tree, resting at each as he waited for the ground team below to catch up. They had been travelling for around an hour and a half and he was very glad they were nearly there as he was beginning to feel extremely hungry indeed. Just as Patrick began to think he couldn’t go much further, at least, not without one of Sandra’s delectable savoury muffins, he spotted the bright orange life ring below. This marked the exact location of Rupert’s burrow which was built into the bank of the river right beside this very life ring. Patrick let out a series of excited coos that signalled to rest of the party that they had arrived, he then flew down from the branch he had been resting in to wait for the others at the entrance to Rupert’s burrow.
And so it was, that within two hours, the little group of rescuers had completed the first leg of their journey. They all gathered around as Pinot knocked on the little door made out of sticks and tied with reeds that marked the entrance to Rupert burrow. Within just a few seconds of Pinot knocking, the door was flung open and Rupert came scuttling out,
“Welcome, welcome! You must be Mungo’s friends, come in, we have been expecting you.” chattered Rupert excitedly. Pinot looked at the door way and then at himself and his sister, and said politely,
“Lovely to meet you Rupert, thank you for inviting us in, may I suggest that Grigio and I wait here and set out the picnic we have brought whilst William and Barry go in to collect Mungo. I think it may be a bit of squeeze if we all try to enter your burrow.”
“Quite right young man,” said Rupert to Pinot, “very sensible, we shall bring Mungo out, jolly good idea, yes, well done.” Rupert turned and disappeared back inside his burrow, closely followed by William and Barry.
Five minutes later after a joyous reunion with Mungo, the little group were heartily tucking into Wendy’s delicious sandwiches and Sandra’s beautifully baked muffins. They didn’t have long as they were keen to get back to the garden before dark, so with this in mind, it wasn’t long before they were securing Mungo to Pinot’s back ready for the first mile of the return journey. After saying a fond farewell to Rupert and thanking him for his hospitality the little group set off for home with Mungo promising to tell them all about his adventures on the way.
The excitement in the garden was growing fast as they had just received an update from Matthew informing them that the group would be arriving back within the next half an hour. Maisie, Mungo’s daughter, could barely contain her excitement, she was so looking forward to having her father home safe and sound again. Doctor Wood had been called and had promised to be there when they all arrived so he could check Mungo over thoroughly, and make sure there was no lasting damage to the little mouse. The other garden folk had spent the day making welcome home banners and get well soon cards for Mungo to let him know just how much he had been missed.
Just as the last banner was being hung the weary group appeared at the entrance to the garden. Mungo was buried deep within Grigio’s fur so couldn’t see anything as yet, but he could faintly hear all the cheering and clapping going on all around them. He began to pick up all the familiar smells of his home, his friends, and could he dare to believe it, his family.
Grigio came to a stop and Mungo was helped out of Grigio’s fur by William, Barry, Douglas and Sidney. As soon as his head was clear of Grigio’s thick warm fur the faint cheering became a deafening roar. Mungo was carried from Grigio’s back with tears of joy pouring from his eyes. He was set down softly, straight into the waiting arms of his wife and daughter, they hugged him so tightly he actually squeaked with joy! His ordeal was over, and thanks to the dedication of his wonderful friends and family, and the kindness of an elderly water rat, he was, at last, home.
1/ How many animals and insects went on the journey to collect Mungo Marfont?
2/ What was Rupert’s burrow door made from?
3/ Can you draw a picture of all the garden folk welcoming Mungo home?
If you would like to purchase a copy of The Day Pinot Pepper Turned Blue, by Julia Roberts, it is available to order from bookshops, or purchase now from Amazon or direct from the publisher at pegasuspublishers.com