A long time ago, there was a mouse living in Zumaia. He was not a big, strong mouse, but he was kind and brave, and he liked to help people.
But he was a mouse, and it means “little and no speaker”. And it’s hard to help people been little and unable to speak. And, been a mouse, everytime he was near people, they tried to hunt him, or to put him in a cage to watch him run on a wheel that was going nowhere. And let’s forget the cats. Yes, better we forget the cats.
One day, by the way to the town (mice live up, on the fields, where the air is fresher, the seeds better and the cats dumber) the mouse saw a man sitting on a big stone (maybe you know which one: that one that lies by the side of the way that leads down to Zumaia), with his face buried between his hands, looking very, very, very tired.
“Poor man”, the mouse thought. “He looks troubled a lot. I wish I could help him.”
But he was only a small field mouse, and he did not know how to speak. He sat down over his rear legs, cleaning his moustache with his tiny hands, still looking the sitting man.
The mouse, who thought he knew about everybody at Zumaia, looked at the unknown man: there was nobody in Zumaia who used to wear a bigh shepherd’s purse. And much less a loooooong red scarf around the neck. In the midsummer! Nor anyone who looked so sad and lonely…
Then, although he was only a small mouse, and although he did not know how to talk, and knowing people use to throw things at him, or to try to hit him with brooms, the little mouse went near the man and, with his tiny hand, gave a couple tiny pulls to the man’s trousers to get his attention: tic, tic…
The men put the face away his hands and looked at his left ankle. What did a small mouse pulling his trousers? He went down slowly, extended his right hand and allowed the small mouse to climb on it. Then, softly, put him near his face to look him better.
– Hiyas, my little mouse – said the man -, what’s your name?
– My name’s Sagu – said the mouse -, but I don’t talk.
Surprised by hearing his own words, the little mouse put his tiny hands around his mouth, his eyes wide open from the surprise. This way: O.O
– But… But… – the mouse was unable to speak, now he knew he know to speak. Yes, you heard fine: now he knew he know how to speak: he knew to speak, but he just did not know he knew it.
– Hi Sagu – said the man, softly -. Tell me, why did you pulled my trousers? Did you know they don’t like to be pulled? Would you like I pulled your tiny ear?
The little mouse (Sagu, as we know now) became even more surprised: trousers who did not like to be pulled? (you must remember he was just a small mouse, and his parents never weared any trouser… but I’m pretty sure you noticed that sometimes your parents become a bit upset when you pull their trousers while they talk with others: it’s because their trousers became angry and pinch their butts).
– I’m so sorry – said Sagu, looking at the man’s trousers -, but I did not know the don’t like it: I’ve never had any trouser.
– No worries, Sagu, I’m sure they understand and forgive you – said the man.
And now you are thinking: “why did not told him the trousers themselves?”. Easy: trousers don’t talk!
– But tell me, little Sagu, why did you pulled my trousers? – asked the man.
– Because you looked too sad and worried – answered Sagu -, and I wanted to know why, and if I could lend you a (tiny) hand… Although I’m just a tiny mouse who does not know how to spe… who did not know he know how to speak. What’s your problem? – asked him with his new tiny voice (what was as old as him, but what was long time waiting for Sagu to use her).
The man scratched his beard (not too long, not too short… and do not fear, the beard did not talk too) and observed Sagu: as measuring him. Sagu was more or less this high (as your tiny hand from your wrist to your longest finger), and apparently fast runner with his little rear legs like springs. And his tiny hands were like yours, just much moooooore tiny (of course: he was a mouse) with long fingers. He looked like… like… ah, like a field mouse.
– Look – the man begun -, it’s true I have a very big problem, and it’s true that I need help. There are too much children in the world, and now people build bigger houses, and almost all without chimneys.
The little mouse’s eyes became wide again O.O and he asked the man:
– Are you Santa? – of course! the beard, the red scarf, the big pouch, where for sure he carried the gifts…
– Santa? – said the man – Me? – now was the man’s eyes the wides ones. Oooook, again. This way O.O
The man begun to laugh softly.
– No way! – he answered – Santa is much fatter than me, and he’s way much old. And, when he travels around he drive his sled, and he only travels around at Christmas or when he needs to buy more Christmas gifts (with all those children, the elven have no time to make gifts for all). I’m just an old peddler, who travels the world trading things…
– And what do you trade for? – asked Sagu.
– Teeth – said the man with a big smile.
– Teeth? And why do you want those teeth for? – asked Sagu, shocked – I can see you have all them from here.
– They are not for me, lad! I throw them to the sea.
Definitely, thought the mouse, this man was crazy. Maybe he went out to take a walk and, been a bit loopy, he was unable to return home. Maybe he came from Getaria? Sagu had hear to the grown ups that when one speaks with a loopy (not a dangerous one, nor an angry one), it was polite to pretend understanding and to ignore crazyness.
– Ah, of couse – said, then -, you throw them to the sea. I’m sorry, it’s just that sometimes I forget the teeth are made for bee trhow into the sea.
– Oh – said the man, surprised -, you did know it? There’s not a lot of people knowing it.
Again, Sagu shocked: it was really true that this man thought the teeth were made for throwing them to the sea? To get a bit more time thinking, he licked his tiny hands and he started to clean his tiny nose: zip, zip… zip, zip.
– Say! – said the man at last -, you don’t believe me. You think I’m a bit loopy and you pretend to understand me. Well, you are a very well-mannered mouse.
– Eeehh… oohhh… errr… – Sagu did not know what to say.
– No worries, my little friend. I suppose it happened too much time ago, and it’s a bit long to explain. But I must tell you that for maaaaaaany years, I work gathering the teeth fallig from the children and get them to the sea, because the mermaids need them to make seashells.
“‘Right”, Sagu thougth, “it’s not a bit loopy, he’s plainly crazy. Maybe he hit his head or something”
– Don’t look at me this way, Sagu. And do not think loud, I cannot hear. And no, I did not hit my head nor “something”.
Again, Sagu’s eyes became wide open. No, I will not do it again. No. Ooooook… this way: O.O
– Can you read minds? – asked Sagu, scared.
– Don’t be silly, that’s impossible – said the man -. But you forgot to turn your voice off when you thought I’m crazy.
Of course! Been the first time that Sagu speak, he did not know right how to turn off the voice while thinking…
Eh! Don’t fool him, he did not learned to speak when he was a baby, as you did. It’s very hard when you begin been elder.
– I’m sorry, I didn’t intended to think loud… err… I’m should not tell it – said Sagu, repented -. But you must admit your tale is unbelievable. Everybody knows mermaids do not exist.
– No? – said the man – Crap, I know one who will not be happy to know it… she’s very fussy, and she doesn’t like to hear she doesn’t exist.
– Are you serious? Mermaids exist? – Sagu did not know what to think… or tell… or think…
– Course! – daid the man – The fact you never saw one does not mean they don’t exist. They never saw you, but they do not tell everybody I’m crazy because I’m speaking with you.
– Oh… never saw it that way.
– No worries. It will be a secret between us – said the man low -. But if someday while walking on the beach you see one of them, do not tell her she does not exist, or she can become mad at you.
Sagu scratched his ear: ric, ric, ric, ric. Been the first time he never spoke to anybody, it was a weird conversation. Just think about it: at night, in a walkway, over a stone: a man with a big shepherd’s poach and a red scarf talking with a small field mouse about mermaids. Who can even consider something like this?
– Hey – he said when finished the scratch -… what do the mermaids need the children’s teeth for?
– To make seashells, ‘course – said the man, as if it was the obvious thing ever.
He observed Sagu for a while, like thinking “I guess this little mouse has never read a book about the Kantauri’s seashell factories”. He scratched his head with the empty hand and stretched his back, tired. He watched the mouse again, mumbling: “maybe… if… I could… tiny hands… but where?”. And, after that, he seemed decided:
– Tell me, Sagu: you seem a very kind mouse. When you asked me if you could help me… were you serious? Do you want to lend me a hand? Or better, two thiny hands?
– ‘Course – said Sagu -, I love to help people, even when they throw me things, or try to put me in a cage to make me run in a wheel to go nowhere. To not tell about cats. No, better we don’t talk about cats.
– Then, my little friend, I guess you can help me a lot – said the man, serious -, and I have no cage, no wheel nor cat.
The man left Sagu softly over his knee and, while Sagu tried to not claw his trousers (as if the trousers could be worried about nails… everybody knows trousers only worry about been pulled… and the tomato stains, of course), he started to search the poach.
– See – said the man with the head in the poach -, because people is building higher houses with thinner chimneys (even some without chimneys!), it’s harder to me to sneak at their homes to gather the teeth children left for me when they fall.
– Ah, never thought about it – said Sagu, who never lost a tooth (mice’s teeth are forever: they grow, and grow, and grow… because that, mice like to gnaw hard shell seeds, to wear down them and prevent they reach the ground).
– Nor did I when I got this job – said the man -. And now I must gather a tooth at Jul’s and I cannot sneak into, because she lives too high in a flat without chimney. And I cannot ask her parents to left a window open: it’s too could out here, and the children could get a cold.
– And how can I help you? – asked Sagu.
– Easy – said the man, takig his head off the pouch – you can climb to hers, gather her tooth and take it to me.
The man approached his hands to Sagu and, softly, put on his shoulder a tiny shepherd’s purse, like his, and put around his neck a tiny and pretty red scarf.
And they proceed that way: Sagu climbed to Juls’, sneaked into her room making no noise (well, he produced the typical “clic, clic, clic” the mice produce when walking over human floors, but we cannot hear them), took her tooth with his tiny hands, put it on the purse and took it to the man.
Eh! Do not belive he forgot the treat: where Juls placed the tooth, Sagu left a small gift for her, from the mermaids, to thank her for help them to make seashells.
And it worked nice. And from that day, every night Sagu leaves his field home wearing his red scarf and his shepherd’s poach and walks around Zumaia’s houses trading children teeth by tiny gifts from the mermaids.
And when the Sun rises, Sagu goes to the docks with his purse full of teeth and trhow them to the sea, expecting to see a mermaid.
And if he someday sees one, be sure he will not tell her he thinks they do not exist, fearing the mermaid can be the fussy one.
And the man with the red scarf and the shepherd’s poach still does his work, but he’s not too tired now, because in every little town he recruited a tiny mouse, or a brave bird to help him.
Remember then: if someday, walking around Zumaia’s fields, you see a mouse, do not throw him anything, nor put it in a cage to make him run in a wheel that never goes far, nor allow cats to eat him. Who knows, maybe he’s a friend of Sagu.
And if you see a small mouse with a tiny red scarf and a shepherd’s poach, greet him from my, and tell him that I will be around Zumaia pretty soon. Ask him to meet me in the stone where we meet for the first time, and we’ll chat about mermaids and their seashell factories. Or maybe I’ll tell him the tale of the brave star who wanted to meet the children.