"How so?" inquired the Abbot.

"Come now," said Methuselah, "compared with me, you are still a mouse in your prime. Yet like many others that think my senses are failing, you cannot see half the things that my old eyes observe."

Methuselah touched a paw to his nose knowingly. "For instance, did you notice that there is a southerly breeze tonight? No, I don't suppose you did. Then look at the top of that old elm tree sticking up above the wall. Yes, that one over by the small door. Tell me what you see."

The Abbot's eyes followed Methuselah's paw until he saw the tree in question. He studied it for a moment, then turned to the old mouse. "I see the top of an old elm tree growing out in the woods. But what is unusual about that?"

Methuselah shook his head reprovingly. "He still cannot see. Dear me! If the breeze is blowing from the south, then die elm tree would move its leaves and branches in a northerly direction as it has always done. But that particular tree is choosing to disobey nature. It is swaying from east to west This can mean only one thing. Somebody is using that tree for a purpose. At least, that is what I think. Do you agree?"

Without replying or showing any sign of alarm whatsoever, die Abbot arose. Walking calmly over to the gatehouse wall, he beckoned silently to Constance. The badger descended the steps. She held a whispered conference with the Abbot, nodding in the direction of the elm. Less than a minute later, Constance, accompanied by Winifred the otter, Ambrose Spike and a few others, padded carefully along the top of the wall, taking great pains not to be seen.

On the woodland side, Cluny whispered commands to his followers as they pushed the plank towards the wall from their perch in the elm tree. "Steady now, Cheesethief, you moron. Keep your end up! Keep it going upwards, not down!"

Cheesethief struggled to obey. It was all right for the Chief, sitting back there giving out his orders. He didn't have to balance with one claw while pushing a silly plank about with die other. Cheesethief slipped. With a squeak of dismay he let go of the plank. It clattered against a branch.

comment form