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The Honor and Glory of a Mouse

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The Code of the Chivalric Order of St. Souris was clear: a Lady Mouse had not the privilege of wielding a sword. Neepipeek considered this stricture monstrously unfair, but she couldn’t see a way around it. She had heard tales of Daughters of Eve who disguised themselves as Sons of Adam in order to fight like men, but as Mice did not wear clothes she had no way to conceal her teats. And besides, there could be no honor in that kind of deception. She offered to carry the Banner of St. Souris into battle so that a knight of the Order might be free to fight, but Reepicheep would not allow even this.

So Neepipeek made herself a fine stout belt (calling it a girdle), with a scabbard to it in which she placed a tiny dagger. She went with the other Mice to Aslan's How, the only Lady Mouse to do so. Once there she volunteered to act as a scout, going directly to Fellclaw, the Owl in command of reconnaissance. There were plenty of She-Owls and She-Eagles among the scouts, as well as a Lady Weasel and several Lady Squirrels. Why not a Lady Mouse?

Why not, indeed? She knew what Reepicheep would say, so she resolved that he would not find out. Unfortunately, Skittercap, one of the Squirrels, couldn’t help but run his mouth about it. Squirrels were like that.

Of course Reepicheep was outraged. “Lady, it is not fit! It will not do! I will not allow it!” he spluttered.

“And who are you to say me nay?” Neepipeek asked.

“I am the Chief Mouse!”

“That does not allow you to command every last thing I do. You are pledged to uphold to the Code of St. Souris, as am I, and there is nothing in the Code to prevent me from being a scout.”

“According to the Code, a Lady Mouse is ever modest and discreet.”

“Then the work of a scout is well-suited to a Lady Mouse, as it requires absolute discretion,” she said. “A scout must be secret, hidden, unseen, silent. Indeed, that blabbermouth Skittercap is far less fitted for it than I! Scouting is a task entirely behind the scenes. I will not embarrass you by trying to parade myself as a solider, nor will I do anything to dim your honor and glory. I only wish to serve the king, like any loyal Mouse.”

“Lady Neepipeek, I forbid it."

“Sir Reepicheep, I have promised my service to Fellclaw. It would be discourteous and dishonorable to fail her now. Or perhaps you would like to explain to Fellclaw that a female is not suited to be a scout?”

“A She-Owl, perhaps, but not a Lady Mouse….”

“Nevertheless, Fellclaw considers me quite fit for the job. If you wish, you may tell her that she must lose one of her best scouts, for I will not!”

Reepicheep hesitated. He did not relish confronting Fellclaw upon this matter. He knew that she would not understand, for She-Owls are larger and stronger than He-Owls, and fiercer besides. Also, she might get the idea that Reepicheep had some sort of tender personal concern for Neepipeek’s safety, which he most assuredly did not!

“Very well, Lady,” Reepicheep said. “You may serve as a scout. But keep out of sight.”

“Sir, that is exactly what a scout does,” Neepipeek replied.

"I careful," he said.

“Of course. I am always careful....and I thank you for your approval, but as I know you are a busy Mouse, I bid you good day.” She made a curtsy.

But as she turned to go, he said, “I do not doubt your courage, you know. Nobody does. Every Beast knows the tale of how you saved Peepiceek from a fox.”

“I’m surprised you remember that. It was so long ago, when we were scarcely more than pups." Indeed, Neepipeek herself had done her best to forget the incident, as thinking about it gave her nightmares. She had only the vaguest memory of poking at the fox’s eyes with a stick.

“Lady,” Reepicheep said, bowing elegantly, “rest assured, I will never forget your bravery that day.”

Neepipeek graciously inclined her head, feeling a confusing mixture of irritation and pleasure. That’s the trouble with Reepicheep, she thought. Just when I am ready to bid him farewell forever, he says something like that.