Some Recruits for our Gang
Coming round the corner, there is a huge raft. It is filled with two wallabies, three sugar gliders, and two New Holland mice.
“Oh! Hello there!” says a cheery young mouse. “In case you’re wondering why we’re here-” An older mouse shushes her up.
“Shh, Sunflash! We still don’t know whether they’re spies for the cats or not!”
“Spies for the cats?” Pipes up a sugar glider sceptically. “With Deadeyes as their leader, they’d kill and eat the poor creatures right away!”
“True.” Says the older mouse. “By the way, I’m Autumnbird.”
“Buttergrass” says the oldest sugar glider.
“Fernflower!” Says the older wallaby.
“I’m Springleaf.” Says the other wallaby, bowing comically and holding out a paw. “How do you do?” We all laugh.
“I think you already know, but I’m Sunflash.”
“I’m Basil” Says another sugar glider.
“And I’m very naughty, so I don’t want to introduce myself!” Says the only sugar glider left. Then he runs off, and leaps into the water.
“That’s Gryffon! He’s really cheeky, especially when we have guests!” Buttergrass leaps up.
“Gryffon! Oh, you little demon! Come back here right this second!” Gryffon regretfully doggy paddles back to the raft.
“Now we’re all here, we can tell you how we got here!” says Fernflower. “Springleaf can tell you!”
“It all started quite a while back. A patrol of cats took Gryffon, and we, of course, went after him. There used to be more of us…All of them except one strangers. We were captured, and all the strangers… They were put into Rat Stew…”(I gulp. Now I know what that red sauce was made out of!) “And I think my best friend Lil was too.” Lil had been staring at Springleaf for quite a while. Then she jumps up. “Springleaf! It’s me, Lil! I didn’t get put in the Rat Stew! I’m right here!!!”
“Lil? Lil!! I’m sorry I didn’t recognise you sooner! Lil! It’s so great to see you again! By the way, do you want to hear the rest of the story? I was enjoying telling it to you!”
“Why not? Get going, Springleaf!”
“Okay! Well, then the cats got taken by some Humans. We managed to get out through the bars, and then we didn’t like it in town because there were too many cats! So we built this raft, then came here!”
“Ummm… Can we join you?”
“Sure!” We all climb aboard.
The next morning, I wake up, and find that I am yet again the first person awake. I overturn the raft to wake my friends up. Lil is the first. She shakes off all the water on her.
“Stanley, your body clock must have gone berserk.” Once everyone is awake, we decide to forage through the driftwood, and see what useful things we can find. I take a large area far away from the raft. I look in all the boxes. In one, there are a few balls of string, and in another, loads and loads of wool. I am silently thankful that Granny taught me how to knit and sew before she died. I make a small floating platform out of planks, and start knitting a blanket. When it’s done, I find a box of old Human clothes, and a pair of scissors. I start sewing more blankets, of many sizes and shapes. Once I have sewn twenty, I find some stuffing, and make several large mattresses. Then I grab a couple of planks, and use them as paddles. I row back to the main raft. Lil is already there.
“Stanley! Let’s wait till all the others get back, and then we can see what everyone found!”
An hour later, everyone is back. First to share their load are Lil and Clary.
“We found this!” Clary empties a box of nails onto the deck. Next are Springleaf and Fernflower. They dump armfuls of planks onto the deck. Autumnbird and Sunflash add two hammers, some more planks, and an old slice of cheese. Sunflash takes the hammer and a few nails and planks, and starts to enlarge our raft. Next, Wilfred empties out a box of cushions. Buttergrass, Basil and Gryffon step forward, carrying between them three boxes. One is full of nuts, another filled with dried fruit, and yet another topped up with carrots, capsicum and cucumber. Honeybee puts down more planks, a long pole, and a large cloth. Finally, I step onto deck, dragging my pile of mattresses and blankets with me. Then I row my raft to Sunflash, and she hammers it in, chanting an ancient mouse song as she works.
“Be a mouse,
Pick off a louse,
Live in the forest but don’t go near a house!
Pick those peas,
Eat that cheese,
Swim in the lake and swing in the trees!”
“Where did you learn that song?!”
“Mouse school. At school camp, we sung it around the camp fire while eating apple and apricot tarts, topped with mint cream! Ah, the happy days! But then, of course, the cats came…You know what happened next.” I walk away, then notice that something is happening in the middle of the raft. I wander over. Springleaf, Lil and Honeybee are trying to hoist a huge pole upright.
“Lend a paw, will you?!” Asks Lil. I grab one side, and we all lift the pole up. Basil and Buttergrass start to nail it to the deck, while Gryffon runs around stealing nails. When the mast is well and truly hammered in, me and Honeybee climb up the mast, and add a sail, made out of my best blanket. Then we walk over to Autumnbird, Sunflash and Wilfred, who are constructing a sheltered hut in the middle of the deck. We join in, hammering planks into the deck. Autumnbird breaks off, and starts making a door. Two hours later, it is finally done. I drag a mattress inside. The hut is just big enough too fit mattresses for everyone. Then we dump blankets all over. Wilfred brings in his cushions too use as pillows.
The whole crew of our new boat stay up late too decide the name for our new boat. At eleven o’clock on the dot, we finally decide to call it Wavebreaker. Springleaf writes the name on the sail,then we all stumble inside the shelter hut, and collapse, fast asleep.
I wake up, at about half past one. The first thing I become aware of is the boat’s stillness. I get up. The stars are still twinkling happily in the velvet sky. Then I see why the boat has stopped. We have hit land! I try to get back to sleep, but I can’t. So instead, I go outside, and lie on my back, watching the stars. After a few hours, the first rays of sun creep over the horizon, illuminating the island for the first time.