Lesedi was scared of everything. She was scared of shadows. She was scared of noises. She was even scared of thunder. She was so scared of so many things that everyone called her Little Mouse.
Every night before she went to bed, she did three things. She shut the cupboard doors, just in case there was something hiding inside. She pushed all her shoes and toys under her bed, so that there was no space for anything else to fit there. And, she closed her curtains tightly, so that nothing could come in. Then, she jumped into bed and pulled the duvet right up to her eyes.
“Lesedi,” said her father one night before bed time, “it is time you stopped this. You are old enough to know better. You must stop being such a little mouse.”
“I clean your room every day,” said her mother, kindly, “and I have never seen anything there.” They kissed her goodnight, told her to be brave and to go to bed.
“Yes, Mma. Yes, Tate,” she said and went to her bedroom. “Tonight,” she whispered, “I will try to be brave.”
So, she did three things. She looked in the cupboard and left the door open – just a little. She looked under the bed and only put her slippers there. And, she left just enough space between the curtains so that the moon could shine in. Then she jumped into bed and pulled the duvet right over her head!
Lesedi was just starting to feel very hot buried under the duvet when she heard a strange sound – a sound that was coming from inside her room!
“Who’s there?” she whispered in a shaky voice, then she put her fingers in her ears so that she could not hear anything. She was so scared, she wanted to open her mouth and scream. No, no, no, she said to herself. I must try to be brave. So she sat up in bed.
“Puk-puk-puket,” a strange voice said. “Oooh, no, no, no! I must try to be brave. I think I’d better go now.”
“Whaa-at?” said Lesedi and dived under the duvet again. “Who’s there?”
“Puk-puk. I’m Mosa. Please, please don’t be angry.”
Lesedi lifted the duvet and peeped out. A shadowy shape moved in the corner and then out stepped ...
“A hen!” said Lesedi. “What are you doing in my room?” Lesedi did not know whether to laugh or cry.
“It’s a very short story,” said Mosa. “It’s Mrs Kunene’s cat. He’s big and fat and ... and he wants to eat me!”
“But why don’t you hide?” asked Lesedi.
“I am hiding, silly. I’m hiding here,” explained the hen.
“Yes, but you scared me,” said Lesedi.
“Are you scared now?” asked Mosa.
“No,” said Lesedi.
“See! You’ve got nothing to be scared of. Mrs Kunene’s cat doesn’t want to eat you. It’s me he’s after!” said the hen.
“Where is the cat?” asked Lesedi.
“Out there,” said Mosa as she flapped up onto the windowsill and pointed outside. “Look, look, he is still there and he still wants to eat me.”
Lesedi looked out of the window and there was Mrs Kunene’s cat. He was big and he was staring up at the window.
“Throw something out there,” said Mosa.
“I can’t do that!” said Lesedi, shocked.
“Why not?” asked Mosa.
“It may hurt him,” explained Lesedi.
“But if he catches me and eats me it will hurt me,” said Mosa as she jumped back down onto the floor. “But now that you’ve found me here, I’d better go.”
“Go where?” asked Lesedi.
“I’ll go to the field,” said Mosa.
“The field? Don’t you belong to someone?” Lesedi asked. She was confused.
“No. I live in the field on my own,” Mosa said, “but sometimes I live ... I live ...”
“Ye-es,” said Lesedi, “you live ... where?”
“Umm ... Ummmm ... here!” said Mosa.
“WHAAT?” Lesedi couldn’t believe what she had just heard!
“Well, I get scared at night so I wait until your light has been switched off. Then I push my way through your curtains,” Mosa clucked. “I wish you didn’t close them so tightly though. It makes getting through very difficult.”
“Sorry,” said Lesedi.
“Then, I try to get under your bed, but I can’t because there are too many shoes and toys there,” the hen clucked sadly. “Then, I try to get into your cupboard, but you always shut the door. So I have been sleeping over there, in the corner, next to that wooden box.”
“So you were making the noises that I heard,” said Lesedi.
“You make noises too,” said Mosa, “and they scare me, but not as much as Mrs Kunene’s cat. The noises he makes really scare me.”
Lesedi and Mosa stared at each other for a whole minute.
Mosa’s much more scared than I am, thought Lesedi, and she doesn’t even have a home.
“Puk-puk ... Maybe we could be scared together,” suggested Mosa.
“Maybe we could be brave together,” said Lesedi.
“Yes,” said Mosa. “We are already braver because we won’t be scared of each other’s noises.”
So Lesedi and Mosa made plans. They started by opening the curtains. Then Lesedi moved the wooden box under the windowsill.
“This can be your home,” she said. “I will always leave the curtains open. And if you are really scared, you can get under the bed. I will even leave the cupboard door open.”
“And I’ll be very quiet,” said Mosa. “I won’t make any strange noises to scare you at night.”
So, from that night on Lesedi and Mosa started being braver. Mosa lived on top of the wooden box under the windowsill and when she came into the room she gave a soft Puk-puk-puket to say hello. Lesedi smiled in her sleep.
And, guess what ...
Lesedi is no longer scared of shadows or thunder, and everyone has stopped calling her Little Mouse. And Mosa is no longer scared of Mrs Kunene’s cat – she has a safe place to hide and to live.
AND ... every now and then, Mosa leaves three presents on the wooden box and Lesedi, her mother and her father have fresh eggs for breakfast