Once there was an armadillo named Arnold. He had a shell of tough armoured scales. He had armoured scales on his head and tail. He could also jump very high. He lived in a dark and mysterious forest. There were jaguars who lived in the forest, who liked to sit on tree branches and drop on animals as they walked underneath. But they never dropped on Arnold because they were afraid to bruise their noses on his hard scaly shell.
In the same forest there lived a porcupine named Pieter. He had spikes on his back. Sharp pointy spikes. Lots of sharp pointy spikes. The jaguars didn’t drop on Pieter either.
Now in the forest there was a lake. The animals would come to the lake to drink water. Some would come to have baths. The jaguars would sit in branches of the trees by the lake hoping to drop on the other animals as they went to get a drink of water.
One day Arnold was walking along the trail at edge of the lake when he heard the sound of of crying from a small hole in the bank. He went up close to have a look, and saw a mouse, sitting in the hole and weeping.
“What’s the matter?” asked Arnold in a kindly way. “Why are you crying?”
“I’m crying because I miss my wife and baby,” said the mouse. “They’re trapped in a hole in the bank a little up past that tree, and I can’t reach them because there’s a jaguar in the tree waiting to drop on me.”
Arnold thought a little. “I’m going in that direction along the trail,” he said. “Why don’t you walk underneath me? You’re small enough that the jaguar wouldn’t even see you and he wouldn’t drop on me because of my scaly shell.”
So Arnold continued his walk along by the edge of the lake with the mouse scurrying underneath him.
Now a little further along, Pieter the porcupine was walking along trail by the edge of the lake in the opposite direction, when he heard the sound of crying from another small hole in the bank. He stopped to have a look and saw a mother mouse and her baby hiding in the hole and weeping.
“What’s the matter?” asked the kindly porcupine. “Why are you crying?”
“We’re crying because we miss our daddy mouse,” said the mother mouse. “He’s trapped in a hole in the bank past that tree over there, and we can’t reach him because we’re afraid the jaguar in that tree will drop on us.”
Pieter stopped and thought. “I’m going in that direction along the lake,” he said, “and the jaguar won’t drop on me because of my spikes. Why don’t you come with and walk underneath me.”
So Pieter continued along the bank of the lake, with the mother mouse scurrying along underneath him, carrying her baby.
A little while later Pieter and Arnold passed each other going in the opposite directions. They said “Good morning,” to each other. The jaguar watched from its tree, feeling hungry.
Arnold came to the second hole in the bank. The mouse scurried out from between his legs and into the hole. He cried “Where are they? They’ve gone!”, and put his little head between his paws and sobbed.
“Well, I didn’t see any mice on the way,” said Arnold the armadillo, trying to comfort him “so they must have gone on this way. You wait here and I’ll carry on round the lake to see if I can find them”. The mouse was thanked him profusely as he set out on his way.
Meanwhile Pieter the porcupine had reached the first hole. The mother mouse and her baby ran eagerly into the hole. “He’s not here!” she cried, and the baby started to wail.
“We didn’t see him on the way,” said Pieter sympathetically. “Maybe he went round the lake the other way. I’ll keep going and look for him.” The two mice waved to him gratefully as he set out on his way.
So Arnold the armadillo walked round the lake in one direction, while Pieter walked around in the opposite direction. Eventually they met on the opposite side of the lake.
“Excuse me, but have you seen a mouse?” they both asked at exactly the same time.
“I’m sorry,” they both said, again at the same time.
“I was looking for a mouse,” they both said.
Arnold held up a paw. Pieter paused. Arnold explained about the mouse in the first hole, and how he had helped him reach the second hole, and now was looking for the mother and baby mouse.
When he’d finished, Pieter explained about the mother and baby mice in the second hole, and how he was now looking for the daddy mouse.
Of course they both saw immediately what had happened. They walked around the lake together till they reached the second hole.
The daddy mouse was pacing up and down inside the hole. Arnold and Pieter told him what had happened, and the three of them set off together, with the mouse scurrying beneath Arnold.
At last they reached the first hole again. The daddy mouse raced out from underneath the armadillo and into the arms of the mother mouse, while the baby gurgled happily. The mouse family were overjoyed to be together again.
They offered to share their cheese with Arnold and Pieter who politely refused. (Neither armadillos nor porcupines like to eat cheese.)
Pieter and Arnold walked off together chatting about the adventure they had had, and from that day forth they were always the best of friends.