The walls of Mildrith’s dome were close to 800ºF when the mouse appeared the first time. He was standing on hind legs on the wall beside the oven, sniffing the air.
He gave me a start, the little bugger.
It must have been nearing 4 am. I was bleary-eyed, still, having been awake since two.
You can imagine it’s mostly silent at this hour. The birds are quiet and will be for another half hour. It’s usually just me and Mildrith and the fire. You’re not expecting visitors. I was startled when I laid eyes on him, looking all hoity-toity and privileged! And moreover, I had a few baskets of dough on the worktable.
I shooed him away, and he disappeared so quickly I couldn’t have told you what direction he went! I watched for a moment, then set about preparing the hearth for the morning bake. Before pulling out the coals and embers, I sprayed down the gravel shelter floor as a fire precaution. The fire-threat level was only moderate, according to the fire department, but I’m not taking chances.
And there he was again! The little scoundrel! This time running down the side of the oven base to the gravel. He stopped by the table leg and looked back at me. If he hadn’t done that, he might have escaped with just wet feet, but he stopped long enough for me to give him a good blast of water from the nozzle!
“Stay away from my dough, you [ expletive deleted ]! And don’t come back while I’m baking or you’ll get another one just like it!”
This time I saw his escape, around the retaining wall before disappearing into the darkness. When I looked carefully, there was a little trail of wet mouse feet on the dry gravel.
He didn’t return after that. I figure he was drawn by the prospect of fresh-baked Miso – Sesame Bread, but it could have been a pumpkinseed from last week’s bake.