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Zelda the mouse had a problem, she was in love with a rat. “Where’s the problem?”, you might ask “plenty of people are in love with a rat!” Love is blind, so things like this are bound to crop up from time to time, after all.

Actually, their ill-matched love wasn’t a problem at first; Zelda felt protected by the muscular presence of her companion, and proud to be seen with him. Her sense of safety was all the greater for the  reputation of his species, which meant that most threats were kept at bay. Even much larger mammals feared the rat, unable to see the soft and cuddly side that had attracted Zelda.

For his part, Rat felt loved and understood for the first time in his adult life. This brought out the best in him. He was able to  give full expression to the qualities instilled in him from birth – like loyalty and industriousness – so that would be critics of their union were forestalled by observations that “He’s a hard worker”, and “He always looks nice”.

Indeed, his attention to personal hygiene was legendary and his bright eyes and glossy coat added to his aura of reliability and trustworthiness, that those willing to, saw in him.

Alas, in the longer term their partnership was not to be blessed by acceptance and understanding, and it was social stigma that eventually tore them apart.

Rat returned to his kind and got on with running with the pack (there’s strength in numbers and he was a great team player), and Zelda fulfilled her destiny by producing several litters of pups with an available buck.

The moral of the tale is one that emerges over time, and the maddening thing is that there is more than one.

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