Mrs. Frisby and the Knight of the Round Table

Sir Gawain had a talent and this was it: being of fairy blood (long story), he gained in strength all the morning long, until it was the strength of ten men that he was having, and after that declined until at evening he was no more than a doughty knight might have reason to expect to be. And so it was that the genteel knight did such deeds of arms before noon that all who saw him marvelled to see such things wrought, and cried that never was such a knight seen upon the earth, unless it were Sir Launcelot or Sir Tristram (or, in earlier times, Sir Lamorak, but Gawain’s brothers killed him out of spite; or, Sir Palomides, but he was heathen and not to be counted, which caused the redoubtable knight much consternation).

But certain it was that Sir Gawain had a talent, too, for finding strange adventures and running afoul of enchaunters, and after one such encounter found himself alone and no larger than the palm of his hand.

“Surely,” said Sir Gawain, “such a trial has beset no knight before; or, if indeed it has (and I hesitate to say it may not be so), never did the report find its way neither to Orkney nor to Tintagel.” And Sir Gawain was much tasked to discover a way out of his predicament.

Crossing a field, he was set upon by a large and villainous cat, and, it being evening, was sore put to defend himself. “No knightly death is this,” quotha, “done in by Sir Puss!” And so saying withdrew himself with much distress into a mousehole in the soft ground behind a large boulder.

“Who’s there?” piped the mouse that lived there. “Did Nicodemus send you?”

“Madam,” said Sir Gawain, and swept a bow (for such was his courtesy, that extended e’en to the beasts of the field), “I must own that he did not, and it was only for shelter from yon cat that I fled hence.”

“Well, that’s all right, I suppose,” said the mouse. “We all help each other against the cat.”