There was a hippo in the kitchen. No one knew how it got there, or when, but there was undeniably an enormous, sloppy, disheveled hippo in the kitchen.
“And,” I said, examining the lunch my... [+]
The adventurous little mole, whose name was Oscar, lived in a mole-hole at the bottom of the sea with his unadventurous mother and father and his timid little sister who was scared of everything.
His father liked farming sea cucumbers, his mother liked knitting kelp, and his little sister liked sucking on her claws. The adventurous little mole, however, liked to wrangle tuna. He liked to fence with lobster. And he especially liked exploring dark holes.
None of the other sea moles approved of Oscar. They shook their heads when he rode by on a tuna, waving his hat. The mayor-mole frowned when he saw Oscar fencing with a lobster. And when Oscar’s seat was empty, the schoolteacher-mole didn’t have to ask where he was.
“He’s sure a strange one,” the mayor-mole said.
“He’s an embarrassment to us all,” the towns-moles said.
“He’ll come to no good,” the schoolteacher-mole grumbled.
Oscar’s mother and father did not like that Oscar was so adventurous.
“Why doesn’t he like farming sea cucumbers like a normal sea mole?” his father wondered aloud.
“Why doesn’t he like kelp-knitting like a normal sea mole?” his mother asked herself.
“Ahhh!” cried his little sister. But what she really meant to say was, “Why doesn’t he like sucking on his claws like a normal sea mole?”
One day they decided that enough was enough, and that Oscar should learn to lead a regular sea mole life.
“No more tuna-wrangling,” his mother announced and returned to her kelp-knitting.
“No more lobster-fencing,” his father warned and returned to his cucumber farming.
“Ahhh!” his little sister cried and fell over in fright. But what she really meant was, “No more exploring dark holes.”
But the adventurous little mole didn’t listen to any of them. He went right on tuna-wrangling, and lobster-fencing, and especially exploring dark holes.
And then the squid attacked.
At first there was only one; it snatched baby-mole Geoffrey right out of his mother’s arms.
“Help!” she cried.
The adventurous little mole said, “Don’t worry, I’ll find baby-mole Geoffrey!” And he searched and searched, until finally he found him, deep in the back of a dark hole. The adventurous little mole tied the squid’s tentacles together and escaped with baby-mole Geoffrey.
“I’ve brought baby-mole Geoffrey home,” he announced triumphantly and handed him back to his mother, who smothered Geoffrey with kisses.
The towns-moles, however, eyed Oscar suspiciously. “He’s just a strange one,” they said.
“It’s unnatural,” the mayor-mole said.
“He’ll come to no good,” the schoolteacher-mole said again.
A tear floated from the adventurous little mole’s eye. “I will not tuna-wrangle anymore,” he decided. “I will not lobster-fence or explore dark caves.” And he hung his hat from a peg and stuffed his sword in the trash. “I will go farming with father. I will knit kelp with my mother.”
And he did. But farming and knitting did not make him happy.
Then the rest of the squid attacked. Tens. Hundreds. Thousands! The towns-moles cried out, and ran, and hid their heads in the ground.
“Somebody help us!” they wept.
“Somebody do something!” the mole-mayor yelled.
“Save the cucumbers!” Oscar’s father shouted.
Oscar heard their shouts from the cucumber patch. He looked up and saw the towns-moles wrestling with the squid, and the mole-holes being torn apart, and the schoolhouse in crumbles.
“I promised I wouldn’t fence anymore,” Oscar said and set his chin. “I promised I wouldn’t wrangle.” And the adventurous little mole put his head down and continued farming.
He was shepherding the cucumbers out to pasture when his mother ran from their mole-hole waving something. “Oscar, your hat!” she said, stuffing it on his head. He was grazing the cucumbers when his father ran up. “Oscar, your sword!” he said, and put it in Oscar’s claw. And he was shepherding the cucumbers back in from the pasture when his little sister cried, “Ahhh!” as she batted away the tentacles of a particularly large squid.
Oscar knew then that he was the only sea mole who could help. He pulled his hat down tight and buckled on his sword. He wrangled a tuna fish and rode off into battle.
“Chhhhaaargggggeeee!” he cried. He thrust and parried. He wrestled and brawled. He punched, kicked, and bit. He wrangled and fenced and fought until all the squid turned around at once and swam quickly away.
When they were gone, Oscar hung his head, turned loose the tuna fish, and returned to the farm. He did not want to hear the towns-moles call him strange, or unnatural, or tell him that he would come to no good.
He walked past the ruined schoolhouse. He walked past the shattered mole-holes. And he walked past all the moles still pulling their heads out of the ground.
But then he heard something he didn’t expect.
“He sure is a strange one,” declared the mayor-mole, “but I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
“Hooray for Oscar!” cried the towns-moles.
“He’ll come to such great things!” proclaimed the schoolteacher-mole.
Everybody wanted to thank Oscar and shake his claw. Last of all came his mother and father and little sister, sucking on her claws.
“We’re proud of you, Oscar,” said his father. “You don’t have to work on the farm if you don’t want to.”
“And you don’t have to kelp-knit if you don’t want to,” said his mother.
“Ahhh!” said his little sister and fenced at him with her claws.
“Thanks,” said the adventurous little mole. “I like working with you on the farm, Dad, and I like knitting kelp with you, Mom, and I like playing with my little sister,” he ruffled her head, “but I don’t think any of those things are what I am supposed to do.”
“What do you think you’re supposed to do?” asked his father.
“It’s a big ocean,” said the adventurous little mole. “I think I am supposed to explore it.”
And that is what he did.