Jabez Few’s Six White Mice

by John Thake

At ease in the Three Tuns with a lunchtime pint
and sustenance, Jabez Few; his six white mice
arsling about from pocket to pocket, popping up
for a knag upon the shove of wheat laid up
upon the bar. Some older villagers referred to
them as his familiars. Not aloud and only when
fixed in the cob-webbed corners of the Duke,
Milkmaid or White Hart. Miss Edna Welsh;
an odd woman who in spite of the earliness of
hour was truly market merry took up against Few
and his imps, sparking a fell stint of fending and
proving. Jabez took off released the mice that
scattered like white smoke, disappearing into
Edna’s house to dance upon her dressing table
and craze about the bed. Mr Dudley, the landlord
of her house fetched up his reputed Tom; fur
flew as if a fenland blow had flattened fields of
dandelion clocks and thistledown. The mice
jigged on, the cat sloped off, its name now as
tattered as Edna’s best top quilt. Passers by were
pressed for a spell breaking hex, Edna haranguing
for the most effective mix. Consensus gained the
pot fired up, a broth of hoof clippings and natterjacks
soon bubbled up. And as the landlord stirred the
pot cussing fierce upon Jabez’s name, well in he
strode and whistled bright. The mice streamed out
coming to him at once; they all turned tail and left
for good that no nation place.