‘What!’ gasped Tulip.
‘But there’s always blackberries,’ eeked Petal, the youngest mouse.
‘Well, there aren’t now, darlings. Blossom’s right!’ said Hazelnut, stroking Petal’s ears with his gingery paw. ‘Those pesky rats must have taken them!’
Tulip squeaked in wonder, her tail twitching, ‘I didn’t know they ate blackberries.’
‘They don’t!’ grumbled Hazelnut. ‘They’re just being mean.’
They scurried up the bush, picked the few remaining pale blackberries, and skittered back home, worried and sad about how they would survive the winter with such meagre rations.
‘Is that all you’ve got?’ asked Foxglove, grooming her whiskers.
‘I’m afraid so,’ replied Hazelnut. ‘Those stinky rats must have taken the others while we were sleeping.’
‘Can’t we take some of their food?’ squeaked Petal, twisting her tail around her mother’s.
‘No way,’ giggled Blossom. ‘We don’t want rotting cabbages in our lovely home.’
‘Oh,’ said Petal. ‘I suppose that wouldn’t be nice.’
Foxglove gently spoke. ‘Petal, you go and put the blackberries we do have in the store room. Tulip, you go with her. Blossom, come here: we need to talk.’
We’re going to starve, aren’t we Mother?’ asked Blossom, frightened, her whiskers quivering.
‘No, we shan’t, darling,’ crooned Foxglove, brushing her ear against Blossom’s. ‘We just have to think of something.’