Crush laughed. ‘You are so small and weak!’ he said. ‘How could you help me?’
‘I will! Believe me. One day you will need my help.’
Crush laughed and laughed and laughed. He laughed so much that he had to hold his stomach. Gentle jumped out of his hand and ran away. He ran until he was far, far away from the lion.
Gentle was very lucky to escape Crush. He told the other mice what happened. He thought they might think he was strong now, or clever. But the other mice didn’t believe him. They said he made the story up. Gentle was still sad, and he still had no friends.
A few days later, two men came into the forest. They wanted to catch a lion. So they put up a trap. The trap was made of some ropes. When the lion walked into the rope trap, he would be caught.
And that is what happened. Crush walked into the ropes, and was caught. He couldn’t move.
The lion shouted and cried. ‘Help! Help!’ he shouted. But nobody came to help him.
Gentle was sleeping at the time. He woke up from his sleep and heard the lion shouting. He went and saw Crush caught in the ropes.
‘Oh no, it is you!’ said Crush. ‘I need help. You won’t be able to help me. You are just a weak mouse!’
Gentle thought for a while. He should run away. He knew that it was dangerous to go near Crush. And Crush was saying unkind things about him. But he had escaped last time, hadn’t he? He would show the lion that he was a clever mouse.
Gentle climbed onto the ropes. There was one big rope. He started to bite it.
‘What are you doing?’ said Crush.
Gentle continued biting the rope. Finally, the rope broke. Crush was able to move out of the trap. He was free!
‘I don’t believe it,’ said Crush. ‘You did help me. You are small, and you are certainly not strong. But you are smart.’
‘I am not!’ said Gentle. ‘All the other mice say I’m silly. The foxes laugh at me, and the birds fly away when I come near.’
‘You are smart. But you are smart in a different way to them. You saved my life. What can I give you?’
‘You don’t have to give me anything,’ said Gentle. Then he thought. ‘Well, maybe there is one thing…’
‘What is it?’ said Crush. ‘I can cut off some of my hair, because you like it so much. I can kill your enemies for you. I can tell the other mice that you are smart and strong and funny. If they laugh at you, I will eat them.’
‘No, no. I don’t want any of that.’
‘What do you want? What shall I do?’
‘Will you be my friend?’