The Cheese Brigade

Written and Illustrated by Bron Smith

Author’s note: This story has special meaning for me. I wanted to share with Focus on the Family readers my passion for the forgotten segment of our society, the elderly in nursing homes. For three years I visited Dorothy Weinsten every Sunday in the nursing home in which she lived. I even took her out to lunch, dinner, and to holiday occasions. Focus was kind enough to allow me to dedicate this story to Dorothy. What a joy it was to personally read my story to her at her bedside when it was published in the April 2002 issue of Clubhouse Jr. Magazine. Dorothy died shortly after. Now I am visiting others in the same nursing home, but there will never be another Dorothy.

Morty Mouse scampered down the shady rain forest path. His favorite neighbor, Mrs. Bisbee, was already outside planting spring flowers in her window boxes.

“Good morning, Mrs. B.!” Morty called.

“Good morning, Morty,” Mrs. Bisbee replied. Mr. and Mrs. Bisbee had always been like grandparents to Morty. But after Mr. Bisbee died, Mrs. Bisbee sometimes felt very lonely.

One Saturday the rain came down in sheets around Huckleberry Hollow. Morty gazed out his bedroom window and watched the raindrops pitter-patter on his windowsill.

“What a boring day,” he muttered gloomily.

“Why don’t you go visit Mrs. Bisbee?” Morty’s mother suggested. “I’ll bet she could use some cheering up today.”

Morty’s mom wrapped up a piece of cheese in bright paper and carefully placed it in Morty’s lunch basket. Then Morty dashed out the door into the rain and scurried down to Mrs. Bisbee’s house.

”What a wonderful surprise!” Mrs. Bisbee exclaimed as she unwrapped the cheese. She broke off a bit for Morty and herself, then she poured a cup of fiddle fern tea for each of them.

The next Saturday Morty surprised Mrs. Bisbee once again with a chunk of cheese and words of cheer. Before long Morty’s visits became a Saturday morning habit.

One Saturday Morty brought along his friend, Dooley.

“Hey, let’s go visit my grandmother, too!” Dooley said. Dooley’s mother wrapped up some cheese for them, then off they went to Dooley’s grandma’s house. They had a great time sipping swamp tea and munching cheese dipped in toadstool sauce.

“Thank you so much,” Dooley’s grandma said, her white whiskers twitching with delight.

Before long Morty and Dooley were visiting both Mrs. Bisbee and Dooley’s grandma every Saturday. They always brought cheese to perk up the party.

A few weeks later their friend Wally asked if he could join Dooley and Morty. Besides seeing Mrs. Bisbee and Dooley’s grandmother, they visited Wally’s neighbor who had been sick for a long time.

Word of Morty and his friends’ special visits spread all around Huckleberry Hollow as more mice joined in. A special story about Morty and his friends appeared in The Huckleberry Hollow Gazette, calling the group “The Cheese Brigade.” Soon “The Cheese Brigade” was famous throughout the forest.

One Saturday Morty went alone to Mrs. Bisbee’s house. His friends were not able to join him that day. As always, Morty found Mrs. Bisbee in her rocking chair.

Suddenly, the kitchen door burst open.

“Surprise!”

Morty’s friends came streaming out of the kitchen singing, “For He’s the Jolly Good Rodent.” Many Huckleberry Hollow citizens were there, including the mayor. Mr. Tootlemeyer, from the Huckleberry Hollow Cheese Shop brought baskets brimming with every imaginable kind of cheese. Every mouse was there to honor Morty for his kind deeds.

The mayor presented a medal of honor to Morty. Tears of joy streamed down Morty’s mother’s furry cheeks. To this very day Huckleberry Hollow’s younger mice still pay regular visits to the older citizens of the village, including a kind, old mouse at the edge of town affectionately known as Grandpa Morty.