The other day we picked up Penelope and brought her home with us. When we got there, we saw a mouse doing the dog paddle in the pool. He looked like he was about to expire with a stroke—his last stroke. I didn’t want him drowning in my pool and making a mess, so I looked around for a way to get him out and administer proper justice for this home invasion. I picked up a little toy boat about six inches long that the children play with in the pool and shoved it over to the desperate mouse. He climbed aboard to the cheers of Penelope. Then I went to get an object with which to retrieve the boat.

When I got back, the boat had floated over close to the edge and Penelope was feeding him. He sailed away eating bits of apple, perhaps with the knowledge that it would prevent scurvy on a long voyage. After getting his fill, he advanced to the bow of the boat and hoisted himself up to ride high, looking like Ahab searching for the white whale.

While I was meditating on the best way to send him on his deserved journey, I could hear Penelope uttering these motherly sounds. Disgusting! How quickly nature takes over a four-year-old girl. It became clear to me that I was going to have to pardon this mouse and elevate him to a place of honor. So I, Michael Pearl, the former mouse exterminator, stood there thinking of the best way to come out of this sordid situation looking like a hero in the eyes of my most beloved granddaughter.

So, I retrieved a clean five-gallon bucket and scooped the boat up, placing the mouse inside. Then we took him out to the garden where he would have plenty to eat and lots of good places to build a nest, and raise 7,000 more little “mouses,” as Penelope called them, to invade my home throughout the winter. The mouse scampered away without any indication of thanks and no knowledge of the grace he had been afforded by an early release of motherly hormones. I am still the compassionate hero my granddaughter knows me to be, and that’s what counts.