Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH: A Favor From Jeremy


  1. breeze – 바람
  2. aluminium – 알루미늄
  3. plummeted – 떨어졌다
  4. ploughing – 갈고리
  5. sympathetically – 동정적으로
  6. deep woods – 깊은 숲
  7. hollow – 구멍

A Favor From Jeremy

In her worry about Moving Day, in watching the A. tractor, the cat, and finally the rats, Mrs Frisby had forgotten that she had set out originally to get some corn for supper. Now she remembered it, so instead of continuing to her house she turned towards the far corner of the garden and the stump at the edge of the woods beyond. She was a little tired after her dash from the cat, so she walked along slowly, feeling the warmth of the sun and the smell of the breeze.

This mild breeze, carrying the moist essence of early spring, caused a dead leaf to flutter here and there, and across the garden near the fence it moved something that sparkled in the sunlight. This caught the corner of Mrs Frisby’s eye; she glanced at it, saw that it was only a bit of tin foil (or aluminium foil) blown from somewhere, and she looked away again. Then she looked back, for at that moment a black object plummeted from the sky, and she recognized her friend Jeremy the crow.

A thought crossed Mrs Frisby’s mind. She changed direction again, and, moving more quickly, ran across the earth to where Jeremy stood. He was hopping around the shiny piece of foil, eyeing it from one direction and another.

What had occurred to Mrs Frisby was that although Jeremy was not the brightest of animals she had met, and though he was young, he knew things and places she did not, and one had to begin somewhere. As she approached him, he had picked up the foil in his beak and was spreading his wings to fly off.

‘Wait, please,’ she called.

He turned, folded his wings, and then replaced the foil carefully on the ground.

‘Hello,’ he said.

‘You remember me?’

‘Of course. You saved me from the cat.’ Then he added. ‘What do you think of this piece of foil?’

Mrs Frisby looked at it without much interest.

‘It’s just a piece of foil,’ she said. ‘It’s not very big.’

‘True. But it’s shiny – especially when the sun strikes it just so.’

‘Why are you so interested in shiny things?’

‘Well, really, I’m not. At least not very. But I have a friend who likes them, so when I see one I pick it up.’

‘I see. That’s very thoughtful. And would the friend be female?’

‘As a matter of fact, yes. She is. How did you know?’

‘Just a guess,’ said Mrs Frisby. ‘Do you remember saying once that if I needed help, I might ask you?’

‘I do. Any time. Just ask for Jeremy. Any of the crows can find me. And now, if you will excuse me…’ He bent over to pick up the foil again.

‘Please don’t go yet,’ said Mrs Frisby. ‘I think perhaps you can help me now.’

‘Ah,’ said Jeremy. ‘What kind of help? Are you hungry? I’ll bring you some seeds from the barn loft. I know where they’re stored.’

‘No, thank you,’ said Mrs Frisby. ‘We have enough to eat.’ And then she told him, as briefly as she could, about Timothy, his sickness, and the problem of Moving Day. Jeremy knew about Moving Day; crows do not have to move, but they keep a close watch on such activities as ploughing and planting so as to get their fair share of what’s planted, and with their sharp eyes they see the small animals leaving before the plough.

So he clucked sympathetically when he heard Mrs Frisby’s story, cocked his head to one side, and thought as hard as he could for as long as he could, which was about thirty seconds. His eyes closed with the effort.

‘I don’t know what you should do,’ he said finally.

‘I’m sorry. But maybe I can help even so. At least, I can tell you what we do when we don’t know what to do.’


‘The crows. Most of the birds.’

‘What do you do, then?’

‘Over that way,’ Jeremy nodded in the direction of the deep woods and faraway mountains that rose beyond the fence, ‘about a mile from here there grows a very large beech tree, the biggest tree in the whole forest. Near the top of the tree there is a hollow in the trunk. In the hollow lives an owl who is the oldest animal in the woods – some say the world.

‘When we don’t know what to do, we ask him. Sometimes he answers our questions, sometimes he doesn’t. It depends on how he feels. Or as my father used to say – what kind of humour he’s in.’

Or possibly, thought Mrs Frisby, on whether or not he knows the answer. But she said:

‘Could you ask him, then, if he knows of any help for me?’ She did not think it likely that he would.

‘Ah, no,’ Jeremy said,’that won’t do. That is, I could ask him, but I don’t think the owl would listen. Imagine. A crow come to ask for help for a lady mouse with a sick child. He wouldn’t believe me.’

‘Then what’s to be done?’

‘What’s to be done? You must go yourself and ask him.’

‘But I could never find the tree. And if I did, I don’t think I could climb so high.’

‘Ah, now. That is where I can help, as I said I would.

I will carry you there on my back, the way I did before. And home again, of course.’

Mrs Frisby hesitated. It was one thing to leap on a crow’s back when the cat is only three jumps away and coming fast, but quite another to do it deliberately, and to fly deep into a dark and unknown forest. In short, Mrs Frisby was afraid.

Then she thought of Timothy, and of the big steel plough blade. She told herself: I have no choice. If there is any chance that the owl might be able to help me, to advise me, I must go. She said to Jeremy:

‘Thank you very much. I will go and talk to the owl if you will take me. It’s a great favour.’

‘It’s nothing,’ said Jeremy. ‘You’re welcome. But we can’t go now.’

‘Why not?’

‘In the daytime, when the sun is out, the owl goes deep into the hollow and sleeps. That is, they say he sleeps, but I don’t believe it. How could anyone sleep so long? I think he sits in there, part of the time at least, and thinks. And that’s why he knows so much.

‘But anyway, he won’t speak in the daytime, not to anyone. And at night he’s out flying, flying and hunting

‘I know,’ said Mrs Frisby – and that was another reason to be afraid.

‘The time to see him is just at dusk. Then, when the light gets dim, he comes to the entrance of the hollow and watches while the dark comes in. That’s the time to ask him questions.’

‘I understand,’ said Mrs Frisby. ‘Shall we go this evening?’

‘At five o’clock,’ Jeremy said, I’ll be at your house.’ He picked up the piece of foil in his bill, waved goodbye, and flew off.

Paul Hoets is a freelance maker who lives in South Korea. If you liked this article and would like to contribute to his empire of dirt, silicon and tech. education, buy him a coffee!