Anatole on the Train

“Anatole in Italy” only has 32 pages, so the following story uses the characters on that page (rather than page 42), as the basis for this little narrative.

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On board the train back to France, the French cousins and their holidaying Italian cousins played board games and peered out of the windows at the moving countryside, while Anatole and his wife Doucette enjoyed some of the souvenir Italian cheeses and little glasses of wine.

“It certainly was an exciting holiday,” smiled Doucette. “Certainly much more exciting than our usual summers.”

Anatole smiled. As the bravest mouse in all of France (and now, there was no doubt, within all of Italy, as well), he knew that the recent adventure was just one of many in his history, but the novelty of the adventurous life was newer to Doucette, who usually stayed home with the children and was still coming to terms with Anatole’s fame and exploits.

“I am so glad you enjoyed yourself, Doucette,” Anatole smiled, “for it certainly has been nice to have you and all the children along for company on this little outing!”

Just as the two leaned forward for a little kiss, Paul and Paulette, Claude and Claudette, along with George and Georgette and all of the Italian cousins, jumped up at once and rushed over Anatole and Doucette to get to the window, where a huge Cheese Factory had appeared beside the tracks as the train flew past.

“Oh look, cheese!”
“Wonderful cheese!”
“I can smell it from here!”
“C’est magnifique!’
“Formidable!”
“Bella!”
“Delizioso!”
“Papa. Mama. I’m hungry!!”
“Oh, me, too. I’m hungry!”
“Do we have any cheese?”

Suddenly, all the little French mice and the Italian cousins were clambering all over Anatole and Doucette, and within moments, the remaining Italian cheese was gone from the travel bag. George and Georgette scurried around, picking up the tiny crumbs that their siblings had dropped in their haste.

“Papa, will you be going to the factory tonight?” inquired Claude, who had been a bit slow off the mark and had only managed a single nibble of cheese.

“Yes, Papa, will you be bringing home samples again tonight?” followed Claudette, who had only been slightly quicker than her brother.

Anatole beamed. “Yes, yes, my lovely little ones. As soon as you are safe and sound back home in your beds this evening, I will be stopping by M. Duval’s Cheese Factory to do a little QA work for him and his marvellous cheese makers. Although we have only been on holiday for a week, M. Duval and his Master Cheesers will have been hard at work, and will have many wonderful wheels of cheese for me to test. And no doubt, I will be home before breakfast, with many free samples and pilfered slabs to fill your little mouse gullets.”

“Yay, Papa, you Rock! You da mouse!” all the little mouse children and their Italian cousins chimed in simultaneously. “Lei è fantastica! You Rock! È da mouse.”

Anatole settled back into his seat, smiling at Doucette (who smiled back), and shifted his gaze from the faces of the happy little mice back to the country view out his window, and to the approaching skyline of Paris in the distance.

“Ah,” he said quietly to himself, “it certainly is most wonderful to be the bravest mouse and the finest cheese taster in all of France (and Italy).

He burped generously, and then settled deeper into his seat for a little afternoon nap.