Once upon a time, on a rocky, snow-fed creek on a far northern mountain, men built a small cluster of structures, and among them, an outhouse. A long-drop. A loo. A WC without the W and a great deal more the size of a C than is usual.
It wasn't a particularly nice outhouse. For one thing, it stank. For another, it tilted at a most precarious angle, such as made the humans who entered uncomfortable or giddy, or startled from them a laugh at the expedients necessary for its use.
But to one creature it was home.
Vncent the Outhouse Mouse (though of course he was then just plain Vincent), wriggled under the door one autumn afternoon and looked about. His nose twitched. Yes, it smelled, but a mouse is not offended by the aromas that send us mere humans running.
Vincent saw a spacious shelter where no hawk could spy him and swoop down to make of him a tasty lunch. Nor could a weasel or a martin squeeze under the door as he had.
But it did have a smell that made him hesitate: human. Vincent looked about further. Yes, there was a hole, and a space into which he could retreat further at need. And, scrambling to the ledge above, perilously close to the long drop itself, he found the means to line his nest more softly and warmly than ever mouse could dream. Vincent moved in.
All winter--really, in the cold even you or I would scarcely notice the smells--Vincent the Outhouse Mouse enjoyed his home. But when the days grew longer and warmer, and the shows melted, the door was more and more often flung open, and Vincent had to dodge large feet, often clad in heavy, hard boots. And sometimes the dreadful creatures even left the door propped open! Why, one night when they did so, a porcupine came in and ate a goodly portion of the floor!
Vincent the Outhouse Mouse endured many frights and panics, and still the visitors increased. So did the smell. Even a mouse must draw the line somewhere, and Vincent did.
One fine warm day he ran right out between the feet of a startled human, then froze by his crack under the door, fearful of what lay beyond as he was put off by what lay within.
To his surprise, the door was pushed open wider, and the creature on the ledge made gentle noises. Vincent lost his fear, and strolled through the open door, to face again the adventure of life on the outside. He would know where to go come winter. Unless, of course, his outhouse fell over entirely.
Thus were the thoughts that occupied Vincent's mind in the last moments before the hungry hawk, frustrated all winter of his rightful prey, stooped upon the complacent rodent.