"Gosh! You look terrible."
Rufus raised one heavy eyelid and saw a mouse standing in front of his snout.
"What's the matter with you?" the mouse wanted to know.
Rufus told it about his trouble, that no-one was able to help him and that he was therefore going to join the molten core of the earth in due course.
"'s that all?" asked the mouse. "I know somebody who can give you a fright. Come on!"
And it led Rufus across the plain and into a wood.
They crossed a bog, struggled through brambles and a Mikado maze the last storm had made into a beech forest. When Rufus thought he couldn't take one more step, the mouse suddenly stopped in front of a thick, thorny bush.
"Right on the other side you'll find the one I told you about. He'll cure you," the mouse said.
Rufus poked his head through the bush. The mouse hadn't promised too much. Red, fiery eyes were glaring back at him out of a green face. Smoke was rising from tunnel nostrils and a snout studded with teeth like scythes was standing open.
Rufus got the fright of his life and in his weakened condition almost fainted. But the mouse laughed until tears were streaming down its cheeks. When Rufus was able to catch a deep breath and get back to his feet, he stood silent for a while. Then he stared, then he chuckled und finally he too burst out laughing.
Rufus took the mouse gently, put it on his head and together they made faces at their reflections on the surface of the forest lake.