Smoked Cheese

Not so very long ago there lived a pilot whose name was Bipou. He was very poor and he lived all alone in a small house in a small village; but he was happy.

The only thing that bothered him was mice; his house was infested with mice. Now Bipou thought nothing at all of mice, because they lived even further below the ground than nonflyers. And the mice multiplied and multiplied until there came a time when he could stand it no longer.

“This is too much,” Bipou said, and he laughed and went out into the village and bought some mousetraps and some smoked cheese and a lot of glue.

When he got home, he put the glue on the underneath of the mousetraps and he stuck them to the ceiling. Then he baited them carefully with pieces of smoked cheese and set them to go off.

That night when the mice came out of their holes and saw the mousetraps, they began laughing fit to burst. They walked around on the floor, nudging each other and pointing up at the ceiling and giggling. After all, it was so silly, mousetraps on the ceiling.

When Bipou came down the next morning and saw that there were no mice caught in the traps, he smiled but he didn’t say anything.

He took a chair and put glue on the bottom of its legs and stuck it upside down to the ceiling, near the mousetraps. He did the same with the table, the radio set, and the lamp. He even put a little carpet up there.

The next night when the mice came out of their holes they were still joking and laughing about what they had seen the night before. But when they looked up at the ceiling, they stopped laughing very suddenly. “Good gracious me!” said one. “ Look up there. There’s the floor!”

“Heavens above!” said another. “We must be standing on the ceiling!”

“I’m beginning to feel a little giddy,” said another.

“All the blood’s going to my head,” said another.

“This is awful,” said the oldest mouse of all. “This is awful. We must do something about this at once.”

“I’ve got it,” said a mouse who had a face like a politician and bushy eyebrows like Mr. John L. Lewis’s. “I know what we’ll do.” (He was a very clever mouse.) “We’ll all stand on our heads; then, at any rate, we’ll be the right way up.”

So they all stood on their heads, and after a long time, one by one, they died from a rush of blood to the brain.

When Bipou came down the next morning, the floor was covered with dead mice.

“ Ah-ha,” he said, and he clapped his hands. “Ahha. I knew they’d go for smoked cheese.”

The son of Norwegian parents, ROALD DAHL was educated in England and served as a fighter pilot in the RAF. His book Over to you will be published this autumn by Reynal and Hitchcock.