566 SOUP ON A SAUSAGE-PEG
confidence, that from the crack in which I was crouching I called out " Peep I" to her. This confidence of mine pleased her hugely, and she assured me I should be under her protection, and that no creature should be allowed to do me wrong ; she would reserve me for herself, for the winter, when there would be short commons.
' She was in every respect a clever woman, and explained to me how the watchman could only " whoop " with the horn that hung at his side, adding, "He is terribly conceited about it, and imagines he 's an owl in the tower. Wants to do great things, but is very small—soup on a sausage-peg ! "
' I begged the owl to give me the recipe for this soup, and then she explained the matter to me.
1 " Soup on a sausage-peg," she said, " was only a human proverb, and was understood in different ways : Each thinks his own way the best, but the whole really signifies nothing."
* " Nothing ! " I exclaimed. I was quite struck. Truth is not always agreeable, but truth is above everything ; and that's what the old owl said. I now thought about it, and readily perceived that if I brought what was above everything I brought something far beyond soup on a sausage-peg. So I hastened away, that I might get home in time, and bring the highest and best, that is above everything—namely, the truth. The mice are an enlightened people, and the King is above them all. He is capable of making me Queen, for the sake of truth.'
' Your truth is a falsehood/ said the Mouse who had not yet spoken. ' I can prepare the soup, and I mean to prepare it.'
HOW IT WAS PREPARED
* I did not travel,' the third Mouse said. ' I remained in my country—that's the right thing to do. There 's no necessity for travelling; one can get everything as good here. I stayed at home. I've not learned what I know from supernatural beings, or gobbled it up, or held converse