THE ESCAPE OF THE MOUSE 327
The hours slid by, and all was still, so still that Manawyddan well-nigh dropped asleep. But at midnight there arose the loudest tumult in the world, and peeping out he beheld a mighty host of mice, which could neither be numbered nor measured. Each mouse climbed up a straw till it bent down with its weight, and then it bit off one of the ears, and carried it away, and there was not one of the straws that had not got a mouse to it.
Full of wrath he rushed at the mice, but he could no more come up with them than if they had been gnats, or birds of the air, save one only which lingered behind the rest, and this mouse Manawyddan came up with. Stooping down he seized it by the tail, and put it in his glove, and tied a piece of string across the opening of the glove, so that the mouse could not escape. When he entered the hall where Kicva was sitting, he lighted a fire, and hung the glove up on a peg.
' What hast thou there ? ' asked she.
' A thief,' he answered, ' that I caught robbing me.'
' What kind of a thief may it be which thou couldst put in thy glove ? ' said Kicva.
' That I will tell thee,' he replied, and then he showed her how his fields of corn had been wasted, and how he had watched for the mice.
' And one was less nimble than the rest, and is now in my glove. To-morrow I will hang it, and I only wish I had them all.'
' It is a marvel, truly,' said she, ' yet it would be unseemly for a man of thy dignity to hang a reptile such as this. Do not meddle with it, but let it go.'
' Woe betide me,' he cried, ' if I would not hang them all if I could catch them, and such as I have I will hang.'
' Verily,' said she, ' there is no reason that I should succour this reptile, except to prevent discredit unto thee.'