I decided to try an experiment: I gathered together my large collection of tame mice, among them many white ones, and started leaving them under my car, parked outside my house. The mice multiplied rapidly, and though the new-born mice matured quickly and were soon able to defend themselves, I noticed there were always a few that matured later, especially white mice that were born blind, and in general these did not survive very long. No, I did not watch the actual battle between my mice and the city rats so rarely seen; I merely calculated the results before the rats noticed me and dashed off into hiding. Before long I had invested my entire collection, and then one morning I realized that he whole horde of rats that live beneath the city were about to descend on my nervous pets under my own car. And it was just as I walked inside that morning that I first wondered if perhaps I had set it up a bit too close to my house.
Howard Schwartz was the winner of the 2005 National Jewish Book Award for Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, reissued with annotations in 2007 by Oxford University Press. He teaches English at the University of Missouri in St. Louis. (updated 7/2010)