"Oh, I say! We've discovered a Squirrel's nest!"
Arabelle blinked and stared at the two heads looking in on her.
"Now, Dearie, that's a marmoset, not a squirrel. You can tell it's not a squirrel because it hasn't got a tail."
"But don't you remember? Father always said that 'Accidents do happen'. The poor little thing must have gotten its tail chopped off. It's obviously not very bright but then squirrels aren't very smart."
"Oh, I say! It's got stripes! It's a chipmunk!"
"Now, Dearie, I said it wan't a marmoset! What would a marmoset be doing here? A squirrel or a chipmunk...yes, but not a marmoset."
"But don't you remember? Father always said that animals migrate. Naturally, a marmoset wouldn't be here in winter but in summer it's quite possible. They're not like us. They do get lost."
"How do you do?" Arabelle said politely.
"Oh, I say! I think it squeaked."
"Now, Dearie, chipmunks don't squeak....they chatter. It's entirely different."
"But don't you remember? Father always said 'It's Squirrels that chatter, not chipmunks'. We have decided that it's a chipmunk, now haven't we?"
"I'm not a chipmunk!" Arabelle stated.
"Oh, I say! It is a funny little creature isn't it?"
"Now Dearie, don't get too close. It might bite. You never can tell with wild animals. Anything might set it off."
"But don't you remember? Father always said 'You shouldn't touch a wild animal'. I'm not touching, just looking. You don't get bitten for just looking."
"Excuse me, but I'm not a wild animal," Arabelle said. Not that she wasn't tempted to bite but it wouldn't be diplomatic.
"Oh, I say! I wouldn't like to live in a hole like this one. There's no comfort. It's so plain and barren. It's just a miserable hole in the ground."
"Now Dearie, no civilized person would but wild animals don't know any better. I'm sure it's quite happy here. It doesn't know any better."
"But don't you remember Father always said he had a tame mouse when he was young?"
"Oh, I say! That's a cracking idea! We could take our little chipmunk home and make it a proper nest! It's obviously not a very bright little chipmunk or it would have made itself a better nest already. Aside from not still having a tail, which it would have, if it had only been more careful. Poor silly little chipmunk!"
"Hey!" Arabelle yelled. "I am NOT a chipmunk!"
"Now Dearie, we don't know what chipmunks eat!"
"But don't you remember? Father always said they will adjust to their feeding habits accordingly! That's Nature's way of adapting to the seasons."
"Oh, I say! That is splendid! We'll just take our little chipmunk friend home with us. I'm sure it will be very happy once it adjusts."
"Now, Dearie, we will need a net. No touching the chipmunk...not until it's tame."
"But don't you remember? Father always said all you need is a rope! They cling to it and climb up and when they get near to the top, you turn the rope around so that they are at the bottom. They will just keep climbing and climbing and never think to let go of the rope!"
"Oh, I say! That is clever! Father always had the best ideas! You don't happen to have a bit of rope on you?"
"Now Dearie! What would I be doing carrying rope?"
"But don't you remember? Father always said to be prepared. I'm sure you could carry some rope if you really wanted to."
"Oh, I say! I don't see you carrying any rope either! You think it would be easy to carry half the house around with me just in case something might be needed?"
"Now Dearie, I didn't MEAN anything by that. You know I didn't. But when you mentioned the trick with the rope, I just assumed you had some. It didn't seem that you would mention using rope if you didn't have any. It seems I was quite mistaken but there's no need to go on about it. I forgive you."
"But don't you remember? Father always said you should consider all your options. Using a rope is just as much a good idea as using a net. Especially since we haven't got a net either. And YOU suggested using a net."
"Oh I say! I don't think he meant we were to carry heavy chunks of rope about! I mean what are the chances we would meet a chipmunk?"
"Now, Dearie, there's no point in getting upset. You'll scare our chipmunk! I'm sure it's a very pretty chipmunk and we will be the envy of our friends. We just have to find a way to take it home with us."
"I'm not a chipmunk!" Arabelle stated wearily. "I'm an envoy from another reality! Don't you understand? I'm a totally alien life form!"
"But don't you remember? Father always said we could do anything as long as we put our heads together. Not literally, although he did knock our heads together once and it was most unpleasant! I'm sure we didn't think one bit better although the principle is quite sound. I do love principles, don't you? So princely it sounds."
"Oh, I say! In principle, I am so thirsty! We haven't had a drop in simply ages!"
"Now Dearie, it does no good to think about it. I'm sure I'm much thirstier than you are but you don't hear me talking about it. I've always suffered in silence. It's just the way I was brought up....you know I'm the quiet, sensitive type."
"But don't you remember? Father always said one should always keep something to slack one's thirst handy. I'm not sure he was taking about water but the principle is the same. I'm sure if you had thought to bring something to drink, instead of worrying about netting chipmunks, it would be much more useful! I'm sure I'm just as sensitive as you are but I don't talk about it. If I had known we were going to be out for so long...but I'm not one to complain."
Arabelle went to her chest and took out a bottle of water. Maybe this would finally convince her visitors that she was not a chipmunk but an intelligent being. She took the top off and handed it to one of them.
The duck creatures took no notice of Arabelle and even knocked the bottle aside, spilling the contents.
"Oh, I say! What's this? It's peed on the floor! Bad chipmunk! Bad, bad, bad chipmunk! Mustn't pee on the floor!"
"Now dearie, you didn't step in it did you? That would be too dreadful! I don't think I want a chipmunk that pees on the floor. It's just too disgusting! It's unsanitory! I can't think what Father would say about this."
"But don't you remember? Father always said that he had a mouse. Clearly mice are much more civilized than chipmunks! No, we certainly don't want an uncivilized chipmunk peeing on our floors! What a horrid, dirty thing it is. Why, it would be nothing but trouble. I can't think why you want it."
"Oh, I say! I wasn't the one who wanted it! That was you! If I had wanted the chipmunk I would have brought a net or a rope to catch it."
"Now, Dearie, I don't want the horrid thing either. You know I don't and I never did. What I want is to leave this pee-stained hole and get a nice drink, someplace civilized. Why, I won't stand here another minute. It's unsanitary!"
"But don't you remember? Father always said there was a charming little place right around the bend. I'm sure we will find it and have a lovely drink. Hurry up now, as I am so very thirsty."
Arabelle mopped up the spilled water. "His Majesty was right. This is a job for a professional diplomat. Not that even a professional diplomat could get that precious pair to stop talking and listen! But, if anyone ends up in a cage, labeled 'chipmunk', I'd rather it not be me. So much for meeting intelligent extraterrestials who can solve all our problems. There may be super intelligent, rational, creatures out there somewhere but, if so, they've got better sense than to come visit us."