A few days passed since Montgomery and Montgomery met each other. As they spent time together, Montgomery the Mouse would occasionally remember Montgomery the Moose crashing through the cabin wall, and his smile would turn to a giggle – then before he knew it he was laughing so hard he couldn’t stop. And Montgomery the Moose always looked at him and wondered why he was laughing, which only made him laugh more.
It was a beautiful late Summer day in Maine, and the friends were walking around the woods with Montgomery the Mouse riding on Montgomery the Moose’s head. He was trying to hold back his giggle – he’d fallen off only about half an hour earlier, and didn’t want to fall off again.
As they came through a densely packed area into a clearing, they heard some talking and laughing. They looked down the rows of apple trees and saw people – many of them in groups of three or four – pulling apples off the trees. They all looked like they were enjoying it – especially the smaller people, who were giggling as they tried to climb onto the bigger people to reach the apples that were up high.
As Montgomery the Moose watched, he saw that when a person pulled an apple down and put it in a bucket, usually another apple or two would fall on the ground; the person would sometimes look down, but pretty much always leave it there. And now that he looked down at the trees closest to them, Montgomery noticed just that each tree had dozens of apples – many either rotted or in pieces – underneath it.
“Hmm,” said Montgomery the Moose. “That’s odd.”
“What is?” asked Montgomery the Mouse, who had scrambled up to the end of one of Montgomery the Moose’s antlers and was standing on his back feet trying to reach an apple to munch on.
“Well, I always thought these humans liked apples,” he replied. “At least – I’ve seen a lot of them in those small fabric houses they bring to the woods.” Montgomery the Mouse was puzzled – did he mean tents? “But look – they must not like them after all! They’re trying to get all the apples off these trees and they’re just putting them in buckets or dropping them on the ground.”
Montgomery the Mouse had given up trying to reach an apple for himself as he wondered if Montgomery the Moose was understanding the situation correctly.
“But look,” Montgomery the Moose continued, waving his head in the direction of hundreds of trees to one side of them. “Taking all the apples off these trees will take – ” he waved his head towards hundreds more trees to the other side “- Forever!”
Montgomery the Mouse had to agree, it would take a long time.
“These poor people,” Montgomery the Moose continued. “I don’t understand why, but getting the apples off these trees is obviously very important to them. We should help!”
Montgomery the Mouse was pretty sure something was wrong here, but he couldn’t quite figure out what.
“Ummm…” he said, hoping that a pause would help.
“Look, here’s what we’ll do,” his big friend went on, as he walked over to a nearby tree, whose branches were covered with large, red apples. “I’m strong enough that I could just knock a tree like this down” – Montgomery the Mouse nodded, well aware of his friend’s strength – “but they don’t seem to want the trees down, just the apples. So if we stand here like this” – he brought his big head and his massive antlers right into the midst of a tree’s branches, snapping several branches and knocking off fourteen apples and Montgomery the Mouse in the process – “then I can just shake my head and knock all the apples off the tree!” He tensed his muscles and scrunched up his face, all ready to go, but realized he hadn’t heard anything from his little friend in a while. “What do you think, Montgomery?”
He didn’t hear a response.
“Umm, I’m down here,” said Montgomery the Mouse, from a small pile of rotten apples on the ground.
“Oh, okay,” said Montgomery the Moose and tensed his muscles again, ready to go.
“WAIT!” shouted Montgomery the Mouse, as loud as a mouse could.
His friend stopped.
“If you do it now, all the apples are going to fall on top of me! Let me get up to the top of the tree – I’ll be safe there.”
“Of course,” said Montgomery the Moose, and waited until his friend had clambered to the highest branch.
Montgomery the Mouse still had the feeling that something wasn’t quite right about this whole thing, but couldn’t quite place what it was.
“Okay, go!” he shouted down to his friend, and instantly figured out the problem. The entire tree that he was on – and all the hard red apples that were bigger than him – was shaking side to side like it was the hair on a dog that had just come out of a pond it wasn’t supposed to be in. He was a tiny mouse standing right in the center of a giant treequake!
He held on as tightly as he could. Apples went flying in all directions – several went flying past Montgomery the Mouse, and a few hit him. He was so dizzy he couldn’t tell which was was up, but some even looked like they were shooting up into the sky. The tree shook for what felt like minutes before he could say anything, but once he could think straight with everything shaking, he shouted out “SSTTOOOOOOP!”
Montgomery the Moose stopped, although in all the noise of the tree shaking, he hadn’t even heard his small friend. But he’d got almost every apple – and many of the branches – off the tree, and it was time to move on to the next one.
He tried to back up.
“Hmmm,” he said.
He tried to back up again.
“Hmmm,” he said.
“I’m stuck,” he said.
Montgomery the Mouse, who was slowly starting to see properly again, looked down. Montgomery the Moose’s head and antlers were jammed between the tree’s biggest branches.
Montgomery the Mouse also noticed that a moose shaking an apple tree and getting its head stuck in there was something a lot of the humans in the orchard were interested in. Quite a few people had gathered around.
“Hmmm, if I can just…” Montgomery the Moose tried to twist his head. “…Or maybe if I…” he added, trying to crouch down.
“Hmmm,” he added again.
“I think I’m just going to have to…” he said, without finishing his sentence.
Montgomery the Mouse was still recovering from the treequake, but he thought whatever his big friend was about to do probably wouldn’t work out well for him.
“Maybe I should get down fir-” he started to say, but in the middle of his sentence, Montgomery the Moose wrenched the whole tree out of the ground and Montgomery the Mouse suddenly went flying out of the tree, through the air, and landed in a bucket full of apples.
Montgomery the Mouse shook his head, and heard a small person’s excited voice saying “Mommy! Daddy! Look what came out of that tree! Look!” And he pointed into the bucket at Montgomery.
“Aaagghh!” the big people shouted. “It’s a mouse! Tip out your bucket! Quick!”
But before the small person could tip out the bucket, who should come running towards them but a large moose with an apple tree stuck on its head?
“AAAGGHH!” the big people screamed. “It’s a… It’s a… I don’t know what it is! Run!”
As the humans ran away, Montgomery the Moose smashed the remains of the apple tree on the ground, and when he tipped the bucket over to help his friend out, he sniffed an apple and decided to eat it.
“Mmmm,” he said as he munched away. “These apples are really tasty! I don’t know why those people were trying to get rid of them.”