Although Trick-or-Treating for Halloween is really an American tradition, many English children have adopted it now, including the children here in Chagford. My former cottage, where I lived for 18 years, was located down a pedestrian lane at the center of the village, so many Trick-or-Treaters found their way to my door. But I was never home on Halloween. Instead, a bashful mouse would greet them, with a shy little flick of her long pink tail, standing in the candle-lit doorway of that fairy-tale cottage with its roof of thatch.
Below is as picture of the mouse (photographed at a friend's house, as I have no pictures from my own). She appears here in her everyday clothes, but she always dressed up special for Halloween in a long brown velvet dress. She was known to the children as Miss Mouse, and lived in the cottage walls all the rest of the year.
These day, I live on the outskirts of the village, and only a few intrepid youngsters climb the overgrown path to our door on Halloween. Now it's only Tilly, Howard, and I who greet them, for Miss Mouse has long since disappeared; she was last seen, clutching a little mouse-sized suitcase, on the day that I moved from Weaver's Cottage.
A generation of Chagford children grew up with Miss Mouse. (Some even brought her presents of cheese.) I know that they'll carry that memory...and I know that she's still missed. Wherever you are Miss Mouse, stay warm and cozy, and have a good Halloween.
Images above: "Lady Mouse" by Beatrix Potter (1866-1943) and Miss Mouse in her everyday clothes.
Postcript, summer 2014: Miss Mouse's cousin, the Dormouse from Alice in Wonderland, made an appearance this summer at the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, sponsored by the Friends of Chagford Library, and also at the Chagford Carnival on behalf of the library. Follow the links for photos.