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THE RUN-A-WAY MICE, WHO GOT
ON THE TREAD-MILL. tal - low
im - pa - tient spec - ta - cles
re - mind - ed res - pec - ta - ble wains - cot know - ledge
dor - mouse school mas - ter
mis - chiev - ous fol - low - ed
ser - vi - tude A WISE old mouse had many children, of whom she took great care. She always told them to be very careful never to go near ugly bits of wood, called traps, which hurt, or even kill, poor mice. Never to look at a cat, much less speak to one, and to remember that cheeserind, eaten in peace, was better than the best tallow-candle when there was fear of the cook's coming in.
One day the old mouse came into her hole looking very sad, and tapping her tail on the floor to call her children to her, she said, “Oh, children! I am very sad. Your dear aunt, Brown Mouse, has been caught in a trap, and we shall never see her any more. She went out and forgot her spectacles, and, poor dear, being short-sighted, went into a trap, thinking it was a respectable quiet hole to let. I grieve so for her young family: one little mouse in arms, besides the elder ones, knowing nothing, and with all their schooling to be paid. To my certain knowledge, Schoolmaster Grey-mouse charges four bits of cheese-rind a quarter—which reminds me, children, say
the tables : 12 crumbs, 1 rind; 4 rinds, 1 candle.”
- Oh no, dear mamma,” said all the children at once, “no tables now; but do let Blackie and Tiny and the dear baby come and live here in this hole, there is plenty of room.”
“Yes," said the old mouse, wiping her spectacles, which were dim from tears, with the end of her tail, "if I were quite sure that you would be kind to them; but shall you not fight when the cheese-rind, or candle-end, is not enough for all ?"
"Oh no, dear mamma,” cried the little mice, all flapping their tails eagerly; "we will be so kind.”
So the old mouse went off and fetched the orphans, and, for a time, all went well. But one of the orphans, Blackie, was a restless mouse. He was very pretty; and other mice had told him so. And several gay rats, fast young fellows, had taken notice of him, and so his head was turned. He got fond of going out of the hole, and would too often run races with low field-mice.
All this vexed his aunt very much. But it was quite in vain that she reminded him that the large sandy cat, who had just got the place of gamekeeper, was very quick, and likely to catch him. Blackie got impatient with her, and went from bad to worse. Not contented with field-mice, he even made acquaintance with some vulgar moles, who were dirty creatures, and often would spend the evening with them, when the fast rats had gone somewhere, where, as they said, they could not have a common mouse dragging after them.
How all this would have ended, I do not know. But one day Blackie, to spite his aunt, got his eldest cousin to go with him on one of these sly trips. “It is so dull at home,” said he. “I am sick of cheese-rind, and there is nothing else. Come with me, and I will show you a fine sight. I have seen a mouse who has a fine house all to himself.”
“ That's a trap,” said little Brighteyes, who was a sharp mouse in his way.
“Oh no, it is not, for he has been there many days, and has all manner of nice things, but the lazy fellow only sleeps. Come through this hole in the wainscot. Look at him. There is his house on the floor."
The two silly creatures crept up to the cage where a dormouse lived, and seeing an empty cage close by, thought it was a hole to let, and ran in.
A very wrong and giddy thing to do, as of course they ought to have inquired the rent first, even if it had been a vacant hole. “How much nicer than our nasty little hole,” said they, “and how jolly to have it all to ourselves.” But when they tried to go out to get in a few things for their supper, they found that they could not do so, for the door had banged. And two tall gamekeepers, one a sandy and the other a tabby cat, came and stared at them, purring this song:
" As we were trotting down the street,
Down the street,
Down the street,
And purring, caught and eat them.” Then came the gamekeeper's children, merry kittens, who danced round the cage, purring :
" Mice! mice !
That's nice !" For these little cats had not had learning enough to make really good poetry, and so could only repeat the same words over and over again. But their ideas were always beautiful, though they could not express them as easily as their parents, who soon broke out into another song :
“When the cat’s away, the mice will play." You can fancy, my dear mice, who read this sad tale, how Blackie and Tiny trembled ! But just as the youngest kitten, a mischievous school cat, had got his paws between the bars of the cage, and the gamekeepers were cheering him on, and singing the chorus with great glee
“Purring, caught and eat them ”(the tune used was " High-diddle-diddle, the cat and the fiddle,” which is in all cats' musicbooks), the parlour-door opened, and a lady and a little girl came in.
"Oh, mamma!” said the child, 6 look what pretty mice. I will keep them always
in this cage. Go away, my cats, and take the kittens with you. I can't let you have such beauties."
So Blackie and Brighteyes escaped being killed, but had penal servitude for life, having always to turn a wheel, which is the mouse treadmill. They were very sad, and every day sang the same song :
“Give me again my hollow tree,
DIRTY JEM. re - por - ted
un - will - ing - ly dis - grace
wash - ed dir - ty
look - ed
'Tis reported of him,
That he never was seen
With hands at all clean,
His mother was hurt
To see so much dirt,
But all was in vain,
He was dirty again,
When to wash he was sent,
He unwillingly went