| For the Children's Hour|
|by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey|
|A choice collection of stories for the preschool child, carefully selected, adapted, and arranged by two veteran kindergarten teachers. Includes nature stories, holiday stories, fairy tales and fables, as well as stories of home life. Emphasis is placed on fanciful tales for their value in the training of the imagination and on cumulative tales for developing a child's sense of humor and appealing to his instinctive love of rhyme and jingle. Ages 4-7 |
THE TALE OF THE LITTLEST MOUSE
Anne Guilbert Mahon in "Kindergarten Review."
THE littlest mouse lived with his father and mother and
little brothers in a small round nest in a field. He
was very happy, playing in the field all day, and going
to sleep—snug and warm at night—in his grassy bed.
Mr. and Mrs. Field Mouse had seen the world, and knew
how to bring up their children. They taught them never
to go into the streets, where there were cats and dogs
and great horses and carts going by, and all sorts of
One day there came to visit them a big, sleek, fat
 gray mouse—a cousin who lived in a house on a street.
The little Field Mice were overawed by his fine ways.
"You would never be contented here if you could once
see my house," he said to them. "Such feasts as we
have! There is always cheese in the dresser. The
maids are careless, and they leave everything around.
There is really too much to eat."
The little Field Mice opened their eyes. Very often in
their home there was not enough to go around. They
knew what it was to go hungry to bed. The idea of any
one having too much to eat filled them with envy.
After the cousin had gone, the little mice said to the
father and mother: "Why can't we live in a house, and
have more than we want to eat? Why can't we be fat,
and have a fine gray coat like cousin's?"
But the wise parents said: "Don't be carried away by
such tales. Your cousin is proud and makes the most of
his good things. He didn't tell you about the cat that
lives in the house and has eaten up three of his
family. He didn't tell you of the big steel trap lying
about nor how his brother got caught in one of the
dreadful things. You may not have such good things to
eat, nor wear such a fine coat, but it is better to be
safe and happy in a small, humble home than to be
always afraid in a big, handsome one."
The littlest mouse thought differently. They did not
understand, he thought; he wanted to find out for
himself. So, that night, after they had been snugly
tucked in bed and his father and mother had gone to
sleep, he stole softly out across the dark field and
into the street to his cousin's house. Trembling with
excitement, he gnawed his way into the cellar.
Never had he seen such a place before—so big and
 so dark. He heard something move near him, and he
jumped in fright, but to his joy he saw that it was
only his fat, sleek cousin. The littlest mouse
explained how he had run away, and that he wanted to
see the life his cousin had told him about.
"Well," said the big, gray mouse, "come with me, and
I'll show you around, but look out for the cat!"
They started on their journey through the big house,
and the littlest mouse opened his eyes in wonder, and
said so many times that he wished he, too, might live
"You're happier where you are," said the cousin, and
the littlest mouse wondered what he meant. At last
they reached the dining-room. There had been a fine
supper that night, and the careless maids had let it
stand until morning. Here was a feast, indeed! There
were a pie and cake and crackers and cheese. Five
other mice were there enjoying the good things—all of
them as sleek and fat as the cousin. The littlest
mouse followed their example, and began enjoying
himself, too. But just as their fun was at its height,
there was a scuffle, a squeal, and a scampering; for a
big, gray cat bounded into the room and caught the
mouse that was nearest the door.
Wild with fright, the other mice scampered away from
the room. They ran to their holes, the big, gray
cousin making room for the littlest mouse with him; and
there they stayed, not daring to breathe, even, for a
long time. At last they ventured out again into the
kitchen, and, while the cousin nosed around, the
littlest mouse spied a big bit of cheese in a
beautiful, shiny box. He made a dive for the tempting
Snap! Click! The littlest mouse was fast. He knew
now what a trap was.
 "Help! Help!" he cried.
The cousin ran to the rescue.
"Oh, you silly mouse!" he cried; "you will never get
out. They'll come in the morning and give you to the
cat. Oh, it was just so with your cousin who was
caught in the trap last week! Oh, dear! Oh, dear!"
The littlest mouse was wild with fright. He struggled
and he wriggled. Something sharp cut his foot, but he
hardly felt the pain. If he could only get loose and
back to his own home! Would he ever see it again? He
twisted in and out. Harder and harder he wriggled
until—slowly, inch by inch—he worked himself out and
was free again.
"That's because you are such a little fellow," said his
cousin. "I never could have got out."
With a hurried good-bye, the little mouse ran as fast
as his bruised leg would carry him out of the house and
across the fields to his old home. His mother had
awakened and missed him. How glad she was to see him!
She cared for the poor sore foot; then wrapped him
snugly in his little grass bed, where he went to
sleep—happy and safe—and determined never to leave home
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