THE FINE YOUNG RAT AND THE TRAP
HE Mice were having a great frolic in
the corn-crib. The farmer's man had
carelessly left a board leaning up
against it in such a way that they could
right up and through one of the big
cracks in the side. It was the first
some of them had ever been here. When
the farmer built the crib, he had put a
pan, open side down, on top of each of
the wooden posts, and had then nailed
floor beams of the crib through these
pans. That had kept the hungry Mice
getting into the corn.
This was a great day for them, and their
gnawing-teeth would certainly be worn
enough without giving them
extra wear. That, you know, is one
which all Rats and Mice have to be very
careful, for their front teeth are
all the time, and they have to gnaw hard
things every day to keep them from
There was only one thing that ever
really troubled these Mice, and that was
They did not feel afraid of Hawks and
Owls because they lived indoors.
not often come up to the barn, and men
made so much noise when they were around
any wide-awake Mouse could easily keep
out of their way. With the Cat it was
different. She was always prowling
around in the night-time, just when they
their finest parties; and many a young
Mouse had been scared away from a
supper by seeing her eyes glowing like
balls of fire in the darkness. By
it was not so bad, for they could see
her coming, and besides, she slept much
They were talking about her when in the
corn-crib. "Have any of you seen the
to-day?" asked the Oldest Mouse.
Nobody answered. Then one young fellow,
who was always worrying, said:
she should come out of the barn now!
Supposing she should come right toward
corn-crib! Supposing she should stand
right under the floor! Supposing she
catch us as we jumped down! Supposing——"
But here the other young Mice all
squeaked to him to stop, and one of them
that it made her fur stand on end to
think of it. The Oldest Mouse spoke
sharply. "Supposing," said he to the
first young Mouse, "you should eat more
talk less. There are enough pleasant
things to speak about without scaring
friends in this way."
The young Mouse who said that her fur
stood on end
 she was so frightened. "What
could we do," she said, "if the Cat
"Stay right where we are," answered her
mother. "She couldn't reach us with
door closed. Now go on with your eating
and don't be foolish."
A Rat ran up the board. "Good-morning,"
said he. "Have you heard the news?"
"No, no!" cried the Mice, hurrying to
that side of the corn-crib, and peeping
through the crack.
"The Yellow Kitten has been hunting with
her mother, and they say that her
is going to-night."
"Well," said a mother Mouse, "I knew we
would have to expect it, but I did hope
would wait a while. Now, children," she
added, "do be careful! I know that when
you are looking for food you have to go
into dangerous places, but don't stop
to talk or to clean your
Find safe corners for that, or I shall
about you all the time."
"We will," squeaked all the little Mice
together. "We will be very, very
"Thank you for the news," said the
Oldest Mouse to the Rat. "We will try
you word of new dangers when we hear of
The Rat, who was a fine young fellow,
ran down the board and away. They could
ask him in to lunch, because he was too
large and stout to squeeze through the
cracks, but he understood how it was,
and knew that he could find food
Now he ran to the Pig-pen to snatch a
share of the breakfast which the farmer
just left there. He often did this as
soon as the farmer went away, and the
never troubled him. Perhaps that was
because they knew that if they drove him
when he came alone, he would bring all
his sisters and his cousins and his
and his brothers
 and his uncles
too, the next time, and would eat every
food they had.
After he had taken a hearty breakfast,
he ran under the edge of the barn to
himself. He was always very particular
about this. His mother had taught him
very small that he must keep his fur
well brushed and his face washed, and he
just as a Cat would, by wetting his paws
and scrubbing his face and the top of
head. He brushed his fur coat with his
While he was here, one of his cousins
came from the barn above. She ran down
inside of the wall, head foremost, and
her hind feet were turned around until
pointed backward. That let her hold on
with her long, sharp claws, quite as a
Squirrel does, and kept her from
tumbling. She was much out of breath
reached the ground, but it was not from
"What do you think that farmer has
 done now?" she cried. "It was bad
for him to nail tin over the holes we
gnawed into his grain-bins, but this is
still. It needn't make us so much
trouble, but it hurts my feelings."
"What is it?" asked her cousin.
"A trap!" said she. "A horrible, shining
trap. The Rat from the other farm told
about it. It lies open and flat on the
floor of a grain-bin,—the very one you
gnawed into last night,—and there is a
lovely piece of cheese in the middle of
The Rat who told me about it says that
as soon as one touches the cheese, the
springs shut on him."
"Bah!" exclaimed the young Rat who had
just eaten breakfast in the Pig-pen,
stay there! We don't have to touch it,
although I do mean to look at it some
I believe in knowing about things."
"I wish you wouldn't look at it," said
his cousin, who was very fond of him.
 "The Rat from the other farm says it is
very dangerous to even look at traps,
especially if your stomach is empty."
"Then the Rat from the other farm might
better keep away," said this young
as he put one paw up to see that his
whiskers were all right. "I don't think
much of him anyway. He thinks he knows
everything because he has travelled. I
you would have nothing to do with him.
I dare say you were in the grain-bin with
when you saw the trap."
"Yes," said she, "I was."
"Well," said he, "you both got away
safely, and I shall too. I may not be
clever, but I think I do know enough to
keep out of a trap." Then he turned
his hole and went to sleep. He had been
running around all night, and was very
tired. He was cross, too. This was the
second time that his cousin had told him
what the Rat from the other farm
 had said, and he thought she liked him
altogether too well.
When he awakened, it was night again and
he was aroused by the stamping of the
Dappled Gray on the floor above his
head. For a minute, he could hardly
he was. Then it all came to him. He
was in his own cozy little hole under
barn, and it was night. He remembered
something about the Yellow Kitten. What
it? Oh yes, she had begun hunting.
Well, he was not afraid of her yet. But
was something else—the trap! He
wondered if his cousin were in that bin
like as not her friend, the Rat from the
other farm, was showing her the trap
He would go up there himself, and at
He ran up the wall, through an opening,
and across the barn floor to the
It was a moonlight night and the barn
was not very dark. The cover of the bin
raised. Perhaps the farmer's
had forgotten to close it. Perhaps
was so little grain left in it that the
man didn't care to. At any rate, he
now see the trap quite plainly. There
was nobody else in the bin, and he went
"I would not touch it for anything,"
said he, as he entered the bin, "but it
not hurt me to look at it."
When he went nearer, he was very careful
to see that his tail did not even brush
against the chain which held the trap
down. "So that is the terrible,
trap?" said he. "It doesn't look
particularly dreadful. That is
cheese though." He sniffed two or three
times. "I have tasted cheese only once
my whole life," said he, "and I am
almost starved now. I wouldn't mind a
that." He looked at it and thought
about it until it seemed to him he could
away and leave that cheese there.
 Then he thought, "If I am very
careful to step over these shining steel
and rest my feet only on the floor, it
cannot spring the trap. Then I will
the cheese and jump. . . . I am pretty
sure I can do it. . . . Why, yes, I know
can." So the Rat who had come just to
look at the trap, began to lift first
foot and then another over the shining
curved bars, and got all ready to catch
the cheese and run.
"Now!" he cried. "One, two, three!" He
did snatch it and jump, but the trap
jumped, too, in its own trappy way, and
the Rat who got the cheese left the
tip rings of his tail to pay for it.
"Ouch!" he cried. "My tail! My tail!
beautiful, long, bony tail, all covered
with scales and short hair!"
He did not care at all for the cheese now.
He did not
want to see it, for he would rather have
had the point on his tail again than to
a whole binful of cheese.
 "How it will look!" said he. "So
stumpy and blunt. And it has been so
useful always. I could wind it around a
stick to hold myself up when my paws
full, and many a time I have rolled eggs
across the floor by curling it around
them." Then he heard Rat voices and
scampered out and down to his own hole.
His cousin and the Rat from the other
farm came into the bin. "Don't look at
trap," he was saying, "but just eat your
grain from the farther corner."
"I won't," she answered, and she half
closed her eyes to keep from seeing it.
was beside her and they stumbled over
the cheese, which now lay on the floor
from the trap. "How does this happen?"
said he. "We will eat it first and then
find out." By this advice he showed
that he was a Rat of excellent sense.
When they had eaten it, they began to
look toward the trap. As there was no
 longer any cheese in it to tempt them,
they felt perfectly safe in doing so.
found that it had been sprung, and there
lay the last three rings of some Rat's
"How dreadful!" she exclaimed. "I hope
that was not lost by any of our
"Hum-hum!" said the Rat from the other
farm. "Now, whom have I seen wearing
I have certainly seen that tail
before—it was your cousin!"
"Poor fellow!" said she. "I must go to
"Oh, don't go now," cried the Rat from
the other farm. "I think he might want
alone for a while. Besides," he added
coaxingly, "you haven't tasted of the
yet, and it is very good."
"W-well," answered she, "perhaps my
cousin would just as soon not have me
So she waited, and the Rat from the
other farm told her wonderful
 stories of
his travels, and they had a very fine
When her cousin began to run around
again, he was a much sadder and wiser
Sometimes the younger Rats would ask him
how he lost the tip of his tail. "By
turning it toward a tempting danger," he
would answer, very solemnly. Then,
he had told them the story, he always
added, "The time to turn your tail
tempting danger is the minute you see
it, for if you wait and look and long
something you ought not to take, there
is sure to be trouble, and many a Rat
lost more than the tip of his tail in
just that way."