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The Life and Perambulations of a Mouse by Dorothy Kilner

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This Etext prepared by Pat Pflieger

by Dorothy Kilner


During a remarkably severe winter, when a prodigious fall of snow
confined everybody to their habitations, who were happy enough to
have one to shelter them from the inclemency of the season, and
were hot obliged by business to expose themselves to its rigour, I
was on a visit to Meadow Hall; where had assembled likewise a
large party of young folk, who all seemed, by their harmony and
good humour, to strive who should the most contribute to render
pleasant that confinement which we were all equally obliged to
share. Nor were those further advanced in life less anxious to
contribute to the general satisfaction and entertainment.

After the more serious employment of reading each morning was
concluded, we danced, we sung, we played at blind-man's-buff,
battledore and shuttlecock, and many other games equally diverting
and innocent; and when tired of them, drew our seats round the
fire, while each one in turn told some merry story to divert the

At last, after having related all that we could recollect worth
reciting, and being rather at a loss what to say next, a sprightly
girl in company proposed that every one should relate the history
of their own lives; 'and it must be strange indeed,' added she,
'if that will not help us out of this difficulty, and furnish
conversation for some days longer; and by that time, perhaps, the
frost will break, the snow will melt, and set us all at liberty.
But let it break when it will, I make a law, that no one shall go
from Meadow Hall till they have told their own history: so take
notice, ladies and gentlemen, take notice, everybody, what you
have to trust to. And because,' continued she, 'I will not be
unreasonable, and require more from you than you can perform, I
will give all you who may perhaps have forgotten what passed so
many years ago, at the beginning of your lives, two days to
recollect and digest your story; by which time if you do not
produce something pretty and entertaining, we will never again
admit you to dance or play among us.' All this she spoke with so
good-humoured a smile, that every one was delighted with her, and
promised to do their best to acquit themselves to her
satisfaction; whilst some (the length of whose lives had not
rendered them forgetful of the transactions which had passed)
instantly began their memoirs, as they called them: and really
some related their narratives with such spirit and ingenuity, that
it quite distressed us older ones, lest we should disgrace
ourselves when it should fall to our turns to hold forth.
However, we were all determined to produce something, as our fair
directress ordered. Accordingly, the next morning I took up my
pen, to endeavour to draw up some kind of a history, which might
satisfy my companions in confinement. I took up my pen, it is
true, and laid the paper before me; but not one word toward my
appointed task could I proceed. The various occurrences of my life
were such as, far from affording entertainment, would, I was
certain, rather afflict; or, perhaps, not interesting enough for
that, only stupefy, and render them more weary of the continuation
of the frost than they were before I began my narration. Thus
circumstanced, therefore, although by myself, I broke silence by
exclaiming, 'What a task his this sweet girl imposed upon me! One
which I shall never be able to execute to my own satisfaction or
her amusement. The adventures of my life (though deeply
interesting to myself) will be insipid and unentertaining to
others, especially to my young hearers: I cannot, therefore,
attempt it.'--'Then write mine, which may be more diverting,' said
a little squeaking voice, which sounded as if close to me. I
started with surprise, not knowing any one to be near me; and
looking round, could discover no object from whom it could
possibly proceed, when casting my eyes upon the ground, in a
little hole under the skirting-board, close by the fire, I
discovered thehead of a mouse peeping out. I arose with a design
to stop the hole with a cork, which happened to lie on the table
by me; and I was surprised to find that it did not run away, but
suffered me to advance quite close, and then only retreated a
little into the hole, saying in the same voice as before, 'Will
you write my history?' You may be sure that I was much surprised
to be so addressed by such an animal; but, ashamed of discovering
any appearance of astonishment, lest the mouse should suppose it
had frightened me, I answered with the utmost composure, that I
would write it willingly if it would dictate to me. 'Oh, that I
will do,' replied the mouse, 'if you will not hurt me.'--'Not for
the world,' returned I; 'come, therefore, and sit upon my table,
that I may hear more distinctly what you have to relate.' It
instantly accepted my invitation, and with all the nimbleness of
its species, ran up the side of my chair, and jumped upon my
table; when, getting into a box of wafers, it began as follows.

But, before I proceed to relate my new little companion's history,
I must beg leave to assure my readers that, in earnest, I never
heard a mouse speak in all my life; and only wrote the following
narrative as being far more entertaining, and not less
instructive, than my own life would have been: and as it met with
the high approbation of those for whom it was written, I have sent
it to Mr. Marshall, for him to publish it, if he pleases, for the
equal amusement of his little customers.


Like all other newborn animals, whether of the human, or any other
species, I can not pretend to remember what passed during my
infant days. The first circumstance I can recollect was my
mother's addressing me and my three brothers, who all lay in the
same nest, in the following words:-'I have, my children, with the
greatest difficulty, and at the utmost hazard of my life, provided
for you all to the present moment; but the period is arrived, when
I can no longer pursue that method: snares and traps are
everywhere set for me, nor shall I, without infinite danger, be
able to procure sustenance to support my own existence, much less
can I find sufficient for you all; and, indeed, with pleasure I
behold it as no longer necessary, since you are of age now to
provide and shift for yourselves; and I doubt not but your agility
will enable you to procure a very comfortable livelihood. Only
let me give you this one caution--never (whatever the temptation
may be) appear often in the same place; if you do, however you may
flatter yourselves to the contrary, you will certainly at last be
destroyed.' So saying, she stroked us all with her fore paw as a
token of her affection, and then hurried away, to conceal from us
the emotions of her sorrow, at thus sending us into the wide

She was no sooner gone, than the thought of being our own
directors so charmed our little hearts, that we presently forgot
our grief at parting from our kind parent; and, impatient to use
our liberty, we all set forward in search of some food, or rather
some adventure, as our mother had left us victuals more than
sufficient to supply the wants of that day. With a great deal of
difficulty, we clambered up a high wall on the inside of a
wainscot, till we reached the story above that we were born in,
where we found it much easier to run round within the
skirting-board, than to ascend any higher.

While we were there, our noses were delightfully regaled with the
scent of the most delicate food that we had ever smelt; we were
anxious to procure a taste of it likewise, and after running round
and round the room a great many times, we at last discovered a
little crack, through which we made our entrance. My brother
Longtail led the way; I followed; Softdown came next; but
Brighteyes would not be prevailed upon to venture. The apartment
which we entered was spacious and elegant; at least, differed so
greatly from anything we had seen, that we imagined it the finest
place upon earth. It was covered all over with a carpet of
various colours, that not only concealed some bird-seeds which we
came to devour, but also for some time prevented our being
discovered; as we were of much the same hue with many of the
flowers on the carpet. At last a little girl, who was at work in
the room, by the side of her mamma, shrieked out as if violently
hurt. Her mamma begged to know the cause of her sudden alarm.
Upon which she called out, 'A mouse! a mouse! I saw one under the
chair!' 'And if you did, my dear,' replied her mother, 'is that
any reason for your behaving so ridiculously? If there were
twenty mice, what harm could they possibly do? You may easily hurt
and destroy then,; but, poor little things! they cannot, if they
would, hurt you.' 'What, could they not bite me?' inquired the
child. 'They may, indeed, be able to do that; but you may be very
sure that they have no such inclination,' rejoined the mother. 'A
mouse is one of the most timorous things in the world; every noise
alarms it: and though it chiefly lives by plunder, it appears as
if punished by its fears for the mischiefs which it commits among
our property. It is therefore highly ridiculous to pretend to be
alarmed at the sight of a creature that would run from the sound
of your voice, and wishes never to come near you, lest, as you are
far more able, you should also be disposed to hurt it.' 'But I am
sure, madam,' replied the little girl, whose name I afterwards
heard was Nancy, 'they do not always run away; for one day, as
Miss Betsy Kite was looking among some things which she had in her
box, a mouse jumped out and ran up her frock sleeve--she felt it
quite up on her arm.' 'And what became of it then?' inquired the
mother. 'It jumped down again,' replied Nancy, 'and got into a
little hole in the window-seat; and Betsy did not see it again.'
'Well, then, my dear,' resumed the lady, 'what harm did it do her?
Is not that a convincing proof of what I say, that you have no
cause to be afraid of them, and that it is very silly to be so?
It is certainly foolish to be afraid of any thing, unless it
threatens us with immediate danger; but to pretend to be so at a
mouse, and such like inoffensive things, is a degree of weakness
that I can by no means suffer any of my children to indulge.'
'May I then, madam,' inquired the child, 'be afraid of cows and
horses, and such great beasts as those?' 'Certainly not,'
answered her mother, 'unless they are likely to hurt you. If a
cow or an horse runs after you, I would have you fear them so much
as to get out of the way; but if they are quietly walking or
grazing in a field, then to fly from them, as if you thought they
would eat you instead of the grass, is most absurd, and discovers
great want of sense. I once knew a young lady, who, I believe,
thought it looked pretty to be terrified at everything, and scream
if dog or even a mouse looked at her: but most severely was she
punished for her folly, by several very disagreeable accidents she
by those means brought upon herself.

'One day when she was drinking tea in a large company, on the door
being opened, a small Italian greyhound walked into the
drawing-room. She happened to be seated near the mistress of the
dog, who was making tea: the dog, therefore, walked toward her,
in order to be by his favourite; but, upon his advancing near her,
she suddenly jumped up, without considering what she was about,
overturned the water-urn, the hot iron of which rolling out, set
fire to her clothes, which instantly blazed up, being only muslin,
and burnt her arms, face, and neck, most dreadfully: she was so
much hurt as to be obliged to be put immediately to bed; nor did
she recover enough to go abroad for many months. Now, though
every one was sorry for her sufferings, who could possibly help
blaming her for her ridiculous behaviour, as it was entirely owing
to her own folly that she was so hurt? When she was talked to upon
the subject, she pleaded for her excuse, that she was so
frightened she did not know what she did, nor whither she was
going; but as she thought that the dog was coming to her she could
not help jumping up, to get out of his way. Now what ridiculous
arguing was this! Why could not she help it? And if the dog had
really been going to her, what harm would it have done? Could she
suppose that the lady whose house she was at, would have suffered
a beast to walk about the house loose, and go into company, if he
was apt to bite and hurt people? Or why should she think he would
more injure her, than those he had before passed by? But the real
case was, she did not think at all; if she had given herself time
for that, she could not have acted so ridiculously. Another time,
when she was walking, from the same want of reflection, she very
nearly drowned herself. She was passing over a bridge, the
outside rails of which were in some places broken down: while she
was there, some cows, which a man was driving, met her:
immediately, without minding whither she went, she shrieked out,
and at the same time jumped on one side just where the rail
happened to be broken, and down she fell into the river; nor was
it without the greatest difficulty that she was taken out time
enough to save her life. However, she caught a violent cold and
fever, and was again, by her own foolish fears, confined to her
bed for some weeks. Another accident she once met with, which
though not quite so bad as the two former, yet might have been
attended with fatal consequences. She was sitting in a window,
when a wasp happened to fly toward her; she hastily drew back her
head, and broke the pane of glass behind her, some of which stuck
in her neck. It bled prodigiously; but a surgeon happily being
present, made some application to it, which prevented its being
followed by any other ill effects than only a few days weakness,
occasioned by the loss of blood. Many other misfortunes of the
like kind she frequently experienced; but these which I have now
related may serve to convince you how extremely absurd it is for
people to give way to and indulge themselves in such groundless
apprehensions, and, by being afraid when there is no danger,
subject themselves to real misfortunes and most fatal accidents.
And if being afraid of cows, dogs, and wasps (all of which, if
they please, can certainly hurt us) is so ridiculous, what must be
the folly of those people who are terrified at a little silly
mouse, which never was known to hurt anybody?'

Here the conversation was interrupted by the entrance of some
gentlemen and ladies; and we having enjoyed a very fine repast
under one of the chairs during the time that the mother and
daughter had held the above discourse, on the chairs being removed
for some of the visitors to sit upon, we thought it best to
retire: highly pleased with our meal, and not less with the kind
goodwill which the lady had, we thought, expressed towards us. We
related to our brother Brighteyes all that had passed, and assured
him he had no reason to apprehend any danger from venturing
himself with us. Accordingly he promised, if such was the case,
that the next time we went and found it safe, if we would return
back and call him, he would certainly accompany us. 'In the mean
time, do pray, Nimble,' said he, addressing himself to me, 'come
with me to some other place, for I long to taste some more
delicate food than our mother has provided for us: besides, as
perhaps it may be a long while before we shall be strong enough to
bring anything away with us, we had better leave that, in case we
should ever be prevented from going abroad to seek for fresh
supplies.' 'Very true,' replied I; 'what you say is quite just
and wise, therefore I will with all my heart attend you now, and
see what we can find.' So saying, we began to climb; but not
without difficulty, for very frequently the bits of mortar which
we stepped upon gave way beneath our feet, and tumbled us down
together with them lower than when we first set off. However, as
we were very light, we were not much hurt by our falls; only
indeed poor Brighteyes, by endeavouring to save himself, caught by
his nails on a rafter, and tore one of them from off his right
fore-foot, which was very sore and inconvenient. At length we
surmounted all difficulties, and, invited by a strong scent of
plum-cake, entered a closet, where we found a fine large one,
quite whole and entire. We immediately set about making our way
into it, which we easily effected, as it was most deliciously
nice, and not at all hard to our teeth.

Brighteyes, who had not before partaken of the bird-seed, was
overjoyed at the sight. He almost forgot the pain of his foot,
and soon buried himself withinside the cake; whilst I, who had
pretty well satisfied my hunger before, only ate a few of the
crumbs, and then went to take a survey of the adjoining apartment.
I crept softly under the door of the closet into a room, as large
as that which I had before been in, though not so elegantly
furnished; for, instead of being covered with a carpet, there was
only a small one round the bed; and near the fire was a cradle,
with a cleanly-looking woman sitting by it, rocking it with her
foot, whilst at the same time she was combing the head of a little
boy about four years old. In the middle of the room stood a
table, covered with a great deal of litter; and in one corner was
the little girl whom I had before seen with her mamma, crying and
sobbing as if her heart would break. As I made not the least
noise at my entrance, no one observed me for some time; so
creeping under one of the beds, I heard the following discourse:--

'It does not signify, miss,' said the woman, who I found was the
children's nurse, 'I never will put up with such behaviour: you
know that I always do everything for you when you speak prettily;
but to be ordered to dress you in such a manner, is what I never
will submit to: and you shall go undressed all day before I will
dress you, unless you ask me as you ought to do.' Nancy made no
reply, but only continued crying. 'Aye! you may cry and sob as
much as you please,' said the nurse; 'I do not care for that: I
shall not dress you for crying and roaring, but for being good and
speaking with civility.' Just as she said these words, the door
opened, and in came the lady whom I before saw, and whose name I
afterwards found was Artless. As soon as she entered, the nurse
addressed her, saying, 'Pray, madam, is it by your desire that
Miss Nancy behaves so rudely, and bids me dress her directly, and
change the buckles in her shoes, or else she will slap my face?
Indeed she did give me a slap upon my hand; so I told her, that I
would not dress her at all; for really, madam, I thought you would
not wish me to do it, whilst she behaved so; and I took the
liberty of putting her to stand in the corner.' 'I do not think,'
replied Mrs. Artless, 'that she deserves to stand in the room at
all, or in the house either, if she behaves in that manner: if
she does not speak civilly when she wants to be assisted, let her
go without help, and see what will become of her then. I am quite
ashamed of you, Nancy! I could not have thought you would behave
so; but since you have, I promise that you shall not be dressed
today, or have any assistance given you, unless you speak in a
very different manner.'

Whilst Mrs. Artless was talking, nurse went out of the room. Mrs.
Artless then took her seat by the cradle, and looking into it,
found the child awake, and I saw her take out a fine little girl,
about five months old: she then continued her discourse, saying,
'Look here, Nancy, look at this little baby, see how unable it is
to help itself; were we to neglect attending to it, what do yon
think would become of it? Suppose I were now to put your sister
upon the floor, and there leave her, tell me what do you think she
could do, or what would become of her?' Nancy sobbed out, that
she would die. 'And pray, my dear,' continued Mrs. Artless, 'if
we were to leave you to yourself, what would become of you? It is
true, you talk and run about better than Polly: but not a bit
better could you provide for, or take care of yourself. Could you
buy or dress your own victuals? could you light your own fire?
could you clean your own house, or open and shut the doors and
windows? could you make your own clothes, or even put them on
without some assistance, when made? And who do you think will do
anything for you, if you are not good, and do not speak civilly?
Not I, I promise you, neither shall nurse, nor any of the
servants; for though I pay them wages to help to do my business
for me, I never want them to do anything unless they are desired
in a pretty manner. Should you like, if when I want you to pick
up my scissors, or do any little job, I were to say, "Pick up my
scissors this moment, or I will slap your face?" Should not you
think that it sounded very cross and disagreeable?' 'Yes, madam,'
replied Nancy. 'Then why,' rejoined Mrs. Artless, 'should you
speak cross to anybody, particularly to servants and poor people?
for to behave so to them, is not only cross, but insolent and
proud: it is as if you thought that because they are rather
poorer, they are not so good as yourself, whereas, I assure you,
poverty makes no difference in the merit of people; for those only
are deserving of respect who are truly good; and a beggar who is
virtuous, is far better than a prince who is wicked.' I was
prevented from hearing any more of this very just discourse, by
the little boy's opening the door and letting in a cat; which,
though it was the first that I had ever seen in my life, I was
certain was the same destructive animal to our race, which I had
frequently heard my mother describe. I therefore made all
possible haste back to the closet, and warning Brighteyes of our
danger, we instantly returned by the same way which we came, to
our two brothers, whom we found waiting for us, and wondering at
our long absence. We related to them the dainty cheer which we
had met with, and agreed to conduct them thither in the evening.
Accordingly, as soon as it grew towards dusk, we climbed up the
wall, and all four together attacked the plum-cake, which no one
had touched since we left it; but scarcely had we all seated
ourselves round it, than on a sudden the closet-door opened, and a
woman entered. Away we all scampered as fast as possible, but
poor Brighteyes, who could not move quite so fast on account of
his sore toe, and who likewise having advanced farther into the
cake, was discovered before he could reach the crack by which we
entered. The woman, who had a knife in her hand, struck at him
with it, at the same time exclaiming, 'Bless me, nurse, here is a
mouse in the closet!' Happily, she missed her aim, and he only
received a small wound on the tip of his tail. This interruption
sadly alarmed us, and it was above an hour before we could have
courage to venture back, when finding everything quiet, except
Mrs. Nurse's singing to her child, we again crept out, and once
more surrounded the cake. We continued without any further alarm
till we were perfectly satisfied, and then retired to a little
distance behind the wainscot, determined there to sleep, and to
breakfast on the cake the next day.

Early in the morning I waked, and calling my brothers, we all
marched forward, and soon arrived at the delightful cake, where we
highly enjoyed ourselves without the least disturbance, till our
appetites were fully satisfied. We then retired, took a little
run round some other parts of the house, but met with nothing
worth relating. At noon we again made our way into the closet,
intending to dine on the dish on which we breakfasted; but, to our
no small mortification, the delicious dainty was removed. This
you may be sure was a sad disappointment; yet as we were not
extremely hungry, we had time to look about for more. We were not
long in finding it; for upon the same shelf from which the cake
was removed, there was a round tin box, the lid of which was not
quite close shut down; into this we all crept, and were highly
regaled with some nice lumps of sugar. But it would be endless to
enumerate all the various repasts which we met with in this
closet, sometimes terrified by the entrance of people, and
sometimes comfortably enjoying ourselves without alarm: it is
sufficient to inform you, that, unmindful of our mother's advice,
we continued to live upon the contents of the same cupboard for
above a week; when, one evening, as we were as usual hastening to
find our suppers, Softdown, who happened to be first, ran eagerly
to a piece of cheese, which he saw hanging before him. 'Come
along,' said he, 'here is some nice cheese, it smells most
delightfully good!' Just as he spoke these words, before any of
us came up to him, a little wooden door on a sudden dropped down,
and hid him and the cheese from our sight.

It is impossible to describe our consternation and surprise upon
this occasion, which was greatly increased when we advanced near
the place, at seeing him (through some little wire bars) confined
in a small box, without any visible way for him to get out, and
hearing him in the most moving accents beg us to assist him in
procuring his liberty. We all ran round and round his place of
confinement several times; but not the least crack or opening
could we discover, except through the bars, which being of iron,
it was impossible for us to break or bend. At length we
determined to try to gnaw through the wood-work close at the edge,
which being already some little distance from one of the bars, we
hoped, by making the opening a little wider, he would escape:
accordingly we all began, he on the inside, and we all on the out,
and by our diligence had made some very considerable progress,
when we were interrupted by the entrance of Mrs. Nurse with the
child in her arms.

Upon the sight of her, though much grieved to leave our brother in
his distress, yet fearing instant death would be the fate of all
of us if we stayed, to preserve our own existence, we retired as
quick as possible, but not without her seeing some of us, for we
heard her say to herself, or to the babe in her arms, 'I declare,
this closet swarms with mice, they spoil everything one puts
here.' Then taking up the box in which was poor Softdown (and
which I afterwards learned was called a trap) she carried it intO
the room. I crept softly after her, to see what would be the fate
of my beloved brother. But what words can express my horror, when
I saw her holding it in one hand close to the candle, whilst in
the other she held the child, singing to her with the utmost
composure, and bidding her to look at the mousy! mousy!

What were the actions or sensations of poor Softdown at that
dreadful moment I know not: but my own anguish, which it is
impossible to describe, was still augmented every moment by seeing
her shake the trap almost topsy-turvy, then blow through the trap
at one end, at which times I saw the dear creature's tail come out
between the wires on the contrary side, as he was striving, I
suppose, to retreat from her. At length, after she had thus
tortured him for some time, she set the trap on the table, so
close to a large fire, that I am sure he must have been much
incommoded by the heat, and began to undress her child.

Then hearing somebody go by the door, she cried out, 'Who is
there? is it you, Betty? if it is, I wish you would come and take
down the mouse-trap, for I have caught a mouse.' Betty instantly
obeyed her call, and desired to know what she wanted. 'I want you
to take down the mouse-trap,' she replied, 'for I cannot leave the
child. I am glad that I have got it, I am sure, for the closet
swarms so, there is no such thing as bearing it. They devour
everything: I declare they have eaten up a whole pound of sugar,
which cost me elevenpence, sugar is now so monstrously dear!
indeed the man made a favour to let me have it for that; only, he
said, as our family were good customers, and I was but a servant,
he would take no more. And enough too I thought it was, to have
only a penny back in change out of a whole shilling for one pound
of sugar: and then to think of the poison mice to have it all;
but I will break their filthy necks. Do, Betty, pray take the
trap down, and return with it as soon as you can, and I will set
it again: for I dare say I shall catch another before I go to
bed, for I heard some more rustling among the things.' 'O lauk!'
replied Betty, 'yon do not think that I will take down the trap,
do you? I would not touch it for twenty pounds. I am always
frightened, and ready to die at the sight of a mouse. Once, when
I was a girl, I had one thrown in my face, and ever since I have
always been scared out of my wits at them; and if ever I see one
running loose, as I did one night in the closet below stairs,
where the candles are kept, I scream as if I was being killed.'
'Why then,' answered Nurse, 'I think you behave like a great fool,
for what harm could a mouse do to you?' 'O la! I hate them,'
returned she, and then ran away without the trap. Greatly was I
rejoiced at her departure, as I hoped that, by some means,
Softdown might still be able to make his escape. But, alas! no
such good fortune attended him. Some person again passing the
door, Nurse once more called out, 'Who is there? John is it you?'
'Yes,' replied a man's voice. 'Then do you step in, will you, for
a moment?' rejoined Mrs. Nurse: and instantly entered a man whom
I had never before seen. 'What do you want, Nurse?' said he. 'I
only want to get rid of a mouse,' returned she; 'and, do you know,
Betty is such a fool that she is afraid of taking it, and I want
the trap to set it again, for they swarm here like bees in a hive,
one can have no peace for them: they devour and spoil every
thing; I say sometimes that I believe they will eat me up at
last.' While she was saying this, John took the trap in his hand,
held it up once more to the candle, then taking a piece of thread
out of a paper, that lay bound round with a dirty blue ribbon upon
the table, he shook the trap about till he got my brother's tail
through the wires, when catching hold of it, he tied the thread
tight round it and dragged him by it to the door of the trap,
which he opened, and took him out, suspending the weight of his
body upon his tail.

Softdown, who till the thread was tied had patiently continued
perfectly quiet, could no longer support the pain without dismal
cries and anguish: he squeaked as loud as his little throat would
let him, exerting at the same time the utmost of his strength to
disengage himself. But in such a position, with his head
downward, in vain were all his efforts to procure relief; and the
barbarous monster who held him discovered not the smallest
emotions of pity for his sufferings. Oh! how at that moment did I
abhor my own existence, and wish that I could be endowed with size
and strength sufficient, at once both to rescue him, and severely
punish his tormentors. But my wish was ineffectual, and I had the
inexpressible affliction of seeing the inhuman wretch hold him
down upon the hearth, whilst, without remorse, he crushed him
beneath his foot, and then carelessly kicked him into the ashes,
saying, 'There! The cat will smell it out when she comes up.' My
very blood runs cold within me at the recollection of seeing
Softdown's as it spurted from beneath the monster's foot; whilst
the crunch of his bones almost petrified me with horror. At
length, however, recollecting the impossibility of restoring my
beloved brother to life, and the danger of my own situation, I,
with trembling feet and palpitating heart, crept softly back to my
remaining two brothers, who were impatiently expecting me behind
the closet. There I related to them the horrid scene which had
passed before my eyes, whilst the anguish it caused in their
gentle bosoms far exceeds my power to describe.

After having mingled our lamentations for some time, I thus
addressed them: 'We have this night, my brothers, tasted the
severest affliction in the cruel death of our dear brother,
companion, and friend; let us not, however, only mourn his loss,
but also gather wisdom from our misfortune, and return to that
duty which we have hitherto neglected. Recollect, my dear
friends, what were the last words which our good mother spoke to
us at parting. She charged us, upon no account, for no temptation
whatever, to return frequently to the same place: if we did, she
forewarned us that death and ruin would certainly await us. But
in what manner have we obeyed this her kind advice? We have not
even so much as once recollected it since she left us; or, if we
thought of it for a moment, we foolishly despised it as
unnecessary. Now, therefore, we sincerely feel the consequence of
our disobedience; and, though our sufferings are most distressing,
yet we must confess that we amply deserve them. Let us therefore,
my brothers, instantly fly from a place which has already cost us
the life of our beloved Softdown, lest we should all likewise fall
a sacrifice to our disobedience.'--And here the writer cannot help
observing how just were the reflections of the mouse on the crime
which they had been guilty of; and begs every reader will be
careful to remember the fatal consequences that attended their
disobedience of their mother's advice, since they may be assured
that equal if not the same misfortune will always attend those who
refuse to pay attention to the advice of their parents. But, to
return to the history.

To this proposal (continued the mouse) my brothers readily agreed;
and we directly descended to the place we were in when we
discovered the crack that led us to the room in which we feasted
on bird-seed. Here we determined to wait, and when the family
were all quiet in bed, to go forth in search of provision, as we
began to be rather hungry, not having eaten anything a long while.
Accordingly we stayed till after the clock struck twelve, when
peeping out, we saw that the room was empty: we then ventured
forth, and found several seeds, though not enough to afford a very
ample meal for three of us.

After we had cleared the room, we again returned to our
hiding-place, where we continued till after the family had
finished their breakfast. They all then went to take a walk in
the garden, and we stepped out to pick up the crumbs which had
fallen from the table. Whilst we were thus employed, at a
distance from our place of retreat, we were alarmed by the
entrance of two boys, who appeared to be about twelve or thirteen
years of age. We directly ran towards the crack; but alas! we
were not quick enough to escape their observation; for, seeing us,
they both at once exclaimed, 'Some mice! some mice!' and at the
same time took off their hats, and threw at us. Longtail happily
eluded the blow, and safely got home, but poor Brighteyes and
myself were less fortunate; and though we for a considerable time,
by our quickness, prevented their catching us, at length, being
much disabled by a blow that one of them gave me with a book which
he threw at me, I was unable any longer to run, and hobbling very
slowly across the room, he picked me up. At the same moment
Brighteyes was so entangled in a handkerchief which the other boy
tossed over him, that he likewise was taken prisoner. Our little
hearts now beat quick with fear of those tortures we expected to
receive; nor were our apprehensions lessened by hearing the boys
consult what they should do with us, 'I,' said one, 'will throw
mine into the pond, and see how he will swim out again.' 'And I,'
said the other, 'will keep mine and tame it.' 'But where will you
keep it?' inquired his companion. 'Oh,' replied he, 'I will keep
it under a little pan till I can get a house made for it.' He
then, holding me by the skin at the back of my neck, ran with me
into the kitchen to fetch a pan. Here I was not only threatened
with death by three or four of the servants, who all blamed Master
Peter for keeping me; but likewise two or three cats came round
him, rubbing themselves backward and forward against his legs, and
then standing upon their hind feet to endeavour to make themselves
high enough to reach me. At last, taking a pan in his hand, he
returned to his brother with one of the cats following him.
Immediately upon our entrance, the boy exclaimed, 'Oh, now I know
what I will do: I will tie a piece of string to its tail, and
teach the cat to jump for it.' No sooner did this thought present
itself than it was put into practice, and I again was obliged to
sustain the shocking sight of a brother put to the torture. I, in
the mean time, was placed upon the table, with a pan put over me,
in which there was a crack, so that I could see as well as hear
all that passed: and from this place it was that I beheld my
beloved Brighteyes suspended at one end of a string by his tail;
one while swinging backward and forward, at another pulled up and
down, then suffered to feel his feet on the ground, and again
suddenly snatched up as the cat advanced, then twisted round and
round as fast as possible at the full length of the string: in
short, it is impossible to describe all his sufferings of body, or
my anguish of mind. At length a most dreadful conclusion was put
to them, by the entrance of a gentleman booted and spurred, with a
whip in his hand. 'What in the world, Charles!' said he, as he
came in, 'are you about? What have you got there?' 'Only a
mouse, sir,' replied the boy. 'He is teaching the cat to jump,
sir,' said Peter, 'that is all.'

Brighteyes then gave a fresh squeak from the violence of his pain.
The gentleman then turning hastily round, exclaimed eagerly,
'What, is it alive?' 'Yes, sir,' said the boy. 'And how can you,
you wicked, naughty, cruel boy,' replied the gentleman, 'take
delight in thus torturing a little creature that never did you any
injury? Put it down this moment,' said he, at the same time
giving him a severe stroke with his horse-whip across that hand by
which he held my brother. 'Let it go directly,' and again
repeated the blow: the boy let go the string, and Brighteyes fell
to the ground; and was instantly snapped up by the cat, who
growling, ran away with him in her mouth, and, I suppose, put a
conclusion to his miseries and life together, as I never from that
moment have heard any account of him.

As soon as he was thus taken out of the room, the gentleman sat
down, and, taking hold of his son's hand, thus addressed him:
'Charles, I had a much better opinion of you, than to suppose you
were capable of so much cruelty. What right, I desire to know,
have you to torment any living creature? If it is only be cause
you are larger, and so have it in your power, I beg you will
consider, how you would like, that either myself, or some great
giant, as much larger than you as you are bigger than the mouse,
should hurt and torment you? And I promise you, the smallest
creature can feel as acutely as you, nay, the smaller they are,
the more susceptible are they of pain, and the sooner they are
hurt: a less touch will kill a fly than a man, consequently a
less wound will cause it pain; and the mouse which you have now
been swinging by the tail over the cat's mouth, has not, you may
assure yourself, suffered less torment or fright than you would
have done, had you been suspended by your leg, either over water,
which would drown you, or over stones, where if you fell you must
certainly be dashed to pieces. And yet you could take delight in
thus torturing and distressing a poor inoffensive animal. Fie
upon it, Charles! fie upon it! I thought you had been a better
boy, and not such a cruel, naughty, wicked fellow.' 'Wicked!'
repeated the boy, 'I do not think that I have been at all wicked.'
'But I think you have been extremely so,' replied his father;
'every action that is cruel, and gives pain to any living
creature, is wicked, and is a sure sign of a bad heart. I never
knew a man, who was cruel to animals, kind and compassionate
towards his fellow-creatures: he might not perhaps treat them in
the same shocking manner, because the laws of the land would
severely punish him if he did; but if he is restrained from bad
actions by no higher motive than fear of present punishment, his
goodness cannot be very great. A good man, Charles, always takes
delight in conferring happiness on all around him; nor would he
offer the smallest injury to the meanest insect that was capable
of feeling. 'I am sure,' said the boy, 'I have often seen you
kill wasps, and spiders too; and it was but last week that you
bought a mouse-trap yourself to catch mice in, although you are so
angry now with me.' 'And pray,' resumed his father, 'did you ever
see me torment as well as kill them? Or did I ever keep them in
pain one moment longer than necessary? I am not condemning people
for killing vermin and animals, provided they do it expeditiously,
and put them to death with as little pain as possible; but it is
putting them to needless torment and misery that I say is wicked.
Had you destroyed the mouse with one blow, or rather given it to
somebody else to destroy it (for I should not think a
tender-hearted boy would delight in such operations himself), I
would not have condemned you; but, to keep it hanging the whole
weight of its body upon its tail, to swing it about, and, by that,
to hold it terrifying over the cat's jaws, and to take pleasure in
hearing it squeak, and seeing it struggle for liberty, is such
unmanly, such detestable cruelty, as calls for my utmost
indignation and abhorrence. But, since you think pain so very
trifling an evil, try. Charles, how you like that,' said he,
giving him at the same time some severe strokes with his
horsewhip. The boy then cried, and called out, 'I do not like it
at all, I do not like it at all.' 'Neither did the mouse,'
replied his father, 'like at all to be tied to a string, and swung
about by his tail: he did not like it, and told you so in a
language which you perfectly well understood; but you would not
attend to his cries; you thought it pleasure to hear it squeak,
because you were bigger, and did not feel its torture. I am now
bigger than you. and do not feel your pain. I therefore shall
not yet leave off; as I hope it will teach you not to torment
anything another time.' Just as he said these words, the boy,
endeavouring to avoid the whip, ran against the table on which I
was placed, and happily threw down the pan that confined me. I
instantly seized the opportunity, jumped down, and once more
escaped to the little hole by which I first entered. There I
found my only brother waiting for me, and was again under the
dreadful necessity of paining his tender heart with the recital of
the sufferings which I had been witness to in our dear Brighteyes,
as well as the imminent danger I myself had been exposed to.
'And, surely,' said I, 'we have again drawn this evil upon
ourselves by our disobedience to our mother's advice; she,
doubtless, intended that we should not continue in the same house
long together; whereas from the day of her leaving us, we have
never been in any other but this, which has occasioned us such
heavy affliction. Therefore, upon no account, let us continue
another night under this roof; but, as soon as the evening begins
to grow dark enough to conceal us from the observation of any one,
we will set off, and seek a lodging in some other place; and
should any misfortune befall us on our passage, we shall at least
have the consolation of thinking. that we were doing our duty by
following the advice of our parent.' 'It is true,' said my
brother, 'we have been greatly to blame; for the future we will be
more careful of our conduct; but do, my dear Nimble,' continued
he, 'endeavour to compose yourself, and take a little rest, after
the pain and fatigue which you have gone through, otherwise you
may be sick; and what will become of me, if any mischief should
befall you? I shall then have no brother to converse with, no
friend to advise me what to do.' Here he stopped, overpowered
with his grief for the loss of our two murdered brothers, and with
his tender solicitude for my welfare. I endeavoured all in my
power to comfort him, and said I hoped that I should soon recover
from the bruises I had received both from the boy's hat and book,
as well as the pinches in my neck with his finger and thumb, by
which he held me, and promised to compose myself. This promise I
fulfilled by endeavouring to sleep; but the scene that I had so
lately been witness to was too fresh in my imagination to suffer
me to close my eyes: however, I kept for some time quiet.

The rest of the day we spent in almost total silence, having no
spirits for conversation, our hearts being almost broken with
anguish. When it grew toward evening, we agreed to find our way
out of that detested house, and seek for some other habitation,
which might be more propitious. But we found more difficulty in
this undertaking than we were at all aware of; for though we could
with tolerable ease go from room to room within the house, still,
when we attempted to quit it, we found it every way surrounded
with so thick a brick wall, that it was impossible for us to make
our way through it: we therefore ran round and round it several
times, searching for some little crevice through which we might
escape; but all to no purpose, not the least crack could we
discover: and we might have continued there till this time, had
we not at length, after the family were in bed, resolved to
venture through one of the apartments into the hall, and so creep
out under the house door. But the dangers we exposed ourselves to
in this expedition were many and great; we knew that traps were
set for us about the house, and where they might chance to be
placed we could not tell. I had likewise been eye-witness to no
less than four cats, who might, for ought we knew to the contrary,
at that hour of darkness, be prowling in search of some of our
unhappy species.

But, in spite of every difficulty and hazard, we determined to
venture rather than continue in opposition to our mother's
commands; and, to reward our obedience, we escaped with trembling
hearts, unobserved, at least unmolested, by any one. And now, for
the first time since our birth, we found ourselves exposed to the
inclemency of the weather. The night was very dark and
tempestuous; the rain poured down in torrents; and the wind blew
so exceedingly high, that, low upon the ground as we were, it was
with difficulty that we could keep our legs: added to which, even
step we took, we were in water up to our stomachs. In this
wretched condition we knew not which way to turn ourselves, or
where to seek for shelter. The spattering of the rain, the
howling of the wind, together with the rattling and shaking of the
trees, all contributed to make such a noise as rendered it
impossible for us to hear whether any danger was approaching us or

In this truly melancholy situation we waded on for a considerable
time, till at length we reached a small house, and very easily
gained admittance through a pretty large hole on one side of the
door. Most heartily did we rejoice at finding ourselves once more
under shelter from the cold and rain, and for some time only
busied ourselves in drying our hair, which was as thoroughly wet
as if we had been served as the boy threatened my brother
Brighteyes, and we had really been drawn through a pond. After we
had done this, and had a little rested ourselves, we began to look
about in search of food, but we could find nothing. except a few
crumbs of bread and cheese in a man's coat pocket, and a piece of
tallow-candle stuck on the top of a tinder-box. This, however,
though not such delicate eating as we had been used to, yet served
to satisfy our present hunger; and we had just finished the candle
when we were greatly alarmed by the sight of a human hand (for we
mice can see a little in the dark) feeling about the very chair on
which we stood. We jumped down in an instant, and hid ourselves
in a little hole behind a black trunk that stood in one corner of
the room.

We then heard very distinctly a man say, 'Betty, did you not put
the candle by the bedside?' 'Yes, that I am very sure I did,'
replied a female voice. 'I thought so,' answered the man; 'but I
am sure it is not here now. Tom! Tom! Tom!' continued he. 'What,
father?' replied a boy, starting up, 'what is the matter?' 'Why,
do you know anything of the candle? I cannot find it, my dear,
and I want it sadly, for I fancy it is time we should be up and be
jogging. Dost know any thing of it, my lad?' 'Not I, truly,
father,' said the boy, 'I only know that I saw mother stick it in
the box-lid last night, and put it upon the chair, which she set
by the bedside, after you had put your clothes upon the back of
it; I know I saw her put it there, so it must be there now, I
fancy.' 'Well, I cannot find it,' replied the father; so we must
e'en get up in the dark, for I am sure it must be time.' The
father and son then both dressed themselves, and the man, taking a
shilling out of his pocket, laid it upon the chair, saying at the
same time, 'There, Betty. I have left a shilling for you; take
care it does not go after the candle, for where that is I cannot
tell any more than the carp at the bottom of the squire's
fish-pond.' He then unlocked the door, and went away, accompanied
by his son.

After their departure, we again came out, and took another walk
round the room, and found our way into a little cupboard, which we
had not before observed. Here we discovered half a loaf of bread,
a piece of cold pudding, a lump of salt butter, some soft sugar in
a basin, and a fine large slice of bacon. On these dainties we
feasted very amply, and agreed that we should again hide ourselves
behind the black trunk all day, and at night, when the family were
in bed, return to take another meal on the plenty of nice
provision which we so happily discovered. Accordingly, we crept
back just as the woman went to fill her teakettle at a pump, which
stood between her house and the next neighbour's. When she
returned, she put it upon the fire she had just lit, and, taking a
pair of bellows in her hand, sat down to blow it.

While she was so employed, a young gentleman, about ten years of
age, very genteelly dressed, entered the room, and in a familiar
manner asked her how she did. 'I am very well, thank you, my
dear,' replied she: 'and pray, Master George, how does your mamma
and papa do; and all your brothers and sisters?' 'They are all
very well, thank you,' returned the boy: 'And I am come to bring
you a slice of cake, which my grandpapa gave me yesterday.' Then
throwing his arms round her neck, he went on saying, 'Oh! my dear,
dear Betty Flood, how I do love you! I would do anything in the
world to serve you. I shall save all my Christmas-boxes to give
to you; and when I am a man, I will give you a great deal of
money. I wish you were a lady, and not so poor.' 'I am much
obliged to you, my dear,' said she, 'for your kind good-wishes;
but, indeed, love, I am very well contented with my station: I
have a good husband, and three good children, and that is more
than many a lady can say; and riches, Master George, unless people
are good, and those one lives with are kind and obliging, will
never make anybody happy. What comfort, now, do you think a body
could ever have at Squire Stately's? I declare, if it was put to
my choice, I would rather a thousand times be as I am. To be
sure, they are very rich; but what of that? they cannot eat gold;
neither can gold ease their hearts when they are bursting almost
with pride and ill-nature. They say, indeed, that Madam Stately
would be kind enough, if they would let her rest; but what with
the Squire's drinking and swearing, and the young gentleman's
extravagance, and her daughter's pride and quarrelling, she is
almost tired out of her life. And so, Master George, I say I had
rather be poor Betty Flood, with honest Abraham for my husband,
than the finest lady in the land, if I must live at such a rate.
To be sure, nobody can deny but that money is very desirable, and
people that are rich can do many agreeable things which we poor
ones cannot; but yet, for all that, money does not make people
happy. Happiness, Master George, depends greatly upon people's
own tempers and dispositions: a person who is fretful and cross
will never be happy, though he should be made king of all England;
and a person who is contented and good-humoured will never be
wretched, though he should be as poor as a beggar. So never fret
yourself, love, because Betty Flood is poor; for though I am poor,
I am honest; and whilst my husband and I are happy enough to be
blessed with health, and the use of our limbs, we can work for our
living; and though we have no great plenty, still we have
sufficient to support us. So pray, dear, eat your cake yourself,
for I would not take it from you for ever so much.' They then
disputed for some time who should have it: at last, George
scuffled away from her, and put it into the closet, and then,
nodding his head at her, ran away, saying, he must go to school
that moment.

Betty Flood then ate her breakfast; and we heard her say something
about the nasty mice, but what we could not make out, as she
muttered softly to herself. She then came to the trunk behind
which we lay, and taking out of it a roll of new linen, sat down
to needlework. At twelve o'clock her husband and son returned; so
moving her table out of the way, she made room for them at the
fire, and, fetching the frying pan, dressed some rashers of the
nice bacon we had before tasted in the cupboard. The boy, in the
mean time, spread a cloth on the table, and placed the bread and
cold pudding on it likewise: then, returning to the closet for
their plates, he cried out, 'Lauk! father, here is a nice hunch of
plum-cake; can you tell how it came?' 'Not I, indeed, Tom,'
replied his father; 'I can tell no more than the carp at the
bottom of the squire's fish-pond.' 'Oh, I will tell you.' said
Mrs. Flood; 'I know how it came. Do you know, that dear child,
Master George Kendall, brought it for me; he called as he went to
school this morning. I told him I would not have it; but the dear
little soul popped it into the cupboard, and ran away without it.
Bless his little heart! I do think he is the sweetest child that
ever was born. You may laugh at me for saying so; but I am sure I
should have thought the same if I had not nursed him myself.'
'Indeed,' replied her husband, 'I do not laugh at you for saying
so, for I think so too, and so must everyone who knows him; for
when young gentlemen behave as he does, everybody must love and
admire them. There is nothing I would not do to help and serve
that child, or any of his family; they always are so kind, and
speak as civilly to us poor folk as if we were the first lords or
ladies in the land. I am sure, if it were needful, I would go
through fire and water for their sakes; and so would every man in
the parish, I dare say. But I wonder who would do as much to help
Squire Stately or any of his family, if it was not that I should
think it my duty (and an honest man ought always to do that,
whether he likes it or not); but I say, if it was not that it
would be my duty to help my fellow-creature, I would scarcely be
at the trouble of stepping over the threshold to serve them, they
are such a set of cross, good-for-nothing gentry. I declare, it
was but as we came home to dinner now, that we saw Master Sam
throwing sticks and stones at Dame Frugal's ducks, for the sake of
seeing them waddle; and then, when they got to the pond, he sent
his dog in after them to bark and frighten them out of their wits.
And as I came by, nothing would serve him but throwing a great dab
of mud all over the sleeve of my coat. So I said, "Why, Master
Sam, you need not have done that; I did nothing to offend you; and
however amusing you may think it to insult poor people, I assure
you it is very wicked, and what no good person in the world would
be guilty of." He then set up a great rude laugh, and I walked on
and said no more. But if all gentlefolk were to behave like that
family, I had rather be poor as I am, than have all their riches,
if that would make me act like them.' 'Very true, Abraham,'
replied his wife, 'that is what I say, and what I told Master
George this morning; for to be poor, if people do not become so
through their own extravagance, is no disgrace to any body: but
to be haughty, cruel, cross, and mischievous, is a disgrace to all
who are so, let their rank be as exalted as it may.'

Here the conversation was interrupted by the entrance of a man,
who begged Mr. Flood to assist him in unloading his cart of flour,
as his man was gone out, and he could not do it by himself.
'Well, I will come and help you, with all my heart,' said Flood;
'and so shall Tom too: will you, my lad? I cannot live without
help myself; and if I do not assist others, I am sure I shall not
deserve any when I want it.' So saying, he left his house; and
his wife, after cleaning and putting in their proper places those
things which had been used at dinner, again sat down to her

Soon after the clock had struck six, the man and his son returned;
and, sitting round the fire, they passed the evening in social
conversation, till they went to bed, which was a little after
eight; and they convinced me, by their talk and behaviour, that
happiness in this world depends far more upon the temper and
disposition of the heart, than upon any external possessions; and
that virtue, and a desire to be useful to others, afford far
greater satisfaction and peace of mind than any riches and
grandeur can possibly supply without such necessary
qualifications. After they were all fallen asleep, we crept out;
and, leaving the candle unmolested, which was again placed on the
tinder-box by the bed-side, we hastened into the closet, where we
regaled heartily, and devoured that part of the plum-cake which
Tom had very generously left for his sister Polly, who we found
was expected home the next day.

We then retired to our safe retreat, and thought we might venture
to stay for one more night's provisions without running any danger
from our too frequent return to the same place. But in the
morning we found our scheme frustrated; for, on the woman's going
to the closet to get her breakfast, she observed the robbery which
we had committed, and exclaimed, 'Some teasing mice have found
their way into the closet: I will borrow neighbour Savewell's
trap to-night, and catch some of the little toads; that I will!'
After hearing this, it would have been madness to make any further
attempts: we therefore agreed to watch for an opportunity, and
escape on the very first that offered. Accordingly, about noon,
when Mrs. Flood was busily employed in making some pancakes, we
slipped by her unobserved, and crept out at the same hole by which
we first entered. But no sooner were we in the open road, than we
repented our haste, and wished that we had continued where we were
till the darkness of the night might better have concealed us from
the observation of anyone. We crept as close to the wall of the
house (as far as it reached, which was but a few paces) as we
possibly could, and then stepped into a little ditch, which we
were soon obliged to leave again, as the water ran in some parts
of it almost up to the edge.

At length we reached a little cottage, which we were just
entering, when a cat that was sleeping unnoticed by us upon a
chair, jumped down, and would certainly have destroyed me (who
happened to go first) had she not at the same moment tried to
catch my brother, and by that means missed her aim, and so given
us both an opportunity to escape, which we did by scrambling
behind a brick that a child had been playing with by the side of
the door. Fortunately, the brick lay too close to the house for
the cat to get her paw behind it, so as to be able to reach us;
though to avoid it we were obliged to use the greatest precaution,
as she could thrust it in a little way, so that if we had gone one
inch too near either end, she would certainly have dragged us out
by her talons. In this dreadful situation did we spend some
hours, incessantly moving from one end of the brick to the other;
for the moment she had, by the entrance of her paw at one end,
driven us to the other, she stepped over, and again made us
retreat. Think with what dreadful terror our little hearts must
have been oppressed, to see our mortal enemy so closely watching
us, expecting every moment when she shook the brick with her two
forepaws in searching, and with her mouth endeavoured to lift it
up, that she would be so far able to effect her purpose, as to
make it impossible for us to escape her jaws. But, happily for
us, it had somehow or other got so wedged that she could not move
it to any distance; though it kept momentarily increasing our
terrors, by shaking as she strove to turn it.

From this state of horror, however, we were at length delivered by
a little boy of about two years old, who came out of the house,
and taking the cat up round its body with both hands, tottered
away with it, and shut the door.

Finding ourselves thus unexpectedly once more at liberty, we
determined to make use of it, by seeking some safer retreat, at
least, till night should better hide us from public view.
Terrified almost out of our senses, we crept from behind the
brick, and, after running a few yards, slipped under the folding
doors of a barn, and soon concealed ourselves amidst a vast
quantity of threshed corn. This appeared to us the most desirable
retreat that we had yet found; not only as it afforded such
immense plenty of food, but also as we could so easily hide
ourselves from the observation of any one: beside, as it did not
appear to be a dwelling-house, we could in security reside, free
from any danger of traps, or the cruelty of man. We therefore
congratulated each other, not more on account of the wonderful
escape which we had, than upon our good fortune in coming to a
Spot so blessed with peace and plenty.

After we were a little recovered from the fatigue of mind, as well
as of body, which we had lately gone through, we regaled very
heartily upon the corn that surrounded us, and then fell into a
charming sleep, from which we were awakened the next morning by
the sound of human voices. We very distinctly heard that of a
boy, saying, 'Let us mix all the threshed corn with the rest that
is not threshed, and that will make a fine fuss, and set John and
Simon a swearing like troopers when they come and find all their
labour lost, and that they must do all their work over again.'
'And do you think there is anything so agreeable in giving people
trouble, and hearing them swear,' replied another voice, 'that you
can wish to do it? For my part. I think it is so wicked a thing,
that I hate to hear anybody guilty of it, much less would I be the
cause of making them commit so great a sin; and as for giving them
all their trouble over again, so far would it be from affording me
any pleasure, that on the contrary it would give me great pain;
for however you may think of it, Will, I assure you, it always
gives me much uneasiness to see people labouring and working hard.
I always think how much I should dislike to be obliged to do so
myself, and therefore very sincerely pity those who must. On no
account therefore will I do anything to add to their labour, or
that shall give them unnecessary work.'

'Pooh!' answered Will, 'you are wonderfully wise; I, for my part,
hate such super-abundant wisdom; I like to see folk fret, and
stew, and scold, as our maids did last week when I cut the line,
and let all the sheets, and gowns, and petticoats, and frocks, and
shirts, and aprons, and caps, and what not, fall plump into the
dirt. O! how I did laugh! and how they did mutter and scold! And
do you know, that just as the wash ladies were wiping their
coddled hands, and comforted themselves with the thought of their
work being all over, and were going to sip their tea by the
fireside, I put them all to the scout; and they were obliged to
wash every rag over again. I shall never forget how cross they
looked, nay, I verily believe Susan cried about it; and how I did

'And pray,' rejoined the other boy, 'should you have laughed
equally hearty if, after you had been at school all day, and had
with much difficulty just got through all your writing, and
different exercises, and were going to play, should you laugh, I
say, if somebody was to run away with them all, and your master
oblige you to do them all over again? Tell me, Will, should you
laugh, or cry and look cross? And even that would not be half so
bad for you, as it was for the maids to be obliged to wash their
clothes over again; washing is very hard labour, and tires people
sadly, and so does threshing too. It is very unkind, therefore,
to give them such unnecessary trouble; and everything that is
unkind, is wicked; and I would not do it upon any account, I
assure you.' 'Then I assure you,' replied Will, 'you may let it
alone; I can do it without your assistance.' He then began mixing
the grain and the chaff together, the other boy strongly
remonstrating against it, to which he paid no attention; and
whilst he was so employed, two men, Simon and John, entered the

'Why, how now, Master Billy,' said Simon; 'what are you about?
What business have you to be here? You are always doing some
mischief or other! I wish, with all my heart, that you were kept
chained like a dog, and never suffered to be at liberty, for you
do more harm in an hour, than a body can set right again in a
month!' Will then took up hats full of the corn and chaff, and
threw it in the two men's faces; afterwards taking up a flail, he
gave Simon a blow across his back, saying, at the same time, 'I
will show you the way to thresh, and separate the flesh from the
bones.' 'O! will you so, young squire?' said John; 'I will show
you the way to make naughty boys good.' He then left the barn,
but presently returned accompanied by a gentleman, upon the sight
of whom Will let fall the flail, which he was till then
brandishing over Simon's head, and was going away, when the
gentleman taking hold of his hand, said, 'You do not stir from
this place, Master William, nor have one mouthful of breakfast,
till you have asked the men pardon for your behaviour, and
likewise sifted every grain of corn from the chaff which you have
mixed with it. When you have done that, you may have some food,
but not before; and afterward you may spend the rest of the day in
threshing, then you will be a better judge, my boy, of the fatigue
and labour of it, and find how you should like, after working hard
all day, to have it rendered useless by a mischievous boy.
Remember, William, what I have now said to you, for I do insist
upon being minded; and I promise you, that if you offer to play,
or do anything else today, you shall be punished very severely.'
The gentleman then went away. Will muttered something, I could
not exactly hear what, began to sift the corn, and so much had he
mixed together, that he did not go in for his breakfast till after
I had heard the church clock strike one, though it was before
eight when he came into the barn. In about an hour he returned,
and the other boy with him, who addressed him, saying, 'Ah! Will,
you had better have taken my advice, and not have done so: I
thought what you would get by your nice fun as you called it. I
never knew any good come of mischief; it generally brings those
who do it into disgrace; or if they should happen to escape
unpunished, still it is always attended with some inconvenience:
it is an ill-natured disposition which can take pleasure in giving
trouble to any one.' 'Do hold your tongue, James,' replied Will;
'I declare I have not patience to hear you preach, you are so
prodigiously wise, and prudent, and sober; you had better go
indoors and sew with your mamma, for you talk just as if you were
a girl, and not in the least like a boy of spirit.' 'Like a
girl!' resumed James. 'Are girls then the only folk who have any
sense, or good nature? Or what proof does it shew of spirit to be
fond of mischief, and giving people trouble? It is like a monkey
of spirit indeed; but I cannot say, that I see either spirit or
sense in making the clean clothes fall into the dirt, or mixing
the corn and chaff, for the sake of making the poor servants do
them all over again: if these things are a sign of any spirit. I
am sure it is of an evil one, and not at all such as I wish to
possess, though I no more want to sit still, or work with a
needle, than you do; but I hope there are other ways of showing my
spirit, as you call it, than by doing mischief, and being
ill-natured. I do not think my papa ever seems to be effeminate,
or want sufficient spirit; but he would scorn to give unnecessary
trouble to anybody: and so will Tom Vaulter, though no boy in the
world loves play better than he does; he plays at cricket the best
of any boy in the school, and I am sure none can beat him at
tennis; and as for skipping, I never saw a boy skip so well in all
my life; and I am sure he would beat you, with all your spirit,
out and out twenty times, either at running, or sliding, or
swimming, or climbing a tree. And yet he never gives trouble to
anybody for the sake of fun; he is one of the best-tempered boys
in the world; and whether it is like a girl or not, he always does
what he knows to be right and kind; and if that is being like
girls, why, with all my heart; I like girls well enough, and if
they behave well I do not see why you should speak so
contemptuously of them. My papa always says that he loves girls
just as well as boys, and none but foolish and naughty boys
despise and tease them.' Just as he said these words, Simon and
John entered the barn, and seeing Will stand idle, 'Come, come,
young gentleman,' said John, 'take up your flail and go to work,
sir, to work! to work! night will be here presently, and you have
done nothing yet.' Presently after the gentleman returned, and
enforced John's advice for him to mind his work.

After Master Will had continued his employment some little time,
he began to cry, saying, his arms ached ready to drop off, and his
hand was so sore he could not bear it. 'Then doubtless,' replied
his father, 'you would prodigiously like, after you have been
labouring all day, to have your work to do over again, for the
sake of diverting a foolish boy. But go on, William, I am
determined that you shall, for one day, know what it is to work
hard, and thereby be taught to pity, and help, not add to the
fatigue of those who do.' The boy then went on with his business,
though not without making great complaints, and shedding many
tears. At length, however, evening came; and the gentleman, his
son, and the two men, all went away, leaving Longtail and myself
to enjoy our abundance. We passed another night in the sweetest
undisturbed repose, and in the day had nothing to alarm our fears.
In short, our situation was every way so perfectly happy and
desirable, that we thought, although our mother had charged us not
to return frequently to the same place, yet she could not mean
that we should not take up our abode in a spot so secure and
comfortable. We therefore determined to continue where we were,
till we should find some cause for removing. And happy had it
been for us if we had kept to this resolution, and remained
contented when we had everything requisite to make us so. Instead
of which, after we had thus, free from care, passed our time about
seven months, like fools as we were, we began to grow weary of our
retirement, and of eating nothing but the same food; and agreed
that we would again venture forth and seek for some other lodging,
at the same time resolving, in case we could find no habitation
that suited us, to return to the barn where we had enjoyed so many
days of plenty and repose.

Accordingly, one fine moonlight Monday night, after securing our
supper on the corn, we set forth, and travelled for some distance
without any further molestation than our own natural fears
created. At length we came to a brick house, with about five or
six windows in front, and made our way into it through a small
latticed window which gave air into the pantry; but on our arrival
here we had no opportunity of so much as observing what it
contained, for on our slipping down a cat instantly flew at us,
and by the greatest good luck in the world, there chanced to be a
hole in one of the boards of the floor close to the spot where we
stood, into which we both were happy enough to pop, before she
could catch us. Here we had time to reflect, and severely blame
ourselves for not being satisfied with our state in the barn.
'When,' said I, addressing myself to my brother, 'when shall we
grow wise, and learn to know that certain evil always attends
every deviation from what is right. When we disobeyed the advice
of our mother, and, tempted by cakes and other dainties,
frequently returned to the same dangerous place, how severely did
we suffer for it? And now, by our own discontent, and not being
satisfied when so safely though more humbly lodged, into what
trouble have we not plunged ourselves? How securely have we lived
in the barn for the last seven months, and how happily might we
still have continued there, had it not been for our restless
dispositions? Ah! my brother, we have acted foolishly. We ought
to have been contented when we were at peace, and should have
considered that if we had not everything we could wish for, we had
every thing that was necessary; and the life of a mouse was never
designed for perfect happiness. Such enjoyment was never intended
for our lot; it is the portion only of beings whose capacities are
far superior to ours. We ought then to have been contented; and
had we been so, we should have been as happy as our state of life
would have admitted of.' 'What you say is certainly very true,'
replied Longtail, 'and I sincerely wish that we had thought of
these things before. But what must we now do? we said we would
return to the barn in case of difficulties, but that is now
impossible, as, if we attempt to retreat, the cat that drove us in
here, will certainly destroy us; and yet in proceeding, what
difficulties must we encounter, what dangers may we not run! Oh!
my beloved Nimble,' continued he, 'what a life of hazard is ours!
to what innumerable accidents are we hourly exposed! and how is
every meal that we eat at the risk of our very existence!'

'It undoubtedly is,' replied I; 'but with all its troubles we
still are very desirous of preserving it: let us not then, my
brother, indulge our hearts with murmuring and finding fault with
that life, which, notwithstanding all its evils, we value so
highly. Rather let us endeavour to learn experience, and, by
conducting ourselves better, escape many of those troubles which
we now suffer.' So saving, I advised him to follow me: 'for,'
added I, 'it is impossible for us to exist in the spot in which we
are at present; we must therefore strive to work our way into some
other house or apartment, where we can at least find some food.'
To this Longtail agreed; the rest of the night, and all the next
day, we spent in nibbling and finding our way into a closet in the
house, which richly repaid us for all our toil, as it contained
sugar-plums, rice, millet, various kinds of sweetmeats, and what
we liked better than all the rest, a paper of nice macaroons. On
these we feasted most deliciously till our hunger was fully
satisfied, and then creeping into a little hole, just big enough
to contain us both, behind one of the jars of sweetmeats, reposed
ourselves with a nap, after our various and great fatigues which
we had gone through. I never was a remarkably sound sleeper, the
least noise disturbs me, and I was awakened in the morning by the
servant-maid's coming into the room to sweep it, and get it ready
for the reception of her mistress and family, who soon after
entered. As I wanted to know from whom the voices I heard
proceeded, I stepped softly from behind the jar and just peeped
under the door into the room, where I discovered a gentleman, two
ladies, and a little boy and girl.

As I was totally unacquainted with all places of retreat, and did
not know how soon any of them might have occasion to open the
closet door, I instantly returned to my brother; and, awaking him,
told him it was time for us to be upon our guard, as the family
were all up and about.

Whilst we were thus situated, the first words I heard distinctly
were those of the gentleman, saying, 'No, Frank, I can never have
a good opinion of him; the boy who could once deceive may, for
aught I know, do so again; he has, by breaking his word, forfeited
the only dependence one could possibly have in him. A person who
has once lost his honour has no means left of gaining credit to
his assertions. By honour, Frank, I would be understood to speak
of veracity, of virtue, of scorning to commit a mean action, and
not that brutish sense in which some understand it, as if it
consisted in a readiness to fight and resent an injury; for so far
am I from considering such behaviour as any proof of honour, that,
on the contrary, I look upon it as a sure sign of want of proper
spirit and true honour. Fools, bullies, and even cowards, will
fight; whereas none but men of sense and resolution and true
magnanimity know how to pardon and despise an insult.' 'But,
indeed, sir,' replied the boy, 'at school, if one did not fight,
they would laugh at one so, there would be no such thing as
bearing it.' 'And for that very reason it is, my dear, that I
say, to pass by and pardon an insult requires more resolution and
courage than mere fighting does. When I wish you to avoid
quarrelling and fighting, I by no means want you to become a
coward, for I as much abhor a dastardly spirit as any boy in your
school can possibly do; but I would wish you to convince them that
you merited not that appellation, by showing through the whole of
your behaviour, a resolution that despised accidental pain, and
avoided revenging an affront for no other reason than because you
were convinced it shewed a much nobler spirit to pardon than to
resent. And you may be assured, my dear, few are the days that
pass without affording us some opportunity of exerting our
patience, and showing that, although we disdain quarrelling, still
we are far from being cowards.

'I remember, when I was at school, there was one boy, who, from
his first coming, declined upon all occasions engaging in any
battle; he even gave up many of his just rights to avoid
quarrelling, which conduct, instead of gaining (as it justly
deserved) the approbation of his companions, drew upon him the
insult and abuse of the whole school; and they were perpetually
teasing him with the opprobrious title of coward. For some time
he bore it with great good-humour, and endeavoured to laugh it
off; but, finding that had no effect, he one day thus addressed
us:--"If you suppose that I like to be called a coward, you are
all very much mistaken; or if you think me one, I assure you that
you are not less so; for no boy in the school should, if put to
the trial, show greater resolution than myself. Indeed, I think
it no small proof of patience that I have borne your repeated
insults so long; when I could, by behaving more like a savage
beast, and less like a reasonable creature, have established my
character at once; but I abhor quarrelling, my soul detests to
treat my fellow-creatures as if they were brutes, from whose fangs
I must defend myself; but if nothing else but fighting will
convince you that I possess not less courage than yourselves, I
will now offer, in cold blood, to engage with the biggest boy in
the school. If I conquer him, it will be a sign that I know how
to defend myself; and if he conquers me, I will, by my behaviour,
give a proof that I am not wanting in resolution to suffer pain,
although I never will so far demean the character of a reasonable
creature and a Christian, as to fight upon every trifling
disagreement or insult." No sooner had he uttered these words,
than every boy present was loud either in his commendation or
condemnation. One quarter of them, convinced of the justness of
his arguments, highly extolled his forbearance; whilst the other
three parts, with still greater noise, only called him a bully and
a mean-spirited coward, who dared not fight, and for that reason
made such a fine speech, hoping to intimidate them. "Well then,"
said he, "if such is your opinion, why will none of you accept my
offer? you surely cannot be afraid, you who are such brave
fellows, of such true courage, and such noble spirits, cannot be
afraid of a coward and a bully! Why, therefore, does not one of
you step forward, and put my fine speech to the test? Otherwise,
after I have thus challenged you all, I hope none for the future
will think they have any right to call me coward; though I again
declare my fixed resolution against fighting."

'Just as he said this, a voice calling for help, was heard from a
lane adjoining to the play-yard. Immediately we all flocked to
the side nearest whence it proceeded; and, clambering upon
benches, watering-pots, or whatever came first in our way, peeped
over the wall, where we discovered two well-grown lads, about
seventeen or eighteen, stripping a little boy of his clothes, and
beating him for his outcries in a most cruel manner; and at a
little distance farther down the lane, sat a company of gypsies,
to whom the two lads evidently belonged. At the sight of this we
were all much distressed, and wished to relieve the boy; though,
discovering so large a party, we were too much afraid to venture,
till Tomkins (the boy I before spoke about) instantly jumped from
the wall, and only saying, "Has nobody courage to follow me?" ran
toward them as fast as possible, and with uncommon strength and
agility placed himself between them and the boy, and began
defending himself in the best manner he could; which he did for
some time with great dexterity, none of his fighting schoolfellows
having courage to go to his assistance. At length, however,
seeing it impossible for him to stand out any longer against two
so much stronger than himself, the boys agreed to secure
themselves by numbers, and to sally forth to his assistance
altogether. This scheme succeeded, and very shortly rescued
Tomkins from his antagonists. He thanked them for their
assistance, saying, at the same time, "I hope you will no longer
doubt my courage, or my abilities to fight, when it is necessary
or in a good cause." After so signal a proof of his viler, his
greatest enemies could no longer doubt it; and, without ever
engaging in foolish battles, he passed through school as much
respected as any boy, and his magnanimity was never again called
in question.'

As the gentleman stopped speaking, the little girl called out, 'O,
papa, the coach is at the door.' 'Is it, my dear?' returned the
father. 'Well then, stop, my love,' said one of the ladies, 'I
have got a few cakes for you: stay, and take them before you go.'
She then unlocked the closet where we were, and took down the
paper of macaroons, among which we had so comfortably regaled
ourselves; when, observing the hole in the paper through which we
entered, 'O dear!' she exclaimed, 'the mice have actually got into
my cupboard. I will move all the things out this very morning,
and lock the cat up in it; for I shall be undone if the mice once
get footing here; they will soon spoil all my stores, and that
will never do.' She then kissed both the children; and, giving
them the cakes, they, the gentleman, and another lady, all
departed; and she instantly began to move the boxes and jars from
the closet; whilst we, terrified almost out of our wits, sat
trembling behind one of them, not daring to stir, yet dreading the
cat's approach every moment.

We were soon, however, obliged to move our quarters, for the lady
taking down the very jar which concealed us, we were forced
(without knowing where we were) to jump down instantly. In vain
we sought all round the room for some avenue whereat we might
escape; the apartment was too well fitted up to admit the smallest
crack; and we must then certainly have been destroyed, had we not,
with uncommon presence of mind, ran up the back of the lady's
gown, by which means she lost sight of us, and gave us an
opportunity to make our escape, as she opened the door to order
the cat to be brought in. We seized the lucky moment, and,
dropping from her gown, fled with the utmost haste out at the
house door, which happened to be wide open; and I, without once
looking behind me, ran on till I discovered a little crack in the
brick wall, which I entered, and which, after many turnings and
windings, brought me to this house, where I have now continued
skulking about in its different apartments for above a month;
during which time I have not heard the least tidings of my beloved
brother Longtail. Whether, therefore, any mischief befell him as
he followed me, or whether he entered the crack with me and then
lost sight of me, I know not; but in vain have I sought him every
day since my arrival within these walls, and so anxious am I to
learn what is become of him, that I am now come forth, contrary to
my nature, to engage your compassion, and to beseech you, in

At this moment, the door of my room opened, and my servant coming
hastily in, the mouse jumped from my table, and precipitately
retreated to the same hole from whence it first addressed me; and
though I have several times peeped into it, and even laid little
bits of cake to entice it back again, yet have I never been able
to see it any where since. Should either that, or any other, ever
again favour me so far with their confidence, as to instruct me
with their history, I will certainly communicate it with all
possible speed to my little readers; who I hope have been wise
enough to attend to the advice given them in the preceding pages,
although it was delivered to them by one as insignificant as a


It is now some months ago since I took leave of my little readers,
promising, in case I should ever hear any further tidings of
either Nimble or Longtail, I would certainly communicate it to
them; and, as I think it extremely wrong not to fulfil any
engagement we enter into, I look upon myself bound to give them
all the information I have since gained, relating to those two
little animals; and I doubt not but they will be glad to hear what
happened to them, after Nimble was frightened from my writing
table by the entrance of my servant. If I recollect right, I have
already told you, that I frequently peeped into the hole in the
skirting-board, and laid bits of cake to try to entice my little
companion back, but all to no purpose: and I had quite given over
all hopes of ever again seeing him, when one day, as I was putting
my hand into a large jar, which had some Turkey figs in it, I felt
something soft at the bottom, and taking it out, found it to be a
poor little mouse, not quite dead, but so starved and weak, that
upon my placing it upon the table, it had not strength sufficient
to get from me. A little boy happened to be standing by me, who,
upon the sight of the mouse, began to beg me to give it to the
cat, or kill it, 'for I don't like mice,' said he; 'pray, ma'am,
put it away.' 'Not like mice,' replied I; 'what can be your
objection to such a little soft creature as this?' and taking
advantage of its weakness, I picked it up, and held it in the palm
of one hand, whilst I stroked it with the fingers of my right.
'Poor little mouse,' said I, 'who can be afraid of such a little
object as this? Do you not feel ashamed of yourself, Joe, to fear
such a little creature as this? Only look at it, observe how small
it is, and then consider your own size, and surely, my dear, you
will blush to think of being no more of a man than to fear a
mouse! Look at me, Joe,' continued I, 'see, I will kiss it, I am
not at all afraid that it will hurt me.' When, lifting it up
toward my face, I heard it say, in the faintest voice possible,
'Do you not know me?' I instantly recollected my little friend
Nimble, and rejoiced at so unexpectedly finding him. 'What, is it
you, little Nimble,' exclaimed I, 'that I again behold? Believe
me, I am heartily rejoiced once more to find you; but tell me,
where have you been, what have you done, whom have you seen, and
what have you learned since you last left me?' 'Oh!' replied he,
in a voice so low I could scarcely hear him, 'I have seen many
things; but I am so faint and weak for want of food and fresh air,
that I doubt I shall never live to tell you; but, for pity's sake
have compassion on me, either put me out of my present misery by
instantly killing me, or else give me something to eat; for, if
you knew my sufferings, I am sure it would grieve your heart.'
'Kill you!' returned I, 'no, that I will not: on the contrary, I
will try by every method to restore you to health, and all the
happiness a mouse is capable of feeling.' I then instantly sent
for some bread, and had the satisfaction of seeing him eat very
heartily of it, after which he seemed much refreshed, and began to
move about a little more suitable to his name; for, in truth, when
I first found him, no living creature in the world could appear
less deserving of the appellation of Nimble. I then fetched him a
little milk, and gave him a lump of sugar to nibble; after eating
of which he begged to retire into some safe little hole to take a
nap, from whence he promised to return as soon as he should wake;
and accordingly, in about an hour he again appeared on my table,
and began as follows.

I was frightened away from you just as I was going to implore your
compassion for any unfortunate mouse that might happen to fall
within your power; lest you should destroy my dear and only
surviving brother, Longtail; but somebody entering the room,
prevented me, and after I had regained my hiding place, I resolved
to quit the house, and once more set out in search of my beloved
brother. Accordingly, with great difficulty I made my way out of
the house; but my distress was much increased upon finding the
snow so deep upon the ground, that it was impossible for me to
attempt to stir, as upon stepping one foot out to try, I found it
far too deep for me to fathom the bottom. This greatly distressed
me. 'Alas!' said I to myself, 'what shall I do now? To proceed
is impossible; and to return is very melancholy, without any
tidings of my dear, dear Longtail.' But I was interrupted in the
midst of these reflections, by the appearance of two cats, who
came running with such violence as to pass by without observing
me: however, it put me in such consternation, that regardless
where I went, I sprung forward, and sunk so deep in the snow that
I must inevitably soon have perished, had not a boy come to the
very place where I was, to gather snow for making snowballs to
throw at his companions. Happily for me, he took me up in his
hand, in the midst of the snow, which not less alarmed me, when I
considered the sufferings I had before endured, and the cruel
death of my brother Brighteyes, from the hands of boys. Oh!
thought I to myself, what new tortures shall I now experience?
Better had I perished in the cold snow, than be spared only to be
tormented by the cruel hands of unthinking children.

Scarcely had I made this reflection, when the boy called out, upon
seeing me move, 'Lud! what have I got here?' at the same instant
tossing the handful of snow from him in a violent hurry, without
attempting to press it into a ball. Over I turned head and heels,
wondering what further would be my fate, when I was happy to find
I fell unhurt upon some hay, which was laid in the yard to fodder
the cows and horses. Here I lay some time, so frightened by my
adventure, as to be unable to move, and my little heart beat as if
it would have burst its way through my breast; nor were my
apprehensions at all diminished by the approach of a man, who
gathered the hay up in his arms, and carried it (with me in the
midst of it) into the stable; where, after littering down the
horses, he left me once more to my own reflections.

After he had been gone some time, and all things were quiet, I
began to look about me, and soon found my way into a corn bin,
where I made a most delicious supper, and slept free from any
disturbance till the morning, when fearing I might be discovered,
in case he should want any of the oats for his horses, I returned
by the same place I had entered, and hid myself in one corner of
the hayloft, where I passed the whole of the day more free from
alarm than often falls to the lot of any of my species, and in the
evening again returned to regale myself with corn, as I had done
the night before. The great abundance with which I was
surrounded, strongly tempted me to continue where I was; but then
the thoughts of my absent brother embittered all my peace, and the
advice of my mother came so much across my mind, that I determined
before the next morning I would again venture forth and seek my
fortune and my brother. Accordingly, after having eaten a very
hearty meal, I left the bin, and was attempting to get out of the
stable, when one of the horses being taken suddenly ill, made so
much noise with his kicking and struggling, as to alarm the
family, and the coachman entering with a lantern in his hand, put
me into such consternation, that I ran for shelter into the pocket
of a great coat, which hung up upon a peg next the harness of the
horses. Here I lay snug for some hours, not daring to stir, as I
smelt the footsteps of a cat frequently pass by, and heard the
coachman extol her good qualities to a man who accompanied him
into the stable; saying she was the best mouser in the kingdom.
'I do not believe,' added he, 'I have a mouse in the stable or
loft, she keeps so good a lookout. For the last two days I lent
her to the cook, to put into her pantry, but I have got her back
again, and I would not part with her for a crown; no, not for the
best silver crown that ever was coined in the Tower.' Then,
through a little moth hole in the lining of the coat, I saw him
lift her up, stroke her, and put her upon the back of one of the
horses, where she stretched herself out, and went to sleep.

In this situation I did not dare to stir, I had too often seen how
eager cats are to watch mice, to venture out of the pocket, whilst
she was so near me, especially as I did not at all know the holes
or cracks round the stable, and should, therefore, had she jumped
down, been quite at a loss where to run. So I determined to
continue where I was till either hunger forced me, or the absence
of the cat gave a better opportunity of escaping. But scarce had
I taken up this resolution when the coachman again entered, and
suddenly taking the coat from the peg, put it on, and marched out
with me in his pocket.

It is utterly impossible to describe my fear and consternation at
this event, to jump out whilst in the stable exposed me to the
jaws of the cat, and to attempt it when out of doors was but again
subjecting myself to be frozen to death, for the snow continued
still on the ground; yet to stay in his pocket was running the
chance of suffering a still more dreadful death by the barbarous
hands of man; and nothing did I expect, in case he should find me,
but either to be tortured like Softdown, or given to be the sport
of his favorite cat--a fate almost as much dreaded as the other.
However it was soon put out of my power to determine, for whilst I
was debating in my own mind what course I had better take, he
mounted the coachbox, and drove away with me in his pocket, till
he came to a large house, about a mile distant from this place;
there he put down the company he had in the coach, and then drove
into the yard. But he had not been there many moments before the
coachman of the family he was come to, invited him into the
kitchen to warm himself, drink a mug of ale, and eat a mouthful of
cold meat. As soon as he entered, and had paid the proper
compliments to the Mrs. Betties and Mollies at the place, he
pulled off his great coat, and hung it across the back of his
chair. I instantly seized the first opportunity and whilst they
were all busy assembling round the luncheon table, made my escape,
and ran under a cupboard door close to the chimney, where I had an
opportunity of seeing and hearing all that passed, part of which
conversation I will relate to you.

'Well, Mr. John,' said a footman, addressing himself to the man
whose pocket I had just left, 'how fare you? Are you pretty
hearty? You look well, I am sure.' 'Aye, and so I am, replied
he. 'I never was better in all my life; I live comfortably, have
a good master and mistress, eat and drink bravely, and what can a
man wish for more? For my part I am quite contented, and if I do
but continue to enjoy my health, I am sure I shall be very
ungrateful not to be so.' 'That's true,' said the other, 'but the
misfortune of it is, people never know when they are well off, but
are apt to fret and wish and wish and fret, for something or other
all their lives, and so never have any enjoyment. Now for my own
part, I must needs confess, that I cannot help wishing I was a
gentleman, and think I should be a deal happier if I was.'
'Pshaw!' replied John, 'I don't like now to hear a man say so; it
looks as if you are discontented with the state in which you are
placed, and depend upon it, you are in the one that is fittest for
you, or you would not have been put into it. And as for being
happier if you were a gentleman, I don't know what to say to it.
To be sure, to have a little more money in one's pocket, nobody
can deny that it would be very agreeable; and to be at liberty to
come in and go out when one pleased, to be sure would be very
comfortable. But still, Bob, still you may assure yourself, that
no state in this world is free from care, and if we were turned
into lords, we should find many causes for uneasiness. So here's
your good health,' said he, lifting the mug to his mouth,
'wishing, my lad, you may be contented, cheerful, and good
humoured; for without these three requisites, content,
cheerfulness, and good humour, no one person upon earth, rich or
poor, old or young, can ever feel comfortable or happy; and so
here's to you, I say.' 'And here's the same good wishes to you,'
said a clean decent cook-woman servant, who took up the mug upon
John's putting it down. 'Content, cheerfulness, and good humour,
I think was the toast.' Then wiping her mouth, as she began her
speech, she added, 'and an excellent one it is: I wish all folks
would mind it, and endeavour to acquire three such good
qualifications.' 'I am sure,' rejoined another female servant,
whose name I heard was Sally, 'I wish so too: at least I wish
Miss Mary would try to gain a little more of the good humour; for
I never came near such a cross crab in my life as it is. I
declare I hate the sight of the girl, she is such a proud little
minx she would not vouchsafe to speak to a poor servant for the
world; as if she thought because we are poorer, we were therefore
not of the same nature: her sisters, I think are worth ten of
her, they always reply so civilly if a body speaks to them, and
say, "Yes, if you please, Mrs. "Sally, or "No, thank you, Mr.
Bob;" or "I should be obliged to you if you would do so and so,
Mrs. Nelly," and not plain yes or no, as she does; and well too if
you can get even that from her; for sometimes I declare she will
not deign to give one any answer at all.' 'Aye, that is a sure
thing she won't,' replied the maid servant who first drank, 'it is
a sad thing she should behave so; I can't think, for my part,
where she learns it; I am sure neither her papa nor mamma set her
the example of it, for they always speak as pretty and as kind as
it is possible to do; and I have heard, with my own ears, my
mistress tell her of it twenty and twenty times, but she will do
so. I am sure it is a sad thing that she should, for she will
always make people dislike her. I am sure, if young gentlemen and
ladies did not know how it makes people love them to speak civilly
and kind, they would take great care not to behave like Miss Mary.
Do you know, the other day, when Mrs. Lime's maid brought little
Miss Peggy to see my mistress, when she went away, she made a
courtesy to Miss Mary, and said, "Good morning to you, Miss." And
would you think it, the child stood like a stake, and never
returned it so much as by a nod of the head, nor did she open her
lips. I saw by her looks the maid took notice of it, and I am
sure I have such a regard for the family, that I felt quite
ashamed of her behaviour.' 'Oh! she served me worse than that,'
resumed Sally, 'for, would you believe it, the other day I begged
her to be so kind as to let her mamma know I wanted to speak with
her; and I did not choose to go into the room myself, because I
was dirty, and there was company there; but for all I desired her
over and over only just to step in (and she was at play close to
the door) yet, could you suppose it possible, she was ill-natured
enough to refuse me, and would not do it at last.' 'Well, if ever
I heard the like of that!' exclaimed John, whose pocket I had been
in. 'I think that was being cross indeed, and if a child of mine
was to behave in that surly manner, I would whip it to death
almost. I abominate such unkind doings, let everyone, I say, do
as they like to be done by, and that is the only way to be happy,
and the only way to deserve to be so; for if folks will not try to
be kind, and oblige others, why should anybody try to please them?
And if Miss Mary was my girl, and chose to behave rude and cross
to the servants, if I was her papa, I would order them to refuse
doing anything for her. I would soon humble her pride I warrant
you, for nobody should make her puddings, or cut her bread, or do
anything for her till she learned to be kind, and civil, and
thankful too, for all that was done for her. I have no notion,
for my part, for a child to give herself such airs for nothing;
and because her parents happen to have a little more money in
their pockets, for that reason to think she may be rude to poor
folks; but though servants are poor, still surely they are richer
than she is; I should like to ask her how much she has got? and
which way she came by it? A child I am sure is no richer than a
beggar, for they have not a farthing that is not given them
through mere bounty; whereas a servant who works for his living,
has a right and just claim to his wages, and may truly call them
his own; but a child has not one farthing that is not its parents.
So here's my service to you, Miss,' said he, (again lifting the
ale-mug to his mouth) 'and wishing her a speedy reformation of
manners, I drink to her very good health.'

John drank to the bottom of the mug, and then shaking the last
drop into the ashes under the grate, he told the following story,
as he sat swinging the mug by its handle across his two
forefingers, which he had joined for that purpose.

'When my father was a young man he lived at one Mr. Speedgo's, as
upper footman: they were vastly rich. Mr. Speedgo was a
merchant, and by good luck he gathered gold as fast as his
neighbours would pick up stones (as a body may say). So they kept
two or three carriages, there was a coach, and a chariot, and a
phaeton, and I can't tell what besides, and a power of servants
you may well suppose to attend them all; and very well they lived,
with plenty of victuals and drink. But though they wanted for
nothing still they never much loved either their master or
mistress, they used to give their orders in so haughty and
imperious a manner; and if asked a civil question, answer so
shortly, as if they thought their servants not worthy of their
notice: so that, in short, no one loved them, nor their children
either, for they brought them up just like themselves, to despise
everyone poorer than they were; and to speak as cross to their
servants as if they had been so many adders they were afraid would
bite them.

'I have heard my father say, that if Master Speedgo wanted his
horse to be got ready, he would say, "Saddle my horse!" in such a
displeasing manner as made it quite a burthen to do anything for
him. Or if the young ladies wanted a piece of bread and butter,
or cake, they would say, "Give me a bit of cake;" or, if they
added the word pray to it, they spoke in such a grumpy way, as
plainly showed they thought themselves a deal better than their
servants; forgetting that an honest servant is just as worthy a
member of society as his master, and whilst he behaves well, as
much deserving of civility as anybody. But to go on with my
story. I have already told you Mr. Speedgo was very rich and very
proud, nor would he on any account suffer anyone to visit at his
house whom he thought below him, as he called it; or at least, if
he did, he always took care to behave to them in such a manner, as
plainly to let them know he thought he showed a mighty favour in
conversing with them.

'Among the rest of the servants there was one Molly Mount, as good
a hearted girl, my father says, as ever lived: she had never
received much education, because her parents could not afford to
give her any, and she learned to read after she was at Mr.
Speedgo's from one of the housemaids, who was kind enough to teach
her a little; but you may suppose, from such sort of teaching, she
was no very good scholar. However, she read well enough to be
able to make out some chapters in the Bible; and an excellent use
she made of them, carefully fulfilling every duty she there found
recommended as necessary for a Christian to practice. She used
often to say she was perfectly contented in her station, and only
wished for more money that she might have it in her power to do
more good. And sometimes, when she was dressing and attending the
young ladies of the family, she would advise them to behave
prettier than they did; telling them, "That by kindness and
civility they would be so far from losing respect, that, on the
contrary, they would much gain it. For we cannot (she would very
truly say) have any respect for those people who seem to forget
their human nature, and behave as if they thought themselves
superior to the rest of their fellow-creatures. Young ladies and
gentlemen have no occasion to make themselves very intimate or
familiar with their servants; but everybody ought to speak civilly
and good-humouredly, let it be to whom it may: and if I was a
lady I should make it a point never to look cross or speak gruffly
to the poor, for fear they should think I forgot I was of the same
human nature as they were." By these kind of hints, which every
now and then she would give to the misses, they were prodigiously
offended, and complained of her insolence, as they called it, to
their mamma, who very wrongly, instead of teaching them to behave
better, joined with them in blaming Molly for her freedom, and, to
show her displeasure at her conduct, put on a still haughtier air,
whenever she spoke to her, than she did to any other of the
servants. Molly, however, continued to behave extremely well, and
often very seriously lamented in the kitchen the wrong behaviour
of the family. "I don't mind it," she would say, "for my own
part; I know that I do my duty, and their cross looks and proud
behaviour can do me no real harm: but I cannot help grieving for
their sakes; it distresses me to think that people who ought to
know better, should, by their ill conduct, make themselves so many
enemies, when they could so easily gain friends--I am astonished
how anybody can act so foolishly."

'In this sensible manner she would frequently talk about the sin
as well as the folly of pride. And one day, as she was talking to
her fellow-servants, rather louder than in prudence she ought to
have done, her two young ladies overheard her; and the next time
she went to dress them, they enquired what it was she had been
saying to the other maids. "Indeed, ladies," said she, "I hope
you will excuse my telling you. I think, if you give yourselves
time to reflect a little, you will not insist upon knowing, as it
is beneath such rich ladies as you are, to concern yourselves with
what poor servants talk about." This answer did not, however,
satisfy them, and they positively commanded her to let them know.
Molly was by far too good a woman to attempt to deceive anyone;
she therefore replied, "If, ladies, you insist upon knowing what I
said, I hope you will not take anything amiss that I may tell you,
thus compelled as I am by your commands. You must know then, Miss
Betsy and Miss Rachael, that I was saying how sad a thing it was
for people to be proud because they are rich; or to fancy, because
they happen to have a little more money, that for that reason they
are better than their servants, when in reality the whole that
makes one person better than another is, having superior virtues,
being kinder and more good natured, and readier to assist and
serve their fellow-creatures; these are the qualifications, I was
saying, that make people beloved, and not being possessed of
money. Money may, indeed, procure servants to do their business
for them, but it is not in the power of all the riches in the
world to purchase the love and esteem of anyone. What a sad thing
then it is, when gentlefolks behave so as to make themselves
despised; and that will ever be the case with all those who, like
(excuse me, ladies, you insisted upon my telling you what I said)
Miss Betsy, and Miss Rachael, and Master James, show such contempt
to all their inferiors. Nobody could wish children of their
fortunes to make themselves too free, or play with their servants;
but if they were little kings and queens, still they ought to
speak kind and civil to everyone. Indeed our king and queen would
scorn to behave like the children of this family, and if--" She
was going on, but they stopped her, saying, "If you say another
word, we will push you out of the room this moment, you rude,
bold, insolent woman; you ought to be ashamed of speaking so
disrespectfully of your betters; but we will tell our mamma, that
we will, and she won't suffer you to allow your tongue such
liberties." "If," replied Molly, "I have offended you, I am sorry
for it, and beg your pardon, ladies; I am sure I had no wish to do
so; and you should remember that you both insisted upon my telling
you what I had been saying." "So we did," said they, "but you had
no business to say it all; and I promise you my mamma shall know

'In this manner they went on for some time; but, to make short of
my story, they represented the matter in such a manner to their
mother, that she dismissed Molly from her service, with a strict
charge never to visit the house again. "For," said Mrs. Speedgo,
"no servant who behaves as you have done, shall ever enter my
doors again, or eat another mouthful in my house." Molly had no
desire so suddenly to quit her place; but as her conscience
perfectly acquitted her of any wilful crime, after receiving her
wages, respectfully wishing all the family their health, and
taking a friendly leave of her fellow-servants, she left the
house, and soon engaged herself as dairy-maid in a farmer's
family, about three miles off; in which place she behaved so
extremely well, and so much to the satisfaction of her master and
mistress, that, after she had lived there a little more than two
years, with their entire approbation, she was married to their
eldest son, a sober, worthy young man, to whom his father gave a
fortune not much less than three thousand pounds, with which he
bought and stocked a very pretty farm in Somersetshire, where they
lived as happy as virtue and affluence could make them. By
industry and care they prospered beyond their utmost expectations,
and, by their prudence and good behaviour, gained the esteem and
love of all who knew them.

'To their servants (for they soon acquired riches enough to keep
three or four, I mean household ones, besides the number that were
employed in the farming business) they behaved with such kindness
and civility, that had they even given less wages than their
neighbours, they would never have been in want of any; everyone
being desirous of getting into a family where they were treated
with such kindness and condescension.

'In this happy manner they continued to live for many years,
bringing up a large family of children to imitate their virtues;
but one great mortification they were obliged to submit to, which
was that of putting their children very early to boarding school,
a circumstance which the want of education in Mrs. and indeed I
may add Mr. Flail, rendered absolutely necessary.

'But I am afraid, Mrs. Sally and Mrs. Nelly, you will be tired, as
I have but half told my story; but I will endeavour to make short
work of it, though indeed it deserves to be noticed, for it will
teach one a great deal, and convince one how little the world's
riches are to be depended on.

'I have said, you know, that Mr. Speedgo was a merchant, and a
very rich one too. It is unknown what vast sums of money he used
to spend! when, would you think it, either through spending it too
fast, or some losses he met with in trade, he broke all to
nothing, and had not a farthing to pay his creditors. I forgot
how many thousand pounds it was he owed; but it was a vast great
many. Well! this you may be sure was a great mortification to
them; they begged for mercy from their creditors; but as in their
prosperity they had never shown much mercy themselves to those
they thought beneath them, so now they met with very little from
others: the poor saying they deserved it for their pride; the
rich condemning them for their presumption, in trying to vie with
those of superior birth; and those who had been less successful in
business, blaming them for their extravagance, which, they said,
had justly brought on them their misfortunes.

'In this distress, in vain it was they applied for assistance to
those they had esteemed their friends; for as they never had been
careful to form their connections with people of real merit, only
seeking to be acquainted with those who were rich and prosperous,
so now they could no longer return their civilities, they found
none were ready to show them any, but everyone seemed anxious to
keep from them as much as possible. Thus distressed, and finding
no one willing to help them, the young squire, Master James, was
obliged to go to sea: while Miss Betsy and Miss Rachael were even
forced to try to get their living by service, a way of life they
were both ill qualified to undertake, for they had always so
accustomed themselves to be waited on and attended, that they
scarcely knew how to help themselves, much less how to work for
others. The consequence of which was, they gave so little
satisfaction to their employers, that they staid but a little time
in a place, and from so frequently changing, no family, who wished
to be well settled, would admit them, as they thought it
impossible they could be good servants whom no one thought worthy
of keeping.

'It is impossible to describe the many and great mortifications
those two young ladies met with. They now frequently recollected
the words of Molly Mount, and earnestly wished they had attended
to them whilst it was in their power, as by so doing they would
have secured to themselves friends. And they very forcibly found,
that, although they were poor and servants, yet they were as
sensible of kind treatment and civility, as if they had been

'After they had been for some years changing from place to place,
always obliged to put up with very low wages, upon account of
their being so ill qualified for servants, it happened that Miss
Betsy got into service at Watchet, a place about three miles
distant from Mr. Flail's farm. Here she had a violent fit of
illness, and not having been long enough in the family to engage
their generosity to keep her, she was dismissed upon account of
her ill health rendering her wholly incapable of doing her
business for which she was hired. She then, with the very little
money she had, procured a lodging in a miserable little dirty
cottage; but through weakness being unable to work, she soon
exhausted her whole stock, and was even obliged to quit this
habitation, bad as it was, and for some days support herself
wholly by begging from door to door, often meeting with very
unkind language for so idle an employment; some people telling her
to go to her parish, when, alas! her parish was many miles
distant, and she, poor creature, had no means of getting there.

'At last she wandered, in this distressful situation, to the house
of Mr. Flail, and walked into the farm yard just at the time the
cows were being milked. She, who for a long time had tasted
nothing but bits of broken bread, and had no drink besides water
she had scooped up in her hands, looked at the quantity of fresh
milk with a most wishful eye; and, going to the women who were
milking, she besought them in a moving manner to give her a
draught, as she was almost ready to perish. "For pity's sake,"
said she, "have compassion upon a poor wretch, dying with
sickness, hunger, and thirst; it is a long time since I have
tasted a mouthful of wholesome victuals, my lips are now almost
parched with thirst, and I am so faint for want, that I can
scarcely stand; my sufferings are very great indeed, it would melt
a heart of stone to hear the story of my woes. Oh! have pity upon
a fellow-creature then, and give me one draught of that milk,
which can never be missed out of so vast a quantity as you have
there, and may you never, never, know what it is to suffer as I
now do." To this piteous request, she received for answer, the
common one of "Go about your business, we have nothing for you, so
don't come here." "We should have enough to do indeed," said one
of the milkers, "if we were to give every idle beggar who would
like a draught of this delicious milk; but no, indeed, we shall
not give you a drop; so go about your business, and don't come
plaguing us here." Mrs. Flail, who happened to be in the yard,
with one of her children who was feeding the chickens, overheard
enough of this to make her come forward, and enquire what was the
matter. "Nothing, ma"am," replied the milk-maid, "only I was
sending away this nasty dirty creature, who was so bold as to come
asking for milk indeed! But beggars grow so impudent now-a-days
there never was the like of it." "Oh fie!" returned Mrs. Flail,
shocked at her inhuman way of speaking, "fie upon you, to speak in
so unkind a manner of a poor creature in distress." Then turning
to the beggar, she inquired what she wanted, in so mild a tone of
voice, that it encouraged her to speak and tell her distress.

'Mrs. Flail listened with the greatest attention, and could not
help being struck with her speech and appearance; for though she
was clothed in rags (having parted with all her better clothes to
pay for lodging and food) still there was a something in her
language and manner which discovered that she was no common
beggar. Betsy had stood all the time with her eyes fixed upon the
ground, scarcely once lifting them to look at the face of Mrs.
Flail; and she was so changed herself by her troubles and
sickness, that it was impossible for any one who had ever seen
Miss Speedgo, to recollect her in her present miserable state.
Mrs. Flail, however, wanted no farther inducement to relieve her
than to hear she was in want. "Every fellow-creature in
distress," she used to say, "was a proper object of her bounty;
and whilst she was blessed with plenty she thought it her duty to
relieve, as far as she prudently could, all whom she knew to be in
need." She therefore fetched a mug, and, filling it with milk
herself, gave it to the poor woman to drink. "Here," said she,
"take this, good woman, and I hope it will refresh and be of
service to you." Betsy held out her hand for it, and, lifting her
eyes up to look at Mrs. Flail, whilst she thanked her for her
kindness, was greatly astonished to discover in her benefactress,
the features of her old servant, Molly Mount. "Bless me!" said
she, with an air of confusion, "What do I see? Who is it? Where
am I? Madam, pardon my boldness, but pray forgive me, ma"am, but
is not your name Mount?" "It was," replied Mrs. Flail, "but I
have been married for thirteen years to a Mr. Flail, and that is
my name now. But, pray, where did you ever see me before? or how
came you to know anything of me?" Poor Betsy could return no
answer, her shame at being seen by her servant that was, in her
present condition, and the consciousness of having so ill-treated
that very servant, to whose kindness she was now indebted; all
together were too much for her in her weak state, and she fell
senseless at Mrs. Flail's feet.

'This still added to Mrs. Flail's surprise, and she had her
carried into the house and laid upon a bed, where she used every
means to bring her to herself again; which, after a considerable
time, succeeded; and she then (covered with shame and remorse)
told her who she was, and how she came into that miserable
condition. No words can describe the astonishment Mrs. Flail was
in, at hearing the melancholy story of her sufferings; nor is it
possible to tell with what generosity and kindness she strove to
comfort her, telling her to compose herself, for she should no
longer be in want of any thing. "I have, thank Heaven," said she,
"a most worthy good man for my husband, who will rejoice with me
in having it in his power to relieve a suffering fellow-creature.
Do not, therefore, any longer distress yourself upon what passed
between us formerly. I had, for my part, forgotten it, if you had
not now told it me; but, however I might then take the liberty to
censure you for too much haughtiness. I am sure I have no
occasion to do so now. Think no more, therefore, I beseech you,
upon those times which are now past; but be comforted, and make
yourself as happy as in my humble plain manner of living you can
possibly do."

'She then furnished her with some of her own clothes, till she
could procure her new ones, and sent immediately for a physician
from the next town; by following of whose prescription, together
with good nursing, and plenty of all necessaries, she soon
recovered her health; but she was too deeply affected with the
thoughts of her former misconduct ever to feel happy in her
situation, though Mrs. Flail used every method in her power to
render her as comfortable as possible. Nor did she confine her
goodness only to this one daughter, but sent also for her sister
and mother (her father being dead), and fitted up a neat little
house for them near their own. But as the Flails could not afford
wholly to maintain them for nothing, they entrusted the poultry to
their care; which enabled them to do with one servant less; and by
that means they could, without any great expense, afford to give
them sufficient to make their lives comfortable, that is, as far
as their own reflections would let them; for the last words Mrs.
Speedgo said to Molly, when she parted from her, dwelt continually
upon her mind, and filled her with shame and remorse.

'"I told her," said she, "that she should never again come into my
doors, or eat another mouthful in my house; and now it is her
bounty alone which keeps us all from perishing. Oh! how unworthy
are we of such goodness! True, indeed, was what she told you,
that kindness and virtue were far more valuable than riches.
Goodness and kindness no time or change can take from us; but
riches soon fly as it were away, and then what are we the better
for having been once possessed of them?"'

Here Mr. John stopped, and jumping hastily up, and turning round
to Mrs. Sally, Mrs. Nelly, and Mr. Bob, exclaimed, rubbing his
hands--'There ladies, I have finished my story; and, let me tell
you, so long preaching has made my throat dry, so another mug of
ale, if you please, Master Bobby (tapping him at the same time
upon the shoulder), another mug of ale, my boy; for faith, talking
at the rate I have done, is enough to wear a man's lungs out, and,
in truth, I have need of something to hearten me after such

'Well, I am sure,' replied Mrs. Sally and Mrs. Nelly, in the same
breath, 'we are greatly obliged to you for your history; and I am
sure it deserves to be framed and glazed, and it ought to be hung
up in the hall of every family, that all people may see the sad
effects of pride, and how little cause people have, because they
are rich, to despise those who are poor; since it frequently
happens, that those who this year are like little kings, may the
next be beggars; and then they will repent, when it is too late,
of all their pride and unkindness they showed to those beneath

Here the conversation was put a stop to by the bell ringing, and
John being ordered to drive to the door. I, who during the whole
of the history had been feasting upon a mince-pie, now thought it
safer to conceal myself in a little hole in the wainscot of the
closet, where, finding myself very safe, I did not awake till
midnight. After the family were all retired to rest, I peeped out
of the hole, and there saw just such another frightful trap as
that which was the prelude to poor Softdown's sufferings.
Startled at the sight, I retreated back as expeditiously as
possible, nor ever stopped till I found my way into a bed-chamber,
where lay two little girls fast asleep.

I looked about for some time, peeping into every hole and corner
before I could find any thing to eat, there being not so much as a
candle in the room with them. At last I crept into a little
leathern trunk, which stood on a table, not shut down quite close:
here I instantly smelt something good: but was obliged to gnaw
through a great deal of linen to get at it; it was wrapped up in a
lap-bag, amongst a vast quantity of work. However, I made my way
through half a hundred folds, and at last was amply repaid, by
finding out a nice piece of plum-cake, and the pips of an apple,
which I could easily get at, one half of it having been eat away.
Whilst I was thus engaged I heard a cat mew, and not knowing how
near she might be, I endeavoured to jump out; but in the hurry I
somehow or other entangled myself in the muslin, and pulled that,
trunk and all, down with me; for the trunk stood half off the
table, so that the least touch in the world overset it, otherwise
my weight could never have tumbled it down.

The noise of the fall, however, waked the children, and I heard
one say to the other,--'Bless me! Mary, what is that noise?--What
can it be? I am almost frightened out of my wits; do, pray,
sister, hug me close!' 'Pooh!' replied the other, 'never mind it!
What in the world need you be frightened at? What do you suppose
will hurt you? It sounded as if something fell down; but as it
has not fallen upon us, and I do not hear anybody stirring, or
speaking as if they were hurt, what need we care about it? So
pray, Nancy, let us go to sleep again; for as yet I have not had
half sufficient, I am sure; I hope morning is not coming yet, for
I am not at all ready to get up.' 'I am sure,' answered the
other, 'I wish it was morning, and daylight now, for I should like
to get up vastly, I do not like to lay here in the dark any
longer; I have a great mind to ring the bell, and then mamma or
somebody will come to us with a candle.' 'And what in the world,'
rejoined Mary, 'will be the use of that? Do you want a candle to
light you to look for the wounds the noise has given you; or what
can you wish to disturb my mamma for? Come, let me cuddle you,
and do go to sleep, child, for I cannot think what occasion there
is for us to keep awake because we heard a noise; I never knew
that noise had teeth or claws to hurt one with; and I am sure this
has not hurt me; and so, whether you choose to lie awake or not, I
will go to sleep, and so good-bye to you, and pray do not disturb
me any more, for I cannot talk any longer.' 'But, Mary,' again
replied the other, 'pray do not go to sleep yet, I want to speak
to you.' 'Well, what do you want to say?' inquired Mary. 'Why,
pray have you not very often,' said Nancy, 'heard of thieves
breaking into people's houses and robbing them; and I am sadly
afraid that noise was some rogues coming in; so pray, Mary, do not
go to sleep, I am in such a fright and tremble you cannot think.
Speak, Mary, have not you, I say, heard of thieves?' 'Yes,'
replied Mary, in a very sleepy voice, 'a great many times.'
'Well, then, pray sister, do not go to sleep,' said Nancy, in a
peevish accent, 'suppose, I say that noise I heard should be
thieves, what should we do? What will become of us? O! what
shall we do?'--'Why, go to sleep, I tell you,' said Mary, 'as fast
as you can; at least, do pray let me, for I cannot say I am in the
smallest fear about house-breakers or house-makers either; and of
all the robberies I ever heard of in all my life, I never heard of
thieves stealing little girls; so do, there's a dear girl, go to
sleep again, and do not so foolishly frighten yourself out of your
wits for nothing.' 'Well,' replied Nancy, 'I will not keep you
awake any longer; but I am sure I shall not be able to get another
wink of sleep all night.'

Here the conversation ended, and I could not help thinking how
foolish it was for people to permit themselves to be terrified for
nothing. Here is a little girl, now, thought I, in a nice clean
room, and covered up warm in bed, with pretty green curtains drawn
round her, to keep the wind from her head, and the light in the
morning from her eyes; and yet she is distressing herself, and
making herself really uncomfortable, and unhappy, only because I,
a poor, little, harmless mouse, with scarcely strength sufficient
to gnaw a nutshell, happened to jump from the table, and throw
down, perhaps, her own box.--Oh! what a pity it is that people
should so destroy their own comfort! How sweetly might this child
have passed the night, if she had but, like her sister, wisely
reflected that a noise could not possibly hurt them; and that,
had any of the family occasioned it, by falling down, or running
against anything in the dark which hurt them, most likely they
would have heard some more stirring about.

And upon this subject the author cannot help, in human form (as
well as in that of a mouse), observing how extremely ridiculous it
is for people to suffer themselves to be terrified upon every
trifling occasion that happens; as if they had no more resolution
than a mouse itself, which is liable to be destroyed every meal it
makes. And, surely, nothing can be more absurd than for children
to be afraid of thieves and house-breakers; since, as little Mary
said, they never want to seek after children. Money is all they
want; and as children have very seldom much of that in their
possession, they may assure themselves they are perfectly safe,
and have therefore no occasion to alarm themselves if they hear a
noise, without being able to make out what it is; unless, indeed,
like the child I have just been writing about, they would be so
silly as to be frightened at a little mouse; for most commonly the
noises we hear, if we lay awake in the night, are caused by mice
running about and playing behind the wainscot: and what
reasonable person would suffer themselves to be alarmed by such
little creatures as those? But it is time I should return to the
history of my little make-believe companion, who went on, saying--

The conversation I have been relating I overheard as I lay
concealed in a shoe that stood close by the bedside, and into
which I ran the moment I jumped off the table, and where I kept
snug till the next morning; when, just as the clock was striking
eight, the same Mrs. Nelly, whom I saw the day before in the
kitchen, entered the apartment, and accosted the young ladies,
saying, 'Good morning to you, ladies, do you know that it is time
to get up?' 'Then, pray, Nelly, lace my stays, will you?' said
Miss Nancy. 'But lace mine first, and give me my other shoes; for
those I wore yesterday must be brushed, because I stepped in the
dirt, and so when you go down you must remember, and take and
brush them, and then let me have them again,' said Mary; 'but come
and dress me now.'

Well, thought I, this is a rude way of speaking, indeed, something
like Miss Nancy Artless, at the house where my poor dear Softdown
was so cruelly massacred; I am sure I hope I shall not meet with
the like fate here, and I wish I was safe out of this shoe; for,
perhaps, presently it will be wanted to be put on Mary's foot; and
I am sure I must not expect to meet any mercy from a child who
shows so bad a disposition as to speak to a servant in so uncivil
a manner, for no good-natured person would do that.

With these kind of reflections I was amusing myself for some
little time, when, all on a sudden, they were put an end to, by my
finding the shoe in which I was concealed, hastily taken up; and
before I had time to recollect what I had best do, I was almost
killed by some violent blows I received, which well nigh broke
every bone in my skin. I crept quite up to the toe of the shoe,
so that I was not at all seen, and the maid, when she took up the
shoes, held one in one hand, and the other in the other, by their
heels, and then slapped them hard together, to beat out of some of
the dust which was in them. This she repeated three or four
times, till I was quite stunned; and how or which way I tumbled or
got out, I know not; but when I came to myself. I was close up
behind the foot of a table, in a large apartment, where were
several children, and a gentleman and a lady, all conversing
together with the greatest good humour and harmony.

The first words I heard distinctly enough to remember, were those
of a little boy, about five years old, who, with eagerness
exclaimed--'I forget you! no that I never shall. If I was to go a
hundred thousand miles off, I am sure I shall never forget you.
What! do you think I should ever, as long as I live, if it is a
million of years, forget my own dear papa and mamma? No; that I
should not, I am very, very sure I never should.' 'Well, but
Tom,' interrupted the gentleman, 'if in a million of years you
should not forget us, I dare say, in less than two months you will
forget our advice, and before you have been at school half that
time, you will get to squabbling with and tricking the other boys,
just as they do with one another; and instead of playing at all
times with the strictest openness and honour, you will, I sadly
fear, learn to cheat, and deceive, and pay no attention to what
your mother and I have been telling you.' 'No', that I am sure I
sha'n't!' replied the boy. 'What! do you think I shall be so
wicked as to turn a thief, and cheat people?' 'I dare say, my
dear,' resumed the father, 'you will not do what we call thieving;
but as I know there are many naughty boys in all schools, I am
afraid they will teach you to commit dishonourable actions, and to
tell you there is no harm in them, and that they are signs of
cleverness and spirit, and qualifications very necessary for every
boy to possess.' 'Aye, that's sure enough,' said the boy, who
appeared about ten years old, 'for they almost all declare, that
if a boy is not sharp and cunning, he might almost as well be out
of the world as in it. But, as you say, papa, I hate such
behaviour, I am sure there is one of our boys, who is so
wonderfully clever and acute, as they call him, that I detest ever
having any thing to do with him; for unless one watches him as a
cat would watch a mouse, he is sure to cheat or play one some
trick or other.' 'What sort of tricks do you mean?' inquired the
little boy. 'Why, I will tell you,' replied the other. 'You know
nothing of the games we have at school, so if I was to tell you
how he plays at them, you would not understand what I meant. But
you know what walking about blindfold is, don't you? Well! one
day, about a dozen boys agreed to have a blind race, and the boy
who got nearest the goal, which was a stick driven in the ground
with a shilling upon the top of it, was to win the shilling,
provided he did it fairly without seeing.' 'I suppose,'
interrupted Tom, 'you mean the boy who got to the stick first.'
'No, I do not,' replied his brother, 'I mean what I say, the boy
who got nearest it, no matter whether he came first or last; the
fun was to see them try to keep in a straight path, with their
eyes tied up, whilst they wander quite in the wrong, and not to
try who could run fastest. Well! when they, were all blinded, and
twisted round three or four times before they were suffered to set
off, they directed their steps the way they thought would directly
conduct them to the goal; and some of them had almost reached it,
when Sharply (the boy I mentioned) who had placed a shilling upon
the stick, for they drew lots who should do that, and he who
furnished the money was to stand by it, to observe who won it by
coming nearest; well, Sharply, I say, just as they came close to
it, moved away softly to another place, above three yards distant
from any of them (for I should have told you, that if none of them
got within three yards, the shilling was to remain his, and they
were each to give him a penny.) So then he untied their eyes, and
insisted upon it they had all of them lost. But two or three of
us happened to be by, and so we said he had cheated them, and
ought not to keep the money, as it had fairly been won by Smyth.
But he would not give it up, so it made a quarrel between him and
Smyth, and at last they fought, and Mr. Chiron confined them both
in the school all the rest of the afternoon, and when he heard
what the quarrel was about, he took the shilling from Sharply, and
called him a mean-spirited cheat; but he would not let Smyth have
it, because he said he deserved to lose it for fighting about such
a trifle, and so it was put into the forfeit-money.'

'But pray do not you think Sharply behaved extremely wrong?'
'Shamefully so, indeed,' said the gentleman. 'I never could have
any opinion of a boy 'who could act so dishonourably,' said the
lady, 'let his cleverness be what it would.' 'Pray, Frank, tell
me some more,' said the little boy. 'More!' replied Frank, 'I
could tell you an hundred such kind of things. One time, as Peter
Light was walking up the yard, with some damsons in his hat,
Sharply ran by, and as he passed, knocked his hat out of his hand,
for the sake of scrambling for as many as he could get himself.
And sometimes, after the pie-woman has been there, he gets such
heaps of tarts you cannot think, by his different tricks: perhaps
he will buy a currant tart himself; then he would go about,
calling out, "Who'll change a cheesecake for a currant tart?" and
now-and-then he will add, "and half a bun into the bargain!" Then
two or three of the boys call out, "I will, I will!" and when they
go to hold out their cheesecakes to him, he snatches them out of
their hands before they are aware, and runs away in an instant;
and whilst they stand for a moment in astonishment, he gets so
much ahead of them that he eats them up before they can again
overtake him. At other times, when he sees a boy beginning to eat
his cake, he will come and talk carelessly to him for a few
moments, and then all of a sudden call out, "Look! look!
look!-there!" pointing his finger as if to show him something
wonderful; and when the other, without suspecting any mischief,
turns his head to see what has so surprised him, away he snatches
the cake, and runs off with it, cramming it into his mouth in a

'And when he plays at Handy-dandy, Jack-a-dandy, which will you
have, upper hand or lower? if you happen to guess right, he slips
whatever you are playing with into his other hand; and that you
know is not playing fair; and so many of the boys tell him; but he
does not mind any of us. And as he is clever at his learning, and
always does his exercise quite right, Mr. Chiron (who indeed does
not know of his tricks) is very fond of him, and is for ever
saying what a clever fellow he is, and proposing him as an example
to the rest of the boys; and I do believe many of them imitate his
deceitful, cheating tricks, only for the sake of being thought
like him.'

'Aye! it is a sad thing,' interrupted the gentleman, 'that people
who are blessed with sense and abilities to behave well, should so
misuse them as to set a bad, instead of a good example to others,
and by that means draw many into sin, who otherwise, perhaps,
might never have acted wrong. Was this Sharply, you have been
speaking of, a dunce and blockhead at his book, he would never
gain the commendations that Mr. Chiron now bestows upon him; and,
consequently, no boy would wish to be thought like him; his bad
example, therefore, would not be of half the importance it now is.

'Only think, then, my dear children, how extremely wicked it is,
for those who are blessed with understandings capable of acting as
they should do, and making people admire them, at the same time to
be guilty of such real and great sin. For, however children at
play may like to trick and deceive each other, and call it only
play or fun, still, let me tell you, they are much mistaken if
they flatter themselves there is no harm in it. It is a very
wrong way of behaviour; it is mean, it is dishonorable, and it is
wicked; and the boy or girl who would ever permit themselves to
act in so unjustifiable a manner, however they may excel in their
learning, or exterior accomplishments, can never be deserving of
esteem, confidence, or regard. What esteem or respect could I
ever entertain of a person's sense or learning, who made no better
use of it than to practise wickedness with more dexterity and
grace than he otherwise would be enabled to do? Or, what
confidence could I ever place in the person who, I knew, only
wanted a convenient opportunity to defraud, trick, and deceive me?
Or, what regard and love could I possibly entertain for such a
one, who, unless I kept a constant watch over, as I must over a
wild beast, would, like a wild beast, be sure to do me some
injury? Would it be possible, I say, to love such a character,
whatever shining abilities or depth of learning he might possess?
Ask your own hearts, my dears, whether you think you could?'

To this they all answered at once, 'No, that I could not,' and 'I
am sure I could not.' 'Well, then,' resumed the father, 'only
think how odious that conduct must be, which robs us of the
esteem, confidence, and love of our fellow-creatures; and that
too, notwithstanding we may at the same time be very clever, and
have a great deal of sense and learning. But, for my part, I
confess I know not the least advantage of our understanding or our
learning, unless we make a proper use of them. Knowing a great
deal, and having read a great many books, will be of no service to
us, unless we are careful to make a proper use of that knowledge,
and to improve by what we read, otherwise the time we so bestow is
but lost, and we might as well spend the whole of our lives in

'Always remember, therefore, my loves, that the whole end of our
taking the trouble to instruct you, or putting ourselves to the
expense of sending you to school, or your attending to what is
taught you, is, that you may grow better men and women than you
otherwise would be; and unless, therefore, you do improve, we
might as well spare ourselves the pains and expense, and you need
not take the trouble of learning; since, if you will act wickedly,
all our labour is but thrown away to no manner of purpose.

'Mr. and Mrs. Sharply, how I pity them! What sorrow must they
endure, to behold their son acting in the manner you have
described; for nothing can give so much concern to a fond parent's
heart, as to see their children, for whom they have taken so much
pains, turn out naughty; and to deceive and cheat! What can be
worse than that? I hope, my dear children, you will never, any of
you, give us that dreadful misery! I hope, my dear Tom, I hope
you will never learn any of those detestable ways your brother has
been telling you of. And if it was not that you will often be
obliged to see such things when you mix with other children, I
should be sorry you should even hear of such bad actions, as I
could wish you to pass through life without so much as knowing
such wickedness ever existed; hut that is impossible. There are
so many naughty people in the world, that you will often be
obliged to see and hear of crimes which I hope you will shudder to
think of committing yourselves; and being warned of them
beforehand, I hope it will put you more upon your guard, not to be
tempted, upon any consideration, to give the least encouragement
to them, much less to practise them yourselves.

'Perhaps, Tom, if your brother had not, by telling us of Sharply's
tricks, given me an opportunity of warning you how extremely wrong
and wicked they are, you might when you were at school, have
thought them very clever, and marks of genius; and therefore, like
others of the boys, have tried to imitate them, and by that means
have become as wicked, mean, and dishonourable yourself. And only
think how it would have grieved your mamma and me, to find the
next holidays, our dear little Tom, instead of being that honest,
open, generous-hearted boy he now is, changed into a deceiver, a
cheat, a liar, one whom we could place no trust or confidence in;
for, depend upon it, the person who will, when at play, behave
unfair, would not scruple to do so in even other action of his
life. And the boy who will deceive for the sake of a marble, or
the girl who would act ungenerously, for the sake of a doll's cap
or a pin, will, when grown up, be ready to cheat and over-reach in
their trades, or any affairs they may have to transact. And you
may assure yourselves that numbers of people who are every year
hanged, began at first to be wicked by practising those little
dishonourable mean actions, which so many children are too apt to
do at play, without thinking of their evil consequences.

'I think, my dear,' said he, turning to his wife, 'I have heard
you mention a person who you were acquainted with when a girl, who
at last was hanged for stealing, I think, was not she?' 'No,'
replied the lady, 'she was not hanged, she was transported for
one-and-twenty years.' 'Pray, madam, how transported? what is
that?' inquired one of the children. 'People, my dear,' resumed
the lady, 'are transported when they have committed crimes, which,
according to the laws of our land, are not thought quite wicked
enough to be hanged for; but still too bad to suffer them to
continue amongst other people. So, instead of hanging them, the
judge orders that they shall be sent on board a ship, built on
purpose to hold naughty people, and carried away from all their
friends, a great many miles distant, commonly to America, where
they are sold as slaves, to work very hard for as many years as
they are transported for. And the person your papa mentioned was
sold for twenty-one years; but she died before that time was out,
as most of them do: they are generally used very cruelly, and
work very hard; and besides, the heat of the climate seldom agrees
with anybody who has been used to live in England, and so they
generally die before their time is expired, and never have an
opportunity of seeing their friends any more, after they are once
sent away. How should any of you, my dears, like to be sent away
from your papa and me, and your brothers and sisters, and uncles
and aunts, and all your friends, and never) never see us any more;
and only keep company with naughty, cross, wicked people, and
labour very hard, and suffer a great deal of sickness, and such a
number of different hardships, you cannot imagine? Only think how
shocking it must be! How should you like it?' 'Oh', not at all,
not at all,' was echoed from everyone in the room.

'But such,' rejoined their mother, 'is the punishment naughty
people have; and such was the punishment the person your papa
spoke of had; who, when she was young, no more expected to come to
such an end than any of you do. I was very well acquainted with
her, and often used to play with her, and she (like the boy Frank
has been talking of) used to think it a mark of cleverness to be
able to deceive; and for the sake of winning the game she was
engaged in, would not scruple committing any little unfair action,
which would give her the advantage.

'I remember one time, at such a trifling game as pushpin, she gave
me a very bad opinion of her; for I observed, instead of pushing
the pin as she ought to do, she would try to lift it up with her
finger a little, to make it cross over the other.

'And when we were all at cards, she would peep, to find out the
pictured ones, that she might have them in her own hand.

'And when we played at any game which had forfeits, she would try,
by different little artifices, to steal back her own before the
time of crying them came; or, if she was the person who was to cry
them, as you call it, she would endeavour to see whose came next,
that she might order the penalty accordingly.

'Or if we were playing at hide and seek, she would put what we had
to hide either in her own pocket, or throw it into the fire, so
that it would be impossible to find it; and then, after making her
companions hunt for it for an hour, till their patience was quite
tired, and they gave out; she would burst out in a loud laugh! and
say she only did it for fun. But, for my part, I never could see
any joke in such kind of things: the meanness, the baseness, the
dish on our, which attended it always, in my opinion, took off all
degree of cleverness, or pleasure from such actions.

'There was another of her sly tricks which I forgot to mention,
and that was, if at tea, or any other time, she got first to the
plate of cake or bread, she would place the piece she liked best
where she thought it would come to her turn to have it: or if at
breakfast she saw her sisters' basin have the under crust in it,
and they happened not to be by, or to see her, she would take it
out, and put her own, which she happened not to like so well, in
the stead.

'Only think, my dears, what frightful, sly, naughty tricks to be
guilty of! And from practising these, which she said there was no
harm in, and she only did them in play, and for a bit of fun, at
last she came, by degrees, to be guilty of greater. She two or
three different times, when she was not seen, stole things out of
shops; and one day, when she was upon a visit, and thought she
could do it cleverly, without being discovered, put a couple of
table spoons into her pocket. The footman who was waiting
happened to see her; but fearing to give offence, he took no
notice of it till after she was gone home, when he told his
master, who, justly provoked at being so ill-treated, by a person
to whom he had shown every civility, went after her, called in her
own two maids, and his footman, as witnesses, and then insisted
upon examining her pockets, where he indeed found his own two
spoons. He then sent for proper officers to secure her, had her
taken into custody, and for that offence it was that she was

'Thus, my dear children, you see the shocking consequence of ever
suffering such vile habits to grow upon us; and I hope the example
of this unhappy woman (which I assure you is a true story) will be
sufficient to warn you for ever, for a single time, being guilty
of so detestable a crime, lest you should, like her, by degrees
come to experience her fatal punishment.'

Just as the lady said these words a bell rang, and all getting up
together, they went out of the room, the young one calling out,
'To dinner! to dinner! to dinner! here we all go to dinner!'

And I will seek for one too, said I to myself, (creeping out as
soon as I found I was alone) for I feel very faint and hungry. I
looked and looked about a long while, for I could move but slow,
on account of the bruises I had received in the shoe. At last
under the table, round which the family had been sitting, I found
a pincushion, which, being stuffed with bran, afforded me enough
to satisfy my hunger, but was excessively dry and unsavoury; yet,
bad as it was, I was obliged to be content at that time with it;
and had nearly done eating when the door opened, and in ran two or
three of the children. Frightened out of my senses almost, I had
just time to escape down a little hole in the floor, made by one
of the knots in the wood slipping out, and there I heard one of
the girls exclaim--

'O dear! who now has cut my pincushion? it was you did it, Tom.'
'No, indeed I did not,' replied he. 'Then it was you, Mary.'
'No, I know nothing of it,' answered she. 'Then it was you,
Hetty.' 'That I am sure it was not,' said she; 'I am sure, I am
certain it was not me; I am positive it was not.' 'Ah,' replied
the other, 'I dare say it was.' 'Yes, I think it is most likely,'
said Mary. 'And so do I too,' said Tom. 'And pray why do you all
think so?' inquired Hetty, in an angry tone. 'Because,' said the
owner of the pincushion, 'you are the only one who ever tells
fibs; you told a story, you know, about the fruit; you told a
story too about the currant jelly; and about putting your fingers
in the butter, at breakfast; and therefore there is a very great
reason why we should suspect you more than anybody else.' 'But I
am sure,' said she, bursting into tears, 'I am very sure I have
not meddled with it.' 'I do not at all know that,' replied the
other, 'and I do think it was you; for I am certain if any one
else had done it they would not deny it; and it could not come
into this condition by itself, somebody must have done it; and I
dare say it was you; so say no more about it.'

Here the dispute was interrupted by somebody calling them out of
the room; and I could not help making some reflections on what had
passed. How dreadful a crime, thought I, is lying and falsity; to
what sad mortifications does it subject the person who is ever
wicked enough to commit it; and how does it expose them to the
contempt of everyone, and make them to be suspected of faults they
are even perfectly free from. Little Hetty now is innocent, with
respect to the pincushion with which her sister charges her, as
any of the others; yet, because she has before forfeited her
honour, she can gain no credit: no one believes what she says,
she is thought to be guilty of the double fault of spoiling the
pincushion, and what is still worse, of lying to conceal it;
whilst the other children are at once believed, and their words
depended upon.

Surely, surely, thought I, if people would but reflect upon the
contempt, the shame, and the difficulties which lies expose them
to, they would never be guilty of so terrible a vice, which
subjects them to the scorn of all they converse with, and renders
them at all times suspected, even though they should, as in the
case of Hetty, really speak the truth. Such were my reflections
upon falsehood, nor could I help altogether blaming the owner of
the pincushion for her hasty judgment relating to it. Somebody,
she was certain, must have done it; it was impossible it could
come so by itself. That, to be sure, was very true; but then she
never recollected that it was possible a little mouse might put it
in that condition. Ah! thought I to myself, what pity is it, that
human creatures, who are blest with understanding and faculties so
superior to any species, should not make better use of them; and
learn, from daily experience, to grow wiser and better for the
future. This one instance of the pincushion, may teach (and
surely people engaged in life must hourly find more) how dangerous
it is to draw hasty conclusions, and to condemn people upon
suspicion, as also the many, great, and bad consequences of lying.

Scarcely had I finished these soliloquies when a great knock at
the house door made me give such a start that I fell off the joist
on which I was standing, and then ran straight forwards till I
came out at a little hole I found in the bricks above the parlour
window: from that I descended into the road, and went on
unmolested till I reached a malt-house, about whose various
apartments, never staying long in the same, I continued to live;
till one night, all on a sudden, I was alarmed by fire, which
obliged me to retreat with the greatest expedition.

I passed numberless rats and mice in my way, who, like myself,
were driven forth by the flames; but, alas! among them I found not
my brother. Despairing, therefore, of ever seeing him again, I
determined, if possible, to find my way back to you, who before
had shown me such kindness. Numberless were the fatigues and
difficulties I had to encounter in my journey here; one while in
danger from hungry cats, at another almost perished with cold and
want of food.

But it is needless to enumerate every particular; I should but
tire your patience was I to attempt it; so I will hasten to a
conclusion of my history, only telling you how you came to find me
in that melancholy condition from which your mercy has now raised

I came into your house one evening concealed in the middle of a
floor-cloth, which the maid had rolled up and set at the outside
of the back door, whilst she swept the passage, and neglected to
take it in again till the evening, In that I hid myself, and upon
her laying it down, ran with all speed down the cellar-stairs,
where I continued till the family were all gone to bed. Then I
returned back, and came into your closet, where the scent of some
figs tempted me to get into the jar in which you found me. I
concealed myself among them, and after feasting most deliciously,
fell asleep, from which I was awakened by hearing a voice say,
"Who has left the cover off the fig-jar?" and at the same time I
was involved in darkness by having it put on. In vain I
endeavoured to remove it, the figs were so low, that when I stood
on them I could but just touch it with my lips, and the jar being
stone I could not possibly fasten my nails to hang by the side.

In this dismal situation therefore I was constrained to stay, my
apprehensions each day increasing as my food diminished, till at
last, after feeding very sparingly for some days, it was quite
exhausted; and I had endured the inexpressible tortures of hunger
for three days and three nights, when you happily released me, and
by your compassion restored me once more to life and liberty.
Condescend, therefore, to preserve that life you have so
lengthened, and take me under your protection.

'That most gladly,' interrupted I, 'I will do: you will live in
this large green-flowered tin canister, and run in and out when
you please, and I will keep you constantly supplied with food.
But I must now shut you in, for the cat has this moment entered
the room.'

And now I cannot take leave of all my little readers, without once
more begging them, for their own sakes, to endeavour to follow all
the good advice the mouse has been giving them; and likewise
warning them to shun all those vices and follies, the practice of
which renders children so contemptible and wicked.

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