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The Greedy Little Mouse by E. C.

 

Tottie and Lillie were twins, with the same wide-open blue eyes, the same rosy dimples, and bright yellow hair. One day, when they were seated at the little table in the nursery eating their dinner—for they were too young yet to dine with mamma—Tottie thought she saw a little black bead shining in a hole by the closet door. No, it could not be a bead, for it popped in and out. Presently out came a little pointed nose, with long stiff whiskers, two little round ears, and two bright black—not beads, but eyes. The children sat very still, and thought they had never seen anything quite so pretty as the little plump body and long graceful tail whisking rapidly and noiselessly, while the little creature peered cautiously about. Lillie threw gently a little piece of bread, but terrified little mousie thought it was surely intended to kill her, and flew back to her stronghold in the closet. Tottie now put a little piece of bread quite close to the hole, and they sat motionless for it to re-appear. They had not long to wait; the bread was too sweet a morsel for mousie to resist, and they soon had the great pleasure of seeing her first nibble a little, and finally drag it into the hole. Lillie said, "Oh, don't you know, Tottie, mousie is the mother, and she has a lot of little children in her house, and that is going to be their dinner: let's give her some every day." And so they did, until mousie grew so tame and so wise she seemed to know the dinner hour as well as they, and would come nearer and nearer, and run in and out under the table picking up the crumbs; but she was ever a little distrustful.

If any one made an effort to catch her, or made ever so little noise, off she flew to her hole, and would wait, and peep out for some time, before she became re-assured. But when every one was fast asleep in bed, then she became more brave; but with all her fine feeding, Mrs. Mouse could not overcome her nature, and, I grieve to add, she was a thief. She would rummage in pockets for cake and goodies, and climb to the highest shelf if she smelt any dainty, and so, alas! fell a victim to her greedy propensities.

Nurse had put a bowl of liquid starch, on the shelf in the closet, and mousie, thinking she had a fine treat, scaled the side, and reaching over for the dainty, lost her balance, and tumbled in. The fluid was too heavy and the sides too steep and slippery for her to escape; so, after vain endeavors, she sank exhausted to the bottom.

The next day, and the next passed, and no mousie came at the usual hour. Tottie said she "knew the old black cat had caught her." Lillie said she "knew the children were sick." So she threw little bits down the hole for her. But when nurse went for her forgotten starch, the truth was revealed. Poor mousie was dead. Many tears fell; and although the children had many toys, nothing was equal to that sly, active, bright-eyed, live little play-fellow.