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´╗┐Title: Life and Perambulations of a Mouse
Author: Kilner, Dorothy, 1755-1836
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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THE LIFE AND PERAMBULATIONS OF A MOUSE

(1783-1784)

by Dorothy Kilner



INTRODUCTION

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 company.

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
the head 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.



PART I.

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 world.

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 you 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, 'you 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 not.

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 sewing.

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
laugh!'

'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 barn.

'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 case--



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 MOUSE.



PART II.



INTRODUCTION


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 it."

'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 richer.

'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 fatigue.'

'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 them.'

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 moment.

'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
idleness.

'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; but 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 (sic), which
attendedit 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 transported.

'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 me.

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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