Gateway to the Classics: The Way of the Gate by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
 
The Way of the Gate by  Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

What the Mice Found Out

I

It was a rainy Saturday and Doris said,

"Mother, may we have a tea party in the play room?"

And her mother said, "Yes, if you will clear the table carefully."

Then Donald said, "May we have giner cookies to eat?"

And his mother said, "Yes, if you will brush up all the crumbs."

"May we have milk with sugar in it in the dolls' cups?" asked Doris.

And their mother said, "Yes, if you will surely wash the dolls' cups neatly."

"Oh yes," Donald and Doris said. "Of course, we will clear the table, and brush up the crumbs, and wash the dolls' cups."

So Doris set the table, and Donald brought up cookies and milk from the kitchen. The cookies were very crisp, and very good. The milk tasted better from the dolls' cups than from large ones. The children at so many cookies that the table and the floor were covered with crumbs. They spilled sugar, too. Then the sun came out, and the doorbell rang.

"That is William. He wants me to play in his barn," Donald said. "I must hurry, and go."

So Donald took the brush from his work bench and brushed up part of the crumbs from the floor. But he left many more.

"That might be Margaret. She wants me to make paper dolls," Doris said. "I must hurry and go."

So Doris set the dolls' cups away, only half washed. She brushed the crumbs from one half of the table. But she left many crumbs on the other half.

Then Donald and Doris went downstairs.


II

For a while there was no one in the play room but the dolls who lived in the doll house, and the paper soldiers. Then a little gentleman, dressed in a suit of gray, stepped in through a crack in the wall. After him came a little lady in a gray dress. Their eyes were as bright as beads. They had long whiskers and tails. They were Mr. and Mrs. Squeek Nibble, two mice, who lived in the play room wall.

Mr. and Mrs. Squeek Nibble had never been in the play room before. It had always been so well swept. But now there were crumbs on the floor. There were cups with sugar in the bottom of them on the shelves.

Mr. and Mrs. Squeek Nibble danced about on the tips of their tiny toes. They ate the crumbs that had not been brushed up. They climbed up the legs of the table, and ate the crumbs left there. Then they climbed to the shelves and ate the sugar in the bottom of the dolls' cups.

The lady doll who lived in the doll house wore a very beautiful dress. It was pink silk with lace over the silk. A wreath of little pink roses was in her hair. She wore silk stockings.

As soon as Mrs. Squeek Nibble saw the lady doll, she went in the doll house.

If Mrs. Squeek Nibble could have talked, she would have said,

"A little girl who does not clear a table well does not deserve such a beautiful doll."

So Mrs. Squeek Nibble put her dusty little feet on the doll's silk dress. She nibbled the lace of the doll's dress. She gnawed holes in the doll's silk stockings. She pulled the wreath of roses from the doll's hair. She carried the wreath away to her home in the wall.

The paper soldiers stood very straight and fine on Donald's shelves.

As soon as Mr. Squeek Nibble saw the soldiers, he climbed up to the shelves.

If Mr. Squeek Nibble could have talked, he would have said,

"A little boy who does not clean his play room well does not deserve such beautiful soldiers."

So Mr. Squeek Nibble tumbled down the soldiers and tore them. He gnawed their uniforms and he bit off their legs and arms. Mr. Squeek Nibble carried the soldiers' heads away to his home in the wall.

Saturday was over then, and Sunday came. Then came Monday, and school. After school on Monday, Donald and Doris went again to the play room.

"The mice have been here; oh, see my poor doll!" Doris said.

"The mice have been here; oh, see my poor soldiers!" Donald said.

Then they saw tiny footprints where the crumbs had been. They saw the marks of tiny paws on the dolls' cups.

"Squeek! Squeek! Little half workers!" said Mr. and Mrs. Squeek Nibble from their home in the wall. "Sometimes children catch mice, but this time we caught you!"

He becometh poor that worketh with a slack hand.

—Proverbs x. 4.


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