Gateway to the Classics: For the Children's Hour by Carolyn S. Bailey
For the Children's Hour by  Carolyn S. Bailey

The Little Field Mice

I T was summertime, and in the field were many mice. They were happy, indeed, for here, where they ran back and forth, between the herbs and high stalks, were ripe peas, and wheat, and corn. They bit off the ears, and carried them to their holes, and ate to the full without care or trouble.

Then came autumn. The reapers whetted their scythes, and one morning the wheat stalks fell, so the mice had to run from the cats and the birds. They scurried into their holes, and only came out stealthily to fetch a couple of peas or an ear of wheat.

But the grain was taken up, bound into sheaves and carried into the village, and food became scarce in the field. Soon, too, came the plough, which broke up the ground, and tore up the little mice's holes. The mice said: "Things are going very badly with us; let us move back into the carrot field." So they did.

They liked the carrot field very much. The earth was loose, and the carrots tasted sweet, but along came the farmer to whom the field belonged, and he dug up all the carrots.

"The mice have been at them," he said, as he saw the prints of their teeth.

Now, the poor mice must go still farther, and they scampered off to a potato field; but here, also, the potatoes were dug up, and the mice were driven away. They complained of the hard times, and sadly took refuge in a clover field, and dug their holes. They intended to stay here all winter, but the times grew even worse, the fields gave them no food, and the little mice were often obliged to run about a great deal to find a pair of forlorn cherry stones, or a hedge plum. At last it grew cold, and heavy rains fell, and some of the mice found their holes full of water. These were really very bad times.

The little mice hurried off to the cities and villages and sought refuge, here, in a barn; there, in a cellar; but still they were chased. The farmer shut his cat in the barn, and the mistress set her trap. Poor little mice!

But, at last, came spring and sunshine, and fresh food gladdened the fields once more. The mice went back, dug new holes, and were again glad to be alive.

— Translated from the German of Thekla Naveau
by Bertha Johnston, in "Kindergarten Magazine"

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