THE COUNTRY MOUSE AND THE CITY MOUSE
[The following story of the two mice, with the similar fables
of The Boy who cried Wolf, The Frog King, and The Sun and
the Wind, are given here with the hope that they may be of use
to the many teachers who find the over-familiar material of the
fables difficult to adapt, and who are yet aware of the great
usefulness of the stories to young minds. A certain degree of
vividness and amplitude must be added to the compact statement
of the famous collections, and yet it is not wise to change the
style-effect of a fable, wholly. I venture to give these
versions, not as perfect models, surely, but as renderings which
have been acceptable to children, and which I believe retain the
original point simply and strongly.]
Once a little mouse who lived in the
country invited a little Mouse from the city
to visit him. When the little City Mouse
sat down to dinner he was surprised to find
that the Country Mouse had nothing to eat
except barley and grain.
"Really," he said, "you do not live well
at all; you should see how I live! I have all
sorts of fine things to eat every day. You
must come to visit me and see how nice it
is to live in the city."
The little Country Mouse was glad to do
this, and after a while he went to the city
to visit his friend.
The very first place that the City Mouse
took the Country Mouse to see was the
kitchen cupboard of the house where he
lived. There, on the lowest shelf, behind
some stone jars, stood a big paper bag
of brown sugar. The little City Mouse
gnawed a hole in the bag and invited his
friend to nibble for himself.
The two little mice nibbled and nibbled,
and the Country Mouse thought he
had never tasted anything so delicious in
his life. He was just thinking how lucky
the City Mouse was, when suddenly the
door opened with a bang, and in came the
cook to get some flour.
"Run!" whispered the City Mouse.
And they ran as fast as they could to the
little hole where they had come in. The
little Country Mouse was shaking all over
when they got safely away, but the little
City Mouse said, "That is nothing; she will
soon go away and then we can go back."
After the cook had gone away and shut
the door they stole softly back, and this
time the City Mouse had something new
to show: he took the little Country Mouse
into a corner on the top shelf, where a
big jar of dried prunes stood open. After
much tugging and pulling they got a large
dried prune out of the jar on to the shelf
and began to nibble at it. This was even
better than the brown sugar. The little
Country Mouse liked the taste so much
that he could hardly nibble fast enough.
But all at once, in the midst of their eating,
there came a scratching at the door and a
sharp, loud MIAOUW!
"What is that?" said the Country
Mouse. The City Mouse just whispered,
"Sh!" and ran as fast as he could to the
hole. The Country Mouse ran after, you
may be sure, as fast as HE could. As soon
as they were out of danger the City Mouse
said, "That was the old Cat; she is the
best mouser in town,--if she once gets
you, you are lost."
"This is very terrible," said the little
Country Mouse; "let us not go back to the
"No," said the City Mouse, "I will take
you to the cellar; there is something especial
So the City Mouse took his little friend
down the cellar stairs and into a big cupboard
where there were many shelves. On
the shelves were jars of butter, and cheeses
in bags and out of bags. Overhead hung
bunches of sausages, and there were spicy
apples in barrels standing about. It
smelled so good that it went to the little
Country Mouse's head. He ran along the
shelf and nibbled at a cheese here, and a
bit of butter there, until he saw an especially
rich, very delicious-smelling piece of
cheese on a queer little stand in a corner.
He was just on the point of putting his
teeth into the cheese when the City Mouse
"Stop! stop!" cried the City Mouse.
"That is a trap!"
The little Country Mouse stopped and
said, "What is a trap?"
"That thing is a trap," said the little
City Mouse. "The minute you touch the
cheese with your teeth something comes
down on your head hard, and you're dead."
The little Country Mouse looked at the
trap, and he looked at the cheese, and he
looked at the little City Mouse. "If you'll
excuse me," he said, "I think I will go
home. I'd rather have barley and grain
to eat and eat it in peace and comfort, than
have brown sugar and dried prunes and
cheese,--and be frightened to death all
So the little Country Mouse went back
to his home, and there he stayed all the rest
of his life.