Little Fables for Little Folks
AN honest, plain, country mouse, is said to have feasted at his hole, one day, with a fine mouse of the town. Having, in their youth, been friends and playmates, he felt bound to give him plenty, as well as a hearty welcome. In order to this, he set before him some grey peas and bacon, a dish of fine oatmeal, some parings of new cheese, and, to crown all, the remnant of a mellow apple, by way of dessert. They chatted very snugly while seated at their meal; and the town spark at last said, “My old friend, give me leave to be a little free with you. How can you bear to live in this dirty, dull hole, with nothing but woods, meadows, mountains, and rivers about you? Do you not prefer the life of the gay world to the chirping of birds, and the splendour of city to the rude manners and plain fare of village. Take my word for it, you would find it change for the better. You shall go with me at once. Never stand thinking; but let us be off this moment; making sure of today, for we know not what may happen ere the morrow.” The country mouse made more than one excuse; but his friend urged so many fine reasons, that he at last gave his consent to go with him. So they both set out on their jour ney, and at midnight crept, one after the other, into certain great house, in fine city, where, as there had been grand party the day before, tit-bits of all kinds were in plenty. It was now the turn of the town mouse to act as master of the feast. He seated his guest in the middle of a rich Turkey carpet; and setting all sorts of nice things before him, he played the host with much grace. For a short time, all things went smoothly; when, on a sudden, the door flew open, and a servant peeped into the room. Our little friends started from their seats in great fear, and ran to place of safety. The barking of huge mastiff startled them a second time; and at length, the sight of cat put an end to their meal. The country mouse was ready to die with fear; but, on finding himself safe, he said, “Well, my friend, if this is your town life, much good may it do you. I prefer my meals in safety: so, give me my poor, quiet hole in the country again, with my wholesome, though homely, grey peas.” A small fortune, with quiet, in the country, is better than the greatest riches, with the noise, hurry, and care of the town. Enough, though it be plain and simple, with peace, is better than the choicest and richest things, if got with care and fears.
Manning and Smithson