Once upon a time there was a little mouse who lived at Farmer Brown’s place in the country.
He and his parents and his brothers and sisters lived together in the old grainary in the barn, which had been empty for for many years. Their many relatives also lived in that huge building, but each had found its own little corner in which to hide away, because they didn’t like to move about in the day time. Animals like that are called “nocturnal.“
Squeeky, however, found sleeping when the sun was shining very boring, and secretly led an adventurous life no one knew about. But it often brought him into danger cause he was very young, but he didn’t understand what that meant.
There were other animals who lived on Mr Brown’s farm. There was a grey, striped cat who was very lazy most of the day, and slept in a basket in the kitchen beside Mrs Brown. She liked to sit in her rocking chair and knit things. She had two little sticks in her hand called knitting needles, and some wool. She made funny movements with her hands that made something grow below them. Usually it was socks for Mr Brown in the winter, or a baby’s sweater in the summer, because she had many grandchildren.
Squeeky had discovered a path from the barn to the house that ran along a rail fence, and he usually hurried to the house every day just to see what the people were doing. Fortunately for him there was an old truck sitting in the driveway where Squeeky was able to hide when the cat came out of the house to hunt for mice. It was a terrible moment the first time Squeeky saw one of his relatives being carried away in the cat’s mouth, and never to be seen again. His family in the grainary was crying when he got home because the word had spread about what happened. Everyone had liked that cousin. Squeeky’s mother scolded him for wandering off, and warned him about cats in general, who are the enemy of all mice.
But it was from the sky above that Squeeky learned came the greatest danger: big, silent birds that would swoop down unexpected and snatch little creatures moving about on the ground. These birds might be owls or hawks, who hunted night and day.
And so Squeeky learned that danger meant something might hurt you. But he also saw that the birds, even the big ones, were afraid of people, and flew away as soon as one appeared. Lots of animals are afraid of people.
Sqeeky loved food. Food has many colours and sizes and tastes. Food is good for you to help you grow and be strong. Everyone needs food. Mr and Mr Brown had funny meals at least three times a day that didn’t interest a little mouse. Even the food that Mrs Brown put in the cat’s dish on the floor tasted horrible to Squeeky, who took a hurried nibble one day when the cat wasn’t there. But yum, yum were the seeds in the grainary where he lived, and lots of other places in Squeeky’s travels. So this little mouse began to realize that there are many kinds of food, but not everyone eats the same things.
Squeeky was sitting in Mr Brown’s truck one day licking himself, which is how some animals clean their bodies. He leaped through the hole in the floor to hide just as Mr Brown opened the door and got in to drive to town. The noise was terrible and the whole vehicle shook badly when it was started, and that scared Squeeky a lot. He froze and didn’t dare move as he felt the truck move under him.
Some time later, Mr Brown stopped in town, and shut off the engine, and all the noise stopped. He got out and went into a store. Curious, Squeeky came out of hiding to peak through one of the windows. He had never seen a town before. A town has lots of buildings in it, some are where people live and some are where people buy things. Of course Squeeky didn’t know what buying something meant, but he had heard the Browns talking about it. And he later saw Mr Brown get some things he didn’t have before, and hand the man in the store building some pieces of pretty paper, and take those new things home. So that must be buying, he thought to himself. Mice don’t buy things. They are always searching for food when they go out.
In a few minutes, Mr Brown returned and drove home, and Squeeky discovered that the noise and shaking only occurred when Mr Brown was in the truck, and so he stopped being afraid. There would be many times when Squeeky would go to town with the Browns, but just now he was glad he was back at the farm. He paused first to look around for danger, but the cat wasn’t anywhere in sight . The sky held only nice birds who Squeeky had learned would not hurt him if he didn’t bother then, or go near their nest with babies inside. Every mother and father wants to protect their children and will fight others even bigger than themselves to do that. So Squeeky jumped down and scampered home and so ended another day.
Two dogs lived at the Brown farm, one old and one a young, foolish pup. The old hound lay on the veranda most of the time, stretched out and sleeping. A mouse could easily scoot past him if staying close to the wall and stopping quickly to hide under things. But the pup, called “Bob” was running around all the time exploring. He got excited whenever he found something new and would burst out barking and digging at anything he thought might be interesting.
It didn’t take Bob long to discover that mice families lived in the barn. They were terrified of that dog. Everyone scattered to hide when the dog came trotting through the barn door. But the Browns got tired of Bob’s barking, so one day to everyone’s relief, Bob was tied up on a long rope to a little house he could live in there in the back yard. Squeeky didn’t know that most hounds cannot be left loose to run about, or they will run off into the woods chasing animals, especially deer. But the Browns made a big mistake.
Bob was frustrated and chewed on that nasty rope that wouldn’t let him run and play. Feeling safe, Squeeky had started going back along the path to get into the house cause there were so many rooms to explore. Unknown to him, Bob had gotten loose. This day Squeeky was trying on some of Mrs Brown’s hats in her bedroom. She walked in to get something but didn’t notice her floppy hat wasn’t in its usual place. Squeeky was hiding under it. Bob came bounding into the room so happy to be free, and in a few moments smelled the mouse. He barked very loud and was about to jump on the hat when Mrs Brown grabbed him by the collar, saving Squeeky’s life. She took him back outside to his kennel to tie him up again. Mr Brown found a chain to use instead of the rope. In the meantime Squeeky fled the bedroom in a different direction and escaped.
Now in real life, mice don’t care about hats, but in stories anything can happen. It is called using our imagination, our thinking, just for the fun of it. So get ready, cause Squeeky is growing up and getting bolder and doing things mice are not supposed to do. Wait until I tell you about the time he went up in a space craft. Soon. But just then as the Browns came back into the house, Squeeky’s mother was calling him to come home for supper.
Squeeky lay in bed sick, feeling awful. Have you ever been sick? It’s no fun. He felt hot and then cold, and shivered a lot. He would pull the blankets over himself to try to get warm, and then toss them aside to try to get cool. Oh, he was going to die.
What is dying? People talk about it sometimes but it’s a mystery to a mouse. One moment someone is here, talking and laughing maybe, and the next they stop doing that and go silent and stiff. Then someone else comes and takes the person away and they are never seen again.
People are upset and then go to a place where there are many upright stones with squiggly words on them, They are called tombstones (toom-st-owns).
The place is called a cemetery (sem-i-terri). People stand around while someone speaks about the person who has just died. Sometimes the people do a very funny thing. They throw sand onto a box that is sitting there. Anyway, this is called a funeral. Usually there are lots of pretty flowers. Squeeky found out about all this once time when he went with the Browns in their truck, and sat there watching what was going on. Mrs Brown was weeping a bit, but Mr Brown as usual didn’t say much. Now mice don’t have funerals, so this was all new to our little friend.
Squeeky’s mother called for a mouse doctor to come and visit her son. He put a funny long chord with a round thing on its end on Squeeky’s chest (augh, it was cold) and the other end to his own ear and seemed to listen to something. Squeeky couldn’t hear anything new, but he did cough a lot. The doctor left some medicine which tasted awful, and Squeeky’s Mom insisted he take it, so of course he did. In a few days he felt better.
So this was what sickness was all about. Lying in bed a lot, feeling miserable and then in time getting better. No body likes being sick. But being smart, Squeeky did notice how much attention he got from everybody. He made funny, gurgly sounds in his throat one time just to see what would happen. Yep, his Mother leaped up and came to him quickly, but he pretended to be asleep. Because mice always seem to be having babies, Squeeky knew that crying always got people’s attention. It even worked sometimes when he didn’t want to go to school. But parents are smart, too. So off he went like everyone else whether he liked to or not.
Squeeky liked to watch people. He learned a lot that way. It was summer, and some of Mr and Mrs Brown’s grandchildren came to visit, once school was out.
“This should be interesting, “thought Squeeky, who went to his favourite hiding place where he could watch humans.
“They really are funny,” he thought to himself.
The little girl, Dana and her brother, Matt, decided to bake some cookies. Gramma helped them gather lots of things to use. They mixed some dry things and water and stirred and stirred, and the dry stuff flew everywhere. Everyone was laughing.
Mrs Brown put the cookies in a big hole in the wall that had a door on it . Big people call it an oven. The children ran away to wash and play. When everyone left, Squeeky came out and ran around on the table nibbling at the crumbs that lay there. He jumped to the floor to leave, but didn’t realize that the dry stuff was stuck to his feet, so he left a trail of footprints where he had been. Footprints are little marks on the floor or the ground when someone passes by. Even people can leave footprints.
Right then Mrs Brown came back, and stopped in doorway in shock. She yelled, screaming for Mr Brown to come. He had been sleeping in his chair in the living room, as he usually did most mornings. He jerked awake.
He stumbled into the room…What? he said.
“Mice, there are mice in my kitchen!” yelled Mrs Brown.
“Get the broom and kill them, right away!” she ordered.
At the same time, the grandchildren came running into the room, and were immediately as excited as Mrs Brown.
“A mouse, a real mouse! Wow.” I want to see a mouse, said Matt, who jumped up and down in excitement.
Poor Mr Brown went to a cupboard to get the broom, while Mrs Brown fled outside. She was terrified of thoughts of tiny animals invading her home. She was so nervous, and walked and walked around in a circle, too scared to come back inside.
Squeeky knew this was serious, and he froze where he was hidden in the wall behind the tall thing that made a big noise from time to time and held more food. The Browns called it a refrigerator, or “the fridge.” He could easily move up and down inside that wall and had different places where he could peak through a crack to see what was going on.
Meanwhile Mr Brown was beginning to move some chairs and stuck his broom into places where he couldn’t see very well. He was only doing this to please Mrs Brown cause mice were just part of farm life he thought. By this time Squeeky knew he had better get out of there, so he did. Mr Brown gave a few hard wacks on the wall as he heard the mouse leave. He went outside and banged the big garbage can out back near Bob’s kennel. He then found Mrs Brown and reassured her that the mouse was gone forever.
I don’t think she ever knew that no mouse went out in the garbage, and that Squeeky and his family were having a great laugh in the barn as he told them what had happened.
Squeeky had many brothers and sisters, and he often got upset when someone would take his things, even break his toys.
Sometimes he would try to hide them, or he complained to his Mother, who tried to teach him to share–which to Squeeky meant let the others have them. Squeeky didn’t like that, and got angry. The children did not like him very much when he snatched the toys out of their hands and marched away. His Mother or Father would rebuke him if they saw it happen. Squeeky just got more and more angry, blaming them all for what happened.
No one helped Squeeky or his brothers and sisters stop being angry with each other, and things at home got very upset because of this. Squeeky was thinking he had to move away.
One day he was sitting in the old truck when Mr and Mrs Brown drove to town to go to Church. He had to wait a long time until they came out to go home, and that was boring, so Squeeky decided to explore the place for something to do.
He heard a booming, loud voice talking about forgiving people who have hurt you. So he stopped to listen. What does forgiveness mean? he wondered.
The man said it was to stop thinking about bad things that people do, and to begin to look for good things instead. It also meant to stop doing things to others that upset them. Oh, Oh, thought Squeeky.
God sees everything we do, said the man, and He wants us to be kind to people, to love them. Loving someone means you do not keep a long list of the bad things that they may have done. You deliberately stop thinking of the things that may have hurt your feelings, and focus on the good things that people do instead. Even mice can be selfish, which means wanting your own way all the time.
At that moment Squeeky realized that snatching the toys was a bad thing because it meant he was not being kind and loving his brothers and sisters at home. And he did love them. They were family, and Squeeky knew that family is important.
I wish I could tell you that Squeeky went home and asked forgiveness of his family, but it takes a long time to learn to do that. But I am happy to say that Squeeky did choose some of his oldest toys to give to the little ones to keep, and then he put the rest away in his own room out of sight.
Things got better after that as he stopped upsetting the little ones when they were playing. One day Squeeky even helped them learn how to use one of the bigger toys that he brought out. And so things got better at home. Dad and Mom smiled at him a lot now.
A strange man arrived one day and set up a big tower outside and against the house of Mr and Mrs Brown. He then brought inside a big box, and took off its cardboard cover. He added some wires to it that came inside through a small hole in the wall from the big tower. Squeeky was watching all this from the darkness of a woodpile not far from the house. The little mouse could see through a window.
Suddenly that box came alive and someone inside the box began to talk. Mrs Brown was excited and so happy to have a TV, or tel-e-vision. Maybe you have had a TV in your house all your life, but this was a long time ago when Squeeky was still young. Mr Brown moved a dial or little nob on the TV and different people would suddenly appear and sometimes animals. Mr and Mrs Brown liked to sit in front of the TV after supper and watch their favourite programs. Squeeky would often watch with them, only they didn’t know it of course. Maybe mice get bored just as you and I do. Wanting something to do that is interesting and different than every day living.
Of course later Squeeky checked out this strange box. He sniffed it, and nibbled at it, even licked it, but it was hard, so hard and didn’t taste very good. So he gave up and went to get some nuts that he knew Mrs Brown had dropped in the kitchen when she was baking earlier that day.
What else was new? Another man arrived one day and talked a long time with Mr Brown. The two men went out to the old barn. Squeeky’s family was very nervous when the men looked at the old grainery where they lived. Apparently the man wanted to rent the land and grow grain. He needed a place to put all the grain in the fall when the plants were harvested. The men moved on to the old machine shed but didn’t stay there long cause it only had horse-drawn farm equipment. Horse-drawn?
Yes, long before tractors became common on farms, people did all their work with horses. They put a saddle on the animal, got on its back and rode the horse everywhere. cause there were no cars or trucks. A farmer would put harness on two of the horses, and hitch (tie) them together to pull a wagon because it could carry more people. The horses were also used to pull the machinery to work the land. Mr Brown had done that all his life, and kept the old machinery cause they gave him happy memories.
Boring, though Squeezy, who was always wanting something exciting to happen. But his family were worried and anxious, feeling tense and frightened inside of themselves, cause they would have to move. But where? It seems every hiding place in that old barn already had another family of mice living there.
Squeeky had many relatives. Mice have many children several times a year. Squeeky only knew that somehow each mouse belonged to his parents, only were not his brother and sisters. Some of his parent’s oldest children had children, and then their children had more babies, and so on. Belong to their family, that is what relatives are.