THERE was once a little Lady-Mouse that lived in a field. She was all alone in the world, a little old maid, and she very much wanted a friend. But every creature turned up his nose at the poor little Mouse, and not a friend could she get; until at last a Clod of earth took pity upon her. Then the Mouse and the Clod became firm friends, and went about everywhere together. The Mouse walked upon her four legs, and the Clod rolled along like a cricket ball.
One day the Mouse wanted a bathe; and nothing would serve, but the Clod must go bathe along with her. In vain the Clod protested that she did not like water; that she had never washed in her life; that she could not swim: Miss Mousie would take no denial, and said severely, that if the Clod had never washed before, it was high time to begin. So at length the Clod was persuaded, and into the river they went. Mousie went in first, and the Clod rolled in afterwards; but no sooner had the poor Clod rolled into the river, than what was Miss Mousie's horror to see her melt away in the water, and disappear.
Mousie was now friendless again, and loudly complained to the River that he had stolen away her favourite Clod.
"I am very sorry," the River said; "I really couldn't help melting a thing so soft. I can't give you back your Clod, but I will give you a Fish instead."
This comforted Mousie, and she took her Fish and went home. Then she put the Fish on the top of a post, to dry. Down swooped a big Kite, and flew away with the Fish.
"O my poor Fish," wailed Miss Mousie, "to be taken away before we had a word together." Then she went to the Post, and demanded her Fish back again. "I gave him to you," said Mousie, "and you are responsible for him."
Said the Post, "I am very sorry that I cannot give you back your Fish, but I will give you some Wood."
Mousie was grateful for this kindness on the part of the Post. So she took a piece of Wood in exchange for the Fish.
Mousie and the Wood went off to buy some sweets at the Confectioner's. While Mousie was eating the sweets, the Confectioner's wife burnt the Wood in the fire.
Mousie finished the sweets, and when she turned round to look for her Wood, lo and behold it was gone. With tears in her eyes she begged the Confectioner's wife to give her back the Wood, but the Confectioner's wife said--
"I am very sorry I cannot give you back the Wood, because it is burnt; but I will give you some Cakes instead."
This made Miss Mousie happy again, and she took the Cakes. Then she paid a visit to the Shepherd's pen; and while she was talking to the Shepherd, a Goat ate up her cakes.
"Give me back my Cakes, Mr. Shepherd," said Mousie, not seeing the Cakes anywhere.
"I'm very sorry I can't do that," answered the Shepherd, "because I am afraid one of my goats has eaten them; but if you like, you may have a Kid instead."
This was better and better. Mousie was charmed with her Kid and led it off to the music-shop, where she had to pay a bill. While the man was writing a receipt to the bill, his wife killed the Kid, and began to roast it for dinner. Mousie looked round, and wanted to know where her Kid was?
"I rather think," said the Music-man, "that the nice odour of roast meat which tickles your nostrils, comes from that Kid. I'm sorry I can't give you the Kid back, but you may have the best drum in my shop."
Mousie did not like the Drum so well as her Kid; but needs must, and she picked out a drum, and went away with it on her shoulder. By-and-by she came to a place where women were beating rice, to get the grains away from the husk. She hung up her Drum on a peg, while she watched the women husking the rice. Bang! flap! a woman drove her pestle right through the Drum.
Poor Mousie. It seemed as if her misfortunes would never end. When she asked the woman for her Drum again, there it was, burst. The tears ran down her cheeks.
"We are very sorry," the women all said, "that we cannot give you back your Drum; but you can have a Girl instead, if you like."
This brought smiles to Miss Mousie's sad face, and
she dried her tears. The women gave her a nice Girl,
and Mousie took the Girl home. They set up house
together, and planted a crop of corn. The corn ripened,
and they went out to cut it. Miss Mouse was a
wee mousie, and was quite hidden among the
stalks of the corn. While the Girl was
cutting the corn with a sickle, she did
not see poor little Mousie, so she
cut her in two, and that
was the end
Told by Akbar Sháh, Mánjhi, of Manbasa, Dudhi, Mirzápur. N.I.N.Q., iv. § 19.
No change in first part. The music-shop is in the original the house of the Chamâr (a caste of labourers and leather-workers), who gives a drum, which is broken by a woman husking rice, who strikes it with a pestle. The crop in the last scene is rice.
Little Miss Mouse and Her Friends
Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
Talking Thrush, The: And Other Tales from India
Crooke, W. & Rouse, W. H. D.
E. P. Dutton & Co.
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