Within the hollow wall of an old brick mansion, away up near
there lived a family of mice. It was a snug little home, pleasant
quiet, and as dark as any mouse could desire. Mamma Mouse liked
because, as she said, the draught that came through the rafters
it cool in summer, and they were near enough to the chimney to
warm in wintertime.
Besides the Mamma Mouse there were three children, named Hickory
Dickory and Dock. There had once been a Papa Mouse as well; but
he was hunting for food one night he saw a nice piece of cheese
wire box, and attempted to get it. The minute he stuck his head
the box, however, it closed with a snap that nearly cut his head
and when Mamma Mouse came down to look for him he was quite dead.
Mamma Mouse had to bear her bitter sorrow all alone, for the
were too young at that time to appreciate their loss. She felt
people were cruel to kill a poor mouse for wishing to get food
himself and his family. There is nothing else for a mouse to do
take what he can find, for mice can not earn money, as people
they must live in some way.
But Mamma Mouse was a brave mouse, and knew that it was now her
to find food for her little ones; so she dried her eyes and went
bravely to work gnawing through the baseboard that separated the
pantry from the wall. It took her some time to do this, for she
only work at night. Mice like to sleep during the day and work
night, when there are no people around to interrupt them, and
cat is fast asleep. Some mice run about in the daytime, but they
not very wise mice who do this.
At last Mamma Mouse gnawed a hole through the baseboard large
for her to get through into the pantry, and then her disappointment
was great to find the bread jar covered over with a tin pan.
"How thoughtless people are to put things where a hungry
get at them," said Mamma Mouse to herself, with a sigh. But
she espied a barrel of flour standing upon the floor; and that
her new courage, for she knew she could easily gnaw through that,
the flour would do to eat just as well as the bread.
It was now nearly daylight, so she decided to leave the attack
the flour barrel until the next night; and gathering up for the
children a few crumbs that were scattered about, she ran back
wall and scrambled up to her nest.
Hickory and Dickory and Dock were very glad to get the crumbs,
they were hungry; and when they had breakfasted they all curled
alongside their mother and slept soundly throughout the day.
"Be good children," said Mamma Mouse the next evening,
as she prepared
for her journey to the pantry, "and do n't stir out of your
I come back. I am in hopes that after tonight we shall not be
for a long time, as I shall gnaw a hole at the back of the flour
barrel, where it will not be discovered."
She kissed each one of them good-bye and ran down the wall on
When they were left alone Hickory wanted to go to sleep again,
little Dock was wide awake, and tumbled around so in the nest
brothers were unable to sleep.
"I wish I could go with mother some night," said Dock,
"it 's no fun
to stay here all the time."
"She will take us when we are big enough," replied
"We are big enough now," declared Dock, "and if
I knew my way I would
go out into the world and see what it looks like."
"I know a way out," said Hickory, "but mamma wouldn
't like it if we
should go without her permission."
"She need n't know anything about it," declared the
naughty Dock, "for
she will be busy at the flour-barrel all the night. Take us out
little walk, Hick, if you know the way."
"Yes, do," urged Dickory.
"Well," said Hickory, "I 'd like a little stroll
myself; so if you 'll
promise to be very careful, and not get into any mischief, I 'll
you through the hole that I have discovered."
So the three little mice started off, with Hickory showing the
and soon came to a crack in the wall. Hickory stuck his head through,
and finding everything quiet, for the family of people that lived
the house were fast asleep, he squeezed through the crack, followed
his two brothers. Their little hearts beat very fast, for they
they were discovered they would have to run for their lives; but
house was so still they gained courage, and crept along over a
carpet until they came to a stairway.
"What shall we do now?" whispered Hickory to his brothers.
"Let 's go down," replied Dock.
So, very carefully, they descended the stairs and reached the
of the house, and here they were much surprised by all they saw.
There was a big rack for hats and coats, and an umbrella stand,
two quaintly carved chairs, and, most wonderful of all, a tall
that stood upon the floor and ticked out the minutes in a grave
When the little mice first heard the ticking of the clock they
inclined to be frightened, and huddled close together upon the
"What is it?" asked Dickory, in an awed whisper. "I
do n't know,"
replied Hickory, who was himself rather afraid.
"Is it alive?" asked Dock.
"I do n't know," again answered Hickory.
Then, seeing that the clock paid no attention to them, but kept
ticking steadily away and seemed to mind its own business, they
plucked up courage and began running about.
Presently Dickory uttered a delighted squeal that brought his
to his side. There in a corner lay nearly the half of a bun which
little May had dropped when nurse carried her upstairs to bed.
a great discovery for the three mice, and they ate heartily until
last crumb had disappeared.
"This is better than a cupboard or a pantry," said
Dock, when they had
finished their supper, "and I should n't be surprised if
plenty more good things around if we only hunt for them."
But they could find nothing more, for all the doors leading into
hall were closed, and at last Dock came to the clock and looked
"It does n't seem to be alive," he thought, "although
it does make so
much noise. I 'm going behind it to see what I can find."
He found nothing except a hole that led to inside of the clock,
into this he stuck his head. He could hear the ticking plainer
ever now, but looking way up to the top of the clock he saw something
shining brightly, and thought it must good to eat if he could
at it. Without saying anything to his brothers, Dock ran up the
of the clock until he came to the works, and he was just about
nibble at a glistening wheel, to see what it tasted like, when
suddenly "Bang!" went the clock.
It was one o'clock, and the clock had only struck the hour; but
great gong was just beside Dock's ear and the noise nearly deafened
the poor little mouse. He gave a scream of terror and ran down
clock as fast as he could go. When he reached the hall he heard
brothers scampering up the stairs, and after them he ran with
It was only when they were safe in their nest again that they
to breathe, and their little hearts beat fast for an hour afterward,
so great had been their terror.
When Mamma Mouse came back in the morning, bringing a quantity
flour with her for breakfast, they told her of their adventure.
thought they had been punished enough already for their disobedience,
so she did not scold them, but only said,
"You see, my dears, your mother knew best when she told
you not to
stir from the nest. Children sometimes think they know more than
parents, but this adventure should teach you always to obey your
mother. The next time you run away you may fare worse than you
last night; remember your poor father's fate."
But Hickory and Dickory and Dock did not run away again.