from the Chatterbox
A family of mice, consisting of father, mother, and three sons, living
in a large log-house, near the shore of a great American river, went to
sleep one night without a thought of what was going to happen before the
morning. Angry words and bitter spirits, I am sorry to say, were
uppermost with them. Jealousy, Covetousness, Spite: these three evil
spirits stirred up the brothers, and the grey-whiskered parents,
although they said little, remembered that they too had often, in bygone
days, entertained the same three evil spirits, and thereby set a very
poor example to their children.
So, jabbering, biting, clawing, they fell asleep this night—squeaking,
scratching, and snarling forth their wicked feelings even in their
What an awakening was theirs! Four or five square inches of half-decayed
flooring-board was their sole home. The keen air blew about them from
all quarters: the morning sky hung dull grey above their heads, and
surrounding them everywhere was the river—cold, rushing, and troubled.
Yes, the floods had come, and the log-home of the mice, like many
another, was now a dismantled wreck—floating, a plank here, a log
there; and upon their bit of soddened plank huddled the unfortunate
Where were now the three evil spirits? Not on the poor little raft:
there was no room for them. Jealousy? why, there was not a pin to choose
between the refugees, and they knew it: there was nothing to be jealous
about. They had no room even for their tails, which, almost unheeded,
were soaking in the water behind them, and getting nibbled now and then
by the little fishes. No, there was no room for jealousy.
Covetousness, too, was crowded out. There was nothing to covet; they had
divided that bit of boarding up so equally that if the father mouse had
tried to take a survey of the other side of the river he must have upset
his second son in turning about. All were cold, all were wet, all
miserable, starving, and despairing! No room for Covetousness? I should
say not. And the spirit of Spite, the ugliest, most hateful of them all,
was banished with the rest. It was the only good this trial could do to
these poor mice—to bring them face to face with their wicked feelings,
and by their common sorrow teach them their need of and dependence on
each other. There was no gleaming of little white teeth, no biting, no
clawing, any longer!
So the day wore on, till evening, cold, grey, and dark, was spreading
over the troubled waters. Fortunately, they were drifted by the flood
very near the shore, where it jutted out into the river, and at last,
very, very miserable, and weak, and hungry, one by one the five
suffering but penitent mice sought and found a shelter for the night in
a hollow tree, the bottom of which was full of dry leaves, and as warm
as an oven.
"No room for Jealousy."
They found a delightful old farmhouse the next day, and, living in one
of the sweet-scented hayricks for a time, until they could find out
about the kitchen and the cook, this now happy and loving family learnt
to think gratefully of that otherwise dreadful day when, adrift on the
river floods, they had bidden good-bye for ever to Jealousy,
Covetousness, and Spite.