How we hunted a Mouse by Joshua Jenkins

I  WAS dozing comfortably in my easy-chair, and dreaming of the good times which I hope are coming, when there fell upon my ears a most startling scream. It was the voice of my Maria Ann in agony. The voice came from the kitchen and to the  kitchen I rushed. The idolized form of my Maria was perched on a chair, and she was flourishing an iron spoon in all directions, and shouting "shoo," in a general manner, at everything in the room. To my anxious inquiries as to what was the matter, she screamed, "O Joshua! a mouse, shoo—wha—shoo—a great—ya, shoo—horrid mouse, and—she—ew—it ran right out of the cupboard—shoo—go away—O Lord—Joshua—shoo—kill it, oh, my—shoo."

All that fuss, you see, about one little harmless mouse. Some women are so afraid of mice. Maria is. I got the poker and set myself to poke that mouse, and my wife jumped down, and ran off into another room. I found the mouse in a corner under the sink. The first time I hit it I didn't poke it any on account of getting the poker all tangled up in a lot of dishes in the sink; and I did not hit it any more because the mouse would not stay still. It ran right toward me, and I naturally jumped, as anybody would; but I am not afraid of mice, and when the horrid thing ran up inside the leg of my pantaloons, I yelled to Maria because I was afraid it would gnaw a hole in my garment. There is something real disagreeable about having a mouse inside the leg of one's pantaloons, especially if there is nothing between you and the mouse. Its toes are cold, and its nails are scratchy, and its fur tickles, and its tail feels crawly, and there is nothing pleasant about it, and you are all the time afraid it will try to gnaw out, and begin on you instead of on the cloth. That mouse was next to me. I could feel its every motion with startling and suggestive distinctness. For these reasons I yelled to Maria, and as the case seemed urgent to me I may have yelled with a certain degree of vigor; but I deny that I yelled fire, and if I catch the boy who thought that I did, I shall inflict punishment on his person.

I did not loose my presence of mind for an instant. I caught the mouse just as it was clambering over my knee, and by pressing firmly on the outside of the cloth, I kept the animal a prisoner on the inside. I kept jumping around with all my might to confuse it, so that it would not think about biting, and I yelled so that the mice would not hear its squeaks and come to its assistance. A man can't handle many mice at once to advantage.

Maria was white as a sheet when she came into the kitchen and asked what she should do—as though I could hold the mouse and plan a campaign at the same time. I told her to think of something, and she thought she would throw things at the intruder; but as there was no earthly chance for her to hit the mouse, while every shot took effect on me, I told her to stop, after she had tried two flat-irons and the coal-scuttle. She paused for breath; but I kept bobbing around. Somehow I felt no inclination to sit down anywhere. "O Joshua," she cried, "I wish you had not killed the cat." Now I submit that the wish was born of the weakness of woman's intellect. How on earth did she suppose a cat could get where that mouse was?—rather have the mouse there alone, anyway, than to have a cat prowling around after it. I reminded Maria of the fact that she was a fool. Then she got the tea-kettle and wanted to scald the mouse. I objected to that process, except as a last resort. Then she got some cheese to coax the mouse down, but I did not dare to let go, for fear it would run up. Matters were getting desperate. I told her to think of something else, and I kept jumping. Just as I was ready to faint with exhaustion, I tripped over an iron, lost my hold, and the mouse fell to the floor, very dead. I had no idea a mouse could be squeezed to death so easy.

That was not the end of the trouble, for before I  had recovered my breath a fireman broke in one of the front windows, and a whole company followed him through, and they dradged hose around, and mussed things all over the house, and then the foreman wanted to thrash me because the house was not on fire, and I had hardly got him pacified before a policeman came in and arrested me. Some one had run down and told him I was drunk and was killing Maria. It was all Maria and I could do, by combining our eloquence, to prevent him from marching me off in disgrace, but we finally got matters quieted and the house clear.

Now when mice run out of the cupboard I go outdoors, and let Maria "shoo" them back again. I can kill a mouse, but the fun don't pay for the trouble.