The Venturesome Rat
He was a fine young rat and lived with his father and mother, and brothers and sisters in a farm-cellar.
Now this young rat was not of a very quiet disposition. In fact he was quite gay, and thought the life in the farm-cellar was very dull and stupid and longed to see more of the world.
He sat near his father and mother one day when they were entertaining a caller, a stranger who seemed to have travelled all over the world, and told in a very interesting manner of the many wonderful things he had seen. “Why,” said the caller, “how you can be contented to live as you do I cannot imagine, and to bring up your children in such ignorance fills me with surprise. They would learn more in one night prowling through the big house to which this farm belongs than they will learn here for the rest of their lives.”
After this caller had taken his leave, the young rat decided that he would venture forth himself. He would that very night visit the big house and see what was to be seen there. He pretended to cuddle down on his own bed, and go sound asleep. He was really watching his parents out of the corners of his wicked eyes, and as soon as they were sound asleep, off he started. He found his way to the house much more easily than he had expected; in short, almost before he could believe it, he was in a fine great pantry. A pantry whose shelves were covered with such good things to eat as he had never seen. Rich cake, pies, cookies, and cheese such as he had heard the caller describe. The first nibble fairly melted in his mouth.
After he had eaten his fill he began looking about the pantry for other means of amusement. Suddenly he saw a curious thing; it seemed to be a little house or hut made of wire. Inside the hut was a piece of cheese. “I really think I have eaten enough,” said the young rat, “but if that cheese is so fine that it is kept in a house by itself it must be very fine indeed.” With these words he- crawled into the hole in the side of the hut and ate the cheese, but when, later, he tried to get out he could not to save his life.
Hours and hours he remained there until the night passed, and the day came. Indeed he had fallen into a little nap when he was awakened by a loud cry. Some one was shouting, “we’ve caught the rascal at last, now we’ll drown him.”
The poor little fellow knew they were wrong; he could not be the rascal they meant, for this was the first time he had ever been in the house. At that moment a boy’s voice was heard to say. “Let me see him. No, you shall not drown him. I will tame him if I can.”
And so it came about that the young rat did see a good deal of the world, but how? THROUGH THE BARS OF A CAGE.