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From Mother Goose in Prose by Frank Baum.
Start of Story
Age Rating 4 to 6.
Hickory, Dickory, Dock!
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down,
Hickory, Dickory, Dock!
Within the hollow wall of an old brick mansion, away up near the roof,
there lived a family of mice. It was a snug little home, pleasant and
quiet, and as dark as any mouse could desire. Mamma Mouse liked it
because, as she said, the draught that came through the rafters made
it cool in summer, and they were near enough to the chimney to keep
warm in wintertime.
Besides the Mamma Mouse there were three children, named Hickory and
Dickory and Dock. There had once been a Papa Mouse as well; but while
he was hunting for food one night he saw a nice piece of cheese in a
wire box, and attempted to get it. The minute he stuck his head into
the box, however, it closed with a snap that nearly cut his head off;
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 children
were too young at that time to appreciate their loss. She felt that
people were cruel to kill a poor mouse for wishing to get food for
himself and his family. There is nothing else for a mouse to do but
take what he can find, for mice can not earn money, as people do, and
they must live in some way.
But Mamma Mouse was a brave mouse, and knew that it was now her duty
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 could
only work at night. Mice like to sleep during the day and work at
night, when there are no people around to interrupt them, and even the
cat is fast asleep. Some mice run about in the daytime, but they are
not very wise mice who do this.
At last Mamma Mouse gnawed a hole through the baseboard large enough
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 mouse cannot
get at them," said Mamma Mouse to herself, with a sigh. But just then
she espied a barrel of flour standing upon the floor; and that gave
her new courage, for she knew she could easily gnaw through that, and
the flour would do to eat just as well as the bread.
It was now nearly daylight, so she decided to leave the attack upon
the flour barrel until the next night; and gathering up for the
children a few crumbs that were scattered about, she ran back into the
wall and scrambled up to her nest.
Hickory and Dickory and Dock were very glad to get the crumbs, for
they were hungry; and when they had breakfasted they all curled up
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 nest till
I come back. I am in hopes that after tonight we shall not be hungry
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 her
When they were left alone Hickory wanted to go to sleep again, but
little Dock was wide awake, and tumbled around so in the nest that his
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 Dickory.
"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 for a
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 take
you through the hole that I have discovered."