Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Red Purse in the Trunk in the Old House

      When Mr. and Mrs. Wilder, two little brown mice, chewed a hole through the bottom corner of the dusty old trunk in the basement of the ancient house, they made a great discovery. The long-abandoned building was far out in the woods and they were so happy to find it filled with many things that would protect them when winter came. They squirmed though the tiny hole they’d made and right away discovered a large red canvas purse abandoned in that trunk.

       “Oh Mr. Wilder!” exclaimed Mrs. Wilder. “Just look! We can live inside this old red purse for as long as we wish and our babies can be born in it too!” Mrs. Wilder was pregnant with her first litter. The two tiny mice jumped up and down and squeaked happily. They had always wanted to have a big family, and soon they would.

      And so Mr. and Mrs. Wilder began bringing soft things like hay and wood shavings and bits of cloth, carpet and string into the old red purse to make things soft and warm for their babies because they knew they’d all be pink and hairless and cold. They also brought in lots of plant seeds, berries, acorns and other nuts to store in one corner of the trunk making certain they’d have lots of food for the long cold winter. Soon they were all ready for their babies to be born.

       “Oh Mr. Wilder, won’t it be wonderful to have our precious babies born here? How I hope no one ever finds this old house and wants to move in and maybe even take the trunk away. What would we do then?” And Mrs. Wilder looked so worried and sad that Mr. Wilder curled his tail around her to comfort her.

       “Don’t worry, dear Mrs. Wilder. This house is so old and falling down no one will ever want it, and the trunk and purse? Long long forgotten.” And he pulled little Mrs. Wilder close to him with his tail and licked her worried frown with his tiny pink tongue.

       When their babies were born, the Wilders were so happy. There were 13 of them, all squirming and fat and pink. Mrs. Wilder nursed them and they grew fast. They named them all for the first 13 letters of the alphabet; Alma, Betsy, Charlie, Donny, Eleanor, Frankie, Greg, Hannah, Isabelle, Jenny, Kenneth and Leila. The little brown mouse parents loved them so much and taught them how to find food and to hide from cats, foxes and owls, and to find safe places to live. And as time passed they had more babies and went through the alphabet letters over and over because mouse parents can have up to 50 babies a year.

      The Wilders continued to have new babies inside the old red purse in the old trunk in the old house and they contentedly sent all their children out into the world after they’d learned all their mouse lessons. But one day to their great concerns they heard the sounds of humans talking and they peeked out of one of the old home’s broken windows and saw men, lots of them, wearing hard yellow hats. They were pointing up at the old house and there were trucks there too, and the Wilders heard the word “condos” repeated a lot. Even though they could not understand English they just knew it was not good and that their time at the old house in the old trunk in the old red purse would soon end.

       “I’ll never see our children again,” cried Mrs. Wilder. “Oh I know they’ve all gone away to have their own families and we probably have hundreds of grandmice now, but the idea of not seeing them again---well it’s just too much.” And she curled into a tiny ball and shook and cried.

       But Mr. Wilder understood how the Mouse Grapevine worked and he got word out to all his children, from A to Z and back again and back again, and one day, just before the men in yellow hats arrived with their trucks to knock down the ancient home and build the condos, all the Wilder mice came for a huge mouse farewell party and they all brought food stuffed into their cheeks and they shared it. All the children and grandmice and great grandmice and cousins played, laughed and ran through the old house and the old dusty trunk and finally, squeaking their goodbyes, scattered and scampered out into the woods and back to their own homes. The Wilders followed them and quickly found a new home in the bottom of an old hollow log where they began to plan their new future. ©2016 LC Van Savage

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