Dormice

During Easter vacation I came across two little door mice which had fallen out of their nests in the trunk of a tree in the woods. These door mice fell to the ground at my feet and I picked them up and carried them home, fed them with milk which they took from a bottle with a rubber nipple on it. One mouse died but the other became quite a pet. A full grown mouse is only the size of a house mouse, which it resembles very closely except for a very long bushy tail which it carries very much like a squirrel. It feeds on acorns, sits up on its haunches and looks for all the world like a diminutive gray squirrel.

After the holidays I took this pet door mouse back to school with me. Upon my arrival, I went to work and built a cage for it which I intended to keep in the school museum, of which I was the proud curator. During the first few days, however, the mouse , which generally slept all day long, was safely ensconced in the pocket of my coat.

We had morning prayers in the study hall. The boys all collected and the venerable head-master followed by the faculty marched up the aisle to the platform from which the roll was called. Psalms were sonorously recited, alternately, one verse by the head-master and the succeeding verse by the boys of the school. Then the Lord's Prayer was said after which the faculty filed out and the students were sent to their respective class-rooms. I was an upper-form boy at the time and my seat was near the door. Smaller boys in the lower-form were seated up close to the platform at the other end of the hall. During the reciting of the Psalms, I dropped my hand to my pocket and to my dismay felt that it was empty! I had not time to tell the boys about my new pet, and I knew that the little gray creature scurrying around on the floor would look for all the world like an ordinary mouse. I hurriedly whispered to my neighbors of my loss, and just as the head-master was conducting The Lord's Prayer, I observed a boy far up towards the platform jump from the seat and violently began to shake his coat. The next instant I was running up the aisle until I reached the frantic boy. The little door mouse was on the poor boy's shoulder but when I approached he immediately jumped over to me and quickly scurried into my pocket. By this time I had slipped into the nearest empty seat. To the reverent observers on the platform, nothing more was seen than a boy dashing from the back of the room to an empty seat near the platform. There was no apparent reason for the boy to act like this!

What followed may be passed in silence!

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