The field mouse and the buf­falo

The Borneo Post - Good English - - Front Page -

ONCE upon a time, when the Field-Mouse was out gather­ing wild beans for the win­ter, his neigh­bor, the Buf­falo, came down to graze in the meadow. This the lit­tle Mouse did not like, for he knew that the other would mow down all the long grass with his prickly tongue, and there would be no place in which to hide. He made up his mind to of­fer bat­tle like a man. ‘Ho, Friend Buf­falo, I chal­lenge you to a fight!’ he ex­claimed in a small, squeak­ing voice. The Buf­falo paid no at­ten­tion, think­ing it only a joke. The Mouse an­grily re­peated the chal­lenge, and still his en­emy went on qui­etly graz­ing. Then the lit­tle Mouse laughed with con­tempt as he of­fered his defiance. The Buf­falo at last looked at him and replied care­lessly, ‘You had bet­ter keep still, lit­tle one, or I shall come over there and step on you, and there will be noth­ing left!’ ‘You can’t do it!’ replied the Mouse. ‘I tell you to keep still,’ in­sisted the Buf­falo, who was get­ting an­gry. ‘If you speak to me again, I shall cer­tainly come and put an end to you!’ ‘I dare you to do it!’ said the Mouse, pro­vok­ing him. There­upon the other rushed upon him. He tram­pled the grass clum­sily and tore up the earth with his front hoofs. When he had ended, he looked for the Mouse, but he could not see him any­where. ‘I told you I would step on you, and there would be noth­ing left,’ he mut­tered. Just then he felt a scratch­ing in­side his right ear. He shook his head as hard as he could, and twitched his ears back and forth. The gnaw­ing went deeper and deeper un­til he was half wild with the pain. He pawed with his hoofs and tore up the sod with his horns. Bel­low­ing madly, he ran as fast as he could, first straight for­ward and then in cir­cles, but at last he stopped and stood trem­bling. Then the Mouse jumped out of his ear,and said, ‘Will you know now that I am master?’ ‘No!’ bel­lowed the Buf­falo, and again he started to­ward the Mouse, as if to tram­ple him un­der his feet. The lit­tle fel­low was nowhere to be seen, but in a minute the Buf­falo felt him in the other ear. Once more he be­came wild with pain, and ran here and there over the prairie, at times leap­ing high in the air. At last he fell to the ground and lay quite still. The Mouse came out of his ear, and stood proudly upon his dead body. ‘Eho!’ said he, ‘I have killed the great­est of all beasts. This will show to all that I am master!’ Stand­ing upon the body of the dead Buf­falo, he called loudly for a knife with which to dress his game. In an­other part of the meadow, Red Fox, very hun­gry, was hunt­ing mice for his break­fast. He saw one and jumped upon him with all four feet, but the lit­tle mouse got away, and he was ter­ri­bly dis­ap­pointed. All at once he thought he heard a dis­tant call, ‘Bring a knife! Bring a knife !’ When the call came, Red Fox started in the di­rec­tion of the sound. By and by he came upon the huge body of the Buf­falo ly­ing upon the ground. The lit­tle Mouse still stood upon the body. ‘I want you to dress this Buf­falo for me and I will give you some of the meat,’ com­manded the Mouse. ‘Thank you, my friend, I shall be glad to do this for you,’ he replied po­litely. The Fox dressed the Buf­falo, while the Mouse sat upon a mound near by, look­ing on and giv­ing his orders. ‘You must cut the meat into small pieces,’ he said to the Fox. When the Fox had fin­ished his work, the Mouse paid him with a small piece of liver. He swal­lowed it quickly and smacked his lips. ‘Please, may I have an­other piece?’ he asked quite humbly. ‘Why, I gave you a very large piece! How greedy you are!’ ex­claimed the Mouse. ‘You may have some of the blood,’ he sneered. So the poor Fox took the blood and even licked off the grass. He was re­ally very hun­gry. ‘Please may I take home a piece of the meat?’ he begged. ‘I have six lit­tle fox at home, and there is noth­ing for them to eat.’ ‘You can take the four feet of the Buf­falo. That ought to be enough for all of you!’ ‘Thank you, thank you!’ said the Fox. ‘But, Mouse, I have a wife also, and we have had bad luck in hunt­ing. We are al­most starved. Can’t you spare me a lit­tle more?’ ‘Why,’ de­clared the Mouse, ‘I have al­ready over­paid you for the lit­tle work you have done. Be gone!’ There­upon the Fox jumped upon the Mouse, who gave one faint squeak and was no more.

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