Life and Perambulations of a Mouse

Contents:
Author: Dorothy Kilner

Introduction

During a remarkably severe winter, when a prodigious fall of snow confined everybody to their habitations, who were happy enough to have one to shelter them from the inclemency of the season, and were hot obliged by business to expose themselves to its rigour, I was on a visit to Meadow Hall; where had assembled likewise a large party of young folk, who all seemed, by their harmony and good humour, to strive who should the most contribute to render pleasant that confinement which we were all equally obliged to share. Nor were those further advanced in life less anxious to contribute to the general satisfaction and entertainment.

After the more serious employment of reading each morning was concluded, we danced, we sung, we played at blind-man’s-buff, battledore and shuttlecock, and many other games equally diverting and innocent; and when tired of them, drew our seats round the fire, while each one in turn told some merry story to divert the company.

At last, after having related all that we could recollect worth reciting, and being rather at a loss what to say next, a sprightly girl in company proposed that every one should relate the history of their own lives; ’and it must be strange indeed,’ added she, ’if that will not help us out of this difficulty, and furnish conversation for some days longer; and by that time, perhaps, the frost will break, the snow will melt, and set us all at liberty. But let it break when it will, I make a law, that no one shall go from Meadow Hall till they have told their own history: so take notice, ladies and gentlemen, take notice, everybody, what you have to trust to. And because,’ continued she, ’I will not be unreasonable, and require more from you than you can perform, I will give all you who may perhaps have forgotten what passed so many years ago, at the beginning of your lives, two days to recollect and digest your story; by which time if you do not produce something pretty and entertaining, we will never again admit you to dance or play among us.’ All this she spoke with so good-humoured a smile, that every one was delighted with her, and promised to do their best to acquit themselves to her satisfaction; whilst some (the length of whose lives had not rendered them forgetful of the transactions which had passed) instantly began their memoirs, as they called them: and really some related their narratives with such spirit and ingenuity, that it quite distressed us older ones, lest we should disgrace ourselves when it should fall to our turns to hold forth. However, we were all determined to produce something, as our fair directress ordered. Accordingly, the next morning I took up my pen, to endeavour to draw up some kind of a history, which might satisfy my companions in confinement. I took up my pen, it is true, and laid the paper before me; but not one word toward my appointed task could I proceed. The various occurrences of my life were such as, far from affording entertainment, would, I was certain, rather afflict; or, perhaps, not interesting enough for that, only stupefy, and render them more weary of the continuation of the frost than they were before I began my narration. Thus circumstanced, therefore, although by myself, I broke silence by exclaiming, ’What a task his this sweet girl imposed upon me! One which I shall never be able to execute to my own satisfaction or her amusement. The adventures of my life (though deeply interesting to myself) will be insipid and unentertaining to others, especially to my young hearers: I cannot, therefore, attempt it.’—’Then write mine, which may be more diverting,’ said a little squeaking voice, which sounded as if close to me. I started with surprise, not knowing any one to be near me; and looking round, could discover no object from whom it could possibly proceed, when casting my eyes upon the ground, in a little hole under the skirting-board, close by the fire, I discovered thehead of a mouse peeping out. I arose with a design to stop the hole with a cork, which happened to lie on the table by me; and I was surprised to find that it did not run away, but suffered me to advance quite close, and then only retreated a little into the hole, saying in the same voice as before, ’Will you write my history?’ You may be sure that I was much surprised to be so addressed by such an animal; but, ashamed of discovering any appearance of astonishment, lest the mouse should suppose it had frightened me, I answered with the utmost composure, that I would write it willingly if it would dictate to me. ’Oh, that I will do,’ replied the mouse, ’if you will not hurt me.’—’Not for the world,’ returned I; ’come, therefore, and sit upon my table, that I may hear more distinctly what you have to relate.’ It instantly accepted my invitation, and with all the nimbleness of its species, ran up the side of my chair, and jumped upon my table; when, getting into a box of wafers, it began as follows.

But, before I proceed to relate my new little companion’s history, I must beg leave to assure my readers that, in earnest, I never heard a mouse speak in all my life; and only wrote the following narrative as being far more entertaining, and not less instructive, than my own life would have been: and as it met with the high approbation of those for whom it was written, I have sent it to Mr. Marshall, for him to publish it, if he pleases, for the equal amusement of his little customers.

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Chicago: Dorothy Kilner, "Introduction," Life and Perambulations of a Mouse, ed. Altemus, Henry in Life and Perambulations of a Mouse Original Sources, accessed January 27, 2023, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EUM9X22GCM651V.

MLA: Kilner, Dorothy. "Introduction." Life and Perambulations of a Mouse, edited by Altemus, Henry, in Life and Perambulations of a Mouse, Original Sources. 27 Jan. 2023. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EUM9X22GCM651V.

Harvard: Kilner, D, 'Introduction' in Life and Perambulations of a Mouse, ed. . cited in , Life and Perambulations of a Mouse. Original Sources, retrieved 27 January 2023, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=8EUM9X22GCM651V.