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The Mill Creek Mice Family
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H W Shelton
Just outside a small town, much like your town, in a grassy field across from the old railroad tracks that haven't seen a train in twenty years or so and not far from the small mill creek that no longer draws attention from the towns people, because no one wants to take the time to have a picnic any-more, and under a canopy of the old giant white oak tree standing proudly by the bank, but missing one of his mighty limbs that was broken by a fierce wind storm that passed through this way nearly ten years ago, lives a family of field mice.
I suppose this small family that has a Daddy Mouse, Mother Mouse, Sister Mouse and one very hard to control, Little Brother Mouse, are much like the other mice families living up and down the banks of the old Mill Creek, but for one important difference.
Little brother Mouse is an explorer of anything and everything.
He isn't satisfied with any of the things that surround his small area of travel, everything in his sight must be checked out and went over from top to bottom and doing so one time just isn't enough either.
Why, he might see a daisy one day and the very next time he passes that same flower it has to be checked out all over again. He just isn't satisfied that one checking is going to get it done the right way. If it's worth a look-see the first time then it's important enough for a second going over.
There's no need to try and talk him out of it either, it's just a done deal.
This makes Sister Mouse a little angry and inpatient from time to time.
You see, she has the job of keeping an eye on Little Brother Mouse when they go outside to play.
Mother Mouse said it was her responsibility.
Now there's not a sister anywhere that wants to spend all her time taking care of and watching a little brother, be it mouse, human or otherwise.
It takes away from her being who she wants to be and besides, it's really hard to impress the other boy mice that hang out on the creek bank if she has to stay with Little Brother Mouse.
It's just not cool!
She can't even gather with her girlfriends and talk about, well--whatever girl mice talk about that makes them giggle and flip their tails and go on like they know something that no one else knows and draw attention to themselves.
This being watched all the time isn't sitting too well with Little Brother Mouse either.
He's getting tired of being told; "come on, you're holding me up Brother Mouse".
There are just some things in life a mouse must do and this sister thing is going too far.
He doesn't like having to hang out with the girls either, just because he can't go off on his own and explore like he wants to.
Why, Sister Mouse even grabbed his tail just the other day because she said he was trying to get away from her.
Maybe he was and maybe he wasn't, but to grab his tail is something that he just can't put up with.
Little Brother Mouse was thinking that he might be able to sneak off on his own if he could come up with a good enough plan to get away from Sister Mouse.
He would give that idea some thought and wait for his chance.
The new day broke with the sunshine shinning bright and beautiful over the meadows and down through the trees and bouncing off the water on the Mill Creek.
The kind of day, that brings Mrs. Robin out of her nest and Mother rabbit and her four little rabbits down out of the woods to scamper and play on the grassy carpet.
This would also be the day that would stick in the memory of the Mill Creek mice residents as the day that Little Brother Mouse went missing.
After breakfast that morning, Sister Mouse asks if she could go meet her best friend, Pinky, down at the bridge that crossed over the Mill Creek. Mother Mouse agreed but said she had to be back in a couple of hours that she had other things that needed done that day.
Little Brother Mouse, of course, wanted to go too.
He and Sister Mouse started to nitpick at each other until Mother Mouse got involved and said she didn't see any reason that Sister Mouse couldn't take Little Brother Mouse along.
Not if Sister Mouse really wanted to go and being outside was good excise for Little Brother Mouse.
Of course, since Mother Mouse had put it that way...Sister Mouse gave in and said Little Brother Mouse could indeed tag along just as long as he paid attention to her and done what she told him.
Mother Mouse said he would do that, with a look at Brother Mouse who nodded his head, yes, and then ran to put his small jacket and baseball cap on so he could go.
Mother Mouse gave them both a carrot and told them to be careful and kissed them at the door as they ran outside.
They hadn't gone but a hundred yards or so when brother Mouse had to stop and check out a bunch of weeds that were growing next to the creek bank.
Weeds that had always been growing there but today was looking very much like they needed checked out.
"You're not going to start that stuff already, are you?" Sister mouse said with her paws on her side. "We just don't have the time today to do that Little Brother Mouse so please can we just go?" she continued.
Little Brother Mouse moved away from the weeds and hung his head and shuttled his feet.
"I didn't mean to make you sad" Sister Mouse said as she took his little paw in hers and they started skipping off down the trail toward the bridge.
Skipping always made Little Brother Mouse happy and Sister Mouse knew this.
Soon, both Sister Mouse and Brother Mouse were laughing and swinging their arms together and singing a little song.
As they neared the bridge, Pinky called out to Sister Mouse and starting waving her arms and telling her to come on up on the bridge where she was at.
Sister Mouse started up to the bridge and noticed that Little Brother Mouse wasn't with her any longer. She stopped and looked around and called for him but she got no answer.
Little Brother Mouse had made his escape when they had started up to the bridge.
Once Sister Mouse had let go of his paws to wave at Pinky, brother Mouse had made a right turn at the trailhead and had gone under the bridge instead of up on it.
He could hear Sister Mouse calling his name but didn't respond.
He was just too busy with looking at all the new sights and things that he had found under the bridge, this was going to be a great day!
Sister Mouse and Pinky looked everywhere for Little Brother Mouse and by now Sister Mouse had started to get scared and she began to cry.
What was she going to do? Pinky suggested they go back to the bridge head and start over from there.
Some mice are pretty smart cookies...They found the trail where Little Brother Mouse had taken once they discovered bits of carrot on the ground.
"He never liked carrots too much anyway," Sister Mouse said as she and Pinky made their way down the small rocky trail.
"He'd rather have cookies or cheese and he only eats carrots because Mother wanted him to." Sister Mouse continued, "He would also babysit my doll for me when I went to school and he always made something special for me whenever I'd come home."
Sister Mouse's big eyes filled up with tears again and she said very softy, "I miss him."
"We'll find him" Pinky said and taking Sister Mouse's paw started walking on down the trail toward the creek and calling out his name as they went.
Now Little Brother Mouse had run into a problem.
He was lost.
For the first time in his young life, he was scared too!
He had wandered down to the creek and this section was a place he'd never seen before.
There were a million new things to see and check out but he really only wanted to go home.
He missed Sister Mouse and didn't know which way to go, and to make matters worse, there where strange sounds coming from the creek that he'd never heard before and he wasn't sure if they were friendly sounds or not.
The sounds he heard were bullfrogs.
They weren't very friendly to little mice who wandered down to the creek.
Bullfrogs would eat almost anything and surly wouldn't turn down a plump little mouse if one was offered to them.
If the truth be known, one had already gotten his sights set on a certain little furry creature scampering on the creek bank.
This was trouble for Little Brother Mouse, big trouble!
Now Sister Mouse and Pinky had followed the trail of bits of carrots for a while and soon came to where the creek was coming into sight.
They too heard the awful scary sound that the bullfrogs were making and it made them shake inside just thinking about them.
They had seen some of these green slimy hoppers once on a field trip at school and were told by Mrs. Hairup, their teacher, "too always steer a wide path away from these creatures, they were mostly up to no good and could do a lot of harm to little mice."
Knowing this didn't make Sister Mouse and Pinky feel any better about where Little Brother Mouse was but it did make them want to search even harder and find him so they could get out of this place.
Calling his name even louder, they started off down toward the creek.
Now Little Brother Mouse was in some tall weeds by the creek and didn't know that he had become a target for a big bullfrog that was making his way through the water toward the spot where Little Brother Mouse was hiding.
He also didn't know that coming up from behind him through the same weeds he was hiding in was a big green water snake that had his sights set on the bullfrog, swimming toward the bank. The snake hadn't even noticed Little Brother Mouse yet, who was caught between both bullfrog and snake and didn't even know it.
Sister Mouse and Pinky came through the weeds into a small clearing and saw the tail of the water snake and saw the bullfrog about the same time.
They both jumped up and screamed as loud as they could and this commotion caused the bullfrog and the snake to jump into each other and a fight to the finish was under way!
You never heard such hissing and croaking and tail and feet going every-which-way in your life. Weeds were being flatting and grass was being pulled out and thrown into the air as these two creatures went at it.
Little Brother Mouse was sure he was going to die.
When this fight erupted he was only about 10 feet or so from either party and the start of this thing had scared him to death!
He couldn't seem to catch his breath and his little feet just didn't seem to want to go anywhere. He was frozen in place and could do nothing but watch.
He had never seen anything in his young life like what was going on just feet away from him and his little mouth was just hanging open with a scream that just wouldn't come.
About that time, Sister Mouse and Pinky saw Little Brother Mouse in the midst of all the uproar and made a beeline for him. Grabbing his little paws and half dragging him across the ground they made their way through the weeds and water spray and headed for the trail leading back toward the bridge.
Little Brother Mouse knew he was being saved even though he also felt like he was being bumped along the road a whole lot, but he wasn't about to complain any, so he just shut his eyes and mouth and hung on to Sister Mouse for all he was worth.
Hurting Little Brother Mouse was the farthest thing from Sister Mouse's mind at this time and place, she only wanted the three of them to put as much distance as they could between what was going on at the creek bank and them.
She would handle whatever later and deal with it then, but first things first and as long as they were still running they were still alive and had a chance to get out of there, and that was number 1 on her list.
Up ahead, was home.
They saw the meadow that wound down by the Mill Creek come into view and knew home wasn't far now.
Sister Mouse and Pinky stopped running and gathered Little Brother Mouse before them and started looking for any signs of damage to his little body.
Not finding any and with Little Brother Mouse's assurance that he was okay, Sister Mouse started shaking and crying and holding on to her little brother.
She hadn't even taken the time to be scared before but it was starting to sink in what could have happened to Little Brother Mouse.
Pinky, also crying and upset, said her goodbyes and made a running start toward her home just down the bank.
As luck would have it, Farther Mouse, coming home from the day in the fields gathering food happened upon his two children crying and hugging there in the field and sat down with them to hear the story.
By the time the tail reached the climax about the bullfrog and the snake fight even Father Mouse's eyes were getting big and his whiskers twitched uncontrollably.
"Does Mother Mouse know any of this" he asked, getting up and taking Little brother Mouse and placing him upon his shoulders.
When told she did not, because they hadn't made it home as yet, he grinned and with a twinkle in his eye replied; "I'd bet it's not going to be a quiet evening at our house tonight" and with that said, "let's go home Children."
Now no one knows or isn't saying what happened at the mice family home that evening but other folks noticed a difference in the family children as days went by.
Sister Mouse seemed to enjoy the company of Little Brother Mouse more and didn't seem to mind when he got on her nerves a little bit every now and then, and Little Brother Mouse tried very hard to be more loving and nicer to his sister after that.
Folks also said that Little Brother Mouse didn't seem to mind at all staying near the family home and had a different view of stuff that grew nearby after what happened.
He didn't seem to want to wander too far astray and check other things out.
Guess he found out that sometimes, what you're looking for is right in your own backyard.
At least that's what the Mill Creek Mice Family believes....
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