A Busy Night in Bethlehem
A family of mice lived in the wall of an inn in Bethlehem. There were 8 little mice and a mother. The eight mice loved to play and fight and tease each other. They often made a great deal of noise. Their mother warned them that making too much noise would get them in trouble. Once when their mother was out finding food, they were giggling and rolling around with each other. They attracted the attention of the inn’s cat. The cat found the hole in the wall near where they were staying and was able to get his paw into the wall almost close enough to grab the littlest of the mice. The oldest sister led the mice in biting at the cat’s paw until he let go of their littlest brother. Then they got so frightened they ran out the hole on the far side of their nest and found themselves in the kitchen. They huddled together shaking and not knowing what to do.
They soon realized that they were hungry and that there was good food all around them. They began to scurry around the kitchen floor trying to get to the food on the table above them. They actually found some bread that had fallen to the floor, but as soon at they started eating it, the cat leapt into the room. The mice panicked and began to run in different directions. This confused the cat, who knocked over a pitcher of milk trying to chase them. The cook heard the crash and began to chase both the cat and the mice with a broom. The mice found a small crack in the door and ran outside.
Now they were hungry, scared and lonely. They had never been outside on their own and they didn’t know what to do. The littlest of the mice thought he saw his mother at a distant and took off after her. The others chased after him telling to stop. They ran around to the front of the inn and came upon a big animal with a long nose they had never seen. (It was an elephant, of course, and how he got there is another story.) They frightened the big animal as much as he frightened them. They continued to run after the littlest of the mice, who now had gone around to the back.
They saw him go into the stable where their mother sometime took them to play. When they went inside, they saw many people and animals all together looking with amazement at the same thing. The little mouse brother scurried in the direction they were looking and the others followed. They climbed up a box that was filled with hay and dug through the hay to see what everyone was watching. Almost together they all stuck their heads up through the hay and saw that there was a baby wrapped in cloth and being watched by its mother.
The mother said, “Look who’s arrived now to see my son.” She smiled at the mice, who were no longer afraid. She motioned for them to be quiet, so that they wouldn’t disturb her sleeping child. The watched her and her baby just like all the others in the stable. As they watched they started to feel their loneliness for their own mother. They heard a rustling in the hay and up she popped. “Mommy,” they all exclaimed. They expected her to be mad, but she seemed very happy once she counted them all and realized they were safe. The littlest of the mice said it was all his fault, and they squeeked that he was right. Their mother looked at them and said there was probably more to the story than that.
Then she looked up at the mother of the baby and they both exchanged smiles. The mother mouse then lined up her babies reminding them to be very quiet. She led them down through the hay and back to nest in the wall. They soon went too sleep just like the baby in the stable.