A BEDTIME STORY FOR INSOMNIACS:
THE COUNTRY MOUSE AND THE CITY MOUSE
Once upon a time there was a little country mouse who lived in a rickety old kitchen cupboard in a ramshackle house belonging to a hard-working farmer and his wife. Needless to say the farmer and his wife were poor. But because they worked hard every day and were able to scrounge together enough to eat, they lived a reasonably contented but low profile life.
And the little country mouse led a pleasant life as she enjoyed the beautiful countryside and there were always plenty of crumbs to be gathered after the farmer and his wife ate their simple supper.
Now the little country mouse - being a mouse - had of course millions and millions of cousins. One day one of her cousins from the big city arrived for a visit. The country mouse was delighted and of course invited her big city cousin to stay for dinner.
Presently the farmer and his wife retired for the night - (since they did a great deal of physical labor and had paid off their debts years ago, the farmer and his wife had no trouble sleeping).
So the mice were free to dine heartily on the leftovers which included some macaroni and cheese and a few broken pieces of Ritz crackers - which, prices being what they are, were a special treat for the country mouse. While the city mouse ate heartily, for he was quite hungry after his journey from the city, he was decidedly unimpressed with the offerings.
"I am glad you are able to sustain yourself on such paltry and plain morsels," he told the little country mouse - "But really, I mean, macaroni and cheese? Ritz cracker crumbs?! It's hard to imagine more pedestrian fare. If you will come back to the Big City with me, I will show you another life style altogether."
The country mouse had often heard that life in the Big City was more elegant and sumptuous and she was curious to see it for herself. So she joined her cousin in hitching a ride to the city in a shiny red Jeep Cherokee belonging to one of the dual-career, yuppie couples who had a weekend house nearby.
Presently the little mice made their way to the elegant 8-room apartment of the city mouse. The little country mouse was mightily impressed especially when she saw the magnificent feast spread out on the shiny mahogany dining table. As it happens there had been a tv commercial shoot that afternoon and so the leftover food was especially choice. There was herb and pepper brie on six-grain caraway crackers, boneless chicken breasts in a mustard wine sauce and a good size piece of mango cheese cake.
"You do indeed live in splendor, dear cousin," proclaimed the country mouse, "I am most impressed. I only regret that I have waited so long to come to the city and try out this magnificent lifestyle."
And with that both the little mice began their meal with the nicely ripened brie. "Hmm. Just ripe, a fine buttery taste," said the city mouse - "and not a bit overripe, which is the trick with brie..."
They were just moving on to the six grain caraway crackers when they heard the front door open. It was the maid, returning with three Pekinese dogs. "Pay no attention to those over-groomed dust mops," the city mouse told his country cousin.
"Those simpleminded fluff balls will soon retire to the library," he mumbled through a mouthful of chicken in mustard wine sauce. But the entrance of the maid with the dogs had awakened the cat who got a notion to jump up onto the dining table where she immediately spied the little mice. The cat crouched low, growling, ready to spring. This caused the dogs to race into the dinning room, yapping loudly - which brought the maid running, too, now brandishing a large broom.
"Quick! - spring for the butler's pantry!", shouted the city mouse, as the cat lunged towards them and the maid slammed the broom onto the table with a tremendous "thwack!," shattering a crystal wine glass but missing the little mice by a few hairs.
The mice leapt through the air, and skillfully dived onto the antique Killiam carpet, narrowly making it into the mouse hole by the Butler's Pantry just in the nick of time.
"Whew!" said the city mouse, wiping his brow. "Close call - and most invigorating, wouldn't you say?! We must have burnt up a couple of calories with that one!"
But the country mouse didn't find it invigorating at all. She quivered and cowered ever deeper into the hole, never having experienced such an upsetting commotion in all her life. The city mouse tried to be reassuring, "Not to worry, dear cousin, those yappy dogs get bored pretty quickly and the cat and the maid usually retire by ten. And then we'll be free to resume our feast - that is, whatever hasn't been put into the refrigerator."
But the country mouse replied, "While it's true that your dining table has more glorious food than my farmer's modest provisions, I see now that I prefer our simple macaroni and cheese and occasional Ritz cracker to all the herb and pepper brie on six-grain caraway crackers in the world, under such trying conditions. I guess I'm just a simple little country mouse at heart - who likes to live with less stress."
And so at the very next opportunity the little country mouse caught the service elevator down to the street, where she was able to hitch a ride, once again with the yuppie couple, back to the countryside, and to her rickety old kitchen cupboard in the farmer's house.
And that's where you may find her - and her children - and grandchildren - and even her great, great, great grandchildren - living happily - and relatively stress-free - to this very day.
Poems are ideal for bedtime reading because of their imagery and lulling, comforting rhythm.
The Twenty-third Psalm
The Lord is my Shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul;
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil;
For thou art with me;
Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
Thou anountest my head with oil,
My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me all the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved;
He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is thy keeper;
the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil;
He shall preserve thy soul.
The Lord shall guard thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and forevermore.
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