MOUSE2   9' The mouse has a secret

Once upon a time a long time ago in a land far, far away, a
mouse looked both ways, then he ran up the gangplank onto the
sailing ship just as the first mate shouted, "Cast off the
gangplank. Cast off the bow line. Cast off the stern line. Hoist
up the top sail."

And the sailing ship moved off to the high seas. The mouse had
just seconds to find a hiding place, so he jumped into an open
wooden box seconds before one of the sailors closed it. He dived
into a crevice and fell asleep for a long ocean trip.

He was awakened some time later when two sailors picked up the
wooden box he was in. The box tilted as the sailors carried the
box down the gangplank, then dropped it with a thud. A few
seconds later, the mouse heard a second box being dropped next
to his box. A few seconds after that, he heard the sounds of
horse hoofs and wagon wheels. The boxes were on a wagon and the
wagon was now moving.

A short time later, the mouse felt the box tilting. The wagon
was now climbing a steep hill or a mountain. A hour later, the
wagon was still climbing. This was definitely a mountain.

Then the mouse heard the wagon wheels roll over a wooden bridge,
then over cobble stone streets. A few seconds later, the wagon
stopped. The mouse heard someone pick up and carry away the
other box, then a few minutes later they picked up his box. He
felt the box tilt as if it was being carried down stairs. When
the box was dropped onto the floor, the mouse crawled out of his
hiding place and crouched and readied himself to leap out of the
box as soon as the lid was opened.

When one of the guards opened the box, he was startled as the
mouse jumped out of the box. He tried to stomp on the mouse as
he shouted and grumbled. But the mouse was too fast for him. He
was down the hall and around the corner before the guard knew

After the guards went back upstairs, the mouse cautiously
crawled out of his hiding place, then he began to crawl under
each door in the hallway until he found what he was looking for.

"Mr Mouse!" exclaimed a girl's voice, "How did you get here?!"

She had chains on both wrists and both ankles holding her
against the stone walls of the room. The mouse walked around the
girl looking at how the chains were attached. He noticed that
the chains were held in place by four pad locks. Then, the mouse
turned and ran under the door.

"Where are you going, Mr Mouse?!" exclaimed the girl. But the
mouse didn't slow down. About an hour later, he crawled back
under the door backward. But because he was crawling backward,
the girl thought it was a different animal coming under the

"What kind of animal are you?" asked the girl.

Finally, when the mouse was all the way into the room, the girl
could see it was her friend the mouse.

"What do you have there?" asked the girl.

The mouse was crawling backward because he was pulling a key. He
crawled backward up the girl's shoe and up the front of her
dress. When he got the key up to her shoulder, he paused and
rested and panted.

"That's hard work crawling backward, huh, boy?" asked the girl.

After a short rest, the mouse pulled the key out to the girl's
wrist, where he inserted the key into the lock. Then, after a
few tries, he was able to turn the key in the lock and unlock
it. After it was unlocked, he loosened the chain, then he pulled
the key from the lock and dropped it into the girl's hand.

"Thank you Mr Mouse. You did well!" exclaimed the girl in a

As the mouse scampered down to the floor, the girl unlocked and
loosened the other chains. Again, the mouse ran under the door
and disappeared.

"Where are you going?!" asked the girl.

But as soon as she tried to open the door, she found out where
the mouse went. The door was locked and the mouse went to find
the key to unlock it. A few seconds later, the key to the door
slid under the door.

"Good boy!" whispered the girl.

She unlocked and opened the door slowly, then peaked outside.
The mouse was halfway down the hall, looking over his shoulder.
She took that to mean that she should follow him. He led her
down the hall into another small room.

"This isn't the way out! Why are you leading me here?" asked the

The mouse jumped up on the wooden box and nodded to the girl.

"You want me to open that box?" she asked.

So, she lifted the lid. Inside were bags containing thousands of
gold coins.

"Gold coins?" asked the girl, "Why do I need gold coins?"

But she took enough gold coins to fill the only pocket she had
in her dress. When she finished, she noticed that the mouse was

"Where did you go?!" she whispered.

When she went out into the hallway, she saw the mouse halfway
down the hall, looking over his shoulder again. So, she followed
him. He led her to a stairway going down.

"Mr Mouse, where are you going?!" she asked, "We're already
underground. We need to go up, not down."

But he began to go down stairs. So, she followed. At the bottom
of the stairs was a long tunnel. At the end of the tunnel was a
small door. The mouse crawled under the door and disappeared.
The girl waited for a few minutes. Then, just when she began to
think that the mouse wasn't coming back, he crawled back under
the door and nodded, then disappeared again. She opened the door
and stepped out. She was now outside. She turned and looked
around. She was standing on a mountain top outside of a castle.
The mouse must have found a secret escape tunnel.

They made their way down to the harbor. The mouse led her to a
sailing ship. While the mouse climbed up the mooring rope onto
the ship, the girl gave the gold coins in her pocket to the
captain of the ship to pay for the ride back home.

As she was walking up the gangplank onto the sailing ship, the
first mate shouted, "Cast off the gangplank. Cast off the bow
line. Cast off the stern line. Hoist up the top sail."

The girl exclaimed to herself, "That's the same voice I heard
when I came here in the wooden box!"

That was one of the secrets of the mouse. He had sneaked on
board the sailing ship to follow the girl who was his friend.
She had been inside the other wooden box on the ship.

When the ship reached the harbor, they returned home. But the
mouse led the girl away from the main entrance.

"Where are you going?" she asked as she pointed, "This is the
way home!"

But the mouse kept walking.

"Okay," said the girl, "You seemed to know what you were doing
before. So,..."

So, she followed the mouse. He led her to a vine covered wall.
Then, the mouse disappeared under the vines. When the girl
pushed the vines aside, she saw a small door, like the door to
the escape tunnel at the mountain top castle. After the mouse
crawled under the door, she opened the door slowly and
carefully. She saw a tunnel like the one at the other castle.
She followed the mouse down the tunnel and up several stairs
until he stopped, turned, sat up and raised his front paws.

"You want me to wait?" asked the girl.

Then the mouse crawled under the door and disappeared. A few
minutes later, he came back and led her through the door and
down some dark hallways to another door. Then, the mouse crawled
up the girl's dress and into her pocket. She opened the door
carefully. It was the back door of the throne room of a palace.

"Mother!" shouted the girl as she ran to embrace her mother.

"Annabelle!" shouted her mother, "How did you get home?! We
haven't paid the ransom yet!"

Here's another secret of the mouse: his friend Annabelle was a
princess who was kidnapped for ransom.

"Do you know who kidnapped me?" asked Annabelle.

"No," replied the queen, "All we have is the letter demanding a
million gold coins as a ransom. But when we went into the
treasury to get the gold coins to pay the ransom...."

Annabelle interrupted, "The kidnappers stole the coins too. I
saw the coins at the castle."

"What castle?!" asked the queen.

"I'm not sure." replied Annabelle, "It's across the sea in a
castle on top of a mountain."

"That sounds like the castle of our Prime Minister!" exclaimed
the queen. Why would our own Prime Minister kidnap his own

"Annabelle!" shouted the king as he entered the room and ran to
embrace his daughter. "You escaped!"

"Father!" exclaimed Annabelle.

The queen exclaimed, "We know who the kidnapper is!"

"Who?!" he asked.

"It was our own Prime Minister!" exclaimed Annabelle, "Why would
he do such a thing and then steal the gold too?!"

The king sighed, "Now it makes sense."

"What do you mean?" asked the queen.

"He never intended for me to pay the ransom. With my daughter
held hostage and all the gold gone, I would have to give up the
throne and he would become king."

This is the mouse's final secret: he knew that the Prime
Minister was the kidnapper. And he knew that the Prime Minister
was in the royal palace. That's why he had to sneak the princess
into the palace through the secret tunnel.

Thanks to Annabelle's devoted mouse, the king arrested the Prime
Minister and got his gold coins back. And they all lived happily
ever after.

2013 Bob Snook. Conditions for use:
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