“Yes, sir! In those days, the mouse was as big as the elephant!” Uncle Abner Elephant leaned back in his chair, took a puff of his pipe and waited to see what Oliver Elephant and Tommy Tapir would say to this. “Tell us about it! Tell us about it!” cried Tommy Tapir, who dearly loved Uncle Abner’s stories. “I don’t believe it!” gasped Oliver, but nevertheless, he drew his chair up closer so that he could hear all about it, too!
“Yes, sir! Once upon a time the mouse had whiskers a foot long and ears a foot high and was THAT big and handsome that you wouldn’t even have been noticed when he was around, Oliver Elephant! Fine looking—I should think so! And all he had to do was thump his tail and holler and then all the other creatures would bring him things to eat. Because he was SO big everybody reckoned he was powerful brave and they stepped out of the way when he came along. I can tell you—that is, everybody except the elephants.” Uncle Abner took another deep puff at his pipe. “Go on!” said Tommy Tapir impatiently. “Well,” said Uncle Abner, “one day a little furry creature with green eyes came slinking into the mouse’s country and when old Mr. Mouse came thumpety, thump, THUMP down the road—(Oliver and Tommy had to laugh at the idea of a mouse thumping)—the little furry creature with green eyes flew at him screeching “psf—sssst! Sp—pppppt! Mr—riawr!” And that great big mouse instead of fighting started to cry and make the most awful noise and then he started to RUN. And he ran and ran with the little furry creature chasing him till all the other creatures nearly laughed their heads off. And weren’t they surprised to find out what a big coward he really was. My!
“But what happened next you will hardly believe! At every leap that great big mouse grew smaller. He was shrinking! First he shrank down to almost the size of a lion, then he shrank down to about the size of a lion cub—and still he kept shrinking—and still he kept running—and the more he ran the more he shrank—till pretty soon the creatures could hardly see him at all! Then just as the furry one made ready to pounce upon him and eat him up, the mouse crept into a little hole in the ground so tiny, so tiny that no other creature could possibly follow him in. One of the elephants who was there and, by the way, he was Oliver’s great-great-great-grandfather, put his ear to the hole and he heard a great squeaking.” “What was it?” asked Tommy Tapir. “Why, it was the mouse saying his multiplication tables!” said Uncle Abner, knocking the ashes from his pipe, “and as nearly as I can remember they went so:
Twice a grain of wheat equals twice a grain of corn,
Twice a trap and cheese equals once a mouse at morn!
“And let me tell you if he hadn’t remembered his multiplications he would have shrunk away to nothing at all. So, if you get frightened ever and begin to shrink, for goodness’ sake say your multiplications and don’t RUN!” “But why did the mouse shrink?” said Oliver Elephant a little puzzled by the story. “Well, you see,” said Uncle Abner, “if your insides aren’t as big as your outsides, why, your outsides are bound to shrink down to the little parcel of a thing that is really you. The mouse was only a little miserable scarey body walking about in a great big skin, and the first time he got scared, of course, he shrank—and mind what I’m telling you, Oliver Elephant, if you once run away from anything it will chase you all the rest of your life. And that’s why the mouse has been running away from the cat—ever since that once-upon-a-time day long ago!”
“I think I’ll study my multiplication tables!” said Oliver Elephant.
I’d gallop straight off
With a grinning Jack Lantern
To guide me—
Off far—and away,
With a heart full of play
And a jolly Supposy beside me!
And how we would scamper
And skim through the fields
To escape the old Halloween witches,
The spooks and the bats
And the scrootchy black cats
That are lurking about in the ditches.
Never once would we pause—
Never once look behind—
Till Supposyville’s turrets rose clear;
Then off to the castle
We’d rush with the rest
For the Halloween festival here.
Oh, what a bewitching, delicious event
Is that ball! What surprises! What merriment!
In fact, I should say, it is far and away
The delightfulest sort of experiment.
No one knows who is who
Till the whole evening’s through,
Least of all which is King or is Queen—
And who can discover these two is acclaimed
Lord of Misrule and all Halloween!
In the center a fire burning merrily sends
Popcorn flying in crisp snowy showers,
And the band plays so thrillingly
Every one willingly
Dances for hours—and hours.
There are apples to bob for
And fortunes to hear,
There is cider and nuts to be eaten,
And candies and cakes—which just every one takes
The occasion more surely to sweeten.
And how they all cheer
When a LION, my dear,
A small lassie points out as the King;
Red Riding Hood proves to be Queen; it behooves
Them to merrily stand in a ring
While Supposies go circling and singing around.
But at last when the big clock booms three
They curtsy politely and take their leave rightly—
Ha, ho—what a ball it must be!