The icicles were forming on his whiskers, although small they were still icicles, and Bopper was cold. Now most folks think field mice don't get cold, but if you happen to fall into a big puddle of water and have to scamper half a mile home to a burrow in the ground, you get cold, really cold. And Bopper was just that way. Shucks, by the time he got home his tail had a solid coat of ice on it and when he went into the little hole in the barn foundation he got stuck because his was frozen, making him too long to get around the corner. But it so happened that Delph, Bopper's older brother, was coming back home and when Bopper did not move into the burrow quick enough Delph hollered, "Gangway, Delph a coming," and pushed Bopper around the corner.
Kersnap! Went Bopper's tail, about an inch from his body and the frozen tail just fell off.
Bopper being so cold did not really know it till Delph picked up the frozen tail and started to sword fight with it. Then Bopper saw and screamed, "Delph, Delph you silly lout. You just broke my tail off! Delph did you ever see a mouse without a tail?" And Bopper grabbed the frozen tail from his larger brother and ran to his mother.
"Momma, momma, look what Delph just did! He didn't mean to but he broke my tail right off." And as Mrs. Field mouse hugged her son, he began to cry, "Momma, oh momma what will I ever do?"
Mrs. Field mouse was a quick thinker and she gave what appeared to be a nonchalant answer, when in reality she was furious with her oldest son. "Why Bopper, look at it this way. You will not have to worry about your tail getting caught in a rat trap, nor will you ever have to worry about a cat catching your tail. And better yet, I can immediately pick you out when we are in a group." She hugged her son and patted him till she felt him relax, then she said, "You had better eat your supper and go curl up in bed for you really did get soaked."
Bopper pulled away from his mother, stood back, and shook his head. "Mom, how did you know I fell in that big puddle?"
"Mrs. field mouse just smiled, "Simple son. You have dirt in your ears and down next to your skin is still damp."
"Gosh Mom, you sure are smart." Bopper took the now thawed and limp tail and put it in his special little niche for safe keeping. His own little niche was a hole just under where the big oaks root ran across the top of the burrow. This was Bopper's private little storage place.
Soon Bopper was nestled in the soft moss that was his bed and dreaming of getting to the moon and eating all of that yellow cheese, eating so much that he would be known as Bopper the moon mouse.
The next morning Bopper was up early and gosh his stub did not hurt as much as he thought, but it did smart, but mom put a little goose grease on it and all was fine as Bopper and his brothers and sisters left for mouse school. Now mouse school was not like people school it is more practical and gosh why bother telling about. Miss Sadie June wheat mouse was Bopper's teacher and as soon as class had convened Miss Sadie immediately asked Bopper, "What happened to your tail, how did you lose your tail?" She was expecting an answer, which would set, off her main subject, that of being careful and not getting caught. She saw Bopper squirming so she waited a second and when no answer was forthcoming, she spoke, "Bopper you come to the front of the room and tell us what happened to your tail." "But Miss Sadie, I . . . .," Bopper stammered.
"Bopper get up this instant and do as I say or I shall have to send a note home to your mother." And as Miss Sadie spoke she put her hands on her hips and had that look on her face.
Bopper slowly arose, thinking of how everyone would laugh at him when he told that he fell into a big mud puddle and his tail froze, and that his big brother had shoved him into their hole and his tail broke off. Everyone would laugh at him so a light went on in his head and he quickly came to the front of the room and faced the class.
Mouse class is not a bunch of different classes, but just one big class for all the mice around, the field mice, the barn mice, the house mice and shucks, heaven forbid, just some plain young rats. Bopper's brain was a-churning and as you know a mouse doesn't have a very large brain, so Bopper's brain was in ultra-high gear as he opened his mouth.
"Bopper, speak up, don't dally about, speak up now," Miss Sadie June Wheat mouse said, and as she spoke she whacked her switch across her paw, to accentuate her directions.
Bopper had a big grin on his face as he looked at his teacher. "I am, I would guess the luckiest field mouse around today, for as you can see, I was lucky, very lucky, for instead of losing my life, I only lost part of my tail."
Bopper drew a big breath and continued. "Shucks, my mom said that now I would not have to worry as much as I used to. Now there is less of me for them to try and catch. I guess I will just tell it to you as it happened, and not try to make it fancy, or sound as if it were more than it was." Bopper was on a roll and the longer he thought, the better the story got.
"You see, yesterday afternoon I was over near the courtyard and I smelled fresh bread, and ooh you all know how good fresh baked bread smells, especially how it might smell to a young hungry field mouse like me.."
"So I sneaks up to the back door then go over the wall and there is a small opening so I go onto the back porch and oh boy, is the smell getting stronger. I gets close to the door and wait for the lady or someone to come outside so I can slip into the house. . . . "
"Bopper, the word 'gets" is not correct grammar. Think mouse, think."
Bopper took another breath and continued. " I get beside the door and in a couple minutes the door opens and that Old dog comes running through his special little door. Boy he was in a hurry, so I just darts through the flap before it closes and go into the kitchen. Then just as I get in the kitchen I see the lady is putting on her coat. She calls to Old dog and they get in the car and go someplace, leaving me there in the kitchen." Bopper wiped his mouth, looked around to see what the reaction was from the class, and from the look on their faces, he knew he had them in the palm of his hand. He was in the driver's seat.
"So I scampered up on the counter," he said, going on, "and there were two large loaves of fresh baked bread and I just started to stuff that warm bread into my mouth, just jam it in, as much bread as I could eat and as fast as I could. . . "
"Bopper, you were eating the bread, not jamming it into your mouth," Miss Sadie said. She shook the switch at him.
"Yes, maam, I ate and ate, then all at once I sensed trouble and looked down at the floor where Yellow Cat was stretching and yawning. I guess Yellow Cat had been taking a nap and smelled me for all at once its eyes got big and its nose twitched and it came alive! It opened its mouth and let out a roar, like a big lion, like a big ole African lion would do when it sees a hyena. Yes siree bob, that Yellow Cat roared and with two or three steps it leapt up on the counter where the bread was. I knew then I was in deep trouble."
"Bopper, Bopper, just slow down. Don't get excited, just slow down and tell your story," Miss Sadie said.
Bopper could tell his teacher was engulfed in his story.
"Well I dodged behind that loaf of bread," he said, going on, "and I looked for an escape route, but in my haste to get some of that fresh warm bread I forgot to look for and my escape route." Bopper knew that Miss Sadie would like that, so he paused a second.
"Well that big old yellow cat," he said, going on. "hen it jumped on the counter it didn't realize how slick it would be so he slid into the loaf of bread, knocking the two loaves of bread and the bread pans to the floor. I scurried down to the floor and tried to get under the trash can but it was one of those which sits on the floor flat. So I ran around and got behind a dust mop. And I looked toward the door and the flap for the dog was still open enough that I could get out of it if I could reach it.
"Where is the cat Bopper, where is the cat?" Clem Hay mouse asked.
"Clem," Miss Sadie said and put her paw to her mouth to indicate silence.
"Well that big Yellow Cat had his mouth open and his teeth showing and oh my does that yellow cat have big teeth, real long fangs. It charged the dust mop and as it started to pounce on me, I ran between its legs and the yellow cat bopped his head on the mop handle." (Bopper was in high gear now and it was time to do a little embellishing) "I ran between that yellow cat's claws and then when he stopped. I bit his tail and then ran toward the door flap.
"Bopper, you done bite that cat's tail. Man that is cool. Bopper done bit that cat's tail," Shep yelled as he jumped up and waved his fisted paw in the air.
Miss Sadie looked at Shep and he sat back down.
"Well I gets, errrr.... I mean I get through the door flap and stop. Yellow Cat sticks his head through the flap and I pull one of his whiskers and head for the little hole in the wall." (Bopper was cruising). "But just as I got to the hole in the wall and tried to go through, the hole was too small. . . "
"But you came through it Bopper, you came through it," Annabelle house mouse yelled."
"I don't know what to do so I try again and the hole is too small. I must have eaten more bread than I thought and I just swelled up. So I scamper toward the doggie door that goes outside and it is closed! I am in a fix I am, what will I do?"
"Find another hole, find another hole Bopper," Cletus yelled.
"Well I think I am smarter than that cat so I run out in the floor and yell at the cat and he charges at me. I head for the flap but just as I get to the flap I duck down and the cat goes through the flap. I run through behind him and hide behind a shovel."
Bopper pauses to take a breath then continues. "Well, that yellow cat is mad and knocks the shovel over. He starts to grab me but I scoot toward the hole in the courtyard fence. Just as I get there, Hawkeye Hawk sees me and swoops down to grab me."
The class goes, "aaaaaaaaaaaaaah," for all of them know about Hawkeye Hawk.
"Just as I get my body under the fence, the cat and Hawkeye collide and I am home free. I head for the barn as fast as I can scamper, but then all at once something grabs me."
"What? What grabbed you the class yelled?"
"That white tailed fox happened to be there and he grabbed me by the tail. He was holding me up by the tail and I was a jerking and swinging and yelling when all at once he heard Old dog bark. It scared him so bad he clamped down harder on my tail and just bit it off."
"Golly, White-tailed fox bit your tail off?"
"Yes, and I fell onto a mud puddle which was froze. But I broke through the ice and boy did I get wet. Well, Old dog's bark sent White-tailed fox off up through the field and the yellow cat went back into the house, for he didn't want anymore of Hawkeye Hawk. And of course Hawkeye was hurting so he just flew up into the tree to rest, and I went home. I was safe and sound except for losing part of my tail."
Miss Sadie looked at Bopper and smiled. "Bopper, I think maybe you told a whopper, a Bopper-Whopper, but that is OK, for it was entertaining. Class dismissed."
The class ran to Bopper and heck until Clarice rat lost a paw, Bopper with his cool short tail was the most popular mouse around.
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