The mice had met in council;
They all looked haggard and worn,
For the state of afairs was too terrible
To be any longer borne
Not a family out of mourning —
There was crape on every hat.
They were desperate: something must be done,
And done at once, to the cat.
An elderly member rose and said,
"It might prove a possible thing
To set the trap which they set for us —
That one with the awful spring!"
The suggestion was applauded
Loudly, by one and all,
Till somebody squeaked,
''That trap would be about ninety-five times too small!"
Then a medical mouse suggested —
A little under his breath —
They should confiscate the very first mouse
That died a natural death;
And he'd undertake to poison the cat,
If they'd let him prepare that mouse.
"There's not been a natural death," they shrieked,
" Since the cat came into the house !"
The smallest mouse in the council
Arose with a solemn air,
And, by way of increasing his stature,
Rubbed up his whiskers and hair.
He waited until there was silence
All along the pantry-shelf,
And then he said with dignity,
"I will catch the cat myself!
When next I hear her coming,
Instead of running away,
I shall turn and face her boldly,
And pretend to be at play:
She will not see her danger,
Poor creature ! I suppose;
But as she stoops to catch me,
I shall catch her by the nose!"
The mice began to look hopeful.
Yes, even the old ones, when
A gray-haired sage said slowly,
" And what will you do with her
The champion, disconcerted.
And replied with dignity, " Well,
I think, if you'll all excuse me,
'T'would be wiser not to tell.
"We all have our inspirations — "
This produced a general smirk —
"But we are not all at liberty
To explain just how they'll work.
I ask you, then, to trust me :
You need have no further fears —
Consider our enemy done for!"
The council gave three cheers.
"I do believe she's coming!"
Said a small mouse, nervously.
"Run, if you like," said the champion,
"But I shall wait and see!"
And sure enough she was coming;
The mice all scampered away
Except the noble champion
Who had made up his mind to stay.
The mice had faith — of course they
They were all of them noble souls,
But a sort of general feeling
Kept them safely in their holes
Until some time in the evening;
Then the boldest ventured out,
And saw, happily in the distance,
The cat prancing frantic about.
Rubbing its offended snout.