556 SOUP ON A SAUSAGE-PEG
What the First little Mouse had seen and learned
in her Travels
' When I went out into the wide world/ said the little Mouse, ' I thought, as many think at my age, that I had already learned everything ; but that was not the case. Years must pass before one gets so far. I went to sea at once. I went in a ship that steered towards the north. They had told me that the ship's cook must know how to manage things at sea ; but it is easy enough to manage things when one has plenty of sides of bacon, and whole tubs of salt pork, and mouldy flour. One has delicate living on board ; but one does not learn to prepare soup on a sausage-peg. We sailed along for many days and nights ; the ship rocked fearfully, and we did not get off without a wetting. When we at last reached the port to which we were bound, I left the ship ; and it was high up in the far north.
' It is a wonderful thing, to go out of one's own corner at home, and sail in a ship, where one has a sort of corner too, and then suddenly to find oneself hundreds of miles away in a strange land. I saw great pathless forests of pine and birch, which smelt so strong that I sneezed, and thought of sausage. There were great lakes there too. When I came close to them the waters were quite clear, but from a distance they looked black as ink. White swans floated upon them : I thought at first they were spots of foam, they lay so still; but then I saw them walk and fly, and I recognized them. They belong to the goose family—one can see that by their walk ; for no one can deny his parentage. I kept with my own kind. I associated with the forest and field mice, who, by the way, know very little, especially as regards cookery, though this was the very thing that had brought me abroad. The thought that soup might be boiled on a sausage-peg was such a startling idea to them, that it flew at once from mouth to mouth through the whole forest. They declared the problem could never be solved ; and little did I think that there, on the very first night, I should be initiated into the method of its preparation. It was in the height of summer, and that, the mice said,