THE RAT, THE DORMOUSE AND THE ROBIN
him that he would open the cage. The dormouse was a kind-hearted little creature, and almost wept to hear the rat's story.
" If only I knew the way to free you, I would do so," said the dormouse. " I do feel so sorry for your hungry little ones."
" You are very kind," said the rat, grinning to himself. " If you would just lift up that rod there, I think I could force open the gate myself."
" Well," said the dormouse doubtfully, " if I do set you free, rat, will you promise not to catch me? You have eaten dormice before, I know."
" Never, never! " cried the untruthful rat. " I would not touch such a kind little thing as you, dormouse. Just lift up the rod, there's a good creature."
The dormouse believed the rat and lifted up the rod. The door swung free and the rat pushed it open. In a trice he pounced on the frightened dormouse and held him fast.
" A good dinner for me! " he squealed. The dormouse squeaked and struggled, but it was no use. The wicked rat held him tightly.
" You are a cruel, hateful creature," cried the dormouse. " You show no kindness even to one who saved your life. Help! Help! "
The dormouse had a friend, a black-eyed robin. He was in the bushes and he flew down when he heard his friend squeaking. " Tirry-lee! " he cried to the rat. " What are you doing? "
The rat looked up and grinned. " Ah," he said, " I've been very clever, robin. I was caught in that trap—but now I'm out, as you see, and I've caught the dormouse, who let me out of the trap."
" Wait, wait! " said the robin, as if puzzled. " I can't follow all that. You say the dormouse was in the trap, and you ..."
" No, I was in the trap, and the dormouse came along ..." said the rat.
" I see—and so you opened the cage and let out the dormouse," sang the robin.
The rat frowned angrily. " Can't you listen to what people say to you, robin? I said I was in the trap. . . ."
" I was in the trap," repeated the robin.
" No, no, not you, I," squealed the rat.
" And you came along and let me out and then caught the dormouse!" sang the robin merrily. " I see, I see, I see! "