The Animal Story Book - online children's book

Edited By Andrew Lang And With Numerous Illustrations By H. J. Ford

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40
A RAT TALE
and his two front paws; a feather was put through his mouth, by which means a rat on either side dragged him along. Huggy found it rather rough on his back going down the ladder, but, with a good supper in view, he could bear most things. The eggs having been brought thus to the level of the ground, the rats dragged them in the same way slowly and carefully down to the cellar.
So time went on. Night after night parties of rats went out, and each morning they returned with tales of adven­ture and cunning — all more or less daring. But the leader was getting old. Huggy had noticed for some time how grey and feeble he was becoming; nor was he much sur­prised when, one day, the leader told him that he (Huggy) would have to take his place as leader of the rats. Two days after this the old rat died, leaving Huggy to succeed him; and a fine lot of scrapes did that rat and his followers get into.
The larder was their favourite haunt, where joints of meat were hung on hooks ' quite out o' reach o' them rats,' as the cook said. But Huggy thought differently, and in a trice ten large rats had run up the wall and down the hook, and were gobbling the meat as fast as they could. But there was one hook in the centre of the ceiling which Huggy could not reach; from this hook a nice fat duck was suspended by a string. ' If only I could get on to that hook I should gnaw the string, and the duck would fall, and-----'
Huggy got no further. An idea had come to him which he communicated quickly to the others. The plan seemed to be appreciated, for they all ran to an old chair, which was standing just under this difficult centre hook. The strongest rat went first, climbed up the back of the chair, and balanced himself on the top ; Number 2 followed, and carefully balanced on Number 1; Number 1 then squeaked, which meant he could bear no more. It was a pity he could not stand one more; for, as they were, the topmost rat could just reach the prize, and though he
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