Chapter Twelve: Arthur’s Story

“Only by finding out how little we are can we know how great He is, and learn to trust Him,” said the Favourite Auntie, closing the Bible gently. Jimmy looked sleepily at the ring on her finger, all fire and light and golden glory. . . golden light and fiery glory. . . lightning and fire and. . .

“Why, he’s dropped right off,” said The Mother, “will you help me tuck him up?”

“Only by finding out how little we are,” said Jimmy’s dream-mind, and then ‘C-r-u-n-c-h!’ Jimmy started up and began to look about him. What a funny place! There were four great trees set in a huge square beside him. They seemed to stretch right up to the sky, and even the sky was queer, for it had lines criss-crossing it and the light came through squares. Then he jumped again, for a voice of thunder said, ‘S-q-u-a-w-k!’ Looking round he found a great mountain of fur beside him, a huge tail curled on the floor, whiskers longer than he was tall twitched at him and two eyes like dinner plates opened wide.

“Hallo,” said the mountain, “are you a new kind of insect?”

“I am not an insect.” Jimmy felt too cross to be nervous. “I am a boy.”

“A boy?” The mountain stared, blinking so hard that the draught nearly blew Jimmy over. “Never heard of it. Boy! Well, I’m a mouse.” He said this so proudly that Jimmy did not like to laugh. Instead, he said politely, “But I thought mice were small?”

“So that is the kind of silly thing a boy thinks?” His companion looked down at him scornfully. “No wonder I have never heard of one.”

“Well,” muttered Jimmy to himself, “to think. . .” And then even his thoughts were stopped in his surprise, for he heard a great, throbbing roar like a dozen aeroplane engines just overhead. “Flying in formation, I suppose,” he mused, half aloud.

“Quiet!” hissed the mouse angrily. “Follow me——quick!” Like a flash, the mountain of fur moved and Jimmy darted after it and came to rest in the warm shelter behind its left foot. The throbbing came nearer and nearer.

“D-don’t be f-frightened,” chattered the mouse, “I will t-take care of you.” This did not make Jimmy feel very safe because he could feel the mountain shaking!

“What is it?” he asked.

“S-s-h! A cat.” Well! Jimmy listened with his mouth falling open. A cat making all that noise! From his shelter he saw a great wall of dark fur go by, so tall that he could not even see the top of it. They remained still for a long while after that. Then began another rumbling, very strange, yet somehow familiar. First there was a short, high rumble, then a pause, and then a long, low rumble; then two rumbles, together, high and low.

“They always do that,” explained the mouse, who seemed to be happy again now the cat had gone. “On and on, all day, rumble, rumble, rumble. It is very queer.”

“But who are they? Jimmy peeped out from his shelter but could see nothing.

“They!” said the mouse, asking in surprise, ” Do you mean to say you haven’t seen the pink thing?”

“The pink thing!” repeated Jimmy staring.

“Don’t echo like that!” His friend began to get quite cross. “Yes, it comes down from. . . oh, it just comes down,” he finished vaguely. “It has a saucer of milk in it sometimes, for the cat.”

“How very strange,” Jimmy answered politely.

“Why,” the mouse cried excitedly, “you have two pink things just like that one—only, of course, that one is very big.”

“Those are my hands,” explained Jimmy, releasing one from the clasp of a great claw.

“Hands? Well, what about those poles sticking out of them?”

“Fingers,” smiled Jimmy. He was beginning to feel quite superior now. But Jimmy was to learn that being proud usually means a fall and this fall was very loud indeed; it made the floor shake.

“What’s that?” he gasped, jumping so far back that he felt as though he were in a warm tunnel.

“They always have them,” mumbled his protector, “sometimes black and sometimes brown—that is in the day-time. But in the dark,” (here he chuckled wickedly) “they are pink! Then if you run over them, there is such a squawk; much louder than mine,” he added admiringly. Jimmy was very puzzled at this description until he saw an enormous pair of shoes stamping over the floor, with two great trees rising up from them, clad in navy blue.

“Those are shoes!” He put up his hand and prodded boldly. “With feet and legs in!”

“Hush!” But it was too late. The shoes stopped, one of the ‘pink poles’ came down and rested close to a quivering nose.

“Hallo,” rumbled a voice, “a mouse, eh? Here, come out and show yourself.”

“N-no thank you.” Jimmy heard a tremble of fear and his shelter began to shake again.

“Why not?” came the rumble. “Look, have a bit of cheese.”

“For me?” The mouse shivered with joy and his whiskers twitched longingly. “But I thought. . .” and he began to advance a little, “that they did not like us, ever.”

“Ah,” rumbled the voice, “that is because you and your brothers have such bad manners! Instead of eating one thing, you nibble at ever so many, and you take things that are put away for tomorrow. Why, even boys are punished for stealing jam and cake sometimes.” At this Jimmy felt himself getting red about the ears. He was glad he could hide under his furry shelter. Only the other day the pantry door slammed just as he had climbed to the highest shelf. . .

“Come on,” coaxed the big voice, “eat your cheese. You would always find something to eat if you respected other people’s property you know. Why, everybody would like you then!”

Very slowly Jimmy’s shelter slid away from him, and then there was a long pause while he leaned against his friend’s side, listening to the strange noises going on underneath. “I wonder if I make such a noise when I eat?”

Then the mouse moved! Jimmy toppled over, striking his head on a bristle sticking up from the carpet.

“Well, goodbye,” said his friend, “I must be off. Got to talk to the other fellows about good manners and free food.”

“Goodbye,” said Jimmy; and “Hallo!” said The Mother. “It is Sunday morning, son.” He lay thinking as the sun slid into his bedroom window.

“Well, that was a nice dream. I hope I have one every Saturday night!”