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PAGE 5

Arabesque: The Mouse
by [?]

"Shoosh!" said the man, but the mouse did not move. "Why doesn’t it go? Shoosh!" he saidagain, and suddenly the reason of the mouse’s strange behaviour was made clear. The trap hadnot caught it completely, but it had broken off both its forefeet, and the thing crouched thereholding out its two bleeding stumps humanly, too stricken to stir.

Horror flooded the man, and conquering his repugnance he plucked the mouse up quickly bythe neck. Immediately the little thing fastened its teeth in his finger; the touch was no more thanthe slight prick of a pin. The man’s impulse then exhausted itself. What should he do with it? Heput his hand behind him, he dared not look, but there was nothing to be done except kill it atonce, quickly, quickly. Oh, how should he do it? He bent towards the fire as if to drop the mouseinto its quenching glow; but he paused and shuddered, he would hear its cries, he would have tolisten. Should he crush it with finger and thumb? A glance towards the window decided him. He opened the sash with one hand and flung the wounded mouse far into the dark street. Closing thewindow with a crash he sank into a chair, limp with pity too deep for tears.

So he sat for two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes. Anxiety and shame filled him with heat.

He opened the window again, and the freezing air poured in and cooled him. Seizing his lanternhe ran down the echoing stairs, into the dark empty street, searching long and vainly for the little philosopher until he had to desist and return to his room, shivering, frozen to his very bones.

When he had recovered some warmth he took the trap from its shelf. The two feet dropped intohis hand; he cast them into the fire. Then he once more set the trap and put it back carefully intothe cupboard.