Author’s Note: This one I wrote in middle school. We must have been studying fables, and our assignment was to write a story that followed three rules: it had to be about animals, it had to be about the holidays, and it had to have a moral. I rankles me to this day that the teacher gave this story a C … But that was the kind of town I grew up in.
Once upon a time there were two young mice who had been friends for the better part of both of their lives. The two rodents lived happily at opposite ends of a large mansion and spent many a day romping around the large kitchen together, gathering what food the cook happened to drop and that the maid happened to miss. Given the fact that the cook tended to be careless, and the maid was quite lazy, there was always ample food for both mice, so each was happy and content with the other sharing the food.
This situation continued for some years until such time as the owner of the mansion saw fit to replace the two wasteful servants with more efficient help. Unknown to the master, though, was the fact that this otherwise prudent decision had adverse effects upon the two young mice in that food became quite scarce. Due to this change of situation, each mouse quite naturally began to fend more for himself and to think less about the other’s welfare. Obviously, the two mice became more and more of a nuisance to each other and the expected quarrels between the two grew more and more fierce as the weeks went by.
It just so happens that all this took place in the weeks prior to Christmas. The increasingly volatile situation and the time of year set both mice to thinking about how to rid himself of the friend-turned-foe that inhabited the opposite end of the house. Remarkably, both mice thought of the same method of accomplishing this task.
On two different nights, just a few days before Christmas, each mouse paid a visit to the kitchen drawer in which the various junk of the household was stored, and each secured for himself a mousetrap of the finest quality. Upon bringing the marvelous instruments of death back to their respective homes, the two mice set the traps and ever-so-carefully wrapped them with the most festive of Christmas paper, each intending to give the other mouse their present on Christmas Eve so that he might kill himself while opening the deadly gift.
It came to pass, however, that the more sensitive of our two heroes backed down at the last minute, remembering all the years of friendship, and disposed of the lethal present in the proper manner. The other mouse, though, who was less encumbered by conscience and fond memories, went ahead with his sinister plan and delivered the gift.
On Christmas morning the more sensitive of our heroes awoke early to find his gift just inside the door of his home. Overjoyed at the thought that perhaps his feuding days were over, he began immediately to unwrap the present. His hasty action, of course, set off the trap, the steel hasp coming down with lethal speed upon the young mouse’s neck and snapping it on contact.
This being done, the other mouse lived happily ever after, being the only mouse left to benefit from the food that the new cook happened to drop on the floor and that the new maid happened to miss.
Moral: It’s better to give than to receive.