Once upon a time, there was a little brown mouse, who lived in a little brown burrow with all of his family. For a time, they lived happily together, while the mice were still very young and their parents guided them like shepherds; but then the little mice grew bigger and bigger until the burrow became too cramped to hold them all. One mouse exclaimed that he couldn’t live in this burrow anymore, for it was much too small for them, and one by one, the others fell in suit.
He ran far and wide in search of a good place to live, but found none. Wherever he went, there were creatures trying to kill him; the humans laid traps for him in the houses and the cats in the alleys tried to eat him up. And just when he had become so weary he couldn’t run no more and was about to give up, he found a loaf of good bread, just lying on the ground. He took to the bread immediately and gobbled all of the insides up, hollowing out the bread. And when he was full, he realized that he’d made a house for himself. “Oh, happy day!” He exclaimed, “I have found my forever home! It’s yummy, too.” And thus for many long months he lived happily in this little mouse-home of his.
But one day he saw a poor little mouse come to the outside of his bread-house. Her little paws were soiled and her little eyes were sad. She looked at him and begged, “Oh please, sir, please sir, please give me some food! My mother is very sick, and even a little would help her feel good!”
And the mouse took pity on her, and tore a lump of bread from his house. “Here you are, little one. Run home to your mother, now.”
She thanked him and was on her way.
A long, long while later, another mouse came to his house, this one an old weary elder who could barely walk, even with a walking stick. And the weary elder came to him and said, “Please sir, please sir, please give me some food. I am nearly on my deathbed, and just a little would be good.”
The mouse took pity on her, and tore a lump of bread from his house. “Here, have this, wise elder, and tread carefully.”
He thanked him and was on his way.
For the months after, poor starving mice continually passed by his way and asked for food, and he gave bread to every one of them, too kind to turn them down. But eventually, after a long time of giving, his house was almost gone. “Oh, woe is me, oh dreadful day,” He bemoaned, “My house is almost gone! And now I’ll have to find a new place to live, and run again all day long…”
But some mice he’d helped overheard him and came together, talking among themselves.
“Oh no, the kind mouse who fed me is homeless once more!” One said.
“I should help him build a new one, for if he hadn’t given me bread, I would still be poor.” Another said.
“Yes, yes, we shall help him, and build him a new home!” Said a third.
And the mice came to him and told him what they had decided upon. And he rejoiced, for it is truly a happy occasion when friends came together to help one another. Afterwards they got to work, building him a brand-new house of wood, metal and stone. And a week later, when their work was all done and the great new burrow-house was done, they celebrated, happily eating fish, cheese, cake, and what remained of the bread house.