The Country Mouse and the City Mouse
Once upon a time, there lived two cousins, a Country Mouse and a City Mouse. The Country Mouse wrote a letter to his cousin and said, as they had not seen each other since they were little mice, that the City Mouse should come visit on holiday. When he received the letter from his cousin, the City Mouse was of two minds. First, he thought, it would be wonderful to see his cousin, and reminisce about the old days when they used to frolic in the fields, and occasionally play pranks on the farmer's old blind dog. But on the other hand, rural life didn't appeal to the City Mouse much at all. The country seemed beautiful for about five minutes, but other than that, it was plain, simple, and simply boring. Yet still, feeling obligated by family duty, the City Mouse sent a letter of acceptance the following day.
When the City Mouse arrived at his destination, his cousin welcomed him with open arms. They stood on the porch of the little country home for some time; the Country Mouse enquired about his trip, and the City Mouse told him it was generally pleasant, and that he had hitched a ride on the back of a farmer's cart which had been leaving the city market. After some time engaged in such conversation, the Country Mouse suddenly exclaimed, “Oh my, I have forgotten my manners! You must still be terribly tired, and hungry as well. Come into the kitchen; my dear cousin, forgive me, you must be starving!”
Into the kitchen they went. When the Country Mouse revealed the dishes he had kept covered on the table, the City Mouse struggled to mask his disappointment. The dishes were plain: haricot beans, bacon, cheese and black bread. There was no beer, much less wine. Still, they sat down to dinner, and the Country Mouse wished his cousin a good appetite before he began ravenously attacking his meal. The City Mouse wished his cousin good appetite in return, but simply picked at his meal, pushing the beans around the plate with his spoon and listening to the birds chirping outside.
Finally he could contain himself no longer. “Cousin,” he said to the Country Mouse, “please don't think me rude or ungrateful when I say this, but I have a hard time imagining how you put up with this poor country fare. I know one can't expect anything better out here in the middle of nowhere. You have to come visit the city; let me return your hospitality. The city has such a wide variety of cuisine, and such excitement! Out here there is nothing much to do other than watch the grass grow: it's tedious!”
The Country Mouse protested that his lifestyle was more than adequate, just as it had been for his father, their shared grandfather, and all their ancestors, but he also assured his visitor that he didn't think him either rude or ungrateful. “Indeed, it might be a novel experience for me,” said the Country Mouse, “and as you were so kind to come visit, of course I should be glad to make the same trip myself.” And so they decided that instant that, come the next holiday, they would dine in the city.
When the next holiday came, the Country Mouse hopped onboard the exact same farmer's cart his cousin had taken some weeks before. He arrived at his cousin's apartment in the city late at night. They greeted each other, as happy as before. “Come, you'll want some refreshment right away!” the City Mouse cried, “Come, follow me!” With that, he dashed under a chair. The Country Mouse followed, hard on his heels.
“Wait,” said the City Mouse, peering out from under the chair, “now!” At that moment he dashed into the kitchen, and in an instant was behind the stove. When the Country Mouse caught up with him, breathless, he gasped. “Why are we running like this?” he asked his city cousin, “this is crazy!”
The City Mouse looked back in disbelief. “Why, to avoid the cat, of course! She is old and slow, yes, but to be caught: the horror!”
Before the Country Mouse could protest, his cousin jumped to the windowsill, and then the table. “Look,” he said, “at this fine city cuisine, cousin! Dig in!”
There were jellies and cakes and chocolate, crackers and cookies, olives imported from Greece, and even some caviar. The City Mouse was delighted, and he ran back and forth, tasting a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, occasionally muttering such things as “heavenly” or “divine.” The Country Mouse, meanwhile, found a bit of bread near the edge of the table, and ate it trembling.
Suddenly, there was a great uproar in the kitchen, and both mice tumbled off the table in panic. Two huge, ferocious dogs had suddenly appeared, barking and snarling. When they met under the chair, and recovered their wits, the Country Mouse informed his cousin that he would, regretfully, be leaving without delay. “What, so soon?” the City Mouse protested, “but you've only just arrived!”
“I must, cousin,” the Country Mouse replied, “I've had enough of city luxury.” He went to the door and then, looking back, told his cousin: “A CRUST OF BREAD IN PEACE AND HARMONY IS BETTER THAN A KING'S MEAL IN NOISE AND CONFUSION.”