nights later, it snowed.
It snowed and snowed and, in the morning,
when Farmer Jack woke up and looked out of the window, the whole
countryside was quite white. The trees were white, the bushes
were white, the grass was white; even the little bird-table in
the garden next to the Farmhouse was white. And, up above it
all, the sky was a brilliant, glorious blue. Farmer Jack sighed:
it all looked so pretty
The days went by, and winter got
colder and colder. In the mornings, the grass was stiff with
frost, and the pond at the bottom of the meadow began to freeze
over. It seemed as if the whole world had gone to sleep: even
Andy the ant had stopped working, and his latest hill stood silent
and still, all covered in snow.
Late one afternoon, as he trudged
back across the fields towards the distant lights of the Old
Farmhouse, Farmer Jack could see the dull red wintry sun sink
down behind the far off trees. A sharp icy wind knifed through
his thick warm jacket, and he hoped that Robbit and all his friends
were tucked up safe and warm in their burrows and nests: tonight,
he could feel it in the air, would be especially cold.
It was midnight.
Millie snuggled deeper under her
thistledown blanket: it felt so snug and warm. Across on the
other side of the nest, the little fire that she and her mother
had lit earlier in the evening had died down to just a faint
flicker, and the air had grown cold.
Outside, in the moonlight, the
snow lay silvery white under the black of the night and, far
away in the forest, an owl hooted in the cold winter darkness.
Millie sighed sleepily: she felt cosy and safe.
All of a sudden, there was a knocking
at the door.
Millie jumped: nobody knocked on
their door at night. She turned over, and tried to go back to
But the knocking came again. And,
with it, came the faint sound of a tiny and desperate voice.
The voice pleaded, "it's me: let me in: please."
The voice sounded like somebody
Millie knew, but she couldn't quite think who. She just couldn't
imagine who could possibly be out and about in the middle of
a winter's night.
Slowly and carefully, Millie stuck
a toe out of her bed. Brrrr! it was cold. She pulled her toe
quickly back under the blanket again.
The knocking was still there: and
it wouldn't go away. But Millie was warm and cosy, and did not
want to be disturbed. She wrapped her tail tightly around herself,
and tried to go back to sleep.
The voice came beseechingly, "Please help."
Millie sighed loudly.
"Who is it?" She called
"It's me, Millie," Said
the faraway voice,
Millie couldn't believe her ears.
She leapt out of bed and scurried
across the floor and opened the door - there, in a nightdress,
and with only a blanket draped over her shoulders, stood Matilda,
her teeth chattering with cold.
Millie stared in amazement.
"What on earth are you doing
out in the cold in the middle of the night?"
"Oh, Millie," Matilda
wailed, "A great big animal stood on our nest in the middle
of the night, and squashed it flat."
Millie gasped and put her paws in front of her mouth in horror, "How
"And now I've got no home," Matilda's
voice shook, and she almost began to cry, "And it's cold,
and I'm freezing."
Millie reached out and took hold
of Matilda's paw and pulled her in through the doorway.
"Come in where it's warm," She
"I'll go and make a nice hot cup of bramble juice: that
should help thaw you out."
Matilda followed Millie into her
nest, and stood shivering in the middle of the floor. Millie
tossed some more sticks on the fire and poked it back into life,
then bustled off to the kitchen. Moments later, she came back
with a large mug full of hot sweet drink.
She said, "That'll warm you up a bit."
Matilda took the steaming mug gratefully
and clasped it in her shaking paws. Millie waited patiently while
Matilda finished drinking the steaming hot juice.
"What happened to your family?" She
Matilda stared into the bottom
of her mug.
"They were so frightened," She
"They all ran away in the dark,"
Her lip began to tremble, "And now I've got no-one and nowhere."
Matilda sat silently, with her
shoulders hunched: she looked so forlorn, Millie put an arm around
"You've got us," She
Matilda gazed up gratefully at
"You're so kind," She
said quietly, "I don't deserve it after being so horrid
"Never you mind about that," Declared
"The most important thing right now is to get you tucked
up in bed."
Matilda yawned: all of a sudden,
she felt really tired.
"And tomorrow," Millie
continued, "We can go and see Mrs Katie: the old farmhouse
is full of nooks and crannies and I'm sure she wouldn't mind
if you made a little nest in one of them for the winter."
Matilda sniffed and tried to smile.
"Thank you, Millie," She
said, "Would you come with me? 1 don't know Mrs Katie
as well as you do."
"Of course 1 will," Agreed
"She's very kind: I'm sure she'd be happy to help."
Millie opened a cupboard and pulled
out a great big soft thistledown quilt.
She spread the quilt on the floor next to her own, in front of
the fire, "You can sleep next to me."
The two mice snuggled down together
under the deep soft quilts.
Matilda lay quietly beside her new friend,
watching the soft firelight flicker gently on the ceiling. It
felt very calm and peaceful. Millie's little nest was a very
humble one, not at all like the grand place that Matilda had
been used to all her life. Yet, somehow, Matilda felt more comfortable
and more welcome in Millie's little home than she'd ever felt
in hers. She felt almost as if the little nest had put its arms
around her and given her a great big comforting hug.
Matilda sighed contentedly, and
turned over on one side. Moments later, she was fast asleep.
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