|Millie was a harvest mouse. Her proper
name was Millicent, but that was just for special occasions. Most
of the time she was called Millie.
Millie lived with her mother in a nest right in
the middle of the meadow, in amongst the tall grass and great
big ox-eye daisies. They'd built their nest together, weaving
it out of grass and the stems and leaves of flowers they'd found
in the meadow, and had fixed it carefully to the strongest stalks
so it wouldn't blow away, not even in the fiercest gales. The
nest was round, like a ball, with just one little door at the
side, sheltered from the rain and snow and winds. Millie and
her mother had lined the inside of their nest with the softest
thistledown, so it was dry and snug and warm in the winter.
Millie and her mother didn't have much money, but
they were content. Millie may not have had the latest and greatest
toys, and her dresses may have been a little old and worn, but
she really didn't mind; she was happy at home
In fact, everything in Millie's life would have
been fine if it hadn't been for Matilda.
Matilda was also a mouse, but a different kind
of mouse from Millie: she was a House Mouse. A house mouse is
bigger than a harvest mouse, so Matilda could push Millie around.
Millie didn't mind that too much: what really upset her was that
Matilda was very unkind. For Matilda was rich, and always had
the best and latest dresses, and loved flaunting them in front
of all her classmates, and taunting Millie about her plain clothes
and worn shoes.
One Friday, Matilda was particularly nasty. A rich
uncle had given her a great big box of expensive sweets, and
Matilda was letting some of her classmates have one each. But
she only gave sweets to those she thought would say how wonderful
When Matilda saw Millie come into the classroom,
she sighed loudly.
"Oh, how boring,"
Said Matilda wearily, "Here comes that dreadfully dreary
little harvest mouse."
The other mice who were gathered around Matilda
tittered nervously. They didn't really like her ve much, but
were a little bit afraid of her because she was so big and bossy.
"Millie's so mean," Matilda closed
the lid on her box of sweets, "I bet she's never given
any of you such nice expensive sweets."
Millie hung her head and said nothing: she wasn't
mean. She would have given all she had to anyone if she thought
it would help, and would have loved to be able to give presents
to everybody. But she didn't have lots of expensive things: all
she had was a kind heart. Millie walked quietly away: there was
nothing she could say.
Jonathan had overheard what Matilda had said, and
slid gently up to Millie.
"Don't listen to her," He said comfortingly, "She's
horrid. We all like you ve much." Millie gulped.
"Thank you, Jonathan,"She answered,"You're
a very kind and thoughtful snail."
Jonathan blushed, and his feelers wobbled a little.
"Will you be coming to the school party
at the end of term?" He asked.
Millie nodded unhappily.
"Yes," She answered in a small voice.
"I'll be wearing my best braces," Said
"They're blue." Suddenly, Millie burst into tears.
"I haven't got a best anything," She
cried, " All I've got is my school clothes, and they're
not pretty at all, they're just boring."
Jonathan was very upset; he hated it when anyone
"But you're not boring," He said reassuringly,
and that's what really matters. Not what you're wearing."
Millie sniffed, and smiled a rather damp and watery
sort of smile. She thought Jonathan was such a nice snail.
"I suppose so,"
She said, but she didn't really sound convinced.
They came to the school gates. Jonathan turned
" are you going to visit Old Mrs Spider
tomorrow?" He asked.
"Mmmmmmm " Nodded Millie, "She's
nice; I like her."
Every Saturday, Millie hopped across to Old Mrs
Spider's house to help her with her housework.
"She's an old lady," Millie's mother
had explained to her, and doesn't have any family to look after
Not having any family
seemed a very sad thing to Millie, so she was happy to keep Old
Mrs Spider company and help look after some of her things. Besides,
she liked going there. Old Mrs Spider told such interesting tales
about when she'd been young, all those years ago, and the wonderful
parties and dances she'd been to, and the beautiful dresses she
and her friends had worn. Millie loved to sit and day-dream over
their morning cup of chocolate, while Old Mrs Spider reminisced
about the olden days.
The next morning, Millie was sitting at Old Mrs
Spider's kitchen table, quietly polishing a silver candlestick
and listening as the old lady prattled on about anything and
"Oh, my Goodness," Said Old Mrs Spider
"How the time has flown. It's time for elevenses already."
Millie said nothing: her thoughts were far away.
"You're very quiet this moming,"Observed
Old Mrs Spider,opening a tin of biscuits,
"Something on your mind?"
Said Millie absently, and carried on polishing.
Old Mrs Spider eyed her young companion over her
spectacles. She was a kindly old lady, and sensed that something
was troubling Millie.
"Got anything special planned for the holidays?" she
asked by way of conversation. "The school's having a party
at the end of term," Said Millie.
"Will you be going?"
"I suppose so."
"You suppose so?"
Old Mrs Spider sounded surprised, "Don't you want to go?"
All of a sudden, Millie found herself telling Old
Mrs Spider all about Matilda, and how spiteful she could be,
and how the party would be no fun at all because Matilda would
be there in a beautiful new dress and would tease Millie in front
of all the other children.
Old Mrs Spider put the tin of biscuits down on
the kitchen table with a thump.
"Come," She beckoned, "there's
something I'd like to show you."
Old Mrs Spider led the way to a small doorway,
tucked away in a corner of the kitchen. They went through into
a small room, where Millie had never been before. It smelt musty,
and everything in it was covered in dust. In the far corner stood
an enormous wardrobe: it looked really, really old. Long, long
ago it had stood on four great big wooden feet, but one of the
feet had got lost and now the wardrobe balanced on just three.
It had large wooden doors that were curved like an old-fashioned
shop window and, in one of the doors, was a huge and ancient
key. Old Mrs Spider took hold of the key, turned it firmly, and
pulled the doors open: they creaked loudly, as if complaining
at being disturbed.
"Take a peek inside," She said to Millie.
Millie looked inside. There, hanging on racks,
were rows and rows of the most beautiful dresses she'd ever seen.
Green ones, gold ones, blue ones, white ones, silver ones all
the colours of the rainbow and more. The dresses were woven of
a material so light and fine that they seemed to shiver and glow,
even in the gloom of the dusty old room.
Breathed Millie. The dresses were so pretty they'd quite taken
her breath away.
"Do you like them?" asked Old Mrs Spider.
"Ooohh," Said Millie again, "They're
Old Mrs Spider smiled
"They're my old party dresses," She
"Your old party dresses?"
Old Mrs Spider nodded.
"I wore them when I was young," She
Millie was lost for words. Although she'd heard
Old Mrs Spider tell her tales a hundred
times, it was still hard to imagine her actually being young,
and going to parties.
"I made them all myself," Said Old
Mrs Spider proudly.
"But ... how?"
Old Mrs Spider smiled.
"We spiders don't just spin webs, you know."
Millie reached out and felt the sleeve of one of
the dresses: it was so soft and lovely.
"I'd like to make one for you," Said
Old Mrs Spider.
"a reward, my dear," Replied Old Mrs
Spider, "For all your kindness and help."
Millie was overwhelmed: she couldn't think of anything
Old Mrs Spider closed the door of the wardrobe
"Come," She took Millie by the hand, "Let's
finish our elevenses."
One evening a few weeks later,
just a couple of nights before the school party, there was a
knock on Millie's front door.
Millie's mother looked up from her armchair next
to the fire.
"I wonder who that could be?" She asked.
"I'll get it,"
Called Millie, and went to open the front door.
There, holding a large brown paper parcel, stood
Old Mrs Spider.
"Hello, my dear,"
She held out the parcel to Millie, "I've brought you a little
present." Millie's eyes widened in surprise: she hardly
ever had presents.
"Why, thank you,"She said,"Thank
you very much indeed."
Millie's mother came across the room.
"Come in, Mrs Spider," She invited, "The
Millie held up the large brown paper parcel.
"Look!" She said,
"Old Mrs Spider brought me this."
"What a lovely surprise!" Millie's
"What on earth could it be?"
"Can I open it and see?" asked Millie, her eyes bright
"Of course," Said Millie's mother and
Old Mrs Spider together.
Millie put the parcel
on the table and, almost shaking with anticipation, began to
unwrap it. She longed desperately to find out what was inside,
and it seemed to take forever for her trembling fingers to undo
all the wrappings. At last, she reached the final layer and there,
neatly folded, lay a party dress. But it wasn't just any old
Millie held it up for her mother to see.
"Why, my dear,"
She exclaimed, "It's absolutely beautiful."
and, indeed, it was.
Pale blue, like the sky of spring, and so fine
and delicate it seemed to float on the air like the morning mist
in the meadow, the dress was set with sequins that twinkled in
the firelight like dewdrops in the early sunlight.
Millie was so overcome, she almost wanted to cry
"Oh," She sighed,
"I've never ever had anything so lovely."
Old Mrs Spider beamed with pleasure.
"I'm so happy you like it," She smiled.
"Thank you, thank you," Said Millie,
quite pink with pleasure.
Old Mrs Spider shuffled her feet shyly.
"I enjoyed weaving it," She said, "Reminded
me of when I used to make my own." She turned for the
"I hope you have a marvellous party," She
said to Millie.
and, with that, Old Mrs Spider vanished into the
It was the night of the party. Millie was really
nervous: never before had she worn a dress like the one she had
on now. Wide-eyed, she gazed around the room, ; at all the guests;
at the table full of cakes; at all the decorations hanging from
the walls. She wondered if anyone would speak to her. Suddenly,
a voice behind her exclaimed.
Millie turned, and there stood Jonathan, beaming,
his shell polished and gleaming, and his two feelers glowing
pinkly where he'd given them an extra special scrub.
Exclaimed Jonathan again, his thumbs hooked into a brand new
pair of magnificently blue braces. "You look fabulous!"
and all of a sudden, that's exactly how Millie
"Thank you, Jonathan," She smiled and
took his hand,
"Let's go and meet the others."
Across the room, Matilda was sounding forth to
a huddle of her cronies.
"Ooh, look," Said one of them, "There's
"Oh, what a bore," Said Matilda, deliberately
"I really think you should look," Insisted
Matilda's companion, "She's not boring at all."
Matilda sighed loudly
and looked up, then stared, open-mouthed, unable to believe her
eyes. Could the vision in shining blue really be Millie? How
could that boring, drab little harvest mouse have turned into
that gorgeous creature? Matilda decided to investigate.
She marched up to where Millie stood, arm in arm with Jonathan,
laughing and chatting with friends.
Millie watched as Matilda strode across the room.
Matilda scowled: it really was Millie, and she
really did look wonderful.
She said impily.
Matilda was livid: her own party dress now looked
drab in comparison, and all the other mice who'd been gathered
around her now seemed to like Millie much more than her. She
felt sooo jealous she wanted to scream.
Matilda stamped her foot and swished her long tail
in fury then flounced off across the room to the table where
all the cakes were.
Called one of the teachers, "Whatever's wrong with you?
You look so grumpy."
Matilda pretended not to hear: she just swished
her tail even more angrily. In fact, she swished it so angrily,
she knocked a plate of cakes clean off the table. They rolled
all over the floor.
Exclaimed the teacher, "That was clumsy. You'll just have
to pick them all up again."
"Shan't," Said Matilda rudely.
All the other mice gasped. There was a moment's
"Well," Replied the teacher at last, "If
you don't, I'm afraid you'll have to leave the party."
Matilda just got ruder and ruder.
"Shan't! shan't!! shan't!!!" She chanted,
and ran off across the room to the door.
She stopped at the door, and turned to face eve
"Don't like your silly party anyway," She
With a final swish of her tail, she swept out of
the room and slammed the door behind her.
There was a thump, then, from behind the door,
they heard Matilda give the most tremendous squeak. Everybody
ran to see what had happened.
"0w! Ow!! Ooo !!!
" They heard Matilda squeal.
Matilda had slammed the door on her tail, and now
it was stuck. All that the other children could see was the end
of Matilda's tail, twitching as she tried to tug it free from
the other side of the door. It looked so funny, they all started
"Oh, poor Matilda," Gasped Millie, "That
must be so sore."
She ran across the room and pushed open the door.
With a final yank, Matilda pulled her tail free
and ran off into the night. Millie and all the other children
stood still, listening to the sound of Matilda wailing as she
ran off home across the meadow in the dark.
Millie felt rather so for her.
She said sympathetically, "Shutting her tail in the door
must have really hurt."
"Don't you wory about her," Said Jonathan, "She'll
be quite alright in the morning. Do her good to be laughed
at for a change."
Jonathan held out his hand.
"Come along," He said, "Let's
go back. It's your turn to be the loveliest mouse in the meadow."
and, for the rest of the evening, that is exactly
what Millic was: the loveliest mouse in the meadow. It was the
most wonderful party she could ever remember. She danced and
talked and laughed all evening, and felt so happy she thought
she really might burst.
Far away, on the other side of the meadow, a light
was on in the window of Old Mrs Spider's house. Inside, Old Mrs
Spider rocked quietly and comfortably in her armchair beside
the fire, listening to the distant sound of the school party.
She was glad she'd remembered how to weave her special magic
into that new blue dress: she knew Millie would be having a wonderful
Old Mrs Spider smiled contentedly. It was nice
when there was a happy ending.
Come back soon!
Click on any of the small pictures to see a bigger one.