My Second Pet-a Mouse in a Box


My Grandan was really, really rich. He had horses and pigs and rabbits and a house with a thatched roof, and he had a CAR. Once he gave me HALF-a-CROWN,and it was not even my birthday or Christmas. At the time my Dad was giving me a 'threepenny Joey' every Friday; a half-crown was the equivalent of ten whole weeks' pocket-money! For a few days I simply looked at the heavy coin,unable to believe my good fortune. I lay awake planning what I should do. Woolworths was a '3d &6d store'. I could walk round like a grownup, able to buy anything I chose...

However, I didnt actually reach Woolworths. On the way I passed a little petshop.

For most of my short life I had longed for a pet. The caterpillar had been a disappointment, unwilling to cooperate. Now I was rich,and the world was open to me.

I pressed my nose against the cold glass. There were puppies,kittens,rabbits,guinea-pigs....

As usual, I had not thought this through. I had not asked permission, I had not prepared my mother for what was about to happen. There was a notice on the window. It said 'Mice,6d each'. What a bargain! I could have a pet,and still be rich! Without hesitation I pushed open the door and went in.

Minutes later, I emerged. I was carrying my new pet, in a cardboard box...

What did the shopkeeper think a little girl was going to do with a mouse in a cardboard box? However, I was perfectly happy with my purchase,and had not even considered the problems my homeless pet might present to my mother. I was soon to find out!

It was a long walk home,and I stopped every now and then to put my hand into the box and gently stroke the tiny,warm,silky body. Excitedly I pushed open the door and there was Mum, washing up,hot and tired. I held out my newfound treasure and carefully pulled up the flap.

I was totally unprepared for the furore that followed. There was a horrified pause, a strangled shriek,and then a long stream of disapproving commentary. I put the flap down to shield the mouse's ears, and waited for calm to return. There had to be,I knew,a pause for breath. After a while, language failed,and a kind of peace prevailed.

Something had to be done,of course. The mouse could not live in a box;there were no windows,and it could escape and perhaps set up a family. After a great deal of discussion it was agreed that I should expend my remaining two shillings on a cage,and future pocket-money would provide bedding, water and food containers. I would have willingly given up anything for an opportunity to keep my little friend. Off I trotted to the petshop, and within an hour he was settled in a wooden home.

I loved & cared for him for several months, and indeed I think I had been lucky to keep him at all. Sadly,though,I came home from school one day to find him gone. I was never told where he ended his little life,and I did not ask. I accepted my loss;my home was not a place for pets,it was always polished and clean.

During my married life we had many,many pets;dogs,cats,rabbits(Honey Bun,Chelsea Bun and Bara Brith or Welsh Bun),a tortoise called Diogenes,a hedgehog, a grey and white hen called Flora,and a friendly toad. I made sure that my daughter did not have to long in vain for creature companions...

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