OP-ED: The Mouse and the Cake

By Shelly Reuben
Shelly Reuben
Shelly Reuben
Next in the series from Come Home. Love, Dad, published by Bernard Street Books, a memoir about my father, Samuel Reuben – a truly extraordinary man:   A letter from Sam.

August 30, 1976 - Highland Park, Ill.

Dear Shelly:

Sorry I didn’t write to you earlier, but now is the time.  You will remember Rosie my sister.  Well, She is being operated on for the removal of an aneurysm in her head.  It is a very serious operation and we are all hoping she will come out well.

Chucky is going to Ravinia to hear an all Gershwin concert.

Selma and her two children, Robbie and Josh are visiting with us for the last month, while Selma and Sandy went off to travel in Spain.  We have two dogs in the yard.  They bark like a dozen and eat unlimited.  Josh’s dog has to be chained to a post.  Otherwise he eats all of Sheba’s meal.

                                                     The Mouse and the Cake

                                                    by Eliza Cook

A mouse found a beautiful piece of plum cake

The richest and sweetest that mortal could make

‘T’was heavy with citron and fragrant with spice

And covered with sugar all sparkling as ice.

“My stars,” cried the mouse while his eye beamed with glee

Here’s a treasure I found.  What a feast it will be!

So I’ll hide with the cake lest they wander this way

Not a bit shall they have for I know I can eat

Every morsel myself and I’ll have such a treat.

So off went the mouse, as he held the cake fast

While his hungry young brothers went scampering past.

He nibbled and nibbled, and panted, but still,

He kept gulping it down ‘till he made himself ill ~

Yet he swallowed it all, and ‘tis easy to guess

He was soon so unwell that he groaned with distress.

His family heard him, and as he grew worse,

They sent for a doctor who made him rehearse

How he’d eaten the cake to the very last crumb

Without giving his playmates and relatives some.

“Ah me,” cried the doctor, advice is too late

You must die before long, so prepare for your fate.

If you had but divided the cake with your brothers,

It would have done you no harm, and been good for the others.

Had you shared it, the treat had been wholesome enough,

But eaten by one, it was dangerous stuff!

So prepare for the worst…” and the word had scarce fled,

When the doctor turned around and the patient was dead.

Now all little people the lesson may take

And some larger ones may learn from the mouse and the cake

Not to be over-selfish with what we may gain

Or the best of our pleasures may turn into pain.

We are happy to learn that you are getting along well.  I still think that I will kidnap you from all the friends and relations and take you off to Israel. 

Yours truly, Dad

Copyright © 2011, Shelly Reuben.  Reprinted from Come Home. Love, Dad, originally published by Bernard Street Books. ISBN: 0-9662868-1-2.  Available from barnesandnoble.com; Amazon.com, or your local bookstore.  Shelly Reuben has been nominated for Edgar, Prometheus, and Falcon awards.  For more about her books, visit  HYPERLINK "http://www.shellyreuben.com" \o "http://www.shellyreuben.com/" www.shellyreuben.com.  Link to David M. Kinchen's reviews of her novels "The Skirt Man" and "Tabula Rasa":  HYPERLINK "http://www.huntingtonnews.net/columns/060605-kinchen-review.html" \o "http://www.huntingtonnews.net/columns/060605-kinchen-review.html" http://www.huntingtonnews.net/columns/060605-kinchen-review.html


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