Millie was a harvest mouse. She 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. The nest was round, like a ball, with a little door on the side. Inside, it was lined with the softest thistledown, so it was snug and warm in the winter.
Millie and her mother didn’t have much money, and Millie’s dresses were a little old and worn, but she was happy. In fact, everything would have been fine if it hadn’t been for Matilda.
Matilda was a mouse, just like Millie, only she was rich, and always had the best dresses. Matilda was also very unkind, and teased Millie about her plain clothes and worn shoes.
One Friday, Matilda was especially nasty. An uncle had given her a great big box of expensive sweets, and Matilda was letting some of her classmates have one each: but only those who said how wonderful she was.
Matilda saw Millie come into the classroom.
“Millie’s so mean,” Matilda closed the lid of her box, “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 loved to give presents to everybody. But she didn’t have a lot of expensive things: all she had was a kind heart. Millie walked quietly away: there was nothing she could say.
The next day was Saturday, and Millie was helping Old Mrs. Spider’s with her housework, as she did every weekend.
“You’re very quiet this morning,” Said Mrs. Spider, “Something on your mind?”
“The school’s having a party at the end of term,” Millie replied. “That’s nice,” Said Old Mrs. Spider, “Will you be going to it?”
Millie explained about how the party would probably 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.
“Don’t you worry, my dear,” Said Old Mrs. Spider gently, “You’re a very kind person and that’s what really matters.”
It was the night of the school party, and Millie was getting ready. Suddenly, there was a knock at the door. Millie went to answer it.
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.”
Excitedly, Millie began to unwrap it. Inside, neatly folded, lay a beautiful party dress.
“Oh,” Sighed Millie, “I’ve never ever seen anything so lovely.”
Pale blue, like the sky of spring, and so fine and delicate it seemed to float in the air, the dress was set with tiny jewels that twinkled in the firelight.
“I wove it for you,” Old Mrs. Spider smiled, “As a present for being such a kind person. I hope you have a marvellous party.”
And, with that, Old Mrs. Spider was gone.
When Matilda saw Millie at the party, in the beautiful blue dress, she was so jealous she wanted to scream. She swished swept out of the room in a fury, slamming the door behind her – right on her tail.
“Ow! Ow!! Ooowww!!!” She squealed.
“Oh, poor Matilda,” Gasped Millie.
Millie ran across the room and opened the door gently.
Matilda yanked her tail free and ran off wailing into the night.
Millie felt rather sorry for her.
“Poor Matilda,” She said sympathetically, “That must have really hurt. ”
“Don’t worry about her,” Said Jonathan, “She’ll be quite alright in the morning.”
Jonathan held out his hand.
“Come along,” He said, ” It’s your turn to be the loveliest mouse in the meadow.”
And, for the rest of the evening, Millie had the most wonderful party she could ever remember. She felt so happy she thought she really might burst.