Morley Mouse
& the Haunted Tree

Knock, knock!

Morley Mouse tumbled out of his snug little bed and stumbled sleepily to the door. He swung the door of his cosy little house open wide and stared out into the darkness. 'Who's there?' he called out.

No one answered. He heard only the wind in the trees. Morley rubbed his eyes. Four times tonight a knock on the door had awakened him. Four times he had gotten up out of bed to see who it was. Four times he had called out, 'Who's there?' And still no one answered.

Poor Morley. He was so tired. He shut the door and stumbled back to bed again. For three nights his sleep had been disturbed by the knocks on his door. But no one was ever there.

Morley yawned and snuggled down into his warm little moused-sized bed. He pulled his soft little mouse-sized pillow on top of his head. Maybe now he wouldn't hear the knocks. Maybe now he could get some sleep.

When Morley woke the next time his big mouse ears listened hard. All he heard was the singing of the birds and chirping of crickets. He got out of bed. He yawned and he stretched. Then he went to the door and opened it.

The sun was shining. The air was cool. It was time to start gathering his winter food supply. It was going to be a busy day for a very tired little mouse.

When Morley's friend, Roger Raven, flew down to the Cranberry Patch later that morning, he saw something funny. Morley was fast asleep. Right in the middle of the berries. Poor Morley. He was so tired.

'Wake up, Morley,' Roger called.

Morley opened his eyes. 'Hi, Roger.'

'Why are you sleeping in the berries?' Roger asked.

'Someone keeps waking me up at night,' Morley said. Then he told Roger all about the knocking on his door.

'You were probably dreaming,' said Roger. 'Next time, just turn over and go back to sleep.'

'I'll try it,' Morley said. 'Thank you, Roger.' Then he gathered up his berries and went home.

On his next trip, Morley went to gather hazelnuts. It was a long walk for his short little mouse legs. He sat down beside the tree to rest. Soon he was snoring. Poor Morley. He was just so tired.

'Morley Mouse!'

Morley scrambled to his feet.

Susie Squirrel was not pleased. 'Your snoring disturbed my midday nap' she scolded. 'What's wrong with you?'

'Sorry, Susie. I haven't had much sleep lately.' And Morley told Susie all about his night time problems.

'It could be a tree branch blowing against the door' said Susie. 'Look around for broken branches'

'Thanks, Susie. I'll check it out,' Morley said. He filled his little pack with hazelnuts and went home.

After lunch Morley went to look for clover. He knew where lots of clover grew. Right next to the Lily Pond. The pretty pink and white flowers tasted so sweet and they smelled so nice too. Morley lay down among the clover. He closed his eyes and sniffed. Soon he was fast asleep. Poor Morley. He was so tired.

'Wake up, mouse. You can't sleep here.'

'Oh dear,' Morley said. He sat up and rubbed his eyes. 'Hello, Mrs. Mallard.'

'Is something wrong with you?' asked Mrs. Mallard.

'Just sleepy,' Morley said. He told Mrs. Mallard all about his sleeping troubles. She was always so nice to talk to.

'Your imagination is playing tricks on you. Just ignore it and it will go away,' Mrs Mallard said. Her four ducklings nodded their downy heads.

'I'll try,' Morley said. 'Thank you, Mrs. Mallard.' He filled two bags, one with pink clover and one with white clover. Then he went home.

The last thing Morley wanted was some fresh leaves to line his bed. Red and orange and yellow maple leaves would really look nice. They were easy to find and not far away.

When he had scraped up a nice pile of leaves, he sat down beside them to rest for a minute. Seconds later he was asleep. Poor Morley. He was so tired he could sleep anywhere.

'Hey, Mouse! Get away from my door!'

Morley jumped up. It was Grumpy Groundhog. Morley's pile of leaves was blocking the groundhog's doorway. 'Sorry,' Morley mumbled.

'Can't you see?' grumbled Grumpy. 'What's wrong with you anyway?'

'I said I'm sorry,' Morley squeaked. Then he told Grumpy why he was so tired and sleepy.

'You have a ghost, that's what you do,' said Grumpy. 'Your tree is haunted, so it is.'

'A ghost? What can I do about it?' Morley squeaked. He did not want to share his tree with a ghost. He was afraid of ghosts and things that go bump in the night.

'Talk to Wise Old Owl,' said Grumpy. 'Now go away and leave me alone.'

Morley grabbed his leaves and ran off as fast as he could to. He didn't stop until he was safely home. He wasn't going to visit any owl, no matter how wise he might be. Owls eat mice!

He would just have to learn to live with the knocking, whatever it was. He went outside to check for broken branches but there were none. Then he heard something.

'Knock-knock. Knock-knock.' It wasn't on the door at all. Morley looked up. 'So you're the one who's doing all the knocking,' Morley said, feeling much better about the whole thing.

'I say. I am sorry. I didn't know anyone lived here. My name is Willy,' said a young woodpecker. He flew down closer to Morley.

'I'm Morley. I live here,' Morley said.

'I guess I'll just have to look for another tree,' said Willy. 'It's hard to find one that no one lives in.'

'This one is big enough for both of us, now that I know it isn't haunted,' Morley said.

'Gee, thanks,' said Willy. 'I kind of like this old tree.'

'So do I,' said Morley. 'It's a nice tree to live in.'

© 2002, Fay Herridge
Published in Canadian Stories, Jun/Jul 2003

Tales of Morley Mouse

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