The Tale of Grandfather Mole
Category: Children
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In Farmer Green's garden, most animals know each other and are friendly neighbors. However, there is one resident that is mysteriously strange and hardly ever seen. The Tale of Grandfather Mole is the story of this odd neighbor who lives underground. Read this delightful children's story published in 1920 by acclaimed author Arthur Scott Bailey.

The Tale Of
Grandfather Mole

Arthur Scott Bailey

Grandfather Mole Made a Rush for Mr. Meadow Mouse.Grandfather Mole Made a Rush for Mr. Meadow Mouse.

A Queer Old Person

There was a queer old person that lived in Farmer Green’s garden. Nobody knew exactly how long he had made his home there because his neighbors seldom saw him. He might have been in the garden a whole summer before anybody set eyes on him.

Those that were acquainted with him called him Grandfather Mole. And the reason why his friends didn’t meet him oftener was because he spent most of his time underground. Grandfather Mole’s house was in a mound at one end of the garden. He had made the house himself, for he was a great digger. And Mr. Meadow Mouse often remarked that it had more halls than any other dwelling he had ever seen. He had visited it when Grandfather Mole was away from home, so he knew what it was like.

Some of those halls that Mr. Meadow Mouse mentioned ran right out beneath the surface of the garden. Grandfather Mole had dug them for a certain purpose. Through them he made his way in the darkness, whenever he was hungry (which was most of the time, for he had a huge appetite!). And when he took an underground stroll he was almost sure to find a few angleworms, which furnished most of his meals.

To be sure, he did not despise a grub — if he happened to meet one — nor a cutworm nor a wire-worm.

The wonder of it was that Grandfather Mole ever found anything to eat, for the old gentleman was all but blind. The only good Grandfather Mole’s eyes did him was to let him tell darkness from light. They were so small that his neighbors claimed he hadn’t any at all.

Another odd thing about this odd person was his ears. The neighbors said they couldn’t see them, either. But they were in his head, even if they didn’t show. And Grandfather Mole himself sometimes remarked that he didn’t know how he could have burrowed as he did if he had been forever getting dirt in his eyes and ears. He seemed quite satisfied to be just as he was.

And he used to say that he didn’t know what good eyes were to anyone whether he was under the ground or on top of it!

Liking to dig as he did, he certainly had nothing to complain about. His long nose was as good as a drill. And his front legs were just long enough so that he could reach his large, spade-like feet beyond his nose and throw the dirt back. His fur lay in one direction as easily as in another, never troubling him in the least when he was boring his way through the dry, loose soil of Farmer Green’s garden.

So in spite of what might seem great drawbacks to others, Grandfather Mole was contented with his lot. The only thing he was ever known to grumble about was the scarcity of angleworms.

What the Cat Caught

Everybody knew the cat at Farmer Green’s to be a great hunter. She had long since disposed of the last mouse that was so foolish as to venture inside her home. And being very big, and not at all timid, she had made such a name for herself in the neighborhood that even the rats looked on her as a monster to be avoided.

Now it often happened that this capable cat turned up her nose at the saucer of milk that Farmer Green’s wife set before her with great regularity. And off she would go — sometimes to the barn, sometimes to the fields — to see what she could find that would furnish her both food and a frolic. For she thought it great sport to capture some small creature.

She was crossing the garden early one morning, on her way to the meadow, when she came upon Grandfather Mole. And having no pity for him — in spite of his blindness — she thought there was no sense in going any further for her breakfast. She would enjoy it right there in the garden. But first she would play with Grandfather Mole, before eating. For she was a pleasure-loving dame. She must have her sport, no matter if her breakfast waited.

Grandfather Mole had blundered that morning. Burrowing his way just under the surface of the ground, he had broken through the sun-baked crust of the garden before he knew it. And as he groped about, surprised to find himself in the open, Miss Kitty had pounced upon him.

Grandfather Mole struggled to escape. And his captor let him go, to give herself the pleasure of pouncing upon him again. She knew well enough that he couldn’t get away from her. He could run quite spryly for an old gentleman — it is true. But when he couldn’t see where he was going, of what use was running?

Farmer Green’s cat didn’t know the answer to that question herself. She captured and freed Grandfather Mole several times. And to tell the truth, she couldn’t help wishing he could see, so he could make the game livelier. But she was the sort of cat that believes in making the best of things. And she kept pretending that Grandfather Mole almost got away from her. She would let him run about for a few moments and then she would leap upon him as if she had nearly lost him.

It was great fun for the cat. But Grandfather Mole did not enjoy it in the least. He thought such treatment far from neighborly. And he quite agreed with old Mr. Crow, who had come hurrying up to see what was going on.

“Give him a chance! Give him a chance!” Mr. Crow called to the cat, as he glared down at her from a tree close by.

The cat had been about to spring at Grandfather Mole again when Mr. Crow spoke to her. It was only natural that she should pause and turn her head. And she looked at Mr. Crow none too pleasantly.

“I’ll thank you to mind your own affairs,” she said, and her voice was not nearly so polite as her words. “No gentleman would interrupt a lady at her breakfast,” she added.

Something seemed to amuse Mr. Crow, for he laughed loudly. The cat didn’t know what he was laughing at. And after staring at him a few moments longer she turned her head to look at Grandfather Mole.

It wasn’t more than ten seconds since she had taken her eyes off him. But Grandfather Mole had vanished.

A Breakfast Lost

When Farmer Green’s cat looked around and discovered that Grandfather Mole had disappeared from the garden a puzzled look came over her face. She couldn’t think where he had gone in just a few seconds.

But she knew then why Mr. Crow had laughed. And she was not pleased.

“Where is he?” she asked Mr. Crow. “You interrupted me at my breakfast and now I’ve lost it.”

Mr. Crow was rocking back and forth on his perch, for a joke — on anybody except himself — always delighted him.

Grandfather Mole Escapes From Miss KittyGrandfather Mole Escapes From Miss Kitty

“Grandfather Mole is right here in the garden,” he declared.

“Then he must have hidden beneath a vegetable,” the cat observed.

“I shouldn’t say that, exactly,” Mr. Crow replied.

“How far away is he?” the cat demanded.

“That would be hard to tell,” Mr. Crow answered.

Farmer Green’s cat had never liked Mr. Crow, for no particular reason. And now she certainly had a very special reason for being angry with him.

“It’s all your fault,” she scolded. “If you hadn’t spoken to me I’d never have taken my eyes off Grandfather Mole…. The least you can do,” she added, “is to tell me this instant where Grandfather Mole is.”

“I’ve already told you,” Mr. Crow reminded her. “He’s here in the garden. Find him if you can!”

At that Farmer Green’s cat began to run up and down between the rows of vegetables. But she had no luck at all. So after a while she came back and told Mr. Crow that she didn’t believe him.

“Tut, tut!” said Mr. Crow. “You haven’t looked in the right place.”

“I’ve searched the whole garden!” the cat cried.

“Oh, no!” Mr. Crow exclaimed. “You’ve looked only on top of the ground. If you want to find Grandfather Mole you must look beneath the surface.”

The cat was greatly disappointed when she heard that.

“You don’t mean to say that he went into a hole, do you?” she asked.

“I do,” Mr. Crow declared.

“I don’t see one anywhere,” she said.

“If I had I’d have been more careful how I let him run about.”

“Ah!” said Mr. Crow. “I see you don’t know that Grandfather Mole always carries a hole around with him, wherever he goes. He believes in having one handy, in case of sudden need.”

“I didn’t see it,” the cat told him angrily.

“Of course not!” Mr. Crow agreed. “How could you see a hole until it’s put in a certain place, ready to use?”

Well, the cat was puzzled. Somehow she couldn’t quite understand Mr. Crow’s remarks. And yet there seemed some sense in them, too. But she pretended that she understood, because she didn’t want him to think she was stupid. And without thanking him for his explanation (for she was still angry) she turned and went off towards the meadow.

The whole affair amused Mr. Crow greatly. It kept him in a good humor all that day. And he went about telling everybody how Grandfather Mole had dug himself out of sight in the garden, almost under the cat’s nose.

For that was exactly what had happened.

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