Mouse on the Rope, 1898

Here’s a local anecdote from 1898, which appeared in the Blantyre newspapers in May that year.

In an old school room, the school bell hung down from a rope from the ceiling. One morning, before lessons and during prayers a boy was seated near the rope and noticed a small mouse climbing down it. The boy thinking he would frighten off the creature instinctively shook the rope, and of course to his horror, the bell rung.

Prayers abruptly ended as the angry schoolmaster shouted, “Come out here, boy!” The boy proceeded out to the classroom floor, pleading with the teacher not to scold him, as he’d seen a mouse. But no mouse was there anymore. Changing tactic, the boy put his hand into his pocket and pulled out some string. In desperation, he held it out to the master and said, “If ye’ll no hit me, ah’ll gie ye aw that!”

“Hold yer tongue”, cried the Schoolmaster angrily. “If you don’t compose 4 lines of poetry in the next 5 minutes, I shall give you the best thrashing of your life.”

The boy shuffled off to his sorrowful task. When the time was up, the Schoolmaster lifted the boy’s slate to see what was written.

“There was ance a wee mouse for want o’ stairs,
Cam’ doon a lang rope to gang to prayers;
an when the prayers were almost ended,
it turned aboot…. and reascended!”

Ai imagines the scene as illustrated.

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