It was time for Little Mouse to take his first trip out into the world and he was excited, but a bit nervous too.

“Don’t stay out too long,” said Mr and Mrs Mouse, fussing over him. “Be quick and be careful – and be cautious about who you talk to.”

Little Mouse nodded and peeped out of the hole. The farm looked big and scary, but it was time to be brave.

“Bye, Mummy! Bye, Daddy!” he squeaked. He scampered out of the hole and didn’t look back. Mr and Mrs Mouse scurried up and down waiting for him, their whiskers twitching trying to sense trouble.

After a long wait, Little Mouse darted through the hole.

“How was it, son?” asked Mr Mouse.

“Oh, it was brilliant!” said Little Mouse, beaming. “But it was a bit scary too.”

“Why?” fussed Mrs Mouse. “What happened to you?”

“Well, when I was exploring, I saw two strange creatures. The first one was horrible. I think it was a monster. It had two spindly, scaly legs with deadly claws, which scratched at the ground. It kept beating its arms against it sides and, worst of all, it had blood-red flesh on its head and dangling from its face. When I came close, it snapped its sharp pointed mouth at me. I was so scared!”

Little Mouse shook and Mr and Mrs Mouse hugged him.

“But the other creature seemed nice,” said Little Mouse. “It had soft, velvety fur and a pretty face. When it saw me, its bright eyes lit up and it curled and flicked its long, elegant tail like it was waving at me. I’m sure it smiled too. I think it wanted to make friends with me, but the monster made a terrible, high-pitched sound. I was sure it was going to hurt me, so I ran for my life. Next time, I’ll go and make friends with the furry creature. It looked so kind and friendly!”

Mr and Mrs Mouse looked at each other and smiled.

“My dear son,” said Mr Mouse, “the kind and gentle creature you mentioned is Smudge, the farmer’s cat. She might look nice, but she is our greatest enemy. Cats and mice will never be friends and you must always avoid them.”

“As for your monster,” added Mrs Mouse, “that was Feathers, our friendly farmyard cockerel. Feathers would never harm a mouse. In fact, Feathers probably made that terrible sound to scare away the cat and save you from harm. You are very lucky to be alive. We must thank him later.”

Little Mouse gulped when he heard the news.

“That is why,” said Mr and Mrs Mouse together, “you should never judge someone by their appearance.”

Little Mouse remembered this on his next trip into the big wide world – and he never went near Smudge the cat again.

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