A family of mice once lived in a drafty old farmhouse.
“They’re going to set a trap and we’re all going to die!” the oldest mouse squeaked every time someone forgot the rules: no squeaking, don’t leave droppings on the dishes, and never capture the cat’s attention. No one remembered what a trap was any longer, only that it was something terrible people did when they noticed mice.
As the family grew it became more difficult to follow the rules.
“We’ll be safe in this house if we teach the young mice that cheese is forbidden,” the oldest mouse insisted every time the humans shuffled into the kitchen. They’d lived in this farmhouse for decades and had begun to have trouble moving around.
A young mouse asked, “What makes you think there’s any danger? The humans don’t even seem to know we exists.”
“Not yet,” said the oldest mouse. “But the cat can smell us. Why do you think we avoid his territory?”
The young mouse wasn’t sure she believed it was that dangerous and decided to explore the rest of the house. The cat in question was old and docile.
“You’re all going to die!” insisted the oldest mouse as the rest of her nestlings slowly moved out of the kitchen and closer to the radiators. The humans had grown accustomed to leaving dirty plates on the floor and so the wanderers had food and a warm place to sleep during the long winter. Soon she was the only mouse left in the kitchen.
Every week or two the younger mice came to visit. She always made sure they knew how dangerous their lives had become since moving away. Some of her visitors smiled politely and nibbled the stale crackers she provided, others tried to gently reason with her. No one could change her mind, though, and she died at the first flush of spring without any of her warnings coming to pass.