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Marvin Mouse Goes To College

The first hint that something unusual was going on at State College came in the library. One morning, three books were found in a neat pile in the middle of the floor. One was a collection of pictures of the great museums of the world. Another was a history of the movies. The third was a book about the stock market. And the corners of the pages of all three books had been nibbled off.

"Mice! " sniffed the librarian, "I'll bet some of Professor Bumbly's mice are loose again." She was only partly right. It was a mouse who had chewed the pages, but he did not come from the College.

Marvin Mouse had been born in a little antique shop. He was just an ordinary mouse until one night, when he accidentally rubbed against an old oil lamp on a shelf. A genie popped out of the lamp and called Marvin his master. He saved Marvin from a cat and gave Marvin the power of speech. Soon Marvin set out with his genie to see the world and make his fortune. His first stop was the library, to learn more about what he could do. He read all night. Early that morning, he curled up behind a filing cabinet to take a nap. He awoke to hear the librarian's voice, talking about Professor Bumbly's mice.

Quickly Marvin rubbed his magic lamp. As soon as the genie appeared, the mouse told him, "Take me to Professor Bumbly's laboratory."

"It is done, Master," said the genie. And in an instant the lamp, with Marvin perched on top of it, was sitting on a shelf in the lab, next to some bottles and flasks.

Marvin sniffed about curiously. Soon he found the mouse cages at the end of the table. Only one had a mouse in it. She had shining white fur and eyes like rubies.

"You're beautiful!" Marvin cried. "Would you like to come with me and see the world?" But the mouse just stared at him with her ruby eyes and said nothing at all.

"Of course!" thought Marvin, and raced back to his lamp on the shelf. Rubbing it quickly, he told his genie. "Make that mouse talk, too."

As soon as the genie touched the white mouse with his fingertip, she burst into excited words. "How wonderful it is! I can talk! I feel so intelligent! Professor Bumbly's latest formula must have worked!"

She told Marvin how the Professor had been trying to develop a drug to make people smarter. He tried out all his formulas on mice like her. Every day his assistant Oscar had her try to run through a maze. But she never got any smarter until today.

"Shh!" she hissed. "Here comes Oscar now. You'd better hide! There aren't supposed to be any wild mice in here."

Marvin ducked behind a bottle as Oscar came in whistling. The Professor's assistant opened the cage, picked up the white mouse, and carried her over to a maze box. Before he could even start his stop watch, the mouse had run through the maze without a single mistake. "That's amazing!" said Oscar. "She never did that before."

"Of course," said the mouse. "I'm so much smarter now."

"She talks!" Oscar shrieked. He picked up the mouse, and raced into Professor Bumbly's office, yelling, "It worked, Professor! You found it this time!"

The professor was amazed. Feverishly he thumbed his notebook. "Ah, yes, Formula 976," he said. "That was the one I poured the tea into by mistake. Get the water boiling, Oscar. We must reproduce this exactly."

While Oscar set the flask on the burner, Professor Bumbly called the Chairman's office. He asked for a special staff meeting, to show off his new discovery.

That afternoon, a group of wide-eyed professors watched while the talking white mouse ran through her maze. "Isn't Professor Bumbly wonderful?" she told them. "His new formula has made me as smart as a human being."

(Marvin Mouse, sitting behind a bottle on the shelf, laughed to himself.)

"Can you repeat the experiment?" asked one of the scientists.

Oscar handed Professor Bumbly the flask with the new batch of Formula 976. The professor injected the formula into six more mice. After a few minutes, he placed one of them into the maze. It sat down and began to wash its paws.

"Show them how smart you are now," the first white mouse urged. But the new mouse did not say anything.

"Oscar," said the Professor, "are you sure you left that tea bag in the flask for exactly three minutes?" The group of scientists began to laugh.

"You mustn't laugh!" cried the white mouse. "Professor Bumbly is a great scientist!" Tears rolled down into her whiskers. "Can't somebody show them the formula really worked?" she cried.

Marvin scampered along the shelf behind the bottles. He rubbed his lamp and whispered instructions to his genie. Suddenly all six mice began to sing. The scientists gathered closer to look at them. None of them noticed the swirl of smoke as the genie gathered up Marvin and the white mouse and vanished from the lab.


©1973, 2013 The Silversteins