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The Queen and the Mouse

Once upon a time a wicked King invaded a Queen's land, seized the Queen and her infant daughter as prisoners, and shut them both into the highest room of a tall tower. The room was very tiny and empty, with only one table and a very hard bed on the floor. Then the enemy King sent for a fairy who lived near his kingdom. He nearly pushed the Fairy up the stairs to see the Queen. The Fairy was so touched by the sight of the Queen's miserable condition that when she kissed the Queen's hand the Fairy whispered to her, "Courage, madam! I think I see a way to help you."

The Queen whispered her thanks. Then the wicked King cried harshly, "Silence!" He turned to the Fairy. "I brought you here for one reason and one reason only. Tell me this: Is this baby girl destined to grow up to be a worthy bride for my son?"

The Fairy answered that indeed, the Princess was destined to grow up to have every grace good fortune could bestow, that she would be fair, fortunate and in every way worthy of a throne. The old King growled to the Queen that it was lucky for them both that the Fairy had said it would be so. Then the baby would be saved to become the future bride for his son, a spoiled boy already terrorizing the palace with his wild tantrums and mean pranks. The King thundered that if the Fairy had forecast differently, both the baby and her mother would have immediately been hanged. Then he stamped off, taking the Fairy with him, and leaving the poor Queen in tears.

"How can I wish my little daughter to grow up with good graces only to be married to that horrid King's son!" she cried. "And yet, if she were ill-fated we would both be doomed right now. If only I could hide her safely away, somewhere, anywhere! There must be someplace where the cruel King could never find her."

As the days went on, the Queen and the little Princess grew thinner and thinner, for every day their hard-hearted jailer gave them only three boiled peas each to eat and a tiny morsel of black bread, so they were always terribly hungry.

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