The Queen and the Mouse
At last, one evening, as the Queen sat at her spinning-wheel -- for she was made to work day and night -- she saw a tiny, pretty little mouse creep out of a hole. She said to the mouse, "Alas, little creature! Why are you coming here? I have only three peas each each day, so unless you wish to starve I'm afraid you must go elsewhere for your food."
But the mouse ran hither and thither, and danced and twirled so prettily, that the Queen clapped and laughed with joy and at last gave the mouse her last pea, which she was keeping for her supper, saying, "Here, little one. I'm sorry I've nothing better to offer you, as your fine dancing deserves far more than this wrinkled little pea."
She had hardly spoken when upon the table appeared a succulent roast partridge and two dishes of preserved fruit. Amazed she was! Quickly she mashed a portion of the meat and fruit and spoon fed her baby, who licked each spoonful with glee. Then the Queen ate with great satisfaction herself, and offered what was left to the little mouse. The mouse danced even more charmingly than ever before. The next morning the jailer brought the Queen and the Princess' daily allowance of three peas each, which he brought in upon a large dish to make them look even smaller. As soon as the jailer left, the Queen gave the mouse all three of her peas.
The empty dish was instantly covered with all sorts of wonderful things to eat, and the Queen shared a feast with her daughter once again. But afterwards, as she sat at her spinning-wheel, she began to worry that the fine meals could end any time, and even if they didn't, that her precious daughter was doomed to live as a prisoner, only to be forced to marry that horrid prince when she grew up. The Queen despaired, "Oh! If only I could think of some way of saving her!"
As she spoke, she noticed the little mouse playing in a corner with some long straws. The Queen began to braid the straws, thinking, "If I had but enough straws I could make a basket with them, and let my baby down in the basket from the window to any kind passerby who might take care of her and raise her in freedom.
The Golden Duck: The Story of Prince Raduz and the Faithful Ludmila
Category: Czechoslovak folktale
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