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The Queen and the Mouse

"Why," said the Queen, "There is only one mouse in this garret, and that is such a dear, sweet little thing that I cannot bear to think of its being killed."

"What!" cried the old woman, in a rage. "You care more for a miserable mouse than for your very own baby? Good-bye, madam! I leave you to enjoy its company. For my own part I thank my stars that I can get plenty of mice without troubling the likes of you!"

That night when the Queen's baby was fast asleep, she packed it into the basket and wrote on a slip of paper, "Here is my beloved but unfortunate little baby girl. Please raise her with tenderness and love." This she pinned to the baby's robe. Very sadly she shut the basket. Just then, in sprang the little mouse.

"Ah, little one!" said the Queen. "It cost me dear today to save your life." Whereupon the Queen collapsed and cried her heart out.

The Mouse answered, "Believe me, madam, you will never regret your kindness."

The Queen was immensely astonished when the Mouse began to speak, and still more so when she saw its little sharp nose turn to a beautiful face, and its paws become hands and feet. Then it suddenly grew tall, and the Queen recognized the Fairy who had come up to her tower room with the wicked King to visit her.

The Fairy smiled at her astonished look, and said, "I wanted to see if you were capable of real friendship before I extended myself to help you. You see, we fairies are rich in everything but friends, and real friends are hard to find."

"It is not possible that you should want for friends, you charming creature," said the Queen, kissing her.

"Yet it is so," said the Fairy. "For so many are only friendly with Fairies for their own advantage, and that I do not count at all. But when you protected the poor little mouse, you could not have known there was anything to be gained by it. To test you I took the form of the old woman whom you talked to from the window and tempted you to forsake your little mouse friend.

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