Juliet Or The Little White Mouse
: The Old-fashioned Fairy Book
Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who loved each other so
dearly that they were an example to all the married couples in their
kingdom. In an adjoining country lived a wicked king, who spent his life
in envying the happiness of his neighbors. He was a sworn enemy to all
good and charitable people, and his chosen companions were robbers and
murderers. His air was stern and forbidding. He was lean and withered,
dressed always in black, and his hair hung in long elf-locks over his
fiery eyes. This wicked wretch, determined to end the happiness of his
neighbor, raised an immense army and marched to attack the kingdom of
the Land of Sweet Content, for so the good king's country was called.
The king of Sweet Content made a brave defence, but it was all in vain.
The immense numbers of the adversary overpowered him and his troops.
One day when his poor queen was sitting with her infant daughter in her
arms, waiting for news from the battle-field, a messenger on horseback
galloped up to the door, and entered the room where she was, with every
sign of terror.
"Oh! madam," he cried, "all is lost. The king is slain, the army
defeated, and the ferocious King Grimgouger is even now marching to take
The queen fell senseless on the floor; and while her attendants were
making every effort to provide a means of flight for her and the little
princess, the army of the foe, with banners flying and with music
playing, marched into the city. Surrounding the palace, they called on
the queen to surrender. No answer was given, and the horrid King
Grimgouger instantly ordered a file of his most blood-thirsty soldiers
to march through the palace and to kill everybody they met, except the
queen and princess.
Now nothing was heard but shrieks and lamentations from the doomed
attendants of the queen. When all were sacrificed, the tyrant Grimgouger
walked into the apartment where the terrified queen stood, clasping her
child in her arms, and prepared for death.
"You won't die now, madam," he thundered, seizing her by the long hair,
and dragging her after him down the stairs and over the stones of the
courtyard to his chariot. She was all bruised and bleeding, and knew
nothing more till she found herself in a tower-room, where dampness
dripped from the walls, and the light of day could scarcely reach
through a small grated window. She lay upon a little heap of mouldy
straw, and her child cried for food beside her, while over her stood a
wicked fairy to whom King Grimgouger had given the prisoners in charge.
The fairy threw her a few crusts without any butter on them, and the
baby seized one eagerly, and stopped crying as she sucked it.
"That is all either of you shall have to-day," said the fairy.
"To-morrow they will decide what to do with you. Probably you, queen,
will be hanged, and your daughter be saved to marry the son of our good
"What! That ugly little reptile of a prince!" screamed the queen. "Hang
me, if you will, but don't give my beautiful angel to a husband like
"Then she, too, will be hanged," said the fairy, grinning maliciously,
and flying away with a fizz of flame, leaving behind her the smell of
Next day the fairy gave the queen three boiled peas, and a small bit of
black bread, and the next, and the next, until the poor queen wasted to
skin and bone, and the baby looked like a wax doll that had been left
out in the rain all night.
"In a few days it will be over," thought the poor queen. "We shall be
starved to death."
She fell to spinning with what strength remained to her (for the fairy
made her work, to pay her board, she said), and just then she saw,
entering at a small hole, a pretty little mouse as white as snow.
"Ah! pretty creature," cried the queen, "you have come to a poor place
for food. I have only three peas, which are to last me and my child all
day. Begone, if you, too, would not starve."
The little mouse ran about, here and there, skipping so like a little
monkey that the baby smiled, and gave it the pea she had for her
The instant she had fed the mouse, what was the queen's surprise to see,
start out of the prison floor, a neat little table, covered with a white
cloth, having on it silver dishes, containing a roast partridge, a
lovely cake, some raspberry jam, and for the baby a big bowl of fresh
bread and milk, with a silver spoon! How they did eat! I leave you to
Next day the mouse came again, and devoured the queen's three peas, her
whole day's supply. The queen sighed, for she did not know where
anything else was to come from. She stroked the little mouse, and said
gently, "Pretty creature, you are welcome." Immediately the same little
table sprang up out of the floor. This time there was broiled chicken
and ice-cream, green peas, marsh-mallows and custard, with a fresh bowl
of bread and milk for the baby. "Oh! you dear little mouse," said the
queen. "This must be your work! If you could only help me to get my baby
out of this dreadful place, I would thank you forever."
The mouse ran up to her with some straws in its mouth. This gave the
queen an idea, and taking them she began to weave a basket, for she was
a clever queen, and knew how to use her pretty white hands in a variety
of useful ways. The mouse understood her, and brought her more straws,
until she had made a nice covered basket large enough to hold the baby.
Then the queen cut her petticoat into strips, and plaited them, till she
had a long and strong cord. She tied the basket to this, and wrapping
the beautiful little smiling princess in the only covering she had, laid
her in the basket, crying all the time as if her heart would break. Then
she climbed up to the window, and (the little white mouse watching her
with a very friendly air) looked down to see if she could attract the
attention of any charitable person who might be passing in the street
There she saw an old woman leaning upon a stick and looking up at her.
"Pray, goody," said the queen, "have pity on an innocent babe, and save
it from destruction. Feed and nurse her, and heaven will reward you, if
"I don't want money," said the old woman; "but I am very nice in my
eating, and I have a positive longing for a nice, little, fat, white
mouse. If you can find such an one in your prison, kill it and throw it
out to me. Then, right willingly, will I take your pretty babe and nurse
When the queen heard this, she exclaimed to herself, "Oh! the dreadful
old thing!" and began to cry. "There is only one mouse here, madam," she
said aloud, "and that is so pretty and engaging that I can't find it in
my heart to kill it, even to save my child."
"Hoity-toity!" said the angry old creature, thumping her stick on the
ground below. "If you think more of a miserable little mouse than of
your child, keep them both, and be hanged to you!"
So saying, her staff changed to a broom-stick, and with a fizz and a
bang the old hag shot up into the sky like a rocket. And there was again
a strong smell of sulphur matches in the air!
The queen, seeing that this was, without doubt, the wicked fairy come to
try her, gave way to new grief. She kissed her hapless little one, and
just then the mouse jumped into the basket. The baby's rough clothes
changed to finest linen and lace, and a pillow of down was under her
head, while a gay silver rattle was put into her hand.
More surprises! As the queen watched, the mouse's paws changed to tiny
hands with jewelled rings upon them. The little face grew into the image
of a smiling old woman's, and a figure of a pretty old-time fairy stood
before her. As these fairies have been rather out of fashion lately, I
will tell you just how she was dressed. She wore a chintz gown, looped
up over a blue silk quilted petticoat. A lace ruff was around her
throat, and her long-pointed bodice was laced with silver. Over her
mob-cap she had a high sugar-loaf hat tied on with pink ribbons, and her
feet were clad in the prettiest black silk stockings and high-heeled
black satin slippers, with big diamond buckles. When you remember that
she was just of a size with the baby princess, you will agree that you
would have liked to see her.
"What is the baby's name?" said the fairy.
"Oh--Juliet; I thought I had mentioned it," said the queen,
"I have never heard anything but 'pecious wecious,' and 'mother's
blessing,' and things like that," said the fairy. "You may stop crying
now, for I will save Juliet. If you had given me to the wicked fairy,
she would have gobbled me up in a minute, so you see I owe my life to
you. Henceforth I will take Juliet under my protection. She shall live
to be an hundred years old, and never have an illness or a wrinkle."
Fancy it, children! No mumps, no measles, no whooping-cough, no
castor-oil! What rapture in the thought!
The queen kissed the fairy's little hand, and begged that Juliet should
at once be taken away. So the weeping princess was put into the basket,
and carefully let down to the bottom of the tower. Then the fairy
resumed the shape of a mouse and ran after her down the string, which
the queen still held in her hands. Suddenly she came running back again.
"Alas! alas!" she cried to the terrified queen, "our enemy, the fairy
Cancaline, was hidden below, and seized upon the child, and flew away
with it. Unfortunately she is older and more powerful than I am, and I
don't know how to rescue Juliet from her hands."
At these words the queen uttered a loud cry, and in came running the
jailer of the tower, his men, some soldiers, and after them, gnashing
his teeth with rage, the horrid Grimgouger himself.
"Where is the child?" he said, stamping.
"Alas, I know not, king," said the mother. "A fairy has taken it off."
"Then you shall be hanged at once," he cried in a fury. "Seize her,
They dragged the poor queen by the hair of her head to the gallows. Just
as the executioner was about to tie the rope around her neck, the
gallows fell down beneath him and knocked out all his front teeth, while
invisible hands carried the queen through the air to a safe retreat in
the mountains. She found herself in a beautiful castle, where all her
attendants were white mice. Here the queen lived for eighteen years,
surrounded by luxury and tender care. But she always thought of her
little daughter, and dreamed of her by day and night. The mouse fairy
made every attempt to find news of the lost princess, but failed to do
At this period the son of the wicked King Grimgouger had grown up, and
everybody was talking about his strange fancy for a poultry-woman's
maid-servant, who had refused to marry him in spite of his rank and fine
clothes. The story went that the prince sent her, every day, a new gown
of silk or velvet, and that the girl would not look at them. So the
little white mouse fairy determined, through curiosity, to have a peep
at this strange damsel. Accordingly she visited King Grimgouger's
capital, and entering the poultry-yard found there an extremely
beautiful young creature dressed in a coarse woollen gown, with her feet
bare, and a cap of goat-skin on her head. Lying by her side were
magnificent dresses, embroidered with gold and silver and ornamented
with precious stones; the turkeys and other fowls that surrounded her
trampled on them and spoiled them. The poultry-girl sat upon a stone in
the yard when the king's son arrived; he was crooked, and hump-backed,
and horrible to look upon.
"Do you still refuse to marry me, fair maiden?" he asked. "If so, I
shall have you put to death immediately."
"I am not afraid of you, prince," the girl replied, modestly. "I
certainly should prefer death to marriage with you. And I like the
society of my chickens and turkeys better than yours, if it please your
The prince went off in a rage, and the mouse fairy appeared, in her real
shape as a little old lady.
"Good-day, fair damsel," she said. "I respect you and admire you--let me
be your friend."
"Willingly, good madam," said the girl. "I am greatly in need of
friends, as you may see."
"Have you, then, no father or mother, my child?"
"None, madam; I am an orphan, and this poultry-yard is my refuge from
the cruelty of the only protector I have ever known. The fairy
Cancaline, who had charge of me, used to beat me until I was nearly
killed. Weary of suffering I ran away from her at last; and while
wandering in a wood I met the prince, who promised to befriend me, and
placed me here as poultry-girl. Alas! now that I find he is in love with
me, I must leave this place, and where to go I know not."
"And what is your name, my dear?" asked the mouse fairy, affectionately.
"Then, kiss me, my dear; I knew you before you knew yourself," the fairy
cried, joyfully. "I am delighted to see you so sensible. But your
complexion is a little dark. Bathe in yonder fountain. And you should be
better dressed. Put on one of these dresses, and then let me see you."
The girl obeyed. On taking off her cap of goat-skin her long golden
curls fell nearly to her knees. After bathing in the fountain she
revealed a complexion more bright and transparent than the choicest
pearls of India. Roses bloomed in her cheeks, and her eyes shone like
the brightest diamonds. Her figure was light and graceful as a young
fir-tree. The fairy gazed at her in wonder and delight. Her next thought
was to restore the lost child to her mother.
"Stay here one moment," she said, "while I fly back to your mother, and
prepare her for this happiness, lest she should die of joy."
The son of the wicked King Grimgouger went back to his father, and cried
and groaned dreadfully. His boo-hoo might have been heard for miles, and
the king naturally desired to stop it.
"What in the world are you roaring about?" asked the father.
"I'll roar as much as I like," said the spoiled prince. "If I can't
marry the poultry-girl, I'll roar for a week without stopping."
"Good gracious!" cried the alarmed king; "guards, go and fetch her here
The guards went to the poultry-yard, and found the princess Juliet,
dressed in gorgeous attire, and looking more beautiful than the new
"Whom do you seek, my good men?" she said in a soft voice.
"Madam," they answered humbly, "we are looking for a vile creature named
Juliet; but you would never have stooped to notice her."
"I am she," the princess said, proudly.
Upon this the guards seized her, bound her hands and feet, and roughly
carried her into the presence of the king.
"So you won't have my son, miss," shouted the king. "Don't love him,
hey? Stuff and nonsense! Love! Gammon and spinach! Marry him at once, or
I'll have you flayed alive! Here, you rascal (addressing his son, who
had now roared himself quite black in the face), stop that racket, for
goodness' sake, or you'll split my head."
But the princess held out firmly. They sent for a chaplain, but the
princess said "no," instead of "yes," and when they shook her till she
couldn't utter a syllable, she nodded her head from side to side. So,
finding it quite a hopeless matter, the king ordered the prince put to
bed with ice upon his head, and the princess to be shut up for life in a
high tower, where she would never more see the light of day.
At this moment the good mouse fairy returned in her flying chariot, and
with her was the queen mother, who was almost crazy with delight at the
prospect of embracing her child. When they heard the sad fate of Juliet,
the queen wrung her hands in agony; but the fairy bade her cheer up, as
she would find a way to help the captive.
King Grimgouger had gone to bed in a rage, and the little white mouse
ran up on his pillow. First she bit one ear, and made him turn over in
his sleep. Then she bit the other, and made him turn back again. Now the
king woke up, and howled for his attendants. They came running in, and
while they sought to stanch the blood that flowed from his royal ears,
the little white mouse ran to the chamber of the sleeping prince, and
served him exactly the same way. The prince, who, to the great relief of
the household, had fallen asleep in the very act of crying, now woke up
and began again, this time with a vengeance.
"Confound that fellow, he's at it again," said the king, smarting from
his wounds. "Stop him, somebody; and get me the court-plaster, and the
arnica, and the Pond's extract, and the chloroform; and send for all the
While the attendants ran hither and thither the mouse returned to visit
the king. She bit his nose, and bit his toes, and bit his fingers; and
when he opened his mouth to scold and yell, she bit a piece of his
tongue off, so that he could not articulate, but could only make absurd
mouthings, at which everybody wanted to laugh, yet dared not.
Then she ran back to the prince, and ate out both of his eyes, which
sent him flying out of bed. He seized his sword, and ran storming and
swearing into the apartment of his father, who, on his side, had taken a
sword, and vowed to kill everybody around him if they did not catch the
mouse who had done this mischief.
The prince could not understand what his father said, and as he was
blind, attacked the king furiously. The king made a violent cut back at
him, and in ten minutes they were in the thick of an awful fight, which
ended in both being mortally wounded at exactly the same moment. Seeing
them fall, their attendants, who hated the wicked tyrants, made haste to
tie them hands and feet, and tumbled them into the swiftly flowing
Thus ended the horrible King Grimgouger and his son. The good fairy now
took her own shape, and, leading the queen by the hand, opened the door
of the tower where Juliet was confined. Juliet flew into her mother's
arms, and all was happiness.
The kingdom of Grimgouger and that of Sweet Content, which he had joined
to his, were now without a sovereign, and the people, by universal
consent, chose Juliet to reign over them. Juliet became their queen, and
in due time married a young king, who was rich and handsome, and wise
and witty, and brave and modest--all that a young husband ought to be.
The little white mouse continued to be their chief friend and