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

you prisoner."

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

King Grimgouger."

"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

sulphur matches.

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

imagine it!

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 cannot."

"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

it carefully."

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.

"Juliet, madam."

"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

at once."

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