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Perez the mouse.

by Luis Coloma, Translated by Lady Moreton.

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Once upon a time there lived a king called Bubi the First, who was very kind to poor children and mice. For the children he built a factory for making dolls and cardboard horses, for the benefit of the mice he made wise laws to stop cats catching them, and absolutely forbade the use of mouse-traps. Bubi began to reign when he was only six years old, under the care of his mother, who was very good and clever, and who watched over him and guided his steps, as good children are guided by their Guardian Angel. Bubi was a darling little boy, and when on great days they put on his gold crown and his embroidered robes, the gold of his crown was not brighter than his hair nor the ermine of his robes softer than his cheeks and hands. He was just like a little Dresden china figure which had been put to sit on a throne instead of standing on the chimney piece.

One day while the King was eating his bread and milk, one of his teeth began to wobble. There was a great fuss and the Court doctors arrived in a hurry. * They were all agreed that His Majesty had begun to change his teeth, and at length they settled to pull out the loose one. They wanted the King to have laughing gas, as he did when his hair was cut, as he always fidgeted so, but Bubi was a brave little boy and made up his mind to have it out with nothing. The oldest of the Court doctors tied a bit of red silk round the tooth, and then gave a tweak, and he pulled so cleverly that, while the King was making a face, out came the tooth as round and white as a little pearl.

Then there was another fuss as to what was to be done with it, but Bubi's mother, who, as we have said was a very wise Queen and very loyal to old customs, settled that the King should write a very polite letter and put it with the tooth in an envelope under his pillow that night, which has always been the proper thing to do ever since the world began, and no one has ever known Perez the Mouse forget to come and fetch the tooth and leave a lovely present in its place. King Bubi found writing that letter a dreadful task, but he managed really quite well in the end, and only inked all his fingers, the tip of his nose, his left ear, his right shoe and his bib.

He went to bed very early that evening, and ordered that all the lights should be left in his room. He put the envelope under his pillow and sat up in bed, determined to keep awake to see Perez the Mouse, even if he had to wait all night. Perez the Mouse was a long time coming, so the little King began to make up a little speech to say to him when he did arrive. After a bit Bubi began to open his eyes very wide, fighting against the miller who was trying to make him shut them; but they did shut at last, and the little boy slipped down into the warm bed-clothes, his head on the pillow, with one arm over it, as a little bird tucks its head under its wing when it goes to sleep.


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