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Perez the mouse.
Start of Story
The sloping roof joined the floor, so that on one side a man
could not have stood upright, and through the holes the cold air
of dawn was coming, while icicles hung from the roof. The only
furniture besides the chair was an empty bread basket hanging
up, and in a corner a bed of straw and rags, on which little
Giles and his mother were lying fast asleep.
Perez the Mouse drew nearer, taking the King by the paw, and
they could see how little Giles was huddled up in the rags, and
how he was cuddled up against his mother for warmth, and it made
the King so unhappy that he began to cry.
Why had he never known that people were so poor? How was it that
he had never been told that children were hungry and had to
sleep on horrid beds? He did not want any blankets on his cot
till every child in his kingdom had plenty of bed-clothes to
keep them warm.
Perez the Mouse brushed away a tear with his paw and then tried
to comfort the King by showing him the bright gold coin he was
going to put under little Giles' pillow in exchange for his
Just then Giles' mother woke and sat up in bed and looked at her
little boy, who was still asleep. It was becoming light, and she
had to earn some money by washing clothes in the river. * She
caught the sleeping Giles in her arms and made him kneel down
under a picture of the Infant Christ which was pinned to the
wall near the bed.
The King and Perez the Mouse knelt down too, and so did the
soldier mice who were waiting in the empty bread basket. The
child began to pray, 'Our Father which art in Heaven.'
Bubi started and looked at Perez the Mouse, who understood his
astonishment, and fixed his piercing eyes on him, but never said
a single word.
On the return journey they were silent and preoccupied, and half
an hour later the King was home in his nursery with Perez the
Mouse, who again put the tip of his tail into Bubi's nose and
made him sneeze. All at once he found himself safely back again
in his own warm little cot, with the Queen's arms round him, who
woke him, as she always did, with a kiss.
At first he thought it had all been a dream; but when he looked
for the letter he had put under his pillow, he found it was
gone, and in its place was a case with the Order of the Golden
Fleece in diamonds, a magnificent present from the generous
Perez the Mouse in exchange for his first tooth. (Perhaps I had
better explain to English children that in King Bubi's country
the Order of the Golden Fleece is like our Order of the Garter,
the greatest honour the King can give.)
The little King, however, paid no attention to his beautiful
present, and let it lie unnoticed on the bed, while, leaning on
his elbow, he lay very busy thinking. * Then, suddenly, he
asked the Queen in a very solemn voice, 'Mama! Why do poor
children say the same prayer as I do, "Our Father which art
in Heaven"?' The Queen answered, 'Because He is as much their
Father as He is yours.' Then said the King thoughtfully, 'We
must be brothers.' 'Yes, my darling, they are your brothers,'
answered the Queen. * Bubi's eyes were filled with astonishment,
and, in a choky voice, he asked, 'Then why am I a King and have
everything I want, while they are poor and have nothing?'