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Chris Loew

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My writing and my translation of The Good Little Mouse


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Below is my original translation from the French of La Bonne Petite Souris, believed to be the inspiration for our present Tooth Fairy fable. It was written by Marie-Catherine of Barneville, Baroness of Aulnoy (1650-1705). I translated this by using Google’s language tools and proofreading the subsequent copy. I don’t speak French, yet I think I’ve done a bang-up job!

La Bonne Petite Souris

The Good Little Mouse

Written in the French by Mrs. d' Aulnoy
Translated to American English and edited by Chris Loew
© Chris Loew, 2006



There were a king and queen who loved each other so much that they made each other very happy. Their hearts and minds were always light, and they amused themselves together every day. They hunted hares and deer, they fished for flounder and carp, they hosted balls, danced and had great feasts, and they enjoyed the theater and the opera. They laughed, they sang, they amused themselves in a thousand ways—it was the happiest of all times. Their subjects followed their example and husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends spent their time in joyful amusements. So, the kingdom was known as the Country of Joy, and the king was called King Joyous.

A king living near King Joyous lived completely differently—he hated amusements. He bragged about his wounds and bumps, he had a big beard and hollow eyes, he was thin and serious, and always dressed in black, his hair was rough and greasy and his manners crass. He enjoyed striking and killing passers by. He delighted in hanging the criminals of his country—setting the noose with his own hands. When a good mother loved her small daughter or son, he sent the mother to jail, and in front of her, he broke the child’s arms or twisted its neck. He was so cruel that this kingdom was known as the Country of Tears.

This malicious king intended to satisfy his desire to do evil by attacking King Joyous. He resolved to gather a large army, and drunkenly boasted that he would attack until King Joyous was killed. He sent word to his whole kingdom to gather weapons. He had the gunsmiths make guns. Everyone trembled. No one thought King Joyous had a chance.


When all was ready, this army advanced towards the Country of Joy. When the bad news of the invasion was known, the country was promptly prepared for defense. The queen panicked and cried to her husband, “My Lord, we must flee. Let us take money and cover as much as ground as possible!”

The king answered, “No, I am too brave for that. It would be better to die than to be a coward.” He collected all his men-at-arms, had a tender good-bye with the queen, mounted a beautiful horse, and rode away.

When the queen had lost sight of him, she started to cry pitifully, and joining her hands, she said, “Alas, I am pregnant, and if the king is killed in the war, I will be widowed and a captive, and the malicious king will make me suffer ten-thousand tortures.”

This thought prevented her from eating and sleeping. She wrote every day to her husband, but one morning she looked over the walls and saw a messenger running as fast as he could. She called, “You, messenger, what is the news?”

The messenger exclaimed, “The king has died, the battle is lost, and the malicious king will arrive in a moment.”

The poor queen fainted and was carried to her bed, and all of the women gathered round crying with grief, one for her father, another for her son. They pulled out their hair, and it was a most pitiful sight. That very moment they heard, “Murder them, and throw them in a ditch!” It was the malicious king who arrived with his unhappy subjects. They killed everyone they met.

They entered the house of King Joyous with their weapons, and went up into the room of the queen. When she saw him entering, she was so afraid that she hid in her bed and put the covers over her head. He called to her two or three times, but she did not say a word. He became annoyed, and said, “I believe you are making fun of me. Do you know that I can cut your throat at any time?”


She showed herself and he tore off her crown, and her beautiful long hair fell over her shoulders. The malicious king wrapped her long hair around his hand several times and hoisted her over his shoulder like a bag of wheat. He carried her thus, and put her up on his large horse, which was very black. She begged him to have pity on her, but he laughed and said to her, “Screams, lime pits—that’s what makes me laugh and amuses me.”

He took her through his country, and during the journey he was resolved to hang her, but she said to him that it was a pity because she was pregnant. When he heard that, it occurred to him that if the child were a girl, she could marry his son (because he wanted his son to marry a princess). To learn the gender of the baby, the malicious king sent for a fairy who lived close to his kingdom. When the fairy came, she was carried to a tower, at the top of which the poor queen was confined in a quite small and poorly furnished room. The queen was lying on the ground, on a mattress which was not worth two pennies, where she cried day and night.

Seeing her sad condition, the fairy sympathized with her and whispered, “Take courage, madam, your misfortunes will end—I intend to help you.” These words comforted the queen a little. She gently hugged the fairy and requested her to have pity on a poor princess who had once enjoyed great fortune, which now seemed quite distant.

As they were speaking together, the malicious king said, “Let’s get on with it! Stop with the pleasantries! I led you here to tell me if this slave is large with a boy or a girl.”

The fairy answered, “She carries a girl, who will be most beautiful and learned princess ever seen.” The fairy then flattered the king, wishing him infinite good fortune and honors.

“If she is not beautiful and is not well learned,” said the malicious king, "I will hang her and her mother from the same tree, and nothing can stop me!”

After that, he left with the fairy, and did not look at the good queen, who cried bitterly and said to herself, “Alas! What can I do? If I have a beautiful little girl, the malicious king will give her to his son, and if she is ugly, he will hang us both. In either case, what am I reduced to? Couldn’t I hide her somewhere, so that he never saw her?”

The time when the little princess was to come into the world approached and the concerns of the queen increased—she did not have anybody to whom to complain or to comfort her. The jailer who guarded her gave her only three boiled peas for the whole day, with a small piece of black bread. She became thin as a rail. She was nothing more than skin and bones.

One evening, after the malicious king, who was extremely miserly, had made her work all day, she saw an extremely pretty little mouse, entering her room through a hole. She said to the mouse, “Poor little mouse, what do you seek here? I have only three peas for the whole day. If you do not want to fast, go away.”

The small mouse ran to this side and that, danced, and cavorted like a small monkey.  The queen took such great pleasure in watching it that she gave her the only pea which remained for its supper. “Here,” she said, “I do not have any more, and I give it to you with a good heart.” As soon as she had done that, she saw with wonder on her table an excellent cooked partridge and two pots of jam.

“Truly, a good deed never goes unrepaid,” she said. She ate a little, but her appetite had been reduced by fasting. She tossed some of the food to the mouse, which nibbled it and then started to jump around better than before the supper.

The next morning the jailer brought the queen her three peas early. He had put them in a large dish to make fun of her. The small mouse snuck up quietly, and ate all three, and the bread too. When the queen wanted to eat, she did not find any food and she became annoyed with the mouse. She said, “It is a malicious little animal, and if it continues, I will die of hunger.”

As she went to cover the large empty dish, she found inside all kinds of good things to eat. She was relieved and ate. But while eating, it occurred to her that in two or three days the malicious king might kill her child, and she left the table to cry. Then she said, while raising her eyes to the sky, “What! Is it not possible to somehow run away?”

When she said that, she saw the small mouse, which had been playing with long bits of straw. She took them, and started to work them. “If I had enough straw, she said, I could make a covered basket in which to put my little daughter, and I could pass it through the window to the first charitable person who would care for it.”

She started to work with courage. She picked up every straw; the mouse always carried some into the room where it continued to jump. At mealtimes, the queen gave the mouse her three peas, and found in exchange a hundred kinds of delicacies. She was quite astonished by it, and she thought unceasingly about how the mouse could send her so many excellent things.

One day, the queen looked out of the window, to see how long of a cord she should make, with which to lower the basket. She saw at the bottom a kind little old woman who walked with the aid of a stick, and who said to her, “I know your sorrow, madam. If you want, I will help you.”

The queen replied, “I would be greatly indebted to you if would come every evening to bottom of the tower. I will lower down my poor child in a basket. Please feed it, and I will try, if I am ever rich, to you to pay well.”

“I am not interested in your money,” answered the old woman, “but I am fond of delicacies; there is nothing I like as much as mouse pâté on toast. If you find some mice in your room, kill them and throw them to me; I will not be ungrateful, your baby will be well cared for.”

The queen, on hearing this, started to cry and couldn’t answer; and the old woman, after having waited a little, asked her why she cried. The good queen said, “There’s just one little mouse that comes to my room, and it is so pretty and kind that I cannot kill it.”

The old woman grew angry. “You love a destructive little mouse more than the child that you will have? Very well, madam, you don’t deserve any feeling from me. Remain in such good company. I will have many mice without you, so I am hardly concerned about it,” she went away thundering.

Though the queen had a good meal, and the mouse came to dance in front of it, she never raised her eyes from the ground where she looked, and the tears ran along her cheeks.

This same night, the queen gave birth to a princess, who was a miracle of beauty. Instead of screaming like other newborns, she laughed with her mother, and tightened her small hands around her mother’s fingers, as if she were quite reasonable. The queen cherished her and kissed her with all her heart, thinking sadly, “Poor, sweet, dear child! If you ever fall into the hands of the malicious king, your life is done.” She closed it up it in the basket, with a note attached, where was written: This unfortunate little girl is named Joliette.


When she had left it one moment without looking at it, she opened the basket again, and looked at it; then she kissed it and cried more extremely, not knowing what else to do. But now the small mouse came and jumped into the basket with Joliette. “Ah! Small, small beast,” said the queen. “It was very expensive for me to save your life! Perhaps I will lose my dear Joliette! Anyone else would have killed you, and given you as a delicacy to the old woman; but I could not agree to it.”


The mouse began to speak, “Do not repent it, madam, I am not so unworthy of your friendship as you believe.”

 The queen was shocked to hear the mouse speak, but her fear increased greatly when she saw that its small muzzle took the figure of a face, that its legs became hands and feet, and that it was completely transformed.

Finally, the queen, almost not daring to look at it, recognized it as the fairy who had come to see her with the malicious king, and who had comforted her. The fairy said to the queen: “I wanted to test your heart—I recognize that it is good, and that you are capable of friendship. We fairies, who have immense treasures and riches, seek the softness in life that only comes from friendship, and we seldom find it.”


“Is it possible,” said the beautiful queen while embracing the fairy, “that you who are so rich and so powerful have trouble to find friends?”


“Yes,” the fairy retorted, “because people love us only out of greed, and that hardly touches us; but when you liked me as small mouse, it was not out of greed. I wanted to test you more strongly, so I took the form of an old woman. It was I who spoke to you at the bottom of the tower, and you were always faithful to me.”


At these words the fairy kissed the queen. Then she kissed the little princess three times and said to her, “I endow you to be the consolation of your mother and to be richer than your father, to live 100 years and always remain beautiful, without disease, wrinkles or old age.”


The very charmed queen thanked the fairy, and requested her to carry Joliette away, and to take care of her, adding that she gave Joliette to her to be her daughter.

The fairy accepted and thanked her. She put the small baby in the basket, which she lowered to bottom. Then she stopped a moment to regain the shape of small mouse, but when she went down by the cord, she did not find the child there anymore, and went up again extremely frightened. “All is lost!” she said to the queen. “My enemy Cancaline has just removed the princess! I must tell you that she is a cruel fairy who hates me, and unfortunately, being older than me, she has more powers. I do not know how to recover Joliette from her cruel clutches.”

When the queen heard this sad news, she thought she would die of grief. She cried terribly, and asked her good friend the fairy to try to rescue her, despite the risk. However, the jailer came into the queen’s room and he saw that her belly was not large anymore. He told the king, who ran to demand the child, but the queen said that a fairy, whose name she did not know, had come and taken the baby by force. Here, the malicious king stomped his feet, and ripped out all of his fingernails in anger. “I promised you that I would hang you. I will keep my word presently!” he shouted. He dragged the poor queen to a wood, climbed a tree, and prepared a rope to hang her.


Then, the good fairy made herself invisible and pushed the malicious king strongly, causing him to fall from the tree, and the king broke four teeth. While he was busy checking his broken teeth, the fairy carried the queen away in a magical flying washtub to a beautiful castle.

She took great care of the queen, and if she had had the princess Joliette she would have been content, but no one could discover where Cancaline had put her, although the good fairy, in the form of the small mouse, called out for her everywhere.


Finally, time passed, and the great affliction of the queen decreased. Fifteen years had passed already when they heard that that the son of the malicious king was going to marry one of the peasants who raised turkeys, and that this young girl did not want to marry him. It was quite surprising that a peasant refused to be queen, but the clothes for the wedding were made despite her refusal, and it was to be such a beautiful wedding that people from one hundred miles around came to see it.

The fairy went there in the form of a mouse; she wanted to see the farm maid. She entered the henhouse, and found her, wearing a dress of coarse linen, with an oiled cloth on her head. There were money and gold, clothes, diamonds, pearls, ribbons and laces piled up on the ground. The turkeys shook themselves above and turkey droppings and dirty feathers fell down on the fine things and soiled them. The farm maid sat on a boulder while the son of the malicious king, who was twisted, one-eyed and lame, said to her harshly: “If you refuse me your heart, I will kill you.”


She answered him proudly, “I will not marry you. You are too ugly; you resemble your cruel father. Leave me be with my turkeys; I like them better than all your boasts and threats.”


The small mouse looked at her with admiration, because she was as beautiful as the sun. As soon as the son of the malicious king had left, the fairy took the figure of an old shepherdess, and said to her, “Hello, my dear, your turkeys are in good condition.” The young farm maid looked at this old woman with eyes full with softness, and said to her, “I am being urged to leave them for a malicious crown. What do you advise me?”


“My dear, a crown is extremely beautiful. You do not know the price of them, nor the weight,” said the fairy. “I will never know,” quickly replied the farm maid, “since I refuse to subject myself to it. However, I know not who I am, nor where my father is, nor where my mother is. I am without parents and friends.”


“You have beauty and virtue, my child,” said the wise fairy, “which are worth more than ten kingdoms. Tell me, I ask you—who put you here, since you have neither father nor mother, nor relations, nor friends?”


“A fairy, called Cancaline, is the reason that I came here. She beat me—she struck me for no reason. I fled one day, and not knowing where to go, I stopped in a wood. The son of the malicious king walked there. He asked to me whether I wanted to work in his farmyard and I agreed. I have care of the turkeys. He constantly came to see them, and he saw me too. Alas! Without my wanting it, he came to like me so much and he bothers me all the time.”

The fairy, as she heard this account, started to believe that the farm maid was Joliette, the princess. She said to her, “Will you teach me your name?”


“If you like—I am called Joliette,” she said. At this, the fairy did not doubt any more, and throwing her arms around Joliette’s neck, she hugged her. Then, she said to her, “Joliette, I have known you since a long time ago. I am very happy that you are so wise and well learned; but I would like that you were cleaner, because you look a bit like a whore in these old clothes. Take the beautiful clothes and change into them.”

Joliette obeyed, and at once removed the oiled cloth that she wore on her head, and shaking her head a bit, her fair hair fell down around her shoulders like strands of gold wire. They fell in curls all the way to ground. Then after rubbing her delicate hands in the water of a stream that ran near the henhouse, she cleaned her face, which became as clear as an Oriental pearl. It seemed that a pink glow radiated from her cheeks and mouth, her soft breath was as sweet as wild thyme, she stood with fine posture, in wintertime one might mistake her skin for snow, and in summer for lilies.

When she was dressed in diamonds and beautiful clothes, the fairy regarded her as a wonder and said to her, “You are very brave—who do you believe yourself to be, my dear Joliette?” She replied, “In truth, it seems to me that I am the daughter of some great king.”


“Would you like to live comfortably?” said the fairy, who still kept the form of a shepherdess. “Yes, my good mother,” answered Joliette reverently, “I would like to live comfortably.” The fairy said, “Then, wait here, and I will say some more to you tomorrow.”

The fairy took the form of a mouse again and rode her magic tub to her beautiful castle, where the queen was occupied spinning silk. The small mouse shouted to her, “Madam Queen, do you want to bet your stopper rod and your spindle that I bring the best news to you than you can ever hear?” “Alas!” the queen retorted, “since the death of King Joyous and the loss of my Joliette, I would give all the news of this world for a pin.


“A fat lot you know!” said the fairy. “The princess is alive—I have just seen her. She is so beautiful—so beautiful, that she could only be a princess!” She told the queen the whole tale from one end to another, and the queen cried with joy to know that she had such a beautiful daughter, and with sadness to learn that she was reduced to being a farm maid. “When we were great monarchs in our own kingdom,” she said, “and had great feasts, my poor late husband and I, we would not have believed to see our child as a farm maid.”


“It is cruel Cancaline,” added the fairy, “who, knowing that I love you, did this for spite, but I will soon help Joliette escape from there, or I will die trying. I do not want her to marry the son of the malicious king. Let us arrange her escape tomorrow and bring her here. ”

However, it happened that the son of the malicious king, being completely annoyed with Joliette, sat under a tree, where he cried so extremely that he began howling loudly. His father heard it and stuck his head out of the window and shouted to him, “What do you have to cry about? Why are you howling like a damned animal?” The son answered, “It’s because our farm maid does not want to marry me.”


“What’s this? She refuses to love you?” said the malicious king. “I command that she will either love you or die!” He called his men-at-arms, and said to them, “Get her to consent, or I will do so much harm to her that she will repent her obstinacy.”

The soldiers went to the henhouse, and found Joliette who had on a beautiful white satin dress, all in gold embroidery, with rubies, and more than thousand ells of ribbons everywhere. Never in their lives had they seen so beautiful a girl; they did not dare to speak to her, taking her for a princess. She said to them extremely civilly, “I request that you tell me who you seek here.” They said, “Mademoiselle, we seek a miserable little girl called Joliette.” “Alas! It is me,” she said. “What do you want with me?”


They took her and bound her feet and hands with strong cords, to prevent her from fleeing. They led her in this manner to the malicious king, who was with his son. When he saw how beautiful she was, he could not help but be moved a little. Undoubtedly, it would have made him pity her, if he had not been the most malicious and cruel person in the world.


He said to her, “You tart! You little piece of crap! You refuse to love my son? He is a hundred times more handsome than you; only one of his glances is worth more than your whole person!  Consent to marry him at once or I will skin you alive!”


“The princess, trembling like a small pigeon, sank to her knees before him, and said to him,” Lord, I beg to you not to skin me—that would be too terrible. Leave me one or two days to think, so that I may make up my mind. After that, you may do as you will.”


The son of the malicious king became upset because he wanted Joliette to be skinned. They concluded together to lock her up in a tower where she could see nothing but a few rays of sunlight from a small window above her.

At the window, the good fairy arrived in the flying tub with the queen—they had learned all this news. At once, the queen started to cry bitterly saying that she always ended up unhappy, and that she would prefer that her daughter had died than to have her marry the son of the malicious king. The fairy said to her, “Take courage. I will wear them down, and you will be avenged.”

As the malicious king was about to lie down to sleep for the night, the fairy transformed again into a small mouse and hid on the floor by the side of the bed. As soon the malicious king went to sleep the mouse bit his ear. This annoyed him greatly, and when the king turned his head, the mouse bit his other ear. The malicious king screamed and called his guards. When a guard came, he found the king with two bitten ears, which bled so extremely that nobody could stop the blood. While the mouse was being sought everywhere, it ran and did the same thing to the son of the malicious king, who called his servants and showed them his ears, which all were skinned. One of them put paper and vinegar plasters on his ears.


The small mouse returned to the room of the malicious king, who was resting. It bit his nose and hung on, chewing it. When the king reached his hands up to remove the mouse, it bit and scratched his hands. The king shouted, “Mercy, I am lost!”


Then, the mouse entered the malicious king’s mouth and gnawed his tongue, his lips and his cheeks before jumping out again. A servant ran in, and found the king in such a terrible state that he could almost not speak any more, so badly was his tongue bitten. The king made signs that it was a mouse and the servant searched for it in the straw mattress, at the bedside and in the corners, but it was already gone. It had run to attack the son even worse, and it attacked his good eye and ate it (He was already one-eyed.). The son arose furiously with his sword in his hand—he was blinded. He ran into the room of his father, who on his side had also taken up his sword in a fit of temper and had declared that he would kill all of his servants, if the mouse were not caught.

When his desperate son came in with a sword in his hand, the king thundered at him. The son, with his bandaged ears, did not recognize his father’s voice and attacked him. The malicious king, in anger, gave him a great blow of his sword, and received another from the son. They fell both to the ground, bleeding like stuck pigs. All their subjects, who absolutely hated them, and who served them only out of fear, fearing them no more, tied their feet with cords, and dragged them into the river, saying that they were happy to be free from them. Here, the malicious king died, and his son too.


The good fairy, who observed these events, went to the queen to make a plan. They went to the black tower, where Joliette was imprisoned behind more than forty locks. The fairy struck three times with a small wand on the large door, which magically opened, and the other doors opened in the same way. They found the poor princess quite sad and she did not say a single word. The queen threw her arms around Joliette’s neck. “My dear sweet child!” she said to her, “I am your mother, Queen Joyous.” The queen told the tale of her life to her daughter.


Oh, good God! When Joliette heard the wonderful news, it is a wonder that she did not die of pleasure. She threw herself at the feet of the queen and embraced her knees. She wet the queen’s hands with her tears and kissed them a thousand times. She tenderly hugged the fairy who had carried to her baskets full of priceless jewels, gold and diamonds, bracelets, pearls, and a portrait of King Joyous surrounded with precious stones, which she put in front of Joliette. The fairy said, “There’s no time to waste—it is necessary to make a coup d’état. Let us go to the great hall of the castle and harangue the people.”

The fairy went first, with a serious face, wearing a magnificent robe with a cape that trailed for more than ten ells, and the queen wore a gown of blue velvet, heavily embroidered with gold, which trailed even further. They had brought their beautiful clothes with them and they had crowns on their heads, which were shining like the sun. Princess Joliette followed them with a beauty and modesty worthy of the Savior himself. They politely greeted all those they met on the way, the humble and the great alike. They were followed by a crowd of people, as everyone was extremely eager to know the identity of the beautiful ladies.


When the room was very full, the good fairy said to the subjects of the malicious king, that she wanted to give them for their queen, the daughter of King Joyous whom they saw, and under whom they would live contented. She said that if they accepted her as their monarch that she would seek a perfect husband for her, who would always laugh and who would drive out the melancholy from all of their hearts. At these words, everyone shouted, “Yes! Yes! We want it very much! For too for a long a time we have been sad and miserable.” At that moment hundreds of kinds of instruments began to play on all sides; everyone clasped hands and danced in a circle, singing around Queen Joyous, her daughter and the good fairy, “Yes, yes! We want it very much!”

Here, they were accepted, and no joy could equal the joy of that day. The people set the tables, ate, drank, and then lay down and slept well. To the young princess, the fairy introduced the most handsome prince that had ever been born.

To arrange the marriage, the fairy had flown to the ends of the world in her flying tub. The prince was quite as pleasant as Joliette and as soon as she met him, she liked him. On his side, he was charmed by her, and as for the queen, she was transported with joy. An admirable meal and marvelous clothes were prepared. The wedding was held with infinite rejoicing.



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