THE LITTLE GOOD MOUSE
O NCE upon a time there lived a King and Queen who loved each other so much that they were never happy unless they were together. Day after day they went out hunting or fishing; night after night they went to halls or to the opera ; they sang, and danced, and ate sugar-plums, and were the gayest of the gay, and all their subjects followed their example so that the kingdom was called the Joyous Land. Now in the next kingdom everything was as different as it could possibly be. The King was sulky and savage, and never enjoyed himself at all. He looked so ugly and cross that all his subjects feared him, and he hated the very sight of a cheerful face ; so if he ever caught anyone smiling he had his head cut off that very minute. This kingdom was very appropriately called the Land of Tears. Now when this wicked King heard of the happiness of the Jolly King, he was so jealous that he collected a great army and set out to fight him, and the news of his approach was soon brought to the King and Queen. The Queen, when she heard of it, was frightened out of her wits, and began to cry bitterly. ' Sire,' she said, ' let us collect all our riches and run away as far as ever we can, to the other side of the world.'
But the King answered :
' Fie, madam ! I am far too brave for that. It is better to die than to be a coward.'
Then he assembled all his armed men, and after bidding the Queen a tender farewell, he mounted his splendid horse and rode away. "When he was lost to sight the Queen could do nothing but weep, and wring her hands, and cry.
' Alas ! If the King is killed, what will become of me and of my little daughter ? ' and she was so sorrowful that she could neither eat nor sleep.
The King sent her a letter every day, but at last, one morning.