THE LITTLE GOOD MOUSE 149
it was covered with all sorts of nice things to eat, and the Queen made a very good dinner, and was gayer than usual over it. But afterwards as she sat at her spinning-wheel she began to consider what would happen if the little Princess did not grow up pretty enough to please the King, and she said to herself:
' Oh ! if I could only think of some way of escaping.'
As she spoke she saw the little mouse playing in a corner with some long straws. The Queen took them and began to plait them, saying :
' If only I had straws enough I would make a basket with them, and let my baby down in it from the window to any kind passerby who would take care of her.'
By the time the straws were all plaited the little mouse had dragged in more and more, until the Queen had plenty to make her basket, and she worked at it day and night, while the little mouse danced for her amusement; and at dinner and supper time the Queen gave it the three peas and the bit of black bread, and always found something good in the dish in their place. She really could not imagine where all the nice things came from. At last one day when the basket was finished, the Queen was looking out of the window to see how long a cord she must make to lower it to the bottom of the tower, when she noticed a little old woman who was leaning upon her stick and looking up at her. Presently she said:
11 know your trouble, madam. If you like I will help you.'
' Oh ! my dear friend,' said the Queen. ' If you really wish to be of use to me you will come at the time that I will appoint, and I will let down my poor little baby in a basket. If you will take her, and bring her up for me, when I am rich I will reward you splendidly.'
' I don't care about the reward,' said the old woman, ' but there is one thing I should like. You must know that I am very particular about what I eat, and if there is one thing that I fancy above all others, it is a plump, tender little mouse. If there is such a thing in your garret just throw it down to me, and in return I will promise that your little daughter shall be well taken care of.'
The Queen when she heard this began to cry, but made no answer, and the old woman after1 waiting a few minutes asked her what was the matter.
' Why,' said the Queen, ' there is only one mouse in this garret,