THE LITTLE GOOD MOUSE
and that is such a dear, pretty little thing that I cannot bear to think of its being killed.'
' What! ' cried the old woman, in a rage. ' Do you care more for a miserable mouse than for your own baby ? Good-bye, madam ! I leave you to enjoy its company, and for my own part I thank my stars that I can get plenty of mice without troubling you to give them to me.'
And she hobbled off grumbling and growling. As to the Queen, she was so disappointed that, in spite of finding a better dinner than usual, and seeing the little mouse dancing in its merriest mood, she could do nothing but cry. That night when her baby was fast asleep she packed it into the basket, and wrote on a slip of paper, ' This unhappy little girl is called Delicia !' This she pinned to its robe, and then very sadly she was shutting the basket, when in sprang the little mouse and sat on the baby's pillow.
' Ah! little one,' said the Queen, ' it cost me dear to save your life. How shall I know now whether my Delicia is being taken care of or no ? Anyone else would have let the greedy old woman have you, and eat you up, but I could not bear to do it.' Whereupon the Mouse answered:
' Believe me, madam, you will never repent of your kindness.'
The Queen was immensely astonished when the Mouse began to speak, and still more so when she saw its little sharp nose turn to a beautiful face, and its paws to hands and feet; then it suddenly grew tall, and the Queen recognised the Fairy who had come with the wicked King to visit her.
The Fairy smiled at her astonished look, and said:
' I wanted to see if you were faithful and capable of feeling a real friendship for me, for you see we fairies are rich in everything but friends, and those are hard to find.'
' It is not possible that you should want for friends, you charming creature,' said the Queen, kissing her.
' Indeed it is so,' the Fairy said. ' For those who are only friendly with me for their own advantage, I do not count at all. But when you cared for the poor little mouse you could not have known there was anything to be gained by it, and to try you further I took the form of the old woman whom you talked to from the window, an J then I was convinced that you really loved me.' Then, turning to the little Princess, she "kissed her rosy lips three times, gaying:
' Dear little one, I promise that you shall be richer than your