Ever wondered how the legend of the Tooth mouse began? Here you have it. (It is quite a long read but so worth the time)
Once upon a time there lived a king called Bubi the first, who was very kind to poor children and to mice. He built a toy factory that made dolls and cardboard horses for the children. For the mice he made laws to stop the cats from catching them and forbade the use of mouse-traps. Bubi began to reign when he was only six years old, under the care of his mother, who was very wise and good at heart. She watched over him and guided his steps just as good children are guided by their Guardian Angels.
Bubi was a sweet little boy, and one day while he was eating, one of his teeth began to wobble. There was a great fuss about the loose tooth. Everyone in the palace agreed that “his majesty” had begun to change his teeth. His mother the queen called the doctors to pull the offending tooth. They tied a red string around the loose tooth and gave a tug, and the tooth came out. The tooth was healthy and round and as white as a pearl.
The little king asked his mother what he must do with the tooth. She advised the king to write a very nice letter and to put it together with his tooth in an envelope and then under his pillow that night. The queen said this was tradition and has been done since the world began. She told the king that a mouse called Perez always fetches the tooth while the children sleep and then he leaves a present in its place.
After he wrote the letter, he went to bed early, and put the envelope with the tooth inside under his pillow. He tried in vain to stay awake to wait for Perez the mouse.
The king awoke to the soft tickling of his forehead, and sitting up quickly, he saw Perez the tooth mouse standing on the pillow. Perez the tooth mouse wore a straw hat and tiny slippers and had big gold spectacles and a red back pack slung over his shoulder.
King Bubi stared at Perez the tooth mouse in amazement, as he took off his hat and made a very low bow. The king in all his amazement could only utter a “good-evening”. Perez the tooth mouse and the king spoke for some time and became friends. Perez the tooth mouse told the king all about his family. Perez the tooth mouse said he had a wife called Mrs Mouse, two grown up daughters, Adelaide and Elvira, and a son called Adolphus. Perez the tooth mouse also said Adolphus was studying for diplomacy in the drawer of the minister of state.
The little king being a child tried to catch Perez the tooth mouse by the tail but the mouse just gave a whisk of his tail and placed his tail out of reach. Perez the tooth mouse told the king he still had to make another pick up delivery that night to a very poor little boy called Giles. Perez the tooth mouse said that the journey would be very difficult and dangerous, because near there lived a scary cat called Don Pedro.
The king was so fascinated by Perez the tooth mouse and asked if he could accompany him. Perez thought about it and agreed even though it was a big responsibility. He told the king he first had to go back to his house to fetch the present for little Giles. With that Perez the tooth mouse jumped onto the king’s shoulder and put the tip of his tail into his majesty’s nose. A wonderful thing happened. The king sneezed very hard and turned into a little mouse.
Perez the tooth mouse took the little king by the paw and together they disappeared down a tiny hole under the bed. It was dark and sticky, but they scampered along. Every now and then Perez the tooth mouse would stop at some crossway and look about before going on. This made the king wary and frightened and sent shivers down to the tip of his tail. He remembered that:
“Fear is natural to the prudent,
To conquer it is to be courageous”
This made him feel a bit braver.
Perez the tooth mouse lived below a grocer’s shop, and after going down a little slope they came to a big cellar which was nice and warm and also smelt of cheese. Behind a big heap of cheese there was a cake tin in which the mouse family lived. Perez the mouse introduced the king as a foreign tourist who was on a visit to the capital and the family welcomed him. The two daughters were at work with their governess, Miss Stilton, who was an educated English mouse. Mrs Mouse was embroidering a beautiful cap for her husband.
The king could see that they were a happy family. Adelaide and Elvira made tea and poured some into tiny cups. While they were drinking their tea Adelaide entertained them by singing a song, and the king loved it. Thereafter, Elvira recited a poem about a little mouse that was ill with fever, and a naughty kitten who wanted to pounce on it. Adolphus came in a while later.
The king would have loved to stay longer, but Perez the tooth mouse, who had slipped away for a while, came back with his back pack on his back and said it was time to go. Goodbyes were said and they left.
The king saw that Perez the tooth mouse had arranged a regiment of ferocious mice to lead. These mice had swords made of fine needles. Following behind them was a second regiment armed to the teeth. Perez explained to the king that he would not have taken the king along without these soldiers to protect the person of the young monarch.
King Bubi saw that the guards in front of them had disappeared down a little hole, through which came a faint light. Instinctively the king knew that this was the moment of danger. Perez the tooth mouse put his head very cautiously through the hole and looked around. He then seized the king’s paw, and dashed through the hole as fast as he could; they crossed a big kitchen, and disappeared through another hole on the opposite side of the room. Bubi saw that by the hearth, lay an enormous cat, the dreadful Don Pedro, its great whiskers moving up and down as it breathed.
Once they went through the hole the danger was gone. They had to get upstairs to where little Giles lived. The room in which Giles lived was full of cracks and cold wind blew through the room.
King Bubi scrambled up on to the only chair in the room. He saw that it had no cushions for seating. The king saw clearly the poverty that Giles and his family lived in.
In a corner of the room was a bed of straw and rags, and on it lay little Giles and his mother fast asleep. As the kings and Perez the tooth mouse drew nearer, the king could see how little Giles was huddled up in rags for clothes, and how he was cuddled up against his mother for warmth. This broke the little king’s heart and he began to cry.
In all his life he never realized that people were so poor. Why had he never been told that children were going hungry and that they had to sleep on horrid beds with no blankets? He made a vow that he will not have blankets on his cot until every child in his kingdom had plenty of bed-clothes to keep them warm.
Perez the tooth mouse saw the heartbreak on the king’s face and the tears running down his cheeks. Perez the tooth mouse tried to comfort the king by showing him the gold coin he was going to put under little Giles’ pillow in exchange for his first tooth.
Giles’s mother woke up early every morning to go and earn some money by washing clothes in the river. She woke little Giles and together they kneeled down in front of a picture of the Infant Christ which was pinned to the wall near the bed.
Both the king and Perez the tooth mouse knelt down too, and so did the soldier mice that were waiting in an empty bread basket. The child began to pray, “Our Father which art in Heaven.’
After that Perez the tooth mouse and the little king left to take the return journey home. Not long after the king was home in his nursery. Perez the tooth mouse once again put the tip of his tail into Bubi’s nose and made him sneeze. At once he found himself safely back again in his own warm cot, with the Queen’s arms wrapped around him.
Later when he awoke he thought it must have been a dream, but when he looked for the letter he had put under his pillow, he found it was gone. In its place was a case with the Order of the Golden Fleece in diamonds, a magnificent present from Perez the tooth mouse, in exchange for his first tooth.
The little king, however, did not give attention to his beautiful present from Perez the tooth mouse, and left it lying on the bed. He was to busy with his thoughts. After a while 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 replied, ‘because He is as much their Father as He is yours.’ The king thought about this for a while then said ‘surely then we must be brothers’. ‘Yes my darling, they are your brothers,’ answered the queen.
‘Then why am I a king and I have everything I want, while they are poor and have nothing? The queen gave him a big hug, and, kissing him on his forehead, said, ‘because you are the eldest brother, which is what being king really means. Do you understand darling? God has given you everything so that your younger brothers should want for nothing’. ‘I never knew this before, ‘said Bubi, shaking his head. He began to say his prayers, as he did each morning; and, as he prayed, it felt to him that all the poor little boys in the kingdom came round him with their hands clasped, and that he, the eldest brother, spoke for them all when he prayed “Our Father which art in Heaven”
King Bubi grew up to be a great rule of his kingdom. He always asked God’s help in all he did, and gave thanks for his happiness, always praying for all his subjects, poor and rich, good and bad, ‘Our Father which art in Heaven”, and when he died, a very old man, and his good soul arrived at the gates of Heaven, he knelt down and prayed as usual, ‘Our father.” And, as he prayed, the gates were opened wide by thousands of poor little children to whom he had been king, that is to say, eldest brother here on earth.
This post is adapted from the original story at: Perez the tooth mouse