Little Prince got a gold crown!
If you’ve followed me for a while, you might know that Little Prince always had a silver crown – that was until I was asked to make it in gold…and that made my little green heart glow to see him topped with such grandeur.
There is a story to this piece, the origins of my Little Prince pendant.
When I was a child my Mum used to visit an elderly lady to do chores and take shopping to her. Being a little, I’d tag along with Mum. The lady’s house captivated me - it had the strangest smell of talcum powder mixed with mildew and the walls were filled with framed Victorian looking photographs. Tasselled scarves were flung over lamps creating a peculiar light which cast ominous shadows around the room and the gas fire would chuck out the kind of heat that would make the windows drip, and me shiver. She was a kindly old lady, she’d wear a sky blue tabard and slippers with Velcro fastenings and her ankles were huge and looked painful. I always worried about her ankles, but she said it was because of her “dicky heart” and I never questioned that – although I hoped my heart would never be dicky, a dicky heart was not what I wanted. She also had books, old books – and books were my kryptonite!
She would gift me these books, which made me feel very special! I was a very insular child. I had a hearing disability during my early years, I wasn’t completely deaf, but most of what went on in the world around me didn’t make much sense – I could read though, and reading took me all kinds of wonderful places and out of my fuzzy confused consciousness into lands of magic! One of my very favourite things as a child (apart from my Magical Bead Box, and extensive collection of 45 records) was my bookshelves – or more specifically the books they held. I’d write stories and poetry and dream of the day I’d be a writer living in London drifting around effortlessly in moss green velvet kimonos whilst writing my next Best Seller in the corner of an avant-garde coffee shop (what child doesn’t dream of this? ;) )
My memory tells me that I read the following story from one of those books that the kindly old lady gave me. My memory also tells me it was a tatty dogeared brown hardback with thick pages and a sewn spine – but, my memory from back then often blends the real and the fairy tale together and I’ve never been able to find another version of this story – I wonder whether this is in fact one of the tales I made up myself whilst envisioning my future self as the living embodiment of a Pre-Raphaelite painting! If you’ve read this story before, I’d love to know. Maybe it is mine, maybe it’s from someone else’s mind – either way, Imma gonna tell it again! J
Note: This is not THAT story of the Little Prince that was written by a French Aristocrat – there’s an entirely different tale!
My Little Prince was a tiny house mouse. He had nothing - no friends, or family, he was all alone in the world. He’d lived in The Big House for as long as he could remember. Somewhere in his memory he felt the touch of a mother. He remembered days of playing with cotton reels and sweetie papers, and sleeping in the soft cotton wool balls his mother would find discarded in the bedroom of the Big House and had dragged back to their little hole-in-the-skirting-board home. He remembered the way his mother would twitch her whiskers and wiggle her nose and how the faces she pulled would make him laugh so loudly she had to hush him for fear of alerting The Big House owners – they weren’t fans of house mice at all, especially the Mother. In fact, our little mouse remembered an event when the Mother of the Big House was laying in a bath full of bubbles with her eyes closed listening to the most beautiful music he had ever heard. He climbed up the bath and sat on the corner of it, the heat of the steam from the bath had warmed his bones, and made him feel like he was floating, he closed his eyes too, and moved gently to the sway of the music.
Then he heard a panicked SCREAM, his eyes shot open and he watched in horror as the woman scrambled to get out of the bath, soaking him and flooding the floor, whilst simultaneously screaming “Vermin! Vermin! THERE’S VERMIN IN THE BATHROOM.” Whatever this vermin was, our little mouse could tell it was frightening and ran away too, straight to the hole-in-the-skirting-board and into the arms of his Mumma, his heart beating faster than it ever had thumped. His Mum, softly asked “What’s wrong my darling, what happened?”
“There’s a vermin out there,” he said. “The woman was in the water and there was bubbles and music, and she opened her eyes and looked me straight in the face and screamed VERMIN and we both ran away. What is the vermin Mumma?”
That was the day our little mouse found out that some people didn’t like his kind. Some wanted to hurt him, kill him even! That was the day the cotton reels and sweetie papers didn’t seem to offer so much fun anymore. That was the day he stopped visiting The Big House during the daytime, only venturing out, like his Mumma, at night, when the owners were asleep. “We still have to be very careful though. It can be very dangerous out there even a night.” His mother warned.
One night, little mouse’s Mum went out as usual to gather tea for them both, Little Mouse waited all night for her to return. Eventually the light of day returned with a golden ray shining through the stained-glass panel of the front door, casting a rainbow of colour into the little mouse’s hole-in-the-skirting-board, and on to his sad brown whiskered face. Little Mouse was so hungry, he closed his eyes, just for a second, and fell asleep. When he awoke, there was still no Mumma. Hours turned into days and days into weeks and slowly he realised she was never coming back. The danger she had warned him of must have taken her, because he knew she’d never leave him intentionally.
During those first days without his Mumma, our little mouse had no choice but to learn how to find his own food. The very best time was just after the family’s dinner time. The children would drop tiny morsels of their food and if he was quick, he could run in, grab the tid-bit and run out again without being noticed. He knew he was risking everything to go out in the evening and not the night time, but he hadn't learned of the places his Mumma had gone to find food, she had enjoyed doing this for her little one, and he’d spent whole nights searching for something to stop the rumbling in his tummy to no avail. But, if he searched just after the family had eaten and before the dishes were washed, he’d be able to fill his tummy, which helped him sleep deep sleeps where he would dream of his Mumma pulling funny faces, and happier times.
He got quite good at finding food, a professional he thought! He especially liked cauliflower and cheese night. Two of his favourite things in one dinner - yummy! He missed his Mumma so much it hurt in his belly and chest and sometimes he felt so alone he didn’t know what to do. He’d listen to the beautiful music the family of the house would play, and sway back and forth, remembering his Mumma’s sweet whiskers and kind eyes and he always whispered that he loved her before settling down to sleep on his cotton wool bed.
One evening, on one of his food finding expeditions as the children of the house swung their feet from the kitchen chairs, the little boy of the house noticed our little mouse. The boy didn’t say a word. He knew his Mother would turn loopy and climb onto the dining table screaming blue murder. He wasn’t scared of the mouse, in fact, he liked mice a lot. He liked their long tails and big ears and how their whiskers twitched when they sniffed the air. He watched our little mouse grab a pea, shove it straight into his mouth and scamper off into a tiny hole in the skirting board.
The boy was fascinated by the little mouse, and would visit the hole in the skirting board often during the day to watch him sleeping. Sometimes he’d take a story book to the hole and read out loud to the mouse whilst the mouse gently snored, deep in dreams. Sometimes the boy's Mother would ask him what he was doing ‘sat in the corner like that’. “Just reading Mother.” He’d reply, not wanting to reveal the little mouse or his little home. Of course, the little mouse didn’t know he was being read stories to, if he had, it would have soothed his lonely heart, sometimes it hurt his very soul to just be awake – but he remained oblivious, and the boy continued to visit, happy to be spending any time he could with his new little friend.
Soon, the boy started leaving tiny chunks of bread and cheese and other tasty bites by the hole in the skirting board. Small enough so his Mother didn’t notice, but big enough to fill a little mouse’s tummy! The mouse, thinking it a strange coincidence that food was often right outside his door, always looked forward to these delicious crumbs – they tasted so much better than anything else he found. He didn’t realise that the boy had grown to love him very much, and he hadn't known that the little morsels were given with love, not, as he thought, just found discarded, ready for the bin. The little mouse was tasting love.
One evening as the little mouse was leaving his bed to find his breakfast, he found a tiny paper crown exactly where the tasty crumbs would be. He sat looking at the crown for a little while, it was a fine crown, coloured in golden yellow pencil, with little gems drawn in dark sapphire blue. He decided to try it on. He knew it wasn’t his, but he’d take it off very quickly afterwards and no one would know he’d ever even touched it. He slipped the paper crown over his head and it fit perfectly! It rested beautifully just above his ears. He felt everso royal! With his chest puffed out with pride, he started dancing around the Big House’s living room, imagining the beautiful music he’d often hear, waltzing to the sound of the violins that played in his mind and feeling all kinds of wonderful in the little crown….he got lost in all his happy and wished so much he could show his Mumma how grand he looked. She would be so proud of him.
Then he heard a giggle.
He spun round to see the little boy dressed in his pyjamas kneeling on the floor and chuckling softly, and whilst the Little Mouse could see kindness in the boy’s eyes, he knew people didn’t like him very much and he was scared that danger would take him just like it had taken his Mumma. He darted back into his hole, his heart beating just as fast as it had during the bath incident. The little paper crown flapped to the floor as he made his retreat and our little Prince buried himself into his cotton wool bed wishing he’d never touched the crown at all. He’d given away his hiding place now. He didn’t know what he was going to do.
But then he heard a whispered voice:
“I made it for you. The crown. It’s yours. I made it for you.”
The little mouse looked up and saw the boy’s kind eyes staring at him through the hole. Uur little mouse touched his chest and tilted his head questioning the boy.
“Yes, I made it just for you. You are a very grand mouse, and I think you deserve a very grand crown.”
The boy put the tiny paper crown in the hole, and the little mouse took it from him. He couldn’t believe it, someone was being kind to him, someone had made him a gift. A crown all of his very own! Our little mouse twitched his whiskers, a gesture of thanks and happiness and surprise all at once, and placed the crown on his head again. His chest puffed up with pride once more, and the boy giggled again.
It’s been many years since the boy and the mouse became friends. Our little mouse was named Prince by the boy, whose own name was Peter. Little Prince never felt lonely again from that day on. He ate wonderful dinners that Peter would bring to him and he’d sit on Peter’s shoulder (the one nearest the wall so Peter’s Mother never, ever saw) with his paper crown on his head, whilst Peter read out loud to him about pirates and treasure and lands far, far away.
Peter is all grown up now. He lives in the Big House with his own family. In the garden under a golden yellow rose bush is a little stone. Painted on the stone is a picture of a little mouse wearing a beautiful crown with sapphire blue stones, some of the paint is worn off but you can just about make out the word ‘Prince’ painted in gold underneath. Peter often stops to smell the roses – they make him smile.