Lectorum PublicationsCopyright © 2006 Kate DiCamillo
All right reserved.ISBN: 9788427932586
THE LAST ONE
This story begins within the walls of a castle, with the birth of a mouse.A small mouse. The last mouse born to his parents and the only one of hislitter to be born alive.
"Where are my babies?" said the exhausted mother when the ordeal wasthrough. "Show to me my babies."
The father mouse held the one small mouse up high.
"There is only this one," he said. "The others are dead."
"Mon Dieu, just the one mouse baby?"
"Just the one. Will you name him?"
"All of that work for nothing," said the mother. She sighed. "It is sosad. It is such the disappointment." She was a French mouse who hadarrived at the castle long ago in the luggage of a visiting Frenchdiplomat. "Disappointment" was one of her favorite words. She used itoften.
"Will you name him?" repeated the father.
"Will I name him? Will I name him? Of course, I will name him, but he willonly die like the others. Oh, so sad. Oh, such the tragedy."
The mouse mother held a handkerchief to her nose and then waved it infront of her face. She sniffed. "I will name him. Yes. I will name thismouse Despereaux, for all the sadness, for the many despairs in thisplace. Now, where is my mirror?"
Her husband handed her a small shard of mirror. The mouse mother, whosename was Antoinette, looked at her reflection and gasped aloud. "Toulhse,"she said to one of her sons, "get for me my makeup bag. My eyes are afright."
While Antoinette touched up her eye makeup, the mouse father putDespereaux down on a bed made of blanket scraps. The April sun, weak butdetermined, shone through a castle window and from there squeezed itselfthrough a small hole in the wall and placed one golden finger on thelittle mouse.
The other, older mice children gathered around to stare at Despereaux.
"His ears are too big," said his sister Merlot. "Those are the biggestears I've ever seen."
"Look," said a brother named Furlough, "his eyes are open. Pa, his eyesare open. They shouldn't be open."
It is true. Despereaux's eyes should not have been open. But they were. Hewas staring at the sun reflecting off his mother's mirror. The light wasshining onto the ceiling in an oval of brilliance, and he was smiling upat the sight.
"There's something wrong with him," said the father. "Leave him alone."
Despereaux's brothers and sisters stepped back, away from the new mouse.
"This is the last," proclaimed Antoinette from her bed. "I will have nomore mice babies. They are such the disappointment. They are hard on mybeauty. They ruin, for me, my looks. This is the last one. No more."
"The last one," said the father. "And he'll be dead soon. He can't live.Not with his eyes open like that."
But, reader, he did live.
This is his story.