Frewyn Fables: First Look
Frewyn has many stories, legends, and myths, all of them compiled in a book called Frewyn Fables. Since many have asked me to write some of these stories, I began writing a children's series by the same name. Frewyn Fables includes stories from across the kingdom, tales from the smaller inhabitants of the Continents to legends of the Gods themselves. Here is a first look at one of the stories:
At the end of the Broadwood Lane, where the low boughs of evergreen were hung round with heavy snows, in the oldest hawthorn tree lived a family of mice by the name of Sniffles. As they were so busy fussing and flumping over the cleanliness of their doorstep, gathering the leftover grain in the threshing field, and maintaining the loveliness of their whiskers, mice seldom ever took the trouble of giving their children first names. They were more distinguished by their appearances than they were by titles and ranks, and when the mother and father Sniffles had their only daughter after many years of trying all that superstition could do, all her claims to distinction were her large ears, a forward tooth, fine grey fur, and rather too much pink in her hands. Pink-hands or Large-ears would have done well as far as names were concerned, but as the parents could not be bothered to decide which of the names would be much best, a simple “my dear” was how they addressed her. They lived as any other mouse family lived: disdaining the long and frigid winters, begrudging the liberty of the barn cats on Farmer MacDaede’s neighboring land, searching and scrounging for food, and eating far more cake crumbs than was good for them. Their daughter grew just as any other young mouse daughter did: learning how to tell oats from wheat, developing her talents at sewing, and practicing her innocent looks to be used on Farmer MacDaede should she ever be caught wandering about his kitchen in quest of crumbs.
Time passed on: winters and summers and winters came and went, and at last the Sniffles parents were growing too old to bear the harsh snows and gelid gales of the kingdom’s most unforgiving season. They must move elsewhere if they were to be always warm and comfortable in their old age, and when their daughter reached her middle of life, they packed their bindles, took some of the cheese and biscuits, and set off for the Sahadin Desert.
“We are going to Lucentia,” the father eagerly sniffed. “We hear there is excellent property there. Newly vacant by some family who went north to the islands. Madness, I tell you, to cross the sea. Humph! What respectable mouse would cross the sea?”
The young grey mouse merely nodded and said nothing, resisting the urge to remind her father that Lucentia was also across a sea, though a somewhat smaller sea in comparison.
“My dear,” said her mother, throwing her arms about her daughter’s neck, “take good care for yourself and remember to wear your bonnet when you go to market.”
“I will, mother,” said the daughter, in a complaining voice.
“And remember: don’t let in any strange mice that have been beyond Farmer MacDaede’s land. We have heard shocking things about the young boys from Varralla. Remember, my dear.”
“I will, mother.”
“And remember to hang the socks between the sheets, my dear. Between the sheets. Hanging them on the ends just isn’t done and never does anyone any good.”
“I will, mother.”
“And if Mr Hedgehog comes by looking for his hat- which I think very likely, for he always forgets it- tell him that I have left it with Mrs Rabbit and the copious Rabbits. He is never home when one wants him to be and is precisely the type of hedgehog who makes such a piece of work about nothing.”
The young grey mouse sighed. “I will, mother.”
“Goodbye, my dear. And remember: you are a Miss, now. A Miss!” and the mother kissed her daughter and hopped out of the house, saying to her husband as she went, “Think of all the young mice she’ll meet,” in so wistful a tone as to make Miss Sniffles, as she was now happy to be known, close the door with a relieved heart, happy to be alone in the house at last and certain of meeting no young mice at all whatsoever.
Though Frewyn was a predominantly wintry kingdom, her mother was forever trying to get her to go out of doors, thinking that she would meet with a young and wealthy mouse of a good family when all she wanted was a cup of tea, a place by the fire, and one night without her mother’s exclamations of “what a beautiful mouse you are growing into, my dear”. She was not glad to be rid of her parents, but she was thankful for the noise they took with them and the quietness they had left behind. She exhaled in the perfect comfort of her solitude, half-afraid that her mother would return any minute to lecture her on the importance of soaking the dishes before washing them.