The disparate threads of the plot finally begin to converge…
Thanks to having a steady diet for the first time in her life, Mig eventually becomes rather fat.
Reader, as the teller of this tale, it is my duty from time to time to utter some hard and rather disagreeable truths. In the spirit of honesty, then, I must inform you that Mig was the tiniest bit lazy. And, too, she was not the sharpest knife in the drawer. That is to say, she was a bit slow-witted.
Because of these shortcomings, Louise was hard-pressed to find a job that Miggery Sow could effectively perform. In quick succession, Mig failed as a lady in waiting (she was caught trying on the gown of a visiting duchess), a seamstress (she sewed the cloak of the riding master to her own frock and ruined both), and as a chambermaid (sent to clean a room, she stood, open-mouthed and delighted, admiring the gold walls and floors and tapestries, exclaiming over and over again, “Gor, ain’t it pretty? Gor, ain’t it something, then?” and did no cleaning at all).
On the one hand, she’s a child, and in a better world she wouldn’t have to work at all, but it does Louise some credit that she tries so hard to find a place for Mig.
And while Mig was trying and failing at these many domestic chores, other important things were happening in the castle: The rat, in the dungeon below, was pacing and muttering in the darkness, waiting to take his revenge on the princess. And upstairs in the castle, the princess had met a mouse. And the mouse had fallen in love with her.
Will there be consequences? You bet.
Just as Mig’s inability to perform any job well had its consequences.
As a last resort, Louise hands her off to the Cook, but of course there’s so many more disasters that can happen in a kitchen.
“Of all the good-for-nothings I have encountered,” shouted Cook, “surely you are the worst, the most cauliflower-eared, the good-for-nothing-est. There’s only one place left for you. The dungeon. […] You are being sent to the dungeon. You are to take the jailer his noonday meal. That will be your duty from now on.”
This is seemingly the very last resort, as even entering the dungeon carries the risk of getting lost down there. But of course, Mig won’t have heard those whispered rumors.
“I take the old man the tray and he eats what’s on it and then I bring the tray back up. Empty it would be, then. I bring the empty tray back up from the deep downs.”
“That’s right,” said Cook. “Seems simple, don’t it? But I’m sure you’ll find some a way to bungle it.”
“Eh?” said Mig.
“Nothing,” said Cook. “Good luck to you. You’ll be needing it.”
Mig is probably less frightened of the dungeon than most of the castle’s inhabitants, if only from inexperience, and so she is in turn less guarded…
She watched as Mig descended the dungeon stairs. They were the same stairs, reader, that the mouse Despereaux had been pushed down the day before. Unlike the mouse, however, Mig had a light: on the tray was a single, flickering candle to show her the way. She turned on the stairs and looked back at Cook and smiled.
“That cauliflower-eared, good-for-nothing fool,” said Cook, shaking her head. “What’s to become of someone who goes into the dungeon smiling, I ask you?”
Reader, for the answer to Cook’s question, you must read on.
Next time: A song in the dark…