The Royal King and his advisors all looked up in alarm as Maximus slid to a stop in front of them--he had no shoes on and his stockings were perfect for sliding across the polished floor.
"Oh my Father," Maximus gasped. "You must come; quickly!"
"Maximus, compose yourself. Calmly tell me what has happened."
Thingus Maximus pulled himself up straight and took a deep breath before he spoke again. "Father, I have seen a mouse!"
This was a matter of great concern, as the Royal King and his Fair Queen had recently found a new home for the royal Adventure Kitty, and there was nothing to control the mouse population in the palace. The Kitchen Witch was very strict on the matter of animals in her domain, and she had also been known to raze the castle walls when her food was eaten without being properly served. The king stood up, dismissed his advisors with a nod, and climbed down from the dias.
"Show me where you saw the creature," he said gravely as he put a hand on Maximus' shoulder.
Maximus led his father to the royal family's parlour and pointed to one of the sofas. "There. It ran under that couch."
The Royal King nodded slowly, thoughtfully. "We have some traps, but we must plan this with care. Princess Elly is too young to understand what a trap is, and she is likely to try to touch it."
"She would be hurt!"
"Yes, my son. Thus, we must think about where we shall place the traps so she will not see them, and be tempted to touch them."
"If the traps were placed underneath, or perhaps behind the sofas," Maximus began meditating aloud. "She would be able to neither see nor touch them. And the traps would still bait the mouse and catch it."
"An Excellent Idea, my son. I will gather the traps; will you go down to the kitchen and procure some peanut butter to bait them with?"
When the Royal Family were gathered in the parlour after dinner Maximus explained to Thingus Minimus and Princess Mimi the Cute what he and the Royal King had done, and he showed them where the traps had been placed. "But do not tell our sister, Elly the Adorable," he cautioned. "We do not want her to be hurt."
The next morning the older three Royal Children eager ran to check the traps.
"What is it, my brother? Have we caught the beast?!"
"No," Thingus Minimus declared. "This trap is missing."
Maximus cast his brother a disbelieving stare before he walked over to the sofa and looked for himself. "That is unusual," he proclaimed. "I wonder who could have taken it? And Why?"
"Indeed," pondered Minimus.
"We shall search the palace for the intruder and thief! Come! Where are our swords?"
"Wait, my sister," Maximus stopped her from running out the door. "We should consult with our Royal Parents first. There may be a reasonable explination. Perhaps the trap caught a mouse in the night and our Royal Father, not wanting to alarm the maid, has already disposed of it."
"I had not thought of that," Princess Mimi said. "Then come, let us go ask him!"
The Royal King, having worked late into the night on matters of state and art, was still asleep. The Royal Children went to the Fair Queen instead; but she did not know what had happened to the trap. She sent the children to search the castle in the case of an intruder, promising to ask their father if he had moved the trap as soon as he awoke.
But the Royal King did not know what had happened to the trap. He had the thought that perhas a mouse had been caught, but had not died, instead had dragged the trap off with it. Maximus and Mimi did not accept this solution and continued to search the castle. Minimus did not offer an opinion and went back to his drawings.
Several days later a sorm blew in, snow fell; and the wind piled it in great drifts. Thingus Maximus ran through the palace franticcally searrching for his warmest clothes.
"Minimus, have you seen my pants?! Mother, I cannot find my boots! Where are my gloves?" The prince dashed from room to room following hints and suggestions to his stray clothing. He finally ended in the parlour and dropped a pile of clothes on the floor.
"Oh my Mother," he lamtened to the Fair Queen. "How shall I have adventures in the snow if I cannot find my boots? I have searched high and low, and myboots are nowhere to be found."
"Maximus, my son, the last time that I saw your boots they had been kicked under that sofa."
The boy opened his mouth, and then shut it again without a word. He walked to where his Royal Mother was pointing, and bent to look under the couch. "You are wonderful, my mother," he said as he pulled his boots from the darkness. Suddenly he dropped one boot and peered cautiously inside it.
"Mother," he exclaimed. "I think I have found the missing mousetrap."
The Fair Queen rose from her chair and crossed the room.
"It would seem that my father was right, " Maximus began as his Royal Mother picked up the boot. "The mouse caught the trap and dragged it away to a small place to die in peace."
Maximus watched from the door as the Fair Queen carried the boot outside and dumped the mouse into a quiet corner of the garden. "Poor mouse," he said quietly.