One morning the stepmother said to Elise, "Here are twelve pounds of feathers to strip and bag, and if you are not finished by this evening, you will get yourself a good beating." Elise stared at her stepmother, who replied, "The feathers will not strip themselves. Do you plan to idle all the day away?" With that the stepmother left the poor girl alone.
Elise worked as hard as she could, as tears streamed down her cheeks, for she could see that the task was quite impossible. Each time she sighed, the growing pile of feathers would scatter, and each time she stuffed, the feathers in the bag puffed up into the air. Finally, Elise collapsed to the ground, with her face in her hands, and sobbed, "Is there no one on Earth that will take pity on me?" As she finished, she heard a small reply.
"I will help you young maiden." Elise looked up and saw in front of her a tiny mouse. "Tell me of your troubles." She held the little mouse in her hands and told him about her life and the task that her stepmother had placed upon her. The tiny mouse listened intently to her tale and, at the finish, said, "Dry your tears and take a moment’s rest. I will see to it that your work is done." Elise did as the mouse bid and quickly fell asleep.