610730 meaning

Chapters 1–15

In this charming adventure, the lives of three unusual characters—a brave mouse, a lonely servant girl, and a rat desperate for a better life—intersect.

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definitions & notes
only words
  1. ordeal
    a severe or trying experience
    “Where are my babies?” said the exhausted mother when the
    ordeal was through.
  2. diplomat
    an official engaged in international negotiations
    She was a French mouse who had arrived at the castle long ago in the luggage of a visiting French
    diplomat.
  3. despair
    the feeling that nothing will turn out well
    I will name this mouse Despereaux, for all the sadness, for the many
    despairs in this place.
  4. shard
    a broken piece of a brittle artifact
    Her husband handed her a small
    shard of mirror.
  5. intent
    giving or marked by complete attention to
    He was not
    intent on tracking down every crumb.
  6. sibling
    a person's brother or sister
    While his larger, older
    siblings ate, Despereaux stood with his head cocked to one side, holding very still.
  7. scurry
    move about or proceed hurriedly
    Move! You’re a mouse, not a man. You’ve got to
    scurry.
  8. indignant
    angered at something unjust or wrong
    A piece of paper trembled at the end of one of her
    indignant whiskers.
  9. destined
    governed by fate
    In the dungeon, there were rats. Large rats. Mean rats. Despereaux was
    destined to meet those rats.
  10. conform
    be similar, be in line with
    Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not
    conform.
  11. abandon
    give up with the intent of never claiming again
    Despereaux's brothers and sisters soon
    abandoned the thankless task of trying to educate him in the ways of being a mouse.
  12. indulge
    enjoy to excess
    Now, while Despereaux did not
    indulge in many of the normal behaviors of mice, he did adhere to one of the most basic and elemental of all mice rules: Do not ever, under any circumstances, reveal yourself to humans.
  13. instinct
    inborn pattern of behavior often responsive to stimuli
    The music made him lose his head and act against the few small mouse
    instincts he was in possession of, and because of this he revealed himself; and in no time at all, he was spied by the sharp-eyed Princess Pea.
  14. captivating
    attracting and holding interest as if by a spell
    The song was as sweet as light shining through stained-glass windows, as
    captivating as the story in a book.
  15. execute
    carry out or perform an action
    And,
    executing a classic scurry, Furlough went off to tell his father, Lester Tilling, the terrible, unbelievable news of what he had just seen.
  16. tribunal
    an assembly to conduct judicial business
    “He must be punished. He must be brought up before the
    tribunal.”
  17. affect
    have an influence upon
    The beating of the drum let them know that an important decision would have to be made, one that
    affected the safety and well-being of the entire mouse community.
  18. dismay
    the feeling of despair in the face of obstacles
    They listened with their whiskers drooping and their ears flat against their heads. They listened in
    dismay and outrage and fear.
  19. indisputable
    not open to question; obviously true
    Humans cannot be trusted. We know this to be an
    indisputable fact.
  20. consort
    keep company with
    A mouse who
    consorts with humans, a mouse who would sit right at the foot of a man, a mouse who would allow a human to touch him—and here, the entire Mouse Council indulged in a collective shiver of disgust—cannot be trusted.
  21. fervent
    characterized by intense emotion
    Fellow mice, it is my most
    fervent hope that Despereaux has not spoken to these humans.
  22. distinctive
    of a feature that helps to identify a person or thing
    “It is simply not done!” came the
    distinctive voice of Despereaux's aunt Florence.
  23. civilized
    marked by refinement in taste and manners
    “This trial will be conducted in an orderly fashion. We will act
    civilized.”
  24. egregious
    conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible
    First, we will give you a chance to defend yourself against these rumors of your
    egregious acts.
  25. decree
    decide with authority
    You are to be sent, as ancient castle-mouse law
    decrees, to the dungeon.
  26. repent
    feel sorry for; be contrite about
    Repent. Say that you are sorry you sat at the foot of the human king. Say that you are sorry you allowed the human princess to touch you.
  27. surge
    rise or move forward
    The whole of the mouse community
    surged toward Despereaux.
  28. burly
    muscular and heavily built
    And as Despereaux stood before them with the red thread around his neck and the fourteen members of the Mouse Council perched on the bricks above him, two
    burly mice came forward.
  29. unbearable
    incapable of being put up with
    That he would not be able to let the princess know what had become of him seemed suddenly
    unbearable to the mouse.
  30. appropriate
    suitable for a particular person, place, or situation
    As our story progresses, “perfidy” becomes an ever more
    appropriate word, doesn’t it?
  31. abyss
    a bottomless gulf or pit
    They stood, the three mice, two with hoods and one without, and contemplated the
    abyss before them.
  32. encompass
    include in scope
    Despereaux had never before encountered darkness so awful, so all-encompassing.
  33. courtesy
    a polite, respectful, or considerate act
    He deemed it the only reasonable response to the situation in which he found himself, but then he remembered the words of the threadmaster: honor,
    courtesy, devotion, and bravery.
  34. callus
    a skin area that is thick or hard from continual pressure
    When Despereaux awoke, he was cupped in the large,
    callused hand of a human and he was staring into the fire of one match and beyond the match there was a large, dark eye looking directly at him.
  35. beleaguer
    surround so as to force to give up
    The man blew the candle out and the darkness descended and the man’s hand closed more tightly around Despereaux and Despereaux felt his
    beleaguered heart start up a crazy rhythm of fear.
  36. irony
    incongruity between what might be expected and what occurs
    You are talking to Gregory the jailer, who, in the richest of
    ironies, is nothing but a prisoner here himself.
  37. treacherous
    dangerously unstable and unpredictable
    Here, in this dungeon, you are in the
    treacherous dark heart of the world.
  38. tragic
    very sad, especially involving grief or death or destruction
    Gregory has seen it many times, the
    tragic end of a mouse.
  39. illuminate
    make lighter or brighter
    Another match was struck; the candle was lit again, and Gregory held it up so that its flame
    illuminated a massive, towering, teetering pile of spoons and kettles and soup bowls.
  40. timeworn
    repeated too often; overfamiliar through overuse
    He raised his hand higher and then higher still until Despereaux's whiskers brushed against his leathery,
    timeworn ear.
Created on February 25, 2015
(updated March 6, 2019)