While in the dungeon, Despereaux comforted himself by telling stories.
In the story, Despereaux was born an odd mouse with unusual physical features. He had unusually large ears and an extremely small body as compared to other mice. He was also born with his eyes wide open, and because he was the only surviving member of his litter, his family believed he would also die prematurely. Despereaux defied death and lived a normal life, although the mice community treated him differently. Attempts by his siblings to teach him the ways of a normal mouse failed and they all gave up.
Despereaux discovered that he could read and his first story was about a princess and a knight. One day the mouse heard the King play the guitar to his daughter, the princess Pea. Despereaux was unable to withstand the attraction to the music and found himself seated at the King’s feet with the princess stroking his head. His brother, Furlough, discovered this event and reported Despereaux to their father. The father called a meeting of the council, who sentenced him to the dungeons. To maintain his confidence the mouse started telling stories, first to himself, then to the guard, in exchange for his freedom.