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Puss In Boots

from Popular Rhymes And Nursery Tales - NURSEY STORIES





[One of the tales of Perrault, 1697. The plot was taken from the first
novel of the eleventh night of Straparola. Its moral is that talents are
equivalent to fortune. We have inserted this in our collection, although
generally remembered, as a specimen of the simple tales founded by
Perrault on older stories, and which soon became popular in this
country. The others, as Blue Beard, and Little Riding Hood, are
vanishing from the nursery, but are so universally known that reprints
of them would be superfluous.]

There was a miller, who left no more estate to his three sons than his
mill, his ass, and his cat. The partition was soon made, neither
scrivener nor attorney being sent for. They would soon have eaten up all
the patrimony. The eldest had the mill, the second the ass, and the
youngest nothing but the cat.

The poor young fellow was quite downcast at so poor a lot. "My
brothers," said he, "may get their living handsomely enough by joining
their stocks together, but for my part, when I have eaten up my cat, and
made me a muff of his skin, I must die with hunger." The cat, who heard
all this, yet made as if he did not, said to him, with a grave and
serious air, "Do not thus afflict yourself, my good master; you have
nothing else to do but give me a bag, and get a pair of boots made for
me, that I may scamper through the dirt and the brambles, and you shall
see that you have not so bad a portion as you imagine." Though he did
not build very much upon what the cat said, he had however often seen
him play a great many cunning tricks to catch rats and mice: as when he
used to hang by the heels, or hide himself in the meal, and make as if
he were dead; so that he did not altogether despair of his affording him
some help in his miserable condition. When the cat had what he asked
for, he booted himself very gallantly; and putting the bag about his
neck, held the strings of it in his two fore paws, and went into a
warren where there was a great abundance of rabbits. He put bran and
sow-thistles into the bag, and stretching himself out at length, as if
he had been dead, he waited for some young rabbits not yet acquainted
with the deceits of the world, to come and rummage his bag for what he
had put into it.

Scarce was he laid down, but he had what he wanted; a rash and foolish
young rabbit jumped into his bag, and Monsieur Puss immediately drawing
the strings close, took and killed him without pity. Proud of his prey,
he went with it into the palace, and asked to speak with his majesty. He
was shown upstairs into the king's apartment, and, making a low
reverence, said to him, "I have brought you, Sire, a rabbit of the
warren, which my noble lord, the Marquis of Carabas (for that was the
title which Puss was pleased to give his master), has commanded me to
present to your majesty from him." "Tell thy master," said the king,
"that I thank him, and he does me a great deal of pleasure."

Another time he went and hid himself amongst some standing corn, holding
his bag open; and when a brace of partridges ran into it, he drew the
strings, and so caught them both. He went and made a present of these to
the king, as he had done before of the rabbit. The king received the
partridges with great pleasure, and ordered him some money for drink.

The cat continued, for two or three months, to carry game to his
majesty. One day in particular, when he knew that the king was to take
the air along the river side, with his daughter, the most beautiful
princess in the world, he said to his master, "If you will follow my
advice, your fortune is made; you have nothing else to do, but go and
wash yourself in the river, in that part I shall show you, and leave the
rest to me." The Marquis of Carabas did what the cat advised, without
knowing why or wherefore.

While he was washing, the king passed by, and the cat began to cry out,
as loud as he could, "Help, help! my Lord Marquis of Carabas is going to
be drowned!" At this noise the king put his head out of the
coach-window, and finding it was the cat who had so often brought him
such good game, he commanded the guards to run immediately to the
assistance of his lordship, the Marquis of Carabas.

While they were drawing the poor marquis out of the river, the cat came
up to the coach and told the king, that, while his master was washing,
there came by some rogues who went off with his clothes, though he had
cried out, "Thieves! thieves!" several times, as loud as he could. This
cunning cat had hidden them under a great stone. The king immediately
commanded the officers of his wardrobe to run and fetch one of his best
suits for the Lord Marquis of Carabas.

The king caressed him after a very extraordinary manner, and as the fine
clothes he had given him extremely set off his good mien (for he was
well-made and very handsome in his person), the king's daughter took a
secret inclination to him, and the Marquis of Carabas had no sooner cast
two or three respectful and tender glances, but she fell in love with
him to distraction; and the king would have him come into his coach. The
cat, overjoyed to see his project begin to succeed, marched on before,
and meeting with some countrymen who were mowing a meadow, he said to
them, "Good people, if you do not tell the king that the meadow you mow
belongs to the Marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as
herbs for the pot."

The king did not fail to ask the mowers to whom the meadow they were
mowing belonged. "To my Lord Marquis of Carabas," answered they all
together; for the cat's threats had made them terribly afraid. "You see,
sir," said the marquis, "this is a meadow that never fails to yield a
plentiful harvest every year." The cat, who still went on before, met
with some reapers, and said to them, "Good people, you who are reaping,
if you do not tell the king that all this corn belongs to the Marquis
of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as herbs for the pot." The
king, who passed by a moment after, would needs know to whom all that
corn did belong. "To my Lord Marquis of Carabas," replied the reapers;
and the king was very well pleased with it, as well as the marquis, whom
he congratulated thereupon. The master cat went always before, saying
the same words to all he met; and the king was astonished at the vast
estates of my Lord Marquis of Carabas. Monsieur Puss came at last to a
stately castle, the master of which was an ogre, the richest that had
ever been known; for all the lands the king had then gone over belonged
to him; the cat, having taken care to inform himself who this ogre was,
and what he could do, asked to speak to him, saying, "He could not pass
so near his castle, without having the honour of paying his respects to
him."

The ogre received him as civilly as an ogre could do, and made him sit
down. "I have been assured," said the cat, "that you have the gift of
being able to change yourself into all sorts of creatures you have a
mind to; you can, for example, transform yourself into a lion or
elephant, and the like." "This is true," answered the ogre, very briskly,
"and to convince you, you shall see me now become a lion." Puss was so
sadly terrified at the sight of a lion so near him, that he immediately
got into the gutter, not without great trouble and danger, because of
his boots, which were of no use at all to him in walking upon the tiles.
A little while after, when Puss saw that the ogre had resumed his
natural form, he came down, and owned that he had been very much
frightened.

"I have been moreover informed," said the cat, "but I know not how to
believe it, that you have also the power to take upon you the smallest
animals, for example, to change yourself into a rat or a mouse, but I
must own to you, I take this to be impossible." "Impossible!" cried the
ogre, "you shall see that presently;" and at the same time changed
himself into a mouse, and began to run about the floor. Puss no sooner
perceived this, but he fell upon him, and eat him up.

Meanwhile the king, who saw as he passed this fine castle of the ogre's,
had a mind to go into it. Puss, who heard the noise of his majesty's
coach running over the drawbridge, ran out, and said to the king, "Your
majesty is welcome to this castle of the Lord Marquis of Carabas."
"What! my lord marquis," cried the king, "and does this castle also
belong to you? there can be nothing finer than this court, and all the
stately buildings which surround it: let us go into it, if you please."

The king went up first, the marquis, handing the princess, following;
they passed into a spacious hall, where they found a magnificent
collation the ogre had prepared for his friends, who dared not enter,
knowing the king was there. His majesty was perfectly charmed with the
good qualities of the marquis, and his daughter was violently in love
with him. The king, after having drank five or six glasses, said to him,
"My lord marquis, you will be only to blame, if you are not my
son-in-law." The marquis, making several low bows, accepted the honour
his majesty conferred upon him, and forthwith the very same day married
the princess.

Puss became a great lord, and never ran after mice any more but only for
his diversion.





Next: Jack And The Giants

Previous: The Bull Of Norroway



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