Puss In Boots





A Miller, dying, divided all his property between his three children.

This was a very simple matter, as he had nothing to leave but his

mill, his ass, and his cat; so he made no will, and called in no

lawyer, who would, probably, have taken a large slice out of these

poor possessions. The eldest son took the mill, the second the ass,

while the third was obliged to content himself with the cat, at which

he grumbled very much. My brothers, said he, by putting their

property together, may gain an honest livelihood, but there is nothing

left for me except to die of hunger; unless, indeed, I were to kill my

cat and eat him, and make a coat out of his skin, which would be very

scanty clothing.



The cat, who heard the young man talking to himself, sat up on his

four paws, and looking at him with a grave and wise air, said,

Master, I think you had better not kill me; I shall be much more

useful to you alive.



How so? asked his master.



You have but to give me a sack, and a pair of boots such as gentlemen

wear when they go shooting, and you will find you are not so ill off

as you suppose.



Now, though the young miller did not much depend upon the cat's words,

still he thought it rather surprising that a cat should speak at all.

And he had before now seen him show so much adroitness and cleverness

in catching rats and mice, that it seemed advisable to trust him a

little farther, especially as, poor young fellow! he had nobody else

to trust.



When the cat got his boots, he drew them on with a grand air, and

slinging his sack over his shoulder, and drawing the cords of it round

his neck, he marched bravely to a rabbit-warren hard by, with which he

was well acquainted. Then, putting some bran and lettuces into his

bag, and stretching himself out beside it as if he were dead, he

waited till some fine fat young rabbit, ignorant of the wickedness and

deceit of the world, should peer into the sack to eat the food that

was inside. This happened very shortly, for there are plenty of

foolish young rabbits in every warren; and when one of them, who

really was a splendid fat fellow, put his head inside, Master Puss

drew the cords immediately, and took him and killed him without mercy.

Then, very proud of his prey, he marched direct up to the palace, and

begged to speak with the king. He was desired to ascend to the

apartments of his majesty, where, making a low bow, he said,



Sire, here is a magnificent rabbit, killed in the warren which

belongs to my lord the Marquis of Carabas, and which he has desired me

to offer humbly to your majesty.



Tell your master, replied the king, politely, that I accept his

present, and am very much obliged to him.



Another time, Puss went and hid himself and his sack in a wheat-field,

and there caught two splendid fat partridges in the same manner as he

had done the rabbit. When he presented them to the king, with a

similar message as before, his majesty was so pleased that he ordered

the cat to be taken down into the kitchen and given something to eat

and drink; where, while enjoying himself, the faithful animal did not

cease to talk in the most cunning way of the large preserves and

abundant game which belonged to my lord the Marquis of Carabas.



One day, hearing that the king was intending to take a drive along the

river-side with his daughter, the most beautiful princess in the

world, Puss said to his master, Sir, if you would only follow my

advice, your fortune is made.



Be it so, said the miller's son, who was growing very disconsolate,

and cared little what he did: Say your say, cat.



It is but little, replied Puss, looking wise, as cats can. You have

only to go and bathe in the river, at a place which I shall show you,

and leave all the rest to me. Only remember that you are no longer

yourself, but my lord the Marquis of Carabas.



Just so, said the miller's son; it's all the same to me; but he

did as the cat told him.



While he was bathing, the king and all the court passed by, and were

startled to hear loud cries of Help, help! my lord the Marquis of

Carabas is drowning. The king put his head out of the carriage, and

saw nobody but the cat, who had, at different times, brought him so

many presents of game; however, he ordered his guards to fly quickly

to the succour of my lord the Marquis of Carabas. While they were

pulling the unfortunate marquis out of the water, the cat came up,

bowing, to the side of the king's carriage, and told a long and

pitiful story about some thieves, who, while his master was bathing,

had come and carried away all his clothes, so that it would be

impossible for him to appear before his majesty and the illustrious

princess.



Oh, we will soon remedy that, answered the king, kindly; and

immediately ordered one of the first officers of the household to ride

back to the palace with all speed, and bring back the most elegant

supply of clothes for the young gentleman, who kept in the background

until they arrived. Then, being handsome and well-made, his new

clothes became him so well, that he looked as if he had been a marquis

all his days, and advanced with an air of respectful ease to offer his

thanks to his majesty.



The king received him courteously, and the princess admired him very

much. Indeed, so charming did he appear to her, that she hinted to her

father to invite him into the carriage with them, which, you may be

sure, the young man did not refuse. The cat, delighted at the success

of his scheme, went away as fast as he could, and ran so swiftly that

he kept a long way ahead of the royal carriage. He went on and on,

till he came to some peasants who were mowing in a meadow. Good

people, said he, in a very firm voice, the king is coming past here

shortly, and if you do not say that the field you are mowing belongs

to my lord the Marquis of Carabas, you shall all be chopped as small

as mince-meat.



So when the king drove by, and asked whose meadow it was where there

was such a splendid crop of hay, the mowers all answered, trembling,

that it belonged to my lord the Marquis of Carabas.



You have very fine land, Marquis, said his majesty to the miller's

son; who bowed, and answered that it was not a bad meadow, take it

altogether.



Then the cat came to a wheat-field, where the reapers were reaping

with all their might. He bounded in upon them: The king is coming

past to-day, and if you do not tell him that this wheat belongs to my

lord the Marquis of Carabas, I will have you every one chopped as

small as mince-meat. The reapers, very much alarmed, did as they were

bid, and the king congratulated the Marquis upon possessing such

beautiful fields, laden with such an abundant harvest.



They drove on--the cat always running before and saying the same thing

to everybody he met, that they were to declare the whole country

belonged to his master; so that even the king was astonished at the

vast estate of my lord the Marquis of Carabas.



But now the cat arrived at a great castle where dwelt an Ogre, to whom

belonged all the land through which the royal equipage had been

driving. He was a cruel tyrant, and his tenants and servants were

terribly afraid of him, which accounted for their being so ready to

say whatever they were told to say by the cat, who had taken pains to

inform himself of all about the Ogre. So, putting on the boldest face

he could assume, Puss marched up to the castle with his boots on, and

asked to see the owner of it, saying that he was on his travels, but

did not wish to pass so near the castle of such a noble gentleman

without paying his respects to him. When the Ogre heard this message,

he went to the door, received the cat as civilly as an Ogre can, and

begged him to walk in and repose himself.



Thank you, sir, said the cat; but first I hope you will satisfy a

traveller's curiosity. I have heard in far countries of your many

remarkable qualities, and especially how you have the power to change

yourself into any sort of beast you choose--a lion for instance, or an

elephant.



That is quite true, replied the Ogre; and lest you should doubt it,

I will immediately become a lion.



He did so; and the cat was so frightened that he sprang up to the roof

of the castle and hid himself in the gutter--a proceeding rather

inconvenient on account of his boots, which were not exactly fitted to

walk with upon tiles. At length, perceiving that the Ogre had resumed

his original form, he came down again stealthily, and confessed that

he had been very much frightened.



But, sir, said he, it may be easy enough for such a big gentleman

as you to change himself into a large animal: I do not suppose you

can become a small one--a rat or mouse for instance. I have heard

that you can; still, for my part, I consider it quite impossible.



Impossible! cried the other, indignantly. You shall see! and

immediately the cat saw the Ogre no longer, but a little mouse running

along on the floor.



This was exactly what he wanted; and he did the very best a cat could

do, and the most natural under the circumstances--he sprang upon the

mouse and gobbled it up in a trice. So there was an end of the Ogre.



By this time the king had arrived opposite the castle, and was seized

with a strong desire to enter it. The cat, hearing the noise of the

carriage-wheels, ran forward in a great hurry, and standing at the

gate, said in a loud voice, Welcome, sire, to the castle of my lord

the Marquis of Carabas.



What! cried his majesty, very much surprised, does the castle also

belong to you? Truly, Marquis, you have kept your secret well up to

the last minute. I have never seen anything finer than this courtyard

and these battlements. Indeed, I have nothing like them in the whole

of my dominions.



The Marquis, without speaking, offered his hand to the princess to

assist her to descend, and, standing aside that the king might enter

first--for he had already acquired all the manners of a

court--followed his majesty to the great hall, where a magnificent

collation was laid out, and where, without more delay, they all sat

down to feast.



Before the banquet was over, the king, charmed with the good qualities

of the Marquis of Carabas--and likewise with his wine, of which he had

drunk six or seven cups--said, bowing across the table at which the

princess and the miller's son were talking very confidentially

together, It rests with you, Marquis, whether you will not become my

son-in-law.



I shall be only too happy, said the complaisant Marquis, and the

princess's cast-down eyes declared the same.



So they were married the very next day, and took possession of the

Ogre's castle, and of everything that had belonged to him.



As for the cat, he became at once a grand personage, and had never

more any need to run after mice, except for his own diversion.





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