Kisa The Cat

: The Brown Fairy Book

Once upon a time there lived a queen who had a beautiful cat, the colour

of smoke, with china-blue eyes, which she was very fond of. The cat was

constantly with her, and ran after her wherever she went, and even sat

up proudly by her side when she drove out in her fine glass coach.

'Oh, pussy,' said the queen one day, 'you are happier than I am! For you

have a dear kitten just like yourself, and I have nobody to play

but you.'

'Don't cry,' answered the cat, laying her paw on her mistress's arm.

'Crying never does any good. I will see what can be done.'

The cat was as good as her word. As soon as she returned from her drive

she trotted off to the forest to consult a fairy who dwelt there, and

very soon after the queen had a little girl, who seemed made out of snow

and sunbeams. The queen was delighted, and soon the baby began to take

notice of the kitten as she jumped about the room, and would not go to

sleep at all unless the kitten lay curled up beside her.

Two or three months went by, and though the baby was still a baby, the

kitten was fast becoming a cat, and one evening when, as usual, the

nurse came to look for her, to put her in the baby's cot, she was

nowhere to be found. What a hunt there was for that kitten, to be sure!

The servants, each anxious to find her, as the queen was certain to

reward the lucky man, searched in the most impossible places. Boxes were

opened that would hardly have held the kitten's paw; books were taken

from bookshelves, lest the kitten should have got behind them, drawers

were pulled out, for perhaps the kitten might have got shut in. But it

was all no use. The kitten had plainly run away, and nobody could tell

if it would ever choose to come back.

Years passed away, and one day, when the princess was playing ball in

the garden, she happened to throw her ball farther than usual, and it

fell into a clump of rose-bushes. The princess of course ran after it

at once, and she was stooping down to feel if it was hidden in the long

grass, when she heard a voice calling her: 'Ingibjorg! Ingibjorg!' it

said, 'have you forgotten me? I am Kisa, your sister!'

'But I never HAD a sister,' answered Ingibjorg, very much puzzled; for

she knew nothing of what had taken place so long ago.

'Don't you remember how I always slept in your cot beside you, and how

you cried till I came? But girls have no memories at all! Why, I could

find my way straight up to that cot this moment, if I was once inside

the palace.'

'Why did you go away then?' asked the princess. But before Kisa could

answer, Ingibjorg's attendants arrived breathless on the scene, and were

so horrified at the sight of a strange cat, that Kisa plunged into the

bushes and went back to the forest.

The princess was very much vexed with her ladies-in-waiting for

frightening away her old playfellow, and told the queen who came to her

room every evening to bid her good-night.

'Yes, it is quite true what Kisa said,' answered the queen; 'I should

have liked to see her again. Perhaps, some day, she will return, and

then you must bring her to me.'

Next morning it was very hot, and the princess declared that she must

go and play in the forest, where it was always cool, under the big shady

trees. As usual, her attendants let her do anything she pleased, and

sitting down on a mossy bank where a little stream tinkled by, soon fell

sound asleep. The princess saw with delight that they would pay no

heed to her, and wandered on and on, expecting every moment to see some

fairies dancing round a ring, or some little brown elves peeping at

her from behind a tree. But, alas! she met none of these; instead, a

horrible giant came out of his cave and ordered her to follow him. The

princess felt much afraid, as he was so big and ugly, and began to be

sorry that she had not stayed within reach of help; but as there was no

use in disobeying the giant, she walked meekly behind.

They went a long way, and Ingibjorg grew very tired, and at length began

to cry.

'I don't like girls who make horrid noises,' said the giant, turning

round. 'But if you WANT to cry, I will give you something to cry for.'

And drawing an axe from his belt, he cut off both her feet, which he

picked up and put in his pocket. Then he went away.

Poor Ingibjorg lay on the grass in terrible pain, and wondering if she

should stay there till she died, as no one would know where to look for

her. How long it was since she had set out in the morning she could not

tell--it seemed years to her, of course; but the sun was still high in

the heavens when she heard the sound of wheels, and then, with a great

effort, for her throat was parched with fright and pain, she gave a


'I am coming!' was the answer; and in another moment a cart made its way

through the trees, driven by Kisa, who used her tail as a whip to urge

the horse to go faster. Directly Kisa saw Ingibjorg lying there, she

jumped quickly down, and lifting the girl carefully in her two front

paws, laid her upon some soft hay, and drove back to her own little hut.

In the corner of the room was a pile of cushions, and these Kisa

arranged as a bed. Ingibjorg, who by this time was nearly fainting from

all she had gone through, drank greedily some milk, and then sank back

on the cushions while Kisa fetched some dried herbs from a cupboard,

soaked them in warm water and tied them on the bleeding legs. The pain

vanished at once, and Ingibjorg looked up and smiled at Kisa.

'You will go to sleep now,' said the cat, 'and you will not mind if I

leave you for a little while. I will lock the door, and no one can hurt

you.' But before she had finished the princess was asleep. Then Kisa

got into the cart, which was standing at the door, and catching up the

reins, drove straight to the giant's cave.

Leaving her cart behind some trees, Kisa crept gently up to the open

door, and, crouching down, listened to what the giant was telling his

wife, who was at supper with him.

'The first day that I can spare I shall just go back and kill her,' he

said; 'it would never do for people in the forest to know that a mere

girl can defy me!' And he and his wife were so busy calling Ingibjorg

all sorts of names for her bad behaviour, that they never noticed Kisa

stealing into a dark corner, and upsetting a whole bag of salt into the

great pot before the fire.

'Dear me, how thirsty I am!' cried the giant by-and-by.

'So am I,' answered the wife. 'I do wish I had not taken that last

spoonful of broth; I am sure something was wrong with it.'

'If I don't get some water I shall die,' went on the giant. And rushing

out of the cave, followed by his wife, he ran down the path which led to

the river.

Then Kisa entered the hut, and lost no time in searching every hole till

she came upon some grass, under which Ingibjorg's feet were hidden, and

putting them in her cart, drove back again to her own hut.

Ingibjorg was thankful to see her, for she had lain, too frightened to

sleep, trembling at every noise.

'Oh, is it you?' she cried joyfully, as Kisa turned the key. And the cat

came in, holding up the two neat little feet in their silver slippers.

'In two minutes they shall be as tight as they ever were!' said

Kisa. And taking some strings of the magic grass which the giant had

carelessly heaped on them, she bound the feet on to the legs above.

'Of course you won't be able to walk for some time; you must not expect

THAT,' she continued. 'But if you are very good, perhaps, in about a

week, I may carry you home again.'

And so she did; and when the cat drove the cart up to the palace gate,

lashing the horse furiously with her tail, and the king and queen saw

their lost daughter sitting beside her, they declared that no reward

could be too great for the person who had brought her out of the giant's


'We will talk about that by-and-by,' said the cat, as she made her best

bow, and turned her horse's head.

The princess was very unhappy when Kisa left her without even bidding

her farewell. She would neither eat nor drink, nor take any notice of

all the beautiful dresses her parents bought for her.

'She will die, unless we can make her laugh,' one whispered to the

other. 'Is there anything in the world that we have left untried?'

'Nothing except marriage,' answered the king. And he invited all the

handsomest young men he could think of to the palace, and bade the

princess choose a husband from among them.

It took her some time to decide which she admired the most, but at last

she fixed upon a young prince, whose eyes were like the pools in the

forest, and his hair of bright gold. The king and the queen were greatly

pleased, as the young man was the son of a neighbouring king, and they

gave orders that a splendid feast should be got ready.

When the marriage was over, Kisa suddenly stood before them, and

Ingibjorg rushed forward and clasped her in her arms.

'I have come to claim my reward,' said the cat. 'Let me sleep for this

night at the foot of your bed.'

'Is that ALL?' asked Ingibjorg, much disappointed.

'It is enough,' answered the cat. And when the morning dawned, it was no

cat that lay upon the bed, but a beautiful princess.

'My mother and I were both enchanted by a spiteful fairy,' said she,

'we could not free ourselves till we had done some kindly deed that had

never been wrought before. My mother died without ever finding a chance

of doing anything new, but I took advantage of the evil act of the giant

to make you as whole as ever.'

Then they were all more delighted than before, and the princess lived

in the court until she, too, married, and went away to govern one of her