|The Blue Fairy Book|
|by Andrew Lang|
|A favorite collection of the best-known fairy tales, drawn from the folklore of many nations. It is the first and one of the best volumes in the series of colored fairy books produced by Andrew Lang at the turn of the twentieth century. Like the other volumes in the series, it includes engaging black and white illustrations that enliven the text. Inside you will find such favorites as Cinderella, Jack the Giant Killer, the Princess on the Glass Hill, Sleeping Beauty, Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp, and dozens of others. Ages 8-12 |
THE MASTER CAT; OR, PUSS IN BOOTS
HERE was a miller who left no more estate to the three
sons he had than his mill, his ass, and his cat. The
partition was soon made. Neither scrivener nor attorney
was sent for. They would soon have eaten up all the poor
patrimony. The eldest had the mill, the second the ass,
and the youngest nothing but the cat.
The poor young
fellow was quite comfortless at having 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 of hunger."
The Cat, who heard all this, but 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 to 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 of me as you imagine."
The Cat's master did not build very much upon what
he 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 his bag about his neck, he held
the strings of it in his two fore paws and went into a
warren where was great abundance of rabbits. He put
bran and sow-thistle into his bag, and, stretching 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 lain down but he had what he wanted:
a rash and foolish young rabbit jumped into his bag, and
Monsieur Puss, immediately drawing close the strings,
took and killed him without pity. Proud of his prey, he
went with it to 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, sir, 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
that he does me a great deal of pleasure."
Another time he went and hid himself among some
standing corn, holding still 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 which he
took in the warren. The King, in like manner,
the partridges with great pleasure, and ordered him some
money, to drink.
The Cat continued for two or three months thus to
carry his Majesty, from time to time, game of his master's
taking. One day in particular, when he knew for certain
that he 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
The Marquis of Carabas did what the Cat advised him
to, without knowing why or wherefore. While he was
washing the King passed by, and the Cat began to cry out:
"Help! help! My Lord Marquis of Carabas is going to
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 his 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 somewhat tender
glances but she fell in love with him to distraction. The
King would needs have him come into the coach and take
part of the airing. The Cat, quite over-joyed 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, you who are mowing, if you do not tell
the King that the meadow you mow belongs to my Lord
Marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as
herbs for the pot."
The King did not fail asking of the mowers to whom the
meadow they were mowing belonged.
 "To my Lord Marquis of Carabas," answered they
altogether, for the Cat's threats had made them terribly
"You see, sir," said the Marquis, "this is a meadow
which never fails to yield a plentiful harvest every year."
The Master Cat, who went still 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
The King, who passed by a moment after, would needs
know to whom all that corn, which he then saw, 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, who went always before, said 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 had ever been
known; for all the lands which the King had then gone
over belonged to this castle. The Cat, who had taken
care to inform himself who this ogre was and what he
could do, asked to speak with 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."
"That 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
abundance of 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
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 on you the shape of 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
And at the same time he changed himself into a mouse,
and began to run about the floor. Puss no sooner perceived
this but he fell upon him and ate 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
draw-bridge, ran out, and said to the King:
"Your Majesty is welcome to this castle of my 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 Marquis gave his hand to the Princess, and
followed the King, who went first. They passed into a
spacious hall, where they found a magnificent collation,
which the ogre had prepared for his friends, who were
that very day to visit him, but dared not to enter, knowing
the King was there. His Majesty was perfectly
 charmed with the good qualities of my Lord Marquis of
Carabas, as was his daughter, who had fallen violently in
love with him, and, seeing the vast estate he possessed,
said to him, after having drunk five or six glasses:
"It will be owing to yourself only, my Lord Marquis,
if you are not my son-in-law."
The Marquis, making several low bows, accepted the
honour which his Majesty conferred upon him, and forthwith,
that very same day, married the Princess.
Puss became a great lord, and never ran after mice any
more but only for his diversion.
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