|The Fairy Book|
|by Dinah Maria Mulock|
|One of the earliest collections of fairy tales from different countries, first published in 1863. Carefully selected and rendered anew in language close to the oral tradition. Includes old English tales, such as Jack the Giant-killer and Tom Thumb, as well as German stories from Grimm, and French tales of Perrault and Madame d'Aulnoy, and many other delightful and time-honored fairy tales. Numerous black and white illustrations by Louis Rhead complement the text. Ages 6-9 |
PUSS IN BOOTS
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
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
"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 fit young
rabbit, ignorant of the wickedness and deceit of the
world, should peer into the sack to eat the food that
was inside. It 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 place, and begged to speak with the king. He was
desired to ascend to the apartment 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
"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
"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 nothing
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
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
"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
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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