Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault
A certain miller had three sons, and when he died the sole worldly
goods which he bequeathed to them were his mill, his ass, and his cat.
This little legacy was very quickly divided up, and you may be quite
sure that neither notary nor attorney were called in to help, for they
would speedily have grabbed it all for themselves.
The eldest son took the mill, and the second son took the ass.
Consequently all that remained for the youngest son was the cat, and he
was not a little disappointed at receiving such a miserable portion.
'My brothers,' said he, 'will be able to get a decent living by
joining forces, but for my part, as soon as I have eaten my cat and
made a muff out of his skin, I am bound to die of hunger.'
These remarks were overheard by Puss, who pretended not to have been
listening, and said very soberly and seriously:
'There is not the least need for you to worry, Master. All you have
to do is to give me a pouch, and get a pair of boots made for me so
that I can walk in the woods. You will find then that your share is not
so bad after all.'
Now this cat had often shown himself capable of performing cunning
tricks. When catching rats and mice, for example, he would hide himself
amongst the meal and hang downwards by the feet as though he were dead.
His master, therefore, though he did not build too much on what the cat
had said, felt some hope of being assisted in his miserable plight.
On receiving the boots which he had asked for, Puss gaily pulled
them on. Then he hung the pouch round his neck, and holding the cords
which tied it in front of him with his paws, he sallied forth to a
warren where rabbits abounded. Placing some bran and lettuce in the
pouch, he stretched himself out and lay as if dead. His plan was to
wait until some young rabbit, unlearned in worldly wisdom, should come
and rummage in the pouch for the eatables which he had placed there.
Hardly had he laid himself down when things fell out as he wished. A
stupid young rabbit went into the pouch, and Master Puss, pulling the
cords tight, killed him on the instant.
Well satisfied with his capture, Puss departed to the king's palace.
There he demanded an audience, and was ushered upstairs. He entered the
royal apartment, and bowed profoundly to the king.
'I bring you, Sire,' said he, 'a rabbit from the warren of the
marquis of Carabas (such was the title he invented for his master),
which I am bidden to present to you on his behalf.'
'Tell your master,' replied the king, 'that I thank him, and am
pleased by his attention.'
[Illustration: 'As though he were dead']
Another time the cat hid himself in a wheatfield, keeping the mouth
of his bag wide open. Two partridges ventured in, and by pulling the
cords tight he captured both of them. Off he went and presented them to
the king, just as he had done with the rabbit from the warren. His
Majesty was not less gratified by the brace of partridges, and handed
the cat a present for himself.
For two or three months Puss went on in this way, every now and
again taking to the king, as a present from his master, some game which
he had caught. There came a day when he learned that the king intended
to take his daughter, who was the most beautiful princess in the world,
for an excursion along the river bank.
'If you will do as I tell you,' said Puss to his master, 'your
fortune is made. You have only to go and bathe in the river at the spot
which I shall point out to you. Leave the rest to me.'
The marquis of Carabas had no idea what plan was afoot, but did as
the cat had directed.
While he was bathing the king drew near, and Puss at once began to
cry out at the top of his voice:
'Help! help! the marquis of Carabas is drowning!'
At these shouts the king put his head out of the carriage window. He
recognised the cat who had so often brought him game, and bade his
escort go speedily to the help of the marquis of Carabas.
While they were pulling the poor marquis out of the river, Puss
approached the carriage and explained to the king that while his master
was bathing robbers had come and taken away his clothes, though he had
cried 'Stop, thief!' at the top of his voice. As a matter of fact, the
rascal had hidden them under a big stone. The king at once commanded
the keepers of his wardrobe to go and select a suit of his finest
clothes for the marquis of Carabas.
The king received the marquis with many compliments, and as the fine
clothes which the latter had just put on set off his good looks (for he
was handsome and comely in appearance), the king's daughter found him
very much to her liking. Indeed, the marquis of Carabas had not
bestowed more than two or three respectful but sentimental glances upon
her when she fell madly in love with him. The king invited him to enter
the coach and join the party.
[Illustration: 'The cat went on ahead']
Delighted to see his plan so successfully launched, the cat went on
ahead, and presently came upon some peasants who were mowing a field.
'Listen, my good fellows,' said he; 'if you do not tell the king
that the field which you are mowing belongs to the marquis of Carabas,
you will all be chopped up into little pieces like mince-meat.'
[Illustration: Puss in Boots]
In due course the king asked the mowers to whom the field on which
they were at work belonged.
'It is the property of the marquis of Carabas,' they all cried with
one voice, for the threat from Puss had frightened them.
'You have inherited a fine estate,' the king remarked to Carabas.
'As you see for yourself, Sire,' replied the marquis; 'this is a
meadow which never fails to yield an abundant crop each year.'
Still travelling ahead, the cat came upon some harvesters.
'Listen, my good fellows,' said he; 'if you do not declare that
every one of these fields belongs to the marquis of Carabas, you will
all be chopped up into little bits like mince-meat.'
The king came by a moment later, and wished to know who was the
owner of the fields in sight.
'It is the marquis of Carabas,' cried the harvesters.
At this the king was more pleased than ever with the marquis.
Preceding the coach on its journey, the cat made the same threat to
all whom he met, and the king grew astonished at the great wealth of
the marquis of Carabas.
Finally Master Puss reached a splendid castle, which belonged to an
ogre. He was the richest ogre that had ever been known, for all the
lands through which the king had passed were part of the castle domain.
The cat had taken care to find out who this ogre was, and what
powers he possessed. He now asked for an interview, declaring that he
was unwilling to pass so close to the castle without having the honour
of paying his respects to the owner.
The ogre received him as civilly as an ogre can, and bade him sit
'I have been told,' said Puss, 'that you have the power to change
yourself into any kind of animalfor example, that you can transform
yourself into a lion or an elephant.'
'That is perfectly true,' said the ogre, curtly; 'and just to prove
it you shall see me turn into a lion.'
Puss was so frightened on seeing a lion before him that he sprang on
to the roofnot without difficulty and danger, for his boots were not
meant for walking on the tiles.
Perceiving presently that the ogre had abandoned his transformation,
Puss descended, and owned to having been thoroughly frightened.
'I have also been told,' he added, 'but I can scarcely believe it,
that you have the further power to take the shape of the smallest
animalsfor example, that you can change yourself into a rat or a
mouse. I confess that to me it seems quite impossible.'
'Impossible?' cried the ogre; 'you shall see!' And in the same
moment he changed himself into a mouse, which began to run about the
floor. No sooner did Puss see it than he pounced on it and ate it.
Presently the king came along, and noticing the ogre's beautiful
mansion desired to visit it. The cat heard the rumble of the coach as
it crossed the castle drawbridge, and running out to the courtyard
cried to the king:
'Welcome, your Majesty, to the castle of the marquis of Carabas!'
[Illustration: 'Puss became a personage of great importance']
'What's that?' cried the king. 'Is this castle also yours, marquis?
Nothing could be finer than this courtyard and the buildings which I
see all about. With your permission we will go inside and look round.'
The marquis gave his hand to the young princess, and followed the
king as he led the way up the staircase. Entering a great hall they
found there a magnificent collation. This had been prepared by the ogre
for some friends who were to pay him a visit that very day. The latter
had not dared to enter when they learned that the king was there.
The king was now quite as charmed with the excellent qualities of
the marquis of Carabas as his daughter. The latter was completely
captivated by him. Noting the great wealth of which the marquis was
evidently possessed, and having quaffed several cups of wine, he turned
to his host, saying:
'It rests with you, marquis, whether you will be my son-in-law.'
The marquis, bowing very low, accepted the honour which the king
bestowed upon him. The very same day he married the princess.
Puss became a personage of great importance, and gave up hunting
mice, except for amusement.