Puss in Boots
Category: Children
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"Puss in Boots" is an Italian fairy tale, later spread throughout the rest of Europe, about an anthropomorphic cat who uses trickery and deceit to gain power, wealth, and the hand of a princess in marriage for his penniless and low-born master.

Puss in Boots

by Katharine Pyle

Puss in Boots

A miller died, leaving three sons to divide his fortune among them. The eldest took the mill and the land around it; the second took the flocks and herds, and then there was nothing left for the third son, Jack, but three bits of silver money, and a little cat that lived in the mill.

“This is all very well,” said Jack, “and the cat is a fine little cat and can feed on the mice it catches, but I do not see how I am to live on three pieces of money.”

“Oh,” answered his brothers, “you will have to start out in the world and do the best you can for yourself.”

Jack took the little cat and started out.

“Do not be uneasy, master,” said the little cat. “You have three silver pieces. Take them and buy me a little pair of boots and a bag, and I will make your fortune for you.”

Jack did not like to spend his money on a pair of boots for a cat, but he knew he was a wise little animal, so he did as he said. He went to a tailor, and for the three pieces of silver the tailor made him the prettiest pair of little boots that ever were seen, and when Puss drew them on they fitted exactly. The tailor also gave Jack an old bag that lay in the corner, and for which he had no use.

Puss led Jack off into the country, and then he bade him sit down by the roadside and wait for his return. The little cat ran off into a wood near by, where there were a great many rabbit-holes, and there he managed to catch two fine fat rabbits. He put the rabbits in the bag and trotted away in his neat little boots until he came to the King’s palace. There he asked to see the King, and a cat in boots was such a strange sight that he was at once brought before his majesty.

Puss in Boots

The courtiers nudged each other and laughed when the cat came into court, but Puss marched up to the King and bowed low before him.

“Your Majesty, my master, the Marquis of Carrabas, has sent you a present of these two fine fat rabbits for your supper,” said he, and he took out the rabbits and presented them to the King.

The King was very much pleased. He ordered a piece of money to be given to Puss, and bade the little animal thank his master for the fine present he had sent.

Puss ran back to where Jack was waiting, and gave him the piece of money. “There,” he said. “That is enough to pay for a bed and a supper at the inn.”

The next day Puss set off for the forest again, and this time it was a pair of fine fat partridges that he caught and carried to the King. “They are sent by my master, the Marquis of Carrabas,” said Puss.

Again the King sent his thanks to the Marquis, and gave Puss a piece of money, which the little cat carried back to his master, and it was enough to buy Jack food and lodging.

So it went on day after day. Every day Puss caught some fine game in the forest and took it to the King with the compliments of the Marquis of Carrabas, and every day the King thanked the cat and gave him a piece of money. The King began to wonder who the Marquis of Carrabas was and where he lived. He began to think the Marquis was a very generous fellow.

Puss in Boots

One day the King went out for a pleasure ride with his daughter, and many of his court rode with him.

Puss came in haste to his master. “Come quick!” he cried. “We have done well enough so far, but the time has now come when I will make your fortune.”

The cat then led Jack to a river, where he knew the King would pass before long. He then bade Jack take off his clothes and hide them under a rock, and then stand in the river up to his neck.

Jack did this, though the water was so cold it made him shudder, and he did not know how Puss was to make his fortune in this way.

Puss waited until he saw his master well in the river, and then he ran to the road along which the King was coming.

“Help! help!” he cried. “Oh, help! My master — the noble Marquis of Carrabas! He will surely drown.”

“What is the matter?” asked the King, stopping his coach, and the Princess and all the courtiers listened.

“Oh, your Majesty!” cried the cat. “My noble master! He was attacked by robbers and they robbed him of everything and threw him in the river, and unless he receives help he will surely drown.”

Puss in Boots

The King was very much concerned. He at once sent courtiers to draw Jack out from the river and dress him in robes of velvet and satin and gold lace.

Jack had never been so magnificently dressed before, and he looked a fine fellow indeed when he was brought to the King. His majesty was so pleased with Jack’s looks that he made him get into the coach and sit beside him, and the Princess was even better pleased with him than her father.

Meanwhile the little cat had hurried on far ahead of the coaches.

Presently Puss came to a field where the harvesters were harvesting the grain. Puss marched up to them scowling fiercely and bristling out his whiskers until he looked twice as big again. The harvesters were frightened.

“Listen, men,” cried Puss. “The King will soon come by this way with my master, the Marquis of Carrabas riding beside him. If he should ask you to whom this grain belongs, answer that it belongs to the noble Marquis of Carrabas. If you do not do this you shall be torn into pieces, and the shreds thrown into the river.”

The harvesters were more frightened than ever. They promised to do exactly as the cat bade them.

Puss in Boots

Then Puss ran on until he met a drover driving a great herd of cattle. Him, too, he frightened so that he promised if the King asked him to whom the herd belonged, he would say to the noble Marquis of Carrabas.

A little farther on the cat met a shepherd with his sheep, and he also promised to say his flocks belonged to the Marquis of Carrabas.

So it went on; it seemed as though everything was to be claimed by the Marquis of Carrabas.

Now all these things really belonged to an ogre who was very rich and fierce and strong and terrible, and after awhile Puss came to the castle where the ogre lived. The little cat was not afraid of ogres, however. He made his way into the castle and ran along into one room after another until he came to where the ogre was sitting.

When the ogre saw the little cat in his fine shiny, creaking boots he was so amused that he laughed aloud. He had never seen such a sight before.

“And where did you come from, my fine little cat?” he asked.

“Oh, from over the hills and far away.”

“And what do you want here?”

“I only wanted to see you because everyone says you are the strongest and most wonderful ogre in all the world.”

When the ogre heard that he was much pleased, for he was very vain.

“Well, and now you have seen me, what do you think of me?” he asked.

Oh, Puss thought he was a very wonderful ogre indeed. And was it true that he had magic powers, too?

Yes, the ogre had magic powers.

“Can you change yourself into animals if you choose? A lion or an elephant for instance?” asked Puss.

Oh, yes, that was easy enough.

“I should like to see you do that,” said the cat.

Well, the ogre was willing to oblige him. At once he turned himself into a lion, for he really had that power, and he was a very terrible looking lion indeed. He roared and lashed his tail and his mane bristled.

The ogre changes himself into a lionThe ogre changes himself into a lion

Puss was so terrified that he sprang through the window and scrambled up the roof, though he almost slipped and fell on account of the boots. There he sat spitting and trembling.

Then the ogre turned himself back into his own shape, and he laughed and laughed. “Come back, Puss,” he called, “I will not hurt you; but now you see that everything they told you was true.”

Puss came scrambling back into the room, and he looked very meek and timid.

“Yes, I see it was all true,” he said. “But, Mr. Ogre, could you turn yourself into a small animal as well? That must be a great deal harder. Could you turn yourself into a mouse?”

Yes, the ogre could do that, too, and at once he turned himself into a mouse, and ran, scampering gayly about the room. But he did not scamper long. “Ps-s-s-t!” with a bound Puss caught him and swallowed him down in a moment before he could even squeak, and that was the end of the ogre.

Meanwhile the King and the Princess and Jack were rolling along together in the fine coach and talking pleasantly together. The King was so pleased with Jack’s talk that he told the coachman to drive slowly, so they could have the more time together.

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