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.
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.