There was a miller who had
three sons, and when he died he divided what he possessed among them in
the following manner:--He gave his mill to the eldest, his ass to the
second, and his cat to the youngest.
Each of the brothers accordingly took what belonged to him without the
help of an attorney, who would soon have brought their little fortune to
nothing in law expenses.
The poor young fellow who
had nothing but the cat complained that he was hardly used:
"My brothers," said he,
"by joining their stocks together, may do very well in the world; as for
me, when I have eaten my cat, and made a fur-cap of his skin, I may soon
die of hunger."
The cat, which all this
time sat listening just inside the door of a cupboard, now ventured to
come out, and addressed him as follows:
"Do not thus afflict
yourself, my good master; you have only to give me a bag, and get a pair
of boots made for me, so that I may scamper through the dirt and the
brambles, and you shall see that you are not so ill provided for as you
Though the cat's master
did not much depend upon these promises, yet as he had often observed
the cunning tricks Puss used to catch rats and mice, such as hanging by
the hindlegs, and hiding in the meal to make them believe that he was
dead, he did not entirely despair of his being of some use to him in his
When the cat had obtained
what he asked for. he gaily began to equip himself: he drew on the
boots—and putting the bag about his neck, he took hold of the strings
with his forepaws, and, bidding his master take courage, immediately
The first attempt Puss
made was to go into a warren, in which there was a great number of
rabbits. He put some bran and some parsley into his bag; and then,
stretching himself out at full length as if he was dead, he waited for
some young rabbits (which as yet knew nothing of the cunning tricks of
the world) to come and get into the bag, the better to feast upon the
dainties he had put into it.
Scarcely had he laid down
before he succeeded as well as could be wished. A giddy young rabbit
crept into the bag, and the cat immediately drew the strings, and killed
him without mercy.
Puss, proud of his prey,
hastened directly to the palace where he asked to speak to the king. On
being shown into the apartment of his majesty, he made a low bow and
said, "I have brought you, sire, this rabbit from the warren of my lord,
the Marquis of Carabas, who commanded me to present it to your majesty
with the assurance of his respect." This was the title the cat thought
better to bestow upon his master.
"Tell my lord Marquis of
Carabas," replied the king, that I accept of his present with pleasure,
and that I and greatly obliged to him.''
Soon after the cat laid
himself clown in the same manner in a field of corn, and had as much
good fortune as before; for two fine partridges got into his bag, which
he immediately killed and returned to the palace. The king received them
as he had done the rabbit, and ordered his servants to give the
messenger something to drink. In this manner he continued to carry
presents of game to the king from my lord Marquis of Carabas, once at
least every week.
One day, the cat having
heard that the king intended to take a ride that morning by the river
side with his daughter, who was the most beautiful princess in the
world, he said to his master, "If you will but follow my advice your
fortune is made. Take off your clothes, and bathe yourself in the river,
just in the place I shall show you, and leave the rest to me.''
The Marquis of Carabas
did exactly as he was desired, without being able to guess what the cat
intended. While he was bathing, the king passed by, and Puss directly
called out as loud as he could bawl "Help! help! my lord Marquis of
Carabas is in danger of being drowned!"
The king hearing the
cries, put his head out at the window of his carriage to see what was
the matter when, perceiving the very cat which had brought him so many
presents, he ordered his attendants to go directly to the assistance of
my lord Marquis of Carabas.
While they were employed
in taking the Marquis out of the river, the cat ran to the king's
carriage and told his majesty, that while his master was bathing, some
thieves had run off with his clothes as they lay by the river side, the
cunning cat all the time having hid them under a large stone.
The king hearing this,
commanded the officers of his wardrobe to fetch one of the handsomest
suits it contained, and present it to my lord Marquis of Carabas, at the
same time loading him with a thousand attentions. As the fine clothes
they brought him made him look like a gentleman, and set off his person,
which was very comely, to the greatest advantage, the king's daughter
was mightily taken with his appearance, and the Marquis of Carabas had
no sooner cast upon her two or three respectful glances, than she became
violently in love with him.
The king insisted on his
getting into the carriage, and taking a ride with them. The cat,
enchanted to see how well his scheme was likely to succeed, ran before
to a meadow that was reaping, and said to the reapers, "Good people, if'
you do not tell the king, who will soon pass this way, that the meadow
you are reaping belongs to my lord Marquis of Carabas, you shall be
chopped as small as minced meat."
The king did not fail to
ask the reapers to whom the meadow belonged, "To my lord Marquis of
Carabas," said they all at once as the threat of the caln had terribly
"You have here a very
fine piece of land, my lord Marquis," said the king.
"Truly, sire,'' replied
he, "it does not fail to bring me every year a plentiful harvest.''
The cat, which still went
on before, now came to a field where some other labourers were making
sheaves of the corn they had reaped, to whom he said as before, "Good
people, if you do not tell the king, who will presently pass this way,
that the corn you have reaped in this field belongs to the lord Marquis
of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as minced meat.''
The king accordingly
passed a moment after, and enquired to whom the corn he saw belonged,
"To my lord Marquis of Carabas," answered they very glibly, which the
king again complimented the Marquis on his noble possessions.
The cat still continued
to go before, and gave the same charge to all the people he met with; so
that the King was greatly astonished at the splendid fortune of my lord
Marquis of Carabas.
Puss at length arrived at
a stately castle, which belonged to an Ogre, the richest ever known; for
in the lands the king had passed through and admired were his. The cat
took care to learn every particular about the Ogre, and what he could
do, and then asked to speak with him, saving, as he entered the room in
which he was, that he could not pass so near his castle without doing
himself the honour to enquire for his health.
The Ogre received him as
civilly as an Ogre could do, and desired him to be seated.
"I have been informed,"
said the cat, "that you have the gift of changing yourself into all
sorts of animals, into a lion, or an elephant, for example."
"It is very true,"
replied the Ogre somewhat sternly; and to convince you, I will directly
take the form of a lion."
The cat was so much
terrified at finding himself so near a lion, that he sprang from him,
and climbed to the roof of the house, but not without much difficulty,
as his boots were not very fit to walk upon the tiles.
Some minutes after, the
cat perceiving that the Ogre had quitted the form of a lion, ventured to
come down from the tiles, and owned that he had been a good deal
"I have been further
informed," continued the cat, "but I know not how to believe it, that
you have the power of taking the form of the smallest animals also for
example, of changing yourself to a rat or a mouse. I confess I should
think this must be impossible."
"Impossible! you shill
see;" and at the same instant he changed himself into a mouse, and began
to frisk about the room.
The cat no sooner set his
eves upon the Ogre in this form, than he sprang upon him, and devoured
him in an instant.
In the meantime the king,
admiring, as he came near it, the magnificent castle of the Ogre,
ordered his attendant to drive up to the gates, as he wished to take a
nearer view of it. The cat, hearing the noise of the carriage on the
drawbridge, immediately came out, saving, "Your majesty is welcome to
the castle of my lord Marquis of Carabas."
"And is this splendid
castle yours also, my lord Marquis of Carabas I never saw anything more
stately than the building, or more beautiful than the park and
pleasure-grounds around it; no doubt, the castle is no less magnificent
within than without. My lord Marquis, indulge me with a sight of it."
The Marquis gave his hand
to the young princess as she alighted, and followed the king; who went
before; they entered a spacious hall, where they found a splendid
collation which the Ogre had prepared for some friends he had expected
that day to visit him; but who, hearing that the king with the princess
and a great gentleman of the Court were within had not dared to enter.
The king was so much
charmed with the amiable qualities and noble fortune of the Marquis of
Carabas, and the young princess too had fallen so violently in love with
him, that when the king had partaken of the collation, and drank a few
glasses of wine, he said to the Marquis, "It will be your own fault, my
lord Marquis of Carabas, if you do not soon become my son-in-law."
The Marquis received the
intelligence with a thousand respectful acknowledgments, accepted the
honour conferred upon him, and married the princess that very day.
The cat became a great
lord, and never again ran after rats and mice but for his amusement.