Puss in Boots
Once upon a time a miller died, leaving the mill to his eldest son, a donkey to his second son, and nothing but a cat to his youngest son. Now, some would say this wasn't right. But this is what happened, because that was the miller's nature.
The eldest son kept the mill. The second son took the donkey and set off in search of his fortune, while the third, finding the whole situation quite unfair, sat down on a stone and sighed, “A cat! What am I going to do with a lousy cat?”
The cat, though, heard his words and said, “Don't worry. Do you think I am worth less than a half-ruined mill or a mangy donkey? Give me a cloak, a hat with a feather in it, a bag, and a pair of boots, and you will see what I can do.”
The young man gave the cat what he asked for, and with his new equipment in hand, the cat was off. He swiftly caught a plump wild rabbit, popped it into his bag, knocked at the castle gate, went before the king and, removing his hat with a sweeping bow, said: “Sire, the famous Marquis of Carabas (for this is what he called his master) sends you this fine plump rabbit as a gift.”
“Oh,” said the king, “thank you very much.”
“Until next time,” replied the cat as he went on his way. And the next day, back he came with some partridges tucked away in his bag. “Another gift from the brave Marquis of Carabas,” he announced.
The queen remarked, “This Marquis of Carabas is indeed a very courteous gentleman.”
In the days that followed, Puss in Boots regularly visited the castle, carrying rabbits, hares, partridges, and skylarks, presenting them all to the king in the name of the Marquis of Carabas. People at the palace began to gossip about this noble gentleman. “He must be a great hunter,” someone remarked. “He must be very loyal to the king,” said someone else. And yet another, “But who is he? I've never heard of him.”
The queen was very interested in the generous man who sent this abundance of presents. “Is your master young and handsome?” she asked the cat.
“Oh yes. And very rich, too,” answered Puss in Boots. “In fact, he would be very honored if you and the king called to see him in his castle.”
When the cat returned home and told his master that the king and queen were going to visit him, the master was horrified. “Whatever shall we do?” he cried. “As soon as they see me, they will know how poor I am.”
“Leave everything to me,” replied Puss in Boots. “I have a plan.”
For several days, the clever creature continued presenting gifts to the king and queen. One day he discovered that they were taking the princess on a carriage ride that very afternoon. The cat hurried home in great excitement. “Master, come along,” he cried. “It is time to carry out my plan. You must go for a swim in the river.”
“But I can't swim,” fretted the young man.
“That's all right,” replied Puss in Boots. “Just trust me.”
So they went to the river. When the king's carriage appeared the cat pushed his master into the water.
“Help!” cried the cat. “The Marquis of Carabas is drowning.”
The king heard his cries and sent his escorts to the rescue. They arrived just in time to save the poor bedraggled man, who really was drowning. The king, the queen, and the princess tended to him and ordered new clothes to be brought for the Marquis of Carabas. In these new clothes from the royal wardrobe, the master looked extremely handsome.
“Wouldn't you like to marry such a handsome man?” the queen asked her daughter.
“Oh, yes,” replied the princess.
However, the crafty cat overheard one of the ministers remark that they must find out how rich he was.
“He is very rich indeed,” said Puss in Boots. “He owns the castle and all this land. Come and see for yourself. I will meet you at the castle.”
And with that, the cat scurried off in the direction of the castle, shouting at the peasants working in the fields, “If anyone asks you who your master is, answer: the Marquis of Carabas. Otherwise you will all be sorry.” And so, frightened by what the cat might do to them if they didn't follow his orders, the peasants told the King, when his carriage swept past, that their master was the Marquis of Carabas.
In the meantime, Puss in Boots had arrived at the castle, the home of a huge, cruel ogre. Before knocking at the gate, the cat said to himself, “I must be very careful, or I'll never get out of here alive.”
When the door opened, Puss in Boots removed his feather hat, exclaiming, “My Lord Ogre, my respects!”
“What do you want, Cat?” asked the ogre rudely.
“Sire, I've heard you possess great powers. That, for instance, you can change into anything you like.”
“That's perfectly true,” said the ogre, “and what of it?”
“Well,” said the cat, “I was talking to certain friends of mine who said that you can't turn into a tiny little creature, like, for instance, a mouse.”
“Oh, so that's what they say, is it?” exclaimed the ogre, puffing up his chest indignantly.
The cat nodded, “Well, Lord Ogre, that's my opinion too, because those who can transform into big things never can manage to squeeze themselves into little ones.”
“Oh, yes? Well, just watch this!” retorted the ogre, turning into a mouse. In a flash, the cat leaped on the mouse and ate it whole. Then he dashed to the castle gate, and just in time, for the king's carriage had arrived.
With a bow, Puss in Boots said, “Sire, welcome to the castle of the Marquis of Carabas!” The king and queen, the princess, and the miller's son who, dressed in his princely clothes, really did look like a marquis, got out of the carriage. The king said, “My dear Marquis, you're a fine, handsome, young man. You have a great deal of land and a magnificent castle. Tell me, are you married?”
“No,” the young man answered, “but I would like to find a wife.” He looked at the princess as he spoke. She in turn smiled at him.
Soon, they married and lived happily together in the castle. And from time to time, the cat would wink and whisper, “You see, Master, I am worth a lot more than a mangy donkey or half-ruined mill, aren't I?”