Charles Perrault "The Master Cat, or Puss in Boots/ Кот в сапогах"

Once upon a time there was a miller who left no more riches to the three
sons he had than his mill, his ass, and his cat. The division was soon
made. Neither the lawyer nor the attorney was sent for. They would soon
have eaten up all the poor property. The eldest had the mill, the second
the ass, and the youngest nothing but the cat.

The youngest, as we can understand, was quite unhappy at having so poor
a share.

"My brothers," said he, "may get their living handsomely enough by
joining their stocks together; but, for my part, when I have eaten up my
cat, and made me a muff of his skin, I must die of hunger."

The Cat, who heard all this, without appearing to take any notice, said
to him with a grave and serious air:--

"Do not thus afflict yourself, my master; you have nothing else to do
but to give me a bag, and get a pair of boots made for me, that I may
scamper through the brambles, and you shall see that you have not so
poor a portion in me as you think."

Though the Cat's master did not think much of what he said, he had seen
him play such cunning tricks to catch rats and mice--hanging himself by
the heels, or hiding himself in the meal, to make believe he was
dead--that he did not altogether despair of his helping him in his
misery. When the Cat had what he asked for, he booted himself very
gallantly, and putting his bag about his neck, he held the strings of it
in his two forepaws, and went into a warren where was a great number of
rabbits. He put bran and sow-thistle into his bag, and, stretching out
at length, as if he were dead, he waited for some young rabbits, not yet
acquainted with the deceits of the world, to come and rummage his bag
for what he had put into it.

Scarcely was he settled but he had what he wanted. A rash and foolish
young rabbit jumped into his bag, and Monsieur Puss, immediately drawing
close the strings, took him and killed him at once. Proud of his prey,
he went with it to the palace, and asked to speak with the King. He was
shown upstairs into his Majesty's apartment, and, making a low bow to
the King, he said:--

"I have brought you, sire, a rabbit which my noble Lord, the Master of
Carabas" (for that was the title which Puss was pleased to give his
master) "has commanded me to present to your Majesty from him."

"Tell thy master," said the King, "that I thank him, and that I am
pleased with his gift."

Another time he went and hid himself among some standing corn, still
holding his bag open; and when a brace of partridges ran into it, he
drew the strings, and so caught them both. He then went and made a
present of these to the King, as he had done before of the rabbit which
he took in the warren. The King, in like manner, received the partridges
with great pleasure, and ordered his servants to reward him.

The Cat continued for two or three months thus to carry his Majesty,
from time to time, some of his master's game. One day when he knew that
the King was to take the air along the riverside, with his daughter, the
most beautiful princess in the world, he said to his master:--

"If you will follow my advice, your fortune is made. You have nothing
else to do but go and bathe in the river, just at the spot I shall show
you, and leave the rest to me."

The Marquis of Carabas did what the Cat advised him to, without knowing
what could be the use of doing it. While he was bathing, the King passed
by, and the Cat cried out with all his might:--

"Help! help! My Lord the Marquis of Carabas is drowning!"

At this noise the King put his head out of the coach window, and seeing
the Cat who had so often brought him game, he commanded his guards to
run immediately to the assistance of his Lordship the Marquis of
Carabas.

While they were drawing the poor Marquis out of the river, the Cat came
up to the coach and told the King that, while his master was bathing,
there came by some rogues, who ran off with his clothes, though he had
cried out, "Thieves! thieves!" several times, as loud as he could. The
cunning Cat had hidden the clothes under a great stone. The King
immediately commanded the officers of his wardrobe to run and fetch one
of his best suits for the Lord Marquis of Carabas.

The King was extremely polite to him, and as the fine clothes he had
given him set off his good looks (for he was well made and handsome),
the King's daughter found him very much to her liking, and the Marquis
of Carabas had no sooner cast two or three respectful and somewhat
tender glances than she fell in love with him to distraction. The King
would have him come into the coach and take part in the airing. The Cat,
overjoyed to see his plan begin to succeed, marched on before, and,
meeting with some countrymen, who were mowing a meadow, he said to
them:--

"Good people, you who are mowing, if you do not tell the King that the
meadow you mow belongs to my Lord Marquis of Carabas, you shall be
chopped as small as herbs for the pot."

The King did not fail to ask the mowers to whom the meadow they were
mowing belonged.

"To my Lord Marquis of Carabas," answered they all together, for the
Cat's threat had made them afraid.

"You have a good property there," said the King to the Marquis of
Carabas.

"You see, sire," said the Marquis, "this is a meadow which never fails
to yield a plentiful harvest every year."

The Master Cat, who went still on before, met with some reapers, and
said to them:--

"Good people, you who are reaping, if you do not say that all this corn
belongs to the Marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as
herbs for the pot."

The King, who passed by a moment after, wished to know to whom belonged
all that corn, which he then saw.

"To my Lord Marquis of Carabas," replied the reapers, and the King was
very well pleased with it, as well as the Marquis, whom he congratulated
thereupon. The Master Cat, who went always before, said the same thing
to all he met, and the King was astonished at the vast estates of my
Lord Marquis of Carabas.

Monsieur Puss came at last to a stately castle, the master of which was
an Ogre, the richest ever known; for all the lands which the King had
then passed through belonged to this castle. The Cat, who had taken care
to inform himself who this Ogre was and what he could do, asked to speak
with him, saying he could not pass so near his castle without having the
honor of paying his respects to him.

The Ogre received him as civilly as an Ogre could do, and made him sit
down.

"I have been assured," said the Cat, "that you have the gift of being
able to change yourself into all sorts of creatures you have a mind to;
that you can, for example, transform yourself into a lion, or elephant,
and the like."

"That is true," answered the Ogre, roughly; "and to convince you, you
shall see me now become a lion."

Puss was so terrified at the sight of a lion so near him that he
immediately climbed into the gutter, not without much trouble and
danger, because of his boots, which were of no use at all to him for
walking upon the tiles. A little while after, when Puss saw that the
Ogre had resumed his natural form, he came down, and owned he had been
very much frightened.

"I have, moreover, been informed," said the Cat, "but I know not how to
believe it, that; you have also the power to take on you the shape of
the smallest animals; for example, to change yourself into a rat or a
mouse, but I must own to you I take this to be impossible."

"Impossible!" cried the Ogre; "you shall see." And at the same time he
changed himself into a mouse, and began to run about the floor. Puss no
sooner perceived this than he fell upon him and ate him up.

Meanwhile, the King, who saw, as he passed, this fine castle of the
Ogre's, had a mind to go into it. Puss, who heard the noise of his
Majesty's coach coming over the drawbridge, ran out, and said to the
King, "Your Majesty is welcome to this castle of my Lord Marquis of
Carabas."

"What! my Lord Marquis," cried the King, "and does this castle also
belong to you? There can be nothing finer than this courtyard and all
the stately buildings which surround it; let us see the interior, if you
please."

The Marquis gave his hand to the young Princess, and followed the King,
who went first. They passed into the great hall, where they found a
magnificent collation, which the Ogre had prepared for his friends, who
were that very day to visit him, but dared not to enter, knowing the
King was there. His Majesty, charmed with the good qualities of my Lord
of Carabas, as was also his daughter, who had fallen violently in love
with him, and seeing the vast estate he possessed, said to him:--

"It will be owing to yourself only, my Lord Marquis, if you are not my
son-in-law."

The Marquis, with low bows, accepted the honor which his Majesty
conferred upon him, and forthwith that very same day married the
Princess.

Puss became a great lord, and never ran after mice any more except for
his diversion.