Fairy Tales Too Good To Miss—Aboard the Ship  by Lisa M. Ripperton

O NCE upon a time a miller, who was carrying some sacks to market through a wood, perceived a very large and handsome cat struggling to free itself from a water snake which had coiled round its throat so that poor Puss could not even mew for help.

The miller was kind to animals, of course, because he was a brave man, so he rushed forward and released the cat, throwing the snake with all his force back into the deep river running through the wood.

The cat, thus delivered, came purring and rubbing itself against his boots, causing the miller to say:

"Get out of my path and go home, Puss, you should not be wandering in the wood."

Puss looked up, to his surprise, and replied: "Kind master, I have no home."

"Then you had better come and live with me," said the miller. "I shall be very glad to have you, for the rats and mice give me a great deal of trouble at home."

When they reached the mill, three boys rushed shouting out to welcome their father.

They all began to talk at once when they saw the cat.

"Father, father! What a fine cat! Where did you get it?"

"In the wood, boys. He wishes to live with us, therefore be kind to him."

"I will," said the youngest son, stroking Puss; "he shall have half my milk for supper."


And so he had; and many another little kindness. The other brothers were not so kind.

Years went on. The three boys grew into young men. The two elder were rather selfish; the youngest, generous, kind, and unselfish.

At last the old miller was taken very ill and died, leaving his mill to the eldest son, his ass to the second, and his cat to the youngest.

When the poor young fellow found that he was left without any means of livelihood he was very much distressed, and sat down to think, for as he expected, his selfish brothers told him to leave the mill the very next day.

"What shall I do? What will become of me?" he said to himself aloud. "What am I to do with poor Puss?"

There was a slight noise from an old walnut-press close by, and the miller's cat jumped on the table.


"My dear young master," said he, "do not grieve. Only get me a nice pair of boots and a bag, and I will get your living for you."

"What is the meaning of this?" exclaimed the miller's son. "Who would have ever thought you were able to talk like a man."


That very evening he set off with Puss to the next town, and bought a splendid pair of boots for the cat and a large, handsome leather bag, with the little money he had saved, for he thought there must be something mysterious in that sort of talking animal.


They then wandered about to seek a dwelling place, and at last found one in a broken-down lodge, which stood unoccupied at the entrance to an ogre's park, which was situated in that neighbourhood.

The next morning Puss made his appearance in top boots, with his bag slung over his shoulder, before setting out on an expedition.

Now he had put some bran and parsley into his bag, and, trotting on till he came to a rabbit-warren, he put it down open, and hid himself amongst the ferns and the bushes, at the same time holding the strings.


By-and-by, two fat, giddy young rabbits crept into the bag. Puss instantly drew the strings of the bag tightly, and then hurried off till he reached the king's palace. Arriving at the gate he demanded an audience of the sovereign.


The attendants were so amazed at hearing a cat talk, that they reported the demand to the king, and the royal curiosity was aroused so greatly by the story of a talking cat, that he at once desired them to admit Puss.

Puss walked through the palace stroking his moustache, till he stood in the royal presence. Then he bowed very low; and on the king's asking him from whence he came, and what was his business, he replied:

"Please your majesty, my master, the Marquis of Carabas, sends me with these rabbits as a present to your majesty."

"Tell my lord marquis," replied the astonished king, "that I am much obliged for his gift"; and he dismissed Puss with many compliments, and a purse of gold.

The next day Puss went into the ogre's preserves and contrived to catch two partridges.

With these he again proceeded to the palace, was once more admitted, and gave the same message.

The king was quite charmed with Puss; and sent for his daughter to see the wonderful Puss in Boots.


She was a very beautiful lady, and was so very kind and amiable to Puss that he was very pleased, and purred out his admiration so warmly that she said she had never met with his equal for intelligence and grace.

"Ah!" said Puss, turning up his eyes, "what would you say then to my good master, the Marquis of Carabas?"

"I wish the worthy noble would come to court," said the king. "Tell him I greatly desire his acquaintance."

The cat went home walking quite proudly, and related this conversation to his master, who shook his head, and said:

"What folly, my dear Puss! How can you be so very absurd? and how is it all to end?"

"We shall see," said Puss, stroking his moustache.

Now one day the cat heard the king tell his daughter that he would take her for a long drive by the river's side the next day. So he ran home, and said to his master:

"If you will take my advice, your fortune is certainly made. Go and bathe in the river, at the place I will show you, and leave the rest to me."

The "marquis" did as he was desired; and as soon as he was in the stream, the cunning cat carried off all his clothes, and hid them under a large stone.


While the young man was bathing, the royal carriage and attendants came in sight. Directly he saw the procession, Puss began to utter a succession of the most alarming cries:

"Help, help! or my lord Marquis of Carabas will be drowned!"


The king, seeing his favourite, the cat, immediately desired two of his attendants to go to his assistance.

The young man was drawn out of the water, and asked for his clothes. Then the cunning Puss in Boots ran hither and thither to find them, and pretending not to be able to see them, cried out that they were certainly stolen, and that his master would catch his death of cold.

By a lucky accident a suit of clothes was in the carriage.

So the "marquis" was dressed in them, and the king, pleased with his frank, good looks, insisted on his entering the carriage, and taking a drive with the princess and himself.


The cat, enchanted at the success of his cunning trick, ran hastily on; and coming to a large field, in which reapers were at work, he told them that if they did not tell the king that those fields belonged to the Marquis of Carabas, they should be chopped up as small as mincemeat.


The poor peasants, terrified at the fierce looks of the cat, and amazed at hearing him talk, and seeing him walk in boots, did not even dream of refusing; so when the king, looking out over the rich wheat-fields, asked, "Whose noble harvest is this?" they replied, "It belongs to my lord Marquis of Carabas."

By-and-by the cat came to the gamekeepers' and woodmen's lodges, and he said:

"If the king asks you whose broad lands are these, you must say they belong to the Marquis of Carabas, or you shall be chopped up as small as mincemeat."


When the king asked:

"To whom do these broad lands belong?"

The woodmen answered:

"To my lord Marquis of Carabas."


And the king smiled, and said: "I had always understood that these extensive domains belonged to an ogre. The idea of calling you  by such a name!"

The cat had run on meanwhile, and had reached a magnificent castle, which he knew was the abode of the cruel ogre, who ate children.

"Do you call yourself a cat?" growled the ogre, who opened the door himself.

"No! I am Puss in Boots," said the cat, with dignity, "prime minister to the Marquis of Carabas."

"Oh!" said the ogre, much impressed. "What do you want?"

"To make your acquaintance, most magnificent ogre," said the cat. He saw the ogre was stupid, so he used all the longest words he knew.

Now the ogre could not understand all these long words, so he looked very wise and said:

"Come in."


So Puss entered the castle, which was a most magnificent place.

"Is it true, may I presume to inquire," asked the cat, bowing down to the ground, "can your wonderful ogreship turn into any very large animal that you please?"

"I can, O Cat," replied the ogre, "I can. Would you like to see me do so?"

"Oh! really," purred the cat, "you are too good. I should be delighted."

In one moment an elephant stood in the ogre's place, and Puss uttered a cry of amazement.


"Most wonderful!" he said.

"That's nothing," said the ogre; and suddenly the elephant turned into a lion, and Puss really was very much alarmed.

"I must say," observed Puss, "that all which report says of your great powers, most gracious ogre, is true! But I suppose you cannot change yourself into a small animal, as a dog or a rat?"


"You shall see," replied the ogre, greatly flattered by Puss's admiration, "you shall see!"

And then he became a dog, and flew at the cat, and Puss scratched his face; and then he turned into a rat, and then into a mouse, and the moment Puss in Boots saw him capering in the latter form on the floor, he made a dart at him, and killed him directly.


Puss now perceived from the hall window the king's carriage driving past, and so he ran out and cried:

"My lord Marquis of Carabas, won't you ask his majesty to walk in and take a little refreshment?" for a splendid feast had been spread out for the ogre.

"You presume," said his master, with a frown.

"Nay, my lord," said the king, laughing. So he ordered the carriage to be driven up to the castle, and having enjoyed luncheon, Puss showed them all the wonders and riches of the castle.

The king went home greatly impressed by the wealth and charming appearance of his neighbour, and resolved to make him his son-in-law.

After they had gone the young miller said: "You have been a very clever Puss, but surely I cannot keep this castle, which does not belong to me?"

"Yes, yes, it is yours. I won it, and I give it to you."

By-and-by the king, who came frequently to the castle, made proposals of marriage for the princess.


Now the young man loved the lady very much, for she was sweet and gentle and kind, and Puss adored her; and as the princess had fallen in love with him during their acquaintance, in a little while the king gave the Marquis of Carabas his daughter for his wife and made him a prince.


The miller's son was very grateful to Puss, who never had to catch mice for his dinner any more, for dainty meat and the best cream were every day given to him, as was only a fitting reward for this faithful Puss in Boots.