THE MASTER CAT; OR, PUSS IN BOOTS
by Charles Perrault
There was a miller who left no more estate to the
three sons he had than his mill, his ass, and his
cat. The partition was soon made. Neither scrivener
nor attorney was sent for. They would soon have
eaten up all the poor patrimony. The eldest had
the mill, the second the ass, and the youngest
nothing but the cat.
The poor young fellow was quite comfortless at
having so poor a lot.
"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
The Cat, who heard all this, but made as if he
did not, said to him with a grave and serious
"Do not thus afflict yourself, my good 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 dirt and the brambles, and
you shall see that you have not so bad a portion
in me as you imagine."
The Cat's master did not build very much upon
what he said; he had, however, often seen him
play a great many cunning tricks to catch rats
and mice, as when he used to hang by the heels,
or hide himself in the meal, and make as if he
were dead; so that he did not altogether despair
of his affording him some help in his miserable
condition. 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 great abundance of rabbits. He put bran and
sow-thistle into his bag, and, stretching out at
length, as if he had been 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.
Scarce was he lain down 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 and killed him without pity.
Proud of his prey, he went with it to the palace,
and asked to speak with his Majesty. He was shown
upstairs into the King's apartment, and, making
a low reverence, said to him:
"I have brought you, sir, a rabbit of the warren,
which my noble Lord, the Marquis 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 he does me a great deal of pleasure."
Another time he went and hid himself among some
standing corn, holding still his bag open; and,
when a brace of partridges ran into it, he drew
the strings, and so caught them both. He 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 him
some money, for drink.
The Cat continued for two or three months thus
to carry his Majesty, from time to time, game of
his master's taking. One day in particular, when
he knew for certain that he was to take the air
along the river-side, with his daughter, the most
beautiful princess in the world, he said to his
"If you will follow my advice your fortune is
made. You have nothing else to do but go and
wash yourself in the river, in that part I shall
show you, and leave the rest to me."
The Marquis of Carabas did what the Cat advised
him to, without knowing why or wherefore. While
he was washing the King passed by, and the Cat
began to cry out:
"Help! help! My Lord Marquis of Carabas is going
to be drowned."
At this noise the King put his head out of the
coach-window, and, finding it was the Cat who
had so often brought him such good 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 washing,
there came by some rogues, who went off with his
clothes, though he had cried out: "Thieves!
thieves!" several times, as loud as he could.
This cunning Cat had hidden them 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 caressed him after a very extraordinary
manner, and as the fine clothes he had given him
extremely set off his good mien (for he was well
made and very handsome in his person), the King's
daughter took a secret inclination to him, and the
Marquis of Carabas had no sooner cast two or three
respectful and somewhat tender glances but she fell
in love with him to distraction. The King would
needs have him come into the coach and take part
of the airing. The Cat, quite overjoyed to see his
project 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 asking of the mowers to whom
the meadow they were mowing belonged.
"To my Lord Marquis of Carabas," answered they
altogether, for the Cat's threats had made them
"You see, sir," 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
tell the King 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, would
needs know to whom all that corn, which he then
saw, did belong.
"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 words 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 that
had ever been known; for all the lands which the
King had then gone over 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;
you can, for example, transform yourself into a
lion, or elephant, and the like."
"That is true," answered the ogre very briskly;
"and to convince you, you shall see me now become
Puss was so sadly terrified at the sight of a lion
so near him that he immediately got into the gutter,
not without abundance of trouble and danger, because
of his boots, which were of no use at all to him in
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
"I have been, moreover, 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 that
And at the same time he changed himself into a
mouse, and began to run about the floor. Puss
no sooner perceived this but 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 running over the draw-bridge, 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 court and all the
stately buildings which surround it; let us go
into it, if you please."
The Marquis gave his hand to the Princess, and
followed the King, who went first. They passed
into a spacious 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 was perfectly charmed with the good
qualities of my Lord Marquis of Carabas, as was
his daughter, who had fallen violently in love
with him, and, seeing the vast estate he possessed,
said to him, after having drunk five or six glasses:
"It will be owing to yourself only, my Lord Marquis,
if you are not my son-in-law."
The Marquis, making several low bows, accepted
the honor which his Majesty conferred upon him,
and forthwith, that very same day, married the
Puss became a great lord, and never ran after
mice any more but only for his diversion.
~~~~~~~ THE END ~~~~~~~