PUSS IN BOOTS
By Charles Perrault
A MILLER, dying, divided all his property between his three children.
This was very easy, as he had nothing to leave but his mill, his ass,
and his cat; so he made no will, and called in no lawyer. The eldest
son had the mill; the second, the ass; and the youngest, nothing but
the cat. The young fellow was quite downcast at so poor a lot. "My
brothers," said he, "by putting their property together, may gain an
honest living, but there is nothing left for me except to die of
hunger, unless, indeed, I were to kill my cat and eat him, and make a
muff of his skin."
The cat, who heard all this, sat up on his four paws, and looking at
him with a grave and wise air, said: "Master, I think you had better
not kill me; I shall be much more useful to you alive."
"How so?" asked his master.
"You have but to give me a sack and a pair of boots, such as gentlemen
wear when they go shooting, and you will find you are not so ill off as
Now, though the young man did not much depend upon the cat's words,
still he thought it rather surprising that a cat should speak at all.
And he had before now seen him play a great many cunning tricks in
catching rats and mice, so that it seemed advisable to trust him a
little further; especially as-poor young fellow-he had nobody else to
When the cat got his boots, he drew them on with a grand air, and
slinging his sack over his shoulder, and drawing the cords of it round
his neck, he marched bravely to a rabbit warren hard by, with which he
was well acquainted. Then, putting some bran and lettuces into his
bag, and stretching himself out beside it as if he were dead, he waited
till some fine, fat young rabbit, ignorant of the wickedness and deceit
of the world, should peep into the sack to eat the food that was
inside. This happened very shortly, for there are plenty of foolish
young rabbits in every warren; and when one of them, who really was a
splendid fat fellow, put his head inside, Master Puss drew the cords
immediately, and took him and killed him without mercy. Then, very
proud of his prey, he marched direct to the palace, and begged to speak
with the King.
He was told to ascend to the apartment of his majesty, where, making a
low bow, he said: "Sire, here is a magnificent rabbit, killed in the
warren, which belongs to my lord the Marquis of Carabas, and which he
told me to offer humbly to your majesty."
"Tell your master," replied the King, politely, "that I accept his
present, and am very much obliged to him."
Another time, Puss went out and hid himself and his sack in a wheat
field, and there caught two splendid fat partridges in the same manner
as he had done the rabbit. When he presented them to the King, with a
similar message as before, his majesty was so pleased that he ordered
the cat to be taken down into the kitchen and given something to eat
and drink; where, while enjoying himself, the faithful animal did not
cease to talk in the most cunning way of the large preserves and
abundant game which belonged to his lord the Marquis of Carabas.
One day, hearing that the King was intending to take a drive along the
riverside with his daughter, the most beautiful princess in the world,
Puss said to his master: "Sir, if you would only follow my advice,
your fortune is made."
"Be it so," said the miller's son, who was growing disconsolate, and
cared very little what he did: "Say your say, cat."
"It is but little," replied Puss, looking wise, as cats can. "You have
only to go and bathe in the river at a place which I shall show you,
and leave all the rest to me. Only remember that you are no longer
yourself, but my lord the Marquis of Carabas."
"Just so," said the miller's son, "it's all the same to me;" but he did
as the cat told him.
While he was bathing, the King and all the court passed by, and were
startled to hear loud cries of "Help! help! my lord the Marquis of
Carabas is drowning." The King put his head out of the carriage, and
saw nobody but the cat, who had at different times brought him so many
presents of game; however, he ordered his guards to fly quickly to the
succor of my lord the Marquis of Carabas. While they were pulling the
unfortunate marquis out of the water, the cat came up, bowing, to the
side of the King's carriage, and told a long and pitiful story about
some thieves who, while his master was bathing, had come and carried
away all his clothes, so that it would be impossible for him to appear
before his majesty and the illustrious princess.
"Oh, we will soon remedy that," answered the King, kindly and
immediately ordered one of the first officers of the household to ride
back to the palace with all speed, and bring thence a supply of fine
clothes for the young gentleman, who kept out of sight until they
arrived. Then, being handsome and well-made, his new clothes became
him so well, that he looked as if he had been a marquis all his days,
and advanced with an air of respectful ease to offer his thanks to his
The King received him courteously, and the princess admired him very
much. Indeed, so charming did he appear to her, that she hinted to her
father to invite him into the carriage with them, which, you may be
sure the young man did not refuse. The cat, delighted at the success
of his scheme, went away as fast as he could, and ran so swiftly that
he kept a long way ahead of the royal carriage. He went on and on,
till he came to some peasants who were mowing in a meadow. "Good
people," said he, in a very firm voice, "the King is coming past here
shortly, and if you do not say that the field you are mowing belongs to
my lord the Marquis of Carabas, you shall all be chopped as small as
So when the King drove by, and asked whose meadow it was where there
was such a splendid crop of hay, the mowers all answered, trembling,
that it belonged to my lord the Marquis of Carabas.
"You have very fine land, marquis," said his majesty to the miller's
son, who bowed, and answered that "it was not a bad meadow, take it
Then the cat came to a wheat field, where the reapers were reaping with
all their might. He bounced in upon them: "The King is coming past
to-day, and if you do not tell him that this wheat belongs to my lord
the Marquis of Carabas, I will have you everyone chopped as small as
mincemeat." The reapers, very much alarmed, did as they were bid, and
the King congratulated the marquis upon possessing such beautiful
fields, laden with such an abundant harvest.
They drove on-the cat always running before and saying the same thing
to everybody he met, that they were to declare that the whole country
belonged to his master; so that even the King was astonished at the
vast estate of my lord the Marquis of Carabas.
But now the cat arrived at a great castle where dwelt an Ogre, to whom
belonged all the land through which the royal carriage had been
driving. This Ogre was a cruel tyrant, and his tenants and servants
were terribly afraid of him, which accounted for their being so ready
to say whatever they were told to say by the cat, who had taken pains
to inform himself all about the Ogre. So, putting on the boldest face
he could assume, Puss marched up to the castle with his boots on, and
asked to see the owner of it, saying that he was on his travels, but
did not wish to pass so near the castle of such a noble gentleman
without paying his respects to him. When the Ogre heard this message,
he went to the door, received the cat as civilly as an Ogre can, and
begged him to walk in and repose himself.
"Thank you, sir," said the cat; "but first I hope you will satisfy a
traveler's curiosity. I have heard in far countries of your many
remarkable qualities, and especially how you have the power to change
yourself into any sort of beast you choose-a lion, for instance, or an
"That is quite true," replied the Ogre; "and lest you should doubt it I
will immediately become a lion."
He did so; and the cat was so frightened that he sprang up to the roof
of the castle and hid himself in the gutter-a proceeding rather
inconvenient on account of his boots, which were not exactly fitted to
walk with on tiles. At length, perceiving that the Ogre had resumed
his original form, he came down again, and owned that he had been very
"But, sir," said he, "it may be easy enough for such a big gentleman as
you to change himself into a large animal; I do not suppose you could
become a small one-a rat, or mouse, for instance. I have heard that
you can; still, for my part, I consider it quite impossible."
"Impossible!" cried the other, indignantly. "You shall see!" and
immediately the cat saw the Ogre no longer, but a little mouse running
along on the floor.
This was exactly what Puss wanted; and he fell upon him at once and ate
him up. So there was an end to the Ogre.
By this time the King had arrived opposite the castle, and had a strong
wish to go into it. The cat, hearing the noise of the carriage wheels,
ran forward in a great hurry, and, standing at the gate, said, in a
loud voice: "Welcome, sire, to the castle of my lord the Marquis of
"What!" cried his majesty, very much surprised, "does the castle also
belong to you? Truly, marquis, you have kept your secret well up to
the last minute. I have never seen anything finer than this courtyard
and these battlements. Let us go in, if you please."
The marquis, without speaking, offered his hand to the princess to help
her to descend, and, standing aside that the King might enter first,
followed his majesty to the great hall, where a magnificent dinner was
laid out, and where, without more delays they all sat down to feast.
Before the banquet was over, the King, charmed with the good qualities
of the Marquis of Carabas, said, bowing across the table at which the
princess and the miller's son were talking very confidentially
together: "It rests with you, marquis, whether you will marry my
"I shall be only too happy," said the marquis, and the princess's cast-
down eyes declared the same.
So they were married the very next day, and took possession of the
Ogre's castle, and of everything that had belonged to him.
As for the cat, he became at once a great lord, and had nevermore any
need to run after mice, except for his own diversion.