||Once upon a time . . .
a miller died leaving the mill to his eldest son, his donkey to his second son and . . . a
cat to his youngest son. "Now that's some difference!" you might say; but there
you are, that's how the miller was! The eldest son kept the mill, the second son took the
donkey and set off in search of his fortune . . . while the third sat down on a stone and
sighed, "A cat! What am I going to do with that?" But the cat heard his words
and said, "Don't worry, Master. What do you think? That I'm 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, by no means
surprised, for it was quite common for cats to talk in those days, gave the cat what he
asked for, and as he strode away, confident and cheerful. the cat said. "Don't look
so glum, Master. See you soon!" Swift of foot as he was, the cat caught a fat wild
rabbit, popped it into his bag, knocked at the castle gate, went before the King and,
removing his hat, with a sweeping bow, he said: "Sire, the famous Marquis of Caracas
sends you this fine plump rabbit as a gift." "Oh," said the King,
"thanks so much." "Till tomorrow," replied the cat as he went out. And
the next day, back he came with some partridges tucked away in his bag. "Another gift
from the brave Marquis of Caracas," he announced. The Queen remarked, "This
Marquis of Caracas 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 Caracas. Folk at
the palace began to talk 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." At this
someone who wanted to show people how much he knew, replied, "Oh, yes, I've heard his
name before. In fact, I knew his father." The Queen was very interested in this
generous man who sent these gifts. "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, he 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 crafty cat kept on taking
gifts to the King and Queen, and 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," replied the young man.
"That's all right," replied Puss in Boots. "Just trust me." So they
went to the river and when the King's carriage appeared the cat pushed his master into the
water. "Help!" cried the cat. "The Marquis of Caracas is drowning."
The King heard his cries and sent his escorts to the rescue. They arrived just in time to
save the poor man, who really was drowning. The King, the Queen and the Princess fussed
around and ordered new clothes to be brought for the Marquis of Caracas. "Wouldn't
you like to marry such a handsome man?" the Queen asked her daughter. "Oh,
yes," replied the Princess. However, the 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 these words, the cat rushed 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 Caracas. Otherwise you will all be sorry." And so,
when the King's carriage swept past, the peasants told the King that their master was the
Marquis of Caracas. 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 a lion or an elephant."
"That's perfectly true," said the ogre, "and so what?"
"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 a mouse." "Oh, so that's
what they say, is it?" exclaimed the ogre. The cat nodded, "Well, Sire, that's
my opinion too, because folk that can do big things never can manage little ones."
"Oh, yes? Well, just watch this!" retorted the ogre, turning into a mouse. In a
flash, the cat leapt on the mouse and ate it whole. Then he dashed to the castle gate,
just in time, for the King's carriage was drawing up. With a bow, Puss in Boots said,
"Sire, welcome to the castle of the Marquis of Caracas!" 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 and the King spoke: "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. To cut a
long story short, the miller's son, now Marquis of Caracas, married the Princess and lived
happily with her in the castle. And from time to time, the cat would wink and whisper,
"You see, Master, I am worth a lot more than any mangy donkey or half-ruined mill,