Once upon a time a miller died, leaving the mill to his eldest son, a donkey to his second son, and nothing but a cat to his youngest son. Now, some would say this wasn’t right. But this is what happened, because that was the miller’s nature.
The eldest son kept the mill. The second son took the donkey and set off in search of his fortune, while the third, finding the whole situation quite unfair, sat down on a stone and sighed, “A cat! What am I going to do with a lousy cat?”
The cat, though, heard his words and said, “Don’t worry. Do you think I am 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 gave the cat what he asked for, and with his new equipment in hand, the cat was off. He swiftly caught a plump wild rabbit, popped it into his bag, knocked at the castle gate, went before the king and, removing his hat with a sweeping bow, said: “Sire, the famous Marquis of Carabas (for this is what he called his master) sends you this fine plump rabbit as a gift.”
“Oh,” said the king, “thank you very much.”
“Until next time,” replied the cat as he went on his way. And the next day, back he came with some partridges tucked away in his bag. “Another gift from the brave Marquis of Carabas,” he announced.
The queen remarked, “This Marquis of Carabas 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 Carabas. People at the palace began to gossip 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.”
The queen was very interested in the generous man who sent this abundance of presents. “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, the master 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 clever creature continued presenting gifts to the king and queen. 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,” fretted the young man.
“That’s all right,” replied Puss in Boots. “Just trust me.”
So they went to the river. When the king’s carriage appeared the cat pushed his master into the water.
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