Perrault's Fairy Tales
The Master Cat or Puss In Boots
Perrault's Fairy Tales
by Charles Perrault
Illustrated By Gustave Dore
The Master Cat or Puss In Boots
Help! the marquis of Carabas is drowing
A certain miller
had three sons, and when he died the sole worldly goods which
he bequeathed to them were his mill, his ass, and his cat. This
little legacy was very quickly divided up, and you may be
quite sure that neither notary nor attorney were called in to
help, for they would speedily have grabbed it all for themselves.
The eldest son took the mill, and the second son took the
ass. Consequently all that remained for the youngest son was
the cat, and he was not a little disappointed at receiving such
a miserable portion.
"My brothers," said he, "will be able to get a decent living
by joining forces, but for my part, as soon as I have eaten my
cat and made a muff out of his skin, I am bound to die of
These remarks were overheard by Puss, who pretended not
to have been listening, and said very soberly and seriously:
"There is not the least need for you to worry, Master. All
you have to do is to give me a pouch, and get a pair of boots
made for me so that I can walk in the woods. You will find
then that your share is not so bad after all."
Now this cat had often shown himself capable of performing
cunning tricks. When catching rats and mice, for example, he
would hide himself amongst the meal and hang downwards
by the feet as though he were dead. His master, therefore,
though he did not build too much on what the cat had said,
felt some hope of being assisted in his miserable plight.
On receiving the boots which he had asked for, Puss gaily
pulled them on. Then he hung the pouch round his neck, and
holding the cords which tied it in front of him with his paws,
he sallied forth to a warren where rabbits abounded. Placing
some bran and lettuce in the pouch, he stretched himself out
and lay as if dead. His plan was to wait until some young
rabbit, unlearned in worldly wisdom, should come and rummage
in the pouch for the eatables which he had placed there.
Hardly had he laid himself down when things fell out as he
wished. A stupid young rabbit went into the pouch, and
Master Puss, pulling the cords tight, killed him on the instant.
Well satisfied with his capture, Puss departed to the king's
palace. There he demanded an audience, and was ushered
upstairs. He entered the royal apartment, and bowed profoundly
to the king.
"I bring you, Sire," said he, "a rabbit from the warren of
the marquis of Carabas" (such was the title he invented for
his master), "which I am bidden to present to you on his
"Tell your master," replied the king, "that I thank him,
and am pleased by his attention."
Another time the cat hid himself in a wheat field, keeping
the mouth of his bag wide open. Two partridges ventured in,
and by pulling the cords tight he captured both of them. Off
he went and presented them to the king, just as he had done
with the rabbit from the warren. His Majesty was not less
gratified by the brace of partridges, and handed the cat a
present for himself.
For two or three months Puss went on in this way, every
now and again taking to the king, as a present from his master,
some game which he had caught. There came a day when he
learned that the king intended to take his daughter, who was
the most beautiful princess in the world, for an excursion along
the river bank.
"If you will do as I tell you," said Puss to his master, "your
fortune is made. You have only to go and bathe in the river at
the spot which I shall point out to you. Leave the rest to me."
The marquis of Carabas had no idea what plan was afoot,
but did as the cat had directed.
While he was bathing the king drew near, and Puss at once
began to cry out at the top of his voice:
"Help! help! the marquis of Carabas is drowning!"
At these shouts the king put his head out of the carriage
window. He recognized the cat who had so often brought him
game, and bade his escort go speedily to the help of the marquis
While they were pulling the poor marquis out of the river,
Puss approached the carriage and explained to the king that
while his master was bathing robbers had come and taken
away his clothes, though he had cried "Stop, thief!" at the top
of his voice. As a matter of fact, the rascal had hidden them
under a big stone. The king at once commanded the keepers
of his wardrobe to go and select a suit of his finest clothes for
the marquis of Carabas.
The king received the marquis with many compliments, and
as the fine clothes which the latter had just put on set off his
good looks (for he was handsome and comely in appearance),
the king's daughter found him very much to her liking. In-
deed, the marquis of Carabas had not bestowed more than two
or three respectful but sentimental glances upon her when she
fell madly in love with him. The king invited him to enter the
coach and join the party.
Delighted to see his plan so sucessfully launched, the cat
went on ahead, and presently came upon some peasants who
were mowing a field.
"Listen, my good fellows," said he, "if you do not tell the
king that the field which you are mowing belongs to the marquis
of Carabas, you will all be chopped up into little pieces
In due course the king asked the mowers to whom the field
on which they were at work belonged.
"It is the property of the marquis of Carabas," they all
cried with one voice, for the threat from Puss had frightened
"You have inherited a fine estate," the king remarked to
"As you see for yourself Sire," replied the marquis; "this
is a meadow which never fails to yield an abundant crop each
Still traveling ahead, the cat came upon some harvesters.
You will all be chopped into little bits like mincemeat
"Listen, my good fellows," said he, "if you do not declare
that every one of these fields belongs to the marquis of Carabas,
you will all be chopped up into little bits like mincemeat."
The king came by a moment later, and wished to know who
was the owner of the fields in sight.
"It is the marquis of Carabas," cried the harvesters.
At this the king was more pleased than ever with the
Preceding the coach on its journey, the cat made the same
threat to all whom he met, and the king grew astonished at the
great wealth of the marquis of Carabas.
Finally Master Puss reached a splendid castle, which
belonged to an ogre. He was the richest ogre that had ever
been known, for all the lands through which the king had
passed were part of the castle domain.
The cat had taken care to find out who this ogre was, and
what powers he possessed. He now asked for an interview,
declaring that he was unwilling to pass so close to the castle
without having the honor of paying his respects to the owner.
The ogre received him as civilly as an ogre can, and bade
him sit down.
"I have been told," said Puss, "that you have the power to
change yourself into any kind of animal-for example, that
you can transform yourself into a lion or an elephant."
"That is perfectly true," said the ogre, curtly, "and just
to prove it you shall see me turn into a lion."
Puss was so frightened on seeing a lion before him that he
sprang onto the roof-not without difficulty and danger, for
his boots were not meant for walking on the tiles.
Perceiving presently that the ogre had abandoned his transformation,
Puss descended, and owned to having been
The cat had taken care to find out who this ogre was
"I have also been told," he added, "but I can scarcely
believe it, that you have the further power to take the shape
of the smallest animals-for example, that you can change
yourself into a rat or a mouse. I confess that to me it seems
"Impossible?" cried the ogre; "you shall see!" And in the
same moment he changed himself into a mouse, which began
to run about the floor. No sooner did Puss see it than he
pounced on it and ate it.
Presently the king came along, and noticing the ogre's
beautiful mansion desired to visit it. The cat heard the rumble
of the coach as it crossed the castle drawbridge, and running
out to the courtyard cried to the king:
"Welcome, your Majesty, to the castle of the marquis of
"What's that?" cried the king. "Is this castle also yours,
marquis? Nothing could be finer than this courtyard and the
buildings which I see all about. With your permission we will
go inside and look round."
The marquis gave his hand to the young princess, and
followed the king as he led the way up the staircase. Entering a
great hall they found there a magnificent collation. This had
been prepared by the ogre for some friends who were to pay
him a visit that very day. The latter had not dared to enter
when they learned that the king was there.
The king was now quite as charmed with the excellent
qualities of the marquis of Carabas as his daughter. The latter
was completely captivated by him. Noting the great wealth
of which the marquis was evidently possessed, and having
quaffed several cups of wine, he turned to his host, saying:
"It rests with you, marquis, whether you will be my son-
The marquis, bowing very low, accepted the honor which
the king bestowed upon him. The very same day he married
Puss became a personage of great importance, and gave up
hunting mice, except for amusement.
The ogre received him civilly as an ogre can
It's a pleasant thing, I'm told,
To be left a pile of gold.
But there's something better still,
Never yet bequeathed by will.
Leave a lad a stock of sense-
Though with neither pounds nor pence-
And he'll finish, as a rule,
Richer than the gilded fool.
Can the heart of a Princess
Yield so soon to borrowed dress?
So it seems-but wait a while-
'Tis not all a tale of guile.
He was young and straight of limb;
She was just the girl for him.
He was brave, and she was fair.
Tell me, when the right man's there-
Be he but a miller's son-
What Princess will not be won?
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The text for "Perrault's Fairy Tales", by Charles Perrault (1628-1703) were first published in France in 1687.
The illustrations are by Gustave Dore(1832-1883) which where first published in 1862 by Hetzel in Paris.