The next story to which we shall direct our attention is "Puss in Boots," which, in the form known to our children, is of French origin, being one of the tales which Perrault made so popular by his versions. Before Perrault, however, two literary versions of this story existed: one in Straparola and one in the Pentamerone. There are, besides, several popular versions of this story, which are somewhat peculiar. The one that follows is from Sicily (Pitrè, No. 88).
XXXIII. DON JOSEPH PEAR.
THERE were once three brothers who owned a pear-tree and lived on the pears. One day one of the brothers went to pick these pears, and found that they had been gathered. "Oh! my brothers! what shall we do, for our pears have been picked?" So the eldest went and remained in the garden to guard the pear-tree during the night. He fell asleep, however, and the next morning the second brother came and said: "What have you done, my brother? Have you been sleeping? Do you not see that the pears have been picked? To-night I will stay." That night the second brother remained. The next morning the youngest went there and saw more of the pears picked, and said: "Were you the one that was going to keep a good watch? Go, I will stay here to-night; we shall see whether they can cheat me to my face." At night the youngest brother began to play and dance under the pear-tree; while he was not playing, a fox, believing that the youth had gone to sleep, came out and climbed the tree and picked the rest of the pears. When it was coming down the tree, the youth quickly aimed his gun at it and was about to shoot. The fox said: "Don't shoot me, Don Joseph; for I will have you called Don Joseph Pear, and will make you marry the king's daughter." Don Joseph answered: "And where shall I see you again? What has the king to do with you? With one kick that he would give you, you would never appear before him again." However, Don Joseph Pear from pity let her escape. The fox went away to a forest and caught all sorts of game, squirrels, hares, and quails, and carried them to the king; so that it was a sight. "Sir Majesty, Don Joseph Pear sends me; you must accept this game." The king said: "Listen, little fox, I accept this game; but I have never heard this Don Joseph Pear mentioned." The fox left the game there, and ran away to Don Joseph. "Softly, Don Joseph, I have taken the first step; I have been to the king, and carried him the first game; and he accepted it."
A week later the fox went to the forest, caught the best animals, squirrels, hares, birds, and took them to the king. "Sir Majesty, Don Joseph Pear sends me to you with this game." The king said to the fox: "My daughter, I don't know who this Don Joseph Pear is; I am afraid you have been sent somewhere else! I will tell you what: have this Don Joseph Pear come here, so that I can make his acquaintance." The fox wished to leave the game, and said: "I am not mistaken; my master sent me here; and for a token, he said that he wished the princess for his wife."
The fox returned to Don Joseph Pear, and said to him: "Softly, things are going well; after I have been to the king again, the matter is settled." Don Joseph said: "I will not believe you until I have my wife."
The fox now went to an ogress and said: "Friend, friend, have we not to divide the gold and silver?" "Certainly," said the ogress to the fox; "go and get the measure and we will divide the gold from the silver." The fox went to the king and did not say: "The ogress wants to borrow your measure;" but she said: "Don Joseph Pear wants to borrow, for a short time, your measure to separate the gold from the silver." "What!" said the king, "has this Don Joseph Pear such great riches? Is he then richer than I?" And he gave the fox the measure. When he was alone with his daughter he said to her, in the course of his conversation: "It must be that this Don Joseph Pear is very rich, for he divides the gold and silver." The fox carried the measure to the ogress, who began to measure and heap up gold and silver. When she had finished, the fox went to Don Joseph Pear and dressed him in new clothes, a watch with diamonds, rings, a ring for his betrothed, and everything that was needed for the marriage. "Behold, Don Joseph," said the fox, "I am going before you now; you go to the king and get your bride and then go to the church." Don Joseph went to the king; got his bride, and they went to the church. After they were married, the princess got into the carriage and the bridegroom mounted his horse. The fox made a sign to Don Joseph and said: "I will go before you; you follow me and let the carriages and horses come after."
They started on their way, and came to a sheep-farm which belonged to the ogress. The boy who was tending the sheep, when he saw the fox approach, threw a stone at her, and she began to weep. "Ah!" she said to the boy; "now I will have you killed. Do you see those horsemen? Now I will have you killed!" The youth, terrified, said: "If you will not do anything to me I will not throw any more stones at you." The fox replied: "If you don't want to be killed, when the king passes and asks you whose is this sheep-farm, you must tell him: 'Don Joseph Pear's,' for Don Joseph Pear is his son-in-law, and he will reward you." The cavalcade passed by, and the king asked the boy: "Whose is this sheep-farm?" The boy replied at once: "Don Joseph Pear's." The king gave him some money.
The fox kept about ten paces before Don Joseph, and the latter did nothing but say in a low tone: "Where are you taking me, fox? What lands do I possess that you can make me believed to be rich? Where are we going?" The fox replied: "Softly, Don Joseph, and leave it to me." They went on and on, and the fox saw another farm of cattle, with the herdsman. The same thing happened there as with the shepherd: the stone thrown and the fox's threat. The king passed. "Herdsman, whose is this farm of cattle?" "Don Joseph Pear's." And the king, astonished at his son-in-law's wealth, gave the herdsman a piece of gold.
Don Joseph was pleased on the one hand, but on the other was perplexed and did not know how it was to turn out. When the fox turned around, Joseph said: "Where are you taking me, fox? You are ruining me." The fox kept on as if she had nothing to do with the matter. Then she came to another farm of horses and mares. The boy who was tending them threw a stone at the fox. She frightened him, and he told the king, when the king asked him, that the farm was Don Joseph Pear's.
They kept on and came to a well, and near it the ogress was sitting. The fox began to run and pretended to be in great terror. "Friend, friend, see, they are coming! These horsemen will kill us! Let us hide in the well, shall we not?" "Yes, friend," said the ogress in alarm. "Shall I throw you down first?" said the fox. "Certainly, friend." Then the fox threw the ogress down the well, and then entered the ogress' palace. Don Joseph Pear followed the fox, with his wife, his father-in-law, and all the riders. The fox showed them through all the apartments, displaying the riches, Don Joseph Pear contented at having found his fortune, and the king still more contented because his daughter was so richly settled. There was a festival for a few days, and then the king, well satisfied, returned to his own country and his daughter remained with her husband. One day the fox was looking out of the window, and Don Joseph Pear and his wife were going up to the terrace. Don Joseph Pear took up a little dust from the terrace and threw it at the fox's head. The fox raised her eyes. "What is the meaning of this, after the good I have done you, miserable fellow?" said she to Don Joseph. "Take care or I will speak!" The wife said to her husband: "What is the matter with the fox, to speak thus?" "Nothing," answered her husband. "I threw a little dust at her and she got angry." Don Joseph took up a little more dust and threw it at the fox's head. The fox, in a rage, cried: "Joe, you see I will speak! and I declare that you were the owner of a pear-tree!" Don Joseph was frightened, for the fox told his wife everything; so he took an earthen jar and threw it at the fox's head, and so got rid of her. Thus--the ungrateful fellow that he was--he killed the one who had done him so much kindness; but nevertheless he enjoyed all his wealth with his wife. 
 Another Sicilian version is in Gonz., No. 65, with same title and contents. A Neapolitan version is in the Pent. II. 4, where the fox is replaced by a cat. This is also the case in the versions from the Abruzzi, Finamore, No. 46, De Nino, No. 53; in the Florentine versions in Nov. fior. p. 145, Nov. tosc. No. xii. var.; and in the Tyrolese given by Schneller, p. 122 ("Il Conte Martin dalla gatta"). In another story in Schneller, p. 124 ("L'Anello"), a youth possesses a magic ring and a dog and cat which recover the ring when stolen from its owner. Older and more interesting than the above versions is the one in Straparola, XI. 1. We give it here in full in order that our readers may compare with it the version in our text and Perrault's "Puss in Boots," which is the form in which the story has become popular all over Europe. The following translation is from the edition of 1562 (Venice).
XXXIV. PUSS IN BOOTS.
SORIANA DIES AND LEAVES THREE SONS: DUSOLINO, TESIFONE, AND CONSTANTINE THE LUCKY, WHO, BY VIRTUE OF A CAT, ACQUIRES A POWERFUL KINGDOM.
THERE was once in Bohemia a very poor lady named Soriana, who had three sons: one was called Dusolino, the other Tesifone, and the third Constantine the Lucky. She owned nothing valuable in the world but three things: a kneading-trough, a rolling-board, and a cat. When Soriana, laden with years, came to die, she made her last testament, and left to Dusolino, her eldest son, the kneading-trough, to Tesifone the rolling-board, and to Constantine the cat. When the mother was dead and buried, the neighbors, as they had need, borrowed now the kneading-trough, now the rolling-board; and because they knew that the owners were very poor, they made them a cake, which Dusolino and Tesifone ate, giving none to Constantine, the youngest brother. And if Constantine asked them for anything, they told him to go to his cat, which would get it for him. Wherefore poor Constantine and his cat suffered greatly. Now the cat, which was enchanted, moved to compassion for Constantine, and angry at the two brothers who treated him so cruelly, said: "Constantine, do not be downcast, for I will provide for your support and my own." And leaving the house, the cat went out into the fields, and, pretending to sleep, caught a hare that passed and killed it. Thence, going to the royal palace and seeing some of the courtiers, the cat said that she wished to speak with the king, who, when he heard that a cat wished to speak to him, had her shown into his presence, and asked her what she wished. The cat replied that her master, Constantine, had sent him a hare which he had caught. The king accepted the gift, and asked who this Constantine was. The cat replied that he was a man who had no superior in goodness, beauty, and power. Wherefore the king treated the cat very well, giving her to eat and drink bountifully. When the cat had satisfied her hunger, she slyly filled with her paw (unseen by any one) the bag that hung at her side, and taking leave of the king, carried it to Constantine. When the brothers saw the food over which Constantine exulted, they asked him to share it with them; but he refused, rendering them tit for tat. On which account there arose between them great envy, that continually gnawed their hearts. Now Constantine, although handsome in his face, nevertheless, from the privation he had suffered, was covered with scabs and scurf, which caused him great annoyance. But going with his cat to the river, she licked him carefully from head to foot, and combed his hair, and in a few days he was entirely cured.
The cat (as we said above) continued to carry gifts to the royal palace, and thus supported her master. But after a time she wearied of running up and down so much, and feared that she would annoy the king's courtiers; so she said to her master: "Sir, if you will do what I order, I will make you rich in a short time." "How?" said her master. The cat replied: "Come with me, and do not ask any more, for I am ready to enrich you." So they went together to the stream, which was near the royal palace, and the cat stripped her master, and with his agreement threw him into the river, and then began to cry out in a loud voice: "Help! help! Messer Constantine is drowning." The king hearing this, and remembering that he had often received presents from him, sent his people at once to aid him. When Messer Constantine was taken out of the water and dressed in fine clothes, he was taken to the king, who received him cordially, and asked him why he had been thrown into the river. Constantine could not answer for grief; but the cat, which was always at his side, said: "Know, O king, that some robbers learned from spies that my master was loaded with jewels, which he was coming to present to you. They robbed him of all, and threw him into the river, thinking to kill him, but thanks to these gentlemen he has escaped from death." The king, hearing this, ordered that he should be well cared for; and seeing that he was handsome, and knowing him to be wealthy, he concluded to give him Elisetta, his daughter, for a wife, endowing her with jewels and most beautiful garments. After the wedding festivities had been ended, the king had ten mules loaded with money, and five with costly apparel, and sent his daughter to her husband's home, accompanied by a great retinue. Constantine, seeing that he had become so wealthy and honored, did not know where to lead his wife, and took counsel with his cat, which said: "Do not fear, my master, for we shall provide for everything." So they all set out gayly on horseback, and the cat ran hastily before them; and having left the company some distance behind, met some horsemen, to whom she said: "What are you doing here, wretched men? Depart quickly, for a large band of people are coming, and will take you prisoners. They are near by: you can hear the noise of the neighing horses." The horsemen said in terror: "What must we do, then?" The cat replied: "Do this,--if you are asked whose horsemen you are, answer boldly, Messer Constantine's, and you will not be molested." Then the cat went on, and found a large flock of sheep, and did the same with their owners, and said the same thing to all those whom she found in the road. The people who were escorting Elisetta asked the horsemen: "Whose knights are you," and "whose are so many fine flocks?" and all with one accord replied: "Messer Constantine's." Then those who accompanied the bride said: "So then, Messer Constantine, we are beginning to enter your territory." And he nodded his head, and replied in like manner to all that he was asked. Wherefore the company judged him to be very wealthy. At last the cat came to a very fine castle, and found there but few servants, to whom she said: "What are you doing, good men; do you not perceive the destruction which is impending?" "What?" asked the servants. "Before an hour passes, a host of soldiers will come here and cut you to pieces. Do you not hear the horses neighing? Do you not see the dust in the air? If you do not wish to perish, take my advice and you will be saved. If any one asks you whose this castle is, say, Messer Constantine's." So they did; and when the noble company reached the handsome castle they asked the keepers whose it was, and all answered boldly Messer Constantine the Lucky's. Then they entered, and were honorably entertained. Now the castellan of that place was Signor Valentino, a brave soldier, who, a short time before, had left the castle to bring home the wife he had lately married; and to his misfortune, before he reached the place where his wife was he was overtaken on the way by a sudden and fatal accident, from which he straightway died, and Constantine remained master of the castle. Before long, Morando, King of Bohemia, died, and the people elected for their king Constantine the Lucky because he was the husband of Elisetta, the dead king's daughter, to whom the kingdom fell by right of succession. And so Constantine, from being poor and a beggar, remained Lord and King, and lived a long time with his Elisetta, leaving children by her to succeed him in the kingdom.
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For copious references to other European versions, see Köhler's notes to Gonz., No. 65 (II. p. 242), and Benfey, Pant. I. p. 222.
Don Joseph Pear
Italian Popular Tales
Crane, Thomas Frederick
Houghton Mifflin and Company
Year of Publication:
Country of Origin:
ATU 545B: The Cat Castle