Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales | Annotated Tale

Note that only the "Fireside Nursery Stories" section of this book has been included in the database comprising 19 tales. COMPLETE! Entered into SurLaLune Database in November 2018 with all known ATU Classifications.

Puss in Boots

THERE was a miller, who left no more estate to his three sons than his mill, his ass, and his cat. The partition was soon made, neither scrivener nor attorney being sent for. They would soon have eaten up all the patrimony. The eldest had the mill, the second the ass, and the youngest nothing but the cat.

               The poor young fellow was quite downcast at so poor a lot. "My brothers," said he, "may get their living handsomely enough by joining their stocks together, but for my part, when I have eaten up my cat, and made me a muff of his skin, I must die with hunger." The cat, who heard all this, yet made as if he did not, said to him, with a grave and serious air, "Do not thus afflict yourself, my good master; you have nothing else to do but give me a bag, and get a pair of boots made for me, that I may scamper through the dirt and the brambles, and you shall see that you have not so bad a portion as you imagine." Though he did not build very much upon what the cat said, he had however often seen him play a great many cunning tricks to catch rats and mice: as when he used to hang by the heels, or hide himself in the meal, and make as if he were dead; so that he did not altogether despair of his affording him some help in his miserable condition. When the cat had what he asked for, he booted himself very gallantly; and putting the bag about his neck, held the strings of it in his two fore paws, and went into a warren where there was a great abundance of rabbits. He put bran and sow-thistles into the bag, and stretching himself out at length, as if he had been dead, he waited for some young rabbits not yet acquainted with the deceits of the world, to come and rummage his bag for what he had put into it.

               Scarce was he laid down, but he had what he wanted; a rash and foolish young rabbit jumped into his bag, and Monsieur Puss immediately drawing the strings close, took and killed him without pity. Proud of his prey, he went with it into the palace, and asked to speak with his majesty. He was shown upstairs into the king's apartment, and, making a low reverence, said to him, "I have brought you, Sire, a rabbit of the warren, which my noble lord, the Marquis of Carabas (for that was the title which Puss was pleased to give his master), has commanded me to present to your majesty from him." "Tell thy master," said the king, "that I thank him, and he does me a great deal of pleasure."

               Another time he went and hid himself amongst some standing corn, holding his bag open; and when a brace of partridges ran into it, he drew the strings, and so caught them both. He went and made a present of these to the king, as he had done before of the rabbit. The king received the partridges with great pleasure, and ordered him some money for drink.

               The cat continued, for two or three months, to carry game to his majesty. One day in particular, when he knew that the king was to take the air along the river side, with his daughter, the most beautiful princess in the world, he said to his master, "If you will follow my advice, your fortune is made; you have nothing else to do, but go and wash yourself in the river, in that part I shall show you, and leave the rest to me." The Marquis of Carabas did what the cat advised, without knowing why or wherefore.

               While he was washing, the king passed by, and the cat began to cry out, as loud as he could, "Help, help! my Lord Marquis of Carabas is going to be drowned!" At this noise the king put his head out of the coach-window, and finding it was the cat who had so often brought him such good game, he commanded the guards to run immediately to the assistance of his lordship, the Marquis of Carabas.

               While they were drawing the poor marquis out of the river, the cat came up to the coach and told the king, that, while his master was washing, there came by some rogues who went off with his clothes, though he had cried out, "Thieves! thieves!" several times, as loud as he could. This cunning cat had hidden them under a great stone. The king immediately commanded the officers of his wardrobe to run and fetch one of his best suits for the Lord Marquis of Carabas.

               The king caressed him after a very extraordinary manner, and as the fine clothes he had given him extremely set off his good mien (for he was well-made and very handsome in his person), the king's daughter took a secret inclination to him, and the Marquis of Carabas had no sooner cast two or three respectful and tender glances, but she fell in love with him to distraction; and the king would have him come into his coach. The cat, overjoyed to see his project begin to succeed, marched on before, and meeting with some countrymen who were mowing a meadow, he said to them, "Good people, if you do not tell the king that the meadow you mow belongs to the Marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as herbs for the pot."

               The king did not fail to ask the mowers to whom the meadow they were mowing belonged. "To my Lord Marquis of Carabas," answered they all together; for the cat's threats had made them terribly afraid. "You see, sir," said the marquis, "this is a meadow that never fails to yield a plentiful harvest every year." The cat, who still went on before, met with some reapers, and said to them, "Good people, you who are reaping, if you do not tell the king that all this corn belongs to the Marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as herbs for the pot." The king, who passed by a moment after, would needs know to whom all that corn did belong. "To my Lord Marquis of Carabas," replied the reapers; and the king was very well pleased with it, as well as the marquis, whom he congratulated thereupon. The master cat went always before, saying the same words to all he met; and the king was astonished at the vast estates of my Lord Marquis of Carabas. Monsieur Puss came at last to a stately castle, the master of which was an ogre, the richest that had ever been known; for all the lands the king had then gone over belonged to him; the cat, having taken care to inform himself who this ogre was, and what he could do, asked to speak to him, saying, "He could not pass so near his castle, without having the honour of paying his respects to him."

               The ogre received him as civilly as an ogre could do, and made him sit down. "I have been assured," said the cat, "that you have the gift of being able to change yourself into all sorts of creatures you have a mind to; you can, for example, transform yourself into a lion or elephant, and the like." "This is true," answered the ogre, very briskly, "and to convince you, you shall see me now become a lion." Puss was so sadly terrified at the sight of a lion so near him, that he immediately got into the gutter, not without great trouble and danger, because of his boots, which were of no use at all to him in walking upon the tiles. A little while after, when Puss saw that the ogre had resumed his natural form, he came down, and owned that he had been very much frightened.

               "I have been moreover informed," said the cat, "but I know not how to believe it, that you have also the power to take upon you the smallest animals, for example, to change yourself into a rat or a mouse, but I must own to you, I take this to be impossible." "Impossible!" cried the ogre, "you shall see that presently;" and at the same time changed himself into a mouse, and began to run about the floor. Puss no sooner perceived this, but he fell upon him, and eat him up.

               Meanwhile the king, who saw as he passed this fine castle of the ogre's, had a mind to go into it. Puss, who heard the noise of his majesty's coach running over the drawbridge, ran out, and said to the king, "Your majesty is welcome to this castle of the Lord Marquis of Carabas." "What! my lord marquis," cried the king, "and does this castle also belong to you? there can be nothing finer than this court, and all the stately buildings which surround it: let us go into it, if you please."

               The king went up first, the marquis, handing the princess, following; they passed into a spacious hall, where they found a magnificent collation the ogre had prepared for his friends, who dared not enter, knowing the king was there. His majesty was perfectly charmed with the good qualities of the marquis, and his daughter was violently in love with him. The king, after having drank five or six glasses, said to him, "My lord marquis, you will be only to blame, if you are not my son-in-law." The marquis, making several low bows, accepted the honour his majesty conferred upon him, and forthwith the very same day married the princess.

               Puss became a great lord, and never ran after mice any more but only for his diversion.


One of the tales of Perrault, 1697. The plot was taken from the first novel of the eleventh night of Straparola. Its moral is that talents are equivalent to fortune. We have inserted this in our collection, although generally remembered, as a specimen of the simple tales founded by Perrault on older stories, and which soon became popular in this country. The others, as Blue Beard, and Little Riding Hood, are vanishing from the nursery, but are so universally known that reprints of them would be superfluous.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Puss in Boots
Tale Author/Editor: Halliwell, James Orchard
Book Title: Popular Rhymes and Nursery Tales
Book Author/Editor: Halliwell, James Orchard
Publisher: John Russell Smith
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1849
Country of Origin: England
Classification: ATU 545B: The Cat Castle

Back to Top