Andrew Lang’s THE MASTER CAT; OR, PUSS IN BOOTS

There was a miller who left no more estate to the three sons he had than his mill, his ass, and his cat. The partition was soon made. Neither scrivener nor attorney was sent for. They would soon have eaten up all the poor patrimony. The eldest had the mill, the second the ass, and the youngest nothing but the cat. The poor young fellow was quite comfortless at having 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 of hunger.”

The Cat, who heard all this, but 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 to 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 in me as you imagine.”

The Cat’s master did not build very much upon what he said. He had 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 his bag about his neck, he held the strings of it in his two forepaws and went into a warren where was great abundance of rabbits. He put bran and sow-thistle into his bag, and stretching 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 lain down but he had what he wanted. A rash and foolish young rabbit jumped into his bag, and Monsieur Puss, immediately drawing close the strings, took and killed him without pity. Proud of his prey, he went with it to 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, sir, 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 that he does me a great deal of pleasure.”

Another time he went and hid himself among some standing corn, holding still 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 which he took in the warren. The king, in like manner, received the partridges with great pleasure, and ordered him some money for drink.

The Cat continued for two or three months thus to carry his Majesty, from time to time, game of his master’s taking. One day in particular, when he knew for certain that he 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 him to, without knowing why or wherefore. While he was washing the King passed by, and the Cat began to cry out:

“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 his 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 somewhat tender glances but she fell in love with him to distraction. The King would needs have him come into the coach and take part of the airing. The Cat, quite 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, you who are mowing, if you do not tell the King that the meadow you mow belongs to my Lord Marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as herbs for the pot.”

The King did not fail asking of the mowers to whom the meadow they were mowing belonged.

“To my Lord Marquis of Carabas,” answered they altogether, for the Cat’s threats had made them terribly afraid.

“You see, sir,” said the Marquis, “this is a meadow which never fails to yield a plentiful harvest every year.”

The Master Cat, who went still 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, which he then saw, 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, who went always before, said 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 had ever been known; for all the lands which the King had then gone over belonged to this castle. The Cat, who had taken care to inform himself who this ogre was and what he could do, asked to speak with him, saying he could not pass so near his castle without having the honor 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.”

“That 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 abundance of 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 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 on you the shape of 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 he changed himself into a mouse, and began to run about the floor. Puss no sooner perceived this but he fell upon him and ate 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 draw-bridge, ran out, and said to the King:

“Your Majesty is welcome to this castle of my 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 Marquis gave his hand to the Princess, and followed the King, who went first. They passed into a spacious hall, where they found a magnificent collation, which the ogre had prepared for his friends, who were that very day to visit him, but dared not to enter, knowing the King was there. His Majesty was perfectly charmed with the good qualities of my Lord Marquis of Carabas, as was his daughter, who had fallen violently in love with him, and, seeing the vast estate he possessed, said to him, after having drunk five or six glasses:

“It will be owing to yourself only, my Lord Marquis, if you are not my son-in-law.”

The Marquis, making several low bows, accepted the honor which his Majesty conferred upon him, and forthwith, that very same day, married the Princess.

Puss became a great lord, and never ran after mice any more but only for his diversion.(1)

(1) Charles Perrault.

The Master Cat or Puss in Boots by Charles Perrault


Once upon a time there was a miller, who, at his death, had nothing to leave to his three sons except his mill, his ass, and his cat. The eldest son took the mill, the second took the ass—and as for the youngest, all that remained for him was the cat.

The youngest son grumbled at this. “My brothers,” said he, “will be able to earn an honest living; but when I have eaten my cat and sold his skin I shall die of hunger.”

The Cat, who was sitting beside him, overheard this.

“Nay, Master,” he said, “don’t take such a gloomy view of things. If you will get me a pair of boots made so that I can walk through the brambles without hurting my feet, and give me a bag, you shall soon see what I am worth.”

The Cat’s master was so surprised to hear his Cat talking, that he at once got him what he wanted. The Cat drew on the boots and slung the bag round his neck and set off for a rabbit warren. When he got there he filled his bag with bran and lettuces, and stretching himself out beside it as if dead, waited until some young rabbit should be tempted into the bag. This happened very soon. A fat, thoughtless rabbit went in headlong, and the Cat at once jumped up, pulled the strings and killed him.

Puss was very proud of his success, and, going to the King’s palace, he asked to speak to the King. When he was shown into the King’s pres[75]ence he bowed respectfully, and, laying the rabbit down before the throne, he said—

“Sire, here is a rabbit, which my master, the Marquis of Carabas, desires me to present to your Majesty.”

“Tell your master,” said the King, “that I accept his present, and am very much obliged to him.”

A few days later, the Cat went and hid himself in a cornfield and laid his bag open as before. This time two splendid partridges were lured into the trap, and these also he took to the Palace and presented to the King from the Marquis of Carabas. The King was very pleased with this gift, and ordered the messenger of the Marquis of Carabas to be handsomely rewarded.

For two or three months the Cat went on in this way, carrying game every day to the Palace, and saying it was sent by the Marquis of Carabas.

At last the Cat happened to hear that the King was going to take a drive on the banks of the river, with his daughter, the most beautiful Princess in the world. He at once went to his master.

“Master,” said he, “if you follow my advice, your fortune will be made. Go and bathe in the river at a place I shall show you, and I will do the rest.”

“Very well,” said the Miller’s son, and he did as the Cat told him. When he was in the water, the Cat took away his clothes and hid them, and then ran to the road, just as the King’s coach went by, calling out as loudly as he could—

“Help, help! The Marquis of Carabas will be drowned.”

puss-in-boots-perrault

The King looked out of the carriage window, and when he saw the Cat who had brought him so many fine rabbits and partridges, he ordered his bodyguards to fly at once to the rescue of the Marquis of Carabas.

Then the Cat came up to the carriage and told the King that while his master was bathing some robbers had stolen all his clothes. The King immediately ordered one of his own magnificent suits of clothes to be taken to the Marquis; so when the Miller’s son appeared before the monarch and his daughter, he looked so handsome, and was so splendidly attired, that the Princess fell in love with him on the spot.

The King was so struck with his appearance that he insisted upon his getting into the carriage to take a drive with them.

The Cat, delighted with the way his plans were turning out, ran on before. He reached a meadow where some peasants were making hay.

“Good people,” said he, “if you do not tell the King, when he comes this way, that the meadow you are mowing belongs to the Marquis of Carabas, you shall all be chopped up into little pieces.”

When the King came by, he stopped to ask the haymakers to whom the meadow belonged.

“To the Marquis of Carabas, if it please Your Majesty,” answered they, trembling, for the Cat’s threat had frightened them terribly.

The Cat, who continued to run before the carriage, now came to some reapers.

“Good people,” said he, “if you do not tell the King that all this corn belongs to the Marquis of Carabas, you shall all be chopped up into little pieces.”

The King again stopped to ask to whom the land belonged, and the reapers, obedient to the Cat’s command, answered—

“To the Marquis of Carabas, please Your Majesty.”

And all the way the Cat kept running on before the carriage, repeating the same instructions to all the laborers he came to; so that the King became very astonished at the vast possessions of the Marquis of Carabas.

At last the Cat arrived at a great castle, where an Ogre lived who was very rich, for all the lands through which the King had been riding were part of his estate. The Cat knocked at the castle door, and asked to see the Ogre.

The Ogre received him very civilly, and asked him what he wanted.

“If you please, sir,” said the Cat, “I have heard that you have the power of changing[79] yourself into any sort of animal you please—and I came to see if it could possibly be true.”

“So I have,” replied the Ogre, and in a moment he turned himself into a lion. This gave the Cat a great fright, and he scrambled up the curtains to the ceiling.

“Indeed, sir,” he said, “I am now quite convinced of your power to turn yourself into such a huge animal as a lion; but I do not suppose you can change yourself into a small one—such as a mouse, for instance?”

“Indeed, I can,” cried the Ogre, indignantly; and in a moment the lion had vanished, while a little brown mouse frisked about the floor.

In less than half a second the Cat sprang down from the curtains and, pouncing upon the mouse, ate[80] him all up before the Ogre had time to return to any other shape.

And when the King arrived at the castle gates, there stood the Cat upon the doorstep, bowing and saying—

“Welcome to the castle of the Marquis of Carabas!”

The Marquis helped the King and the Princess to alight, and the Cat led them into a great hall, where a feast had been spread for the Ogre.

The King was so delighted with the good looks, the charming manners, and the great wealth of the Marquis of Carabas, that he said the Marquis must marry his daughter.

The Marquis, of course, replied that he should be only too happy; and the very next day he and the Princess were married.

As for the Cat, he was given the title of Puss-in-Boots, and ever after only caught mice for his own amusement.

Little Thumb by Charles Perrault

Once upon a time there was a fagot-maker and his wife, who had seven children, all boys. The eldest was but ten years old, and the youngest only seven.

They were very poor, and their seven children were a great source of trouble to them because not one of them was able to earn his bread. What gave them yet more uneasiness was that the youngest was very delicate, and scarce ever spoke a word, which made people take for stupidity that which was a sign of good sense. He was very little, and when born he was no bigger than one’s thumb; hence he was called Little Thumb.

The poor child was the drudge of the household, and was always in the wrong. He was, however, the most bright and discreet of all the brothers; and if he spoke little, he heard and thought the more.

There came a very bad year, and the famine was so great that these poor people resolved to rid themselves of their children. One evening, when they were in bed, and the fagot-maker was sitting with his wife at the fire, he said to her, with his heart ready to burst with grief:—

little-thumb-perrault“You see plainly that we no longer can give our children food, and I cannot bear to see them die of hunger before my eyes; I am resolved to lose them in the wood to-morrow, which may very easily be done, for, while they amuse themselves in tying up fagots, we have only to run away and leave them without their seeing us.”

“Ah!” cried out his wife, “could you really take the children and lose them?”

In vain did her husband represent to her their great poverty; she would not consent to it. She was poor, but she was their mother.

However, having considered what a grief it would be to her to see them die of hunger, she consented, and went weeping to bed.

Little Thumb heard all they had said; for, hearing that they were talking business, he got up softly and slipped under his father’s seat, so as to hear without being seen. He went to bed again, but did not sleep a wink all the rest of the night, thinking of what he had to do. He got up early in the morning, and went to the brookside, where he filled his pockets full of small white pebbles, and then returned home. They all went out, but Little Thumb never told his brothers a word of what he knew.

They went into a very thick forest, where they could not see one another at ten paces apart. The fagot-maker began to cut wood, and the children to gather up sticks to make fagots. Their father and mother, seeing them busy at their work, got away from them unbeknown and then all at once ran as fast as they could through a winding by-path.

When the children found they were alone, they began to cry with all their might. Little Thumb let them cry on, knowing very well how to get home again; for, as he came, he had dropped the little white pebbles he had in his pockets all along the way. Then he said to them, “Do not be afraid, my brothers,—father and mother have left us here, but I will lead you home again; only follow me.”

They followed, and he brought them home by the very same way they had come into the forest. They dared not go in at first, but stood outside the door to listen to what their father and mother were saying.

The very moment the fagot-maker and his wife reached home the lord of the manor sent them ten crowns, which he had long owed them, and which they never hoped to see. This gave them new life, for the poor people were dying of hunger. The fagot-maker sent his wife to the butcher’s at once. As it was a long while since they had eaten, she bought thrice as much meat as was needed for supper for two people. When they had eaten, the woman said:—

“Alas! where are our poor children now? They would make a good feast of what we have left here; it was you, William, who wished to lose them. I told you we should repent of it. What are they now doing in the forest? Alas! perhaps the wolves have already eaten them up; you are very inhuman thus to have lost your children.”

The fagot-maker grew at last quite out of patience, for she repeated twenty times that he would repent of it, and that she was in the right. He threatened to beat her if she did not hold her tongue. The fagot-maker was, perhaps, more sorry than his wife, but she teased him so he could not endure it. She wept bitterly, saying:—

“Alas! where are my children now, my poor children?”

She said this once so very loud that the children, who were at the door, heard her and cried out all together:—

“Here we are! Here we are!”

She ran immediately to let them in, and said as she embraced them:—

“How happy I am to see you again, my dear children; you are very tired and very hungry, and, my poor Peter, you are covered with mud. Come in and let me clean you.”

Peter was her eldest son, whom she loved more than all the rest, because he was red haired, as she was herself.

They sat down to table, and ate with an appetite which pleased both father and mother, to whom they told how frightened they were in the forest, nearly all speaking at once. The good folk were delighted to see their children once more, and this joy continued while the ten crowns lasted. But when the money was all spent, they fell again into their former uneasiness, and resolved to lose their children again. And, that they might be the surer of doing it, they determined to take them much farther than before.

They could not talk of this so secretly but they were overheard by Little Thumb, who laid his plans to get out of the difficulty as he had done before; but, though he got up very early to go and pick up some little pebbles, he could not, for he found the house-door double-locked. He did not know what to do. Their father had given each of them a piece of bread for their breakfast. He reflected that he might make use of the bread instead of the pebbles, by throwing crumbs all along the way they should pass, and so he stuffed it in his pocket. Their father and mother led them into the thickest and most obscure part of the forest, and then, stealing away into a by-path, left them there. Little Thumb was not very much worried about it, for he thought he could easily find the way again by means of his bread, which he had scattered all along as he came; but he was very much surprised when he could not find a single crumb: the birds had come and eaten them all.

They were now in great trouble; for the more they wandered, the deeper they went into the forest. Night now fell, and there arose a high wind, which filled them with fear. They fancied they heard on every side the howling of wolves coming to devour them. They scarce dared to speak or turn their heads. Then it rained very hard, which wetted them to the skin. Their feet slipped at every step, and they fell into the mud, covering their hands with it so that they knew not what to do with them.

Little Thumb climbed up to the top of a tree, to see if he could discover anything. Looking on every side, he saw at last a glimmering light, like that of a candle, but a long way beyond the forest. He came down, and, when upon the ground, he could see it no more, which grieved him sadly. However, having walked for some time with his brothers toward that side on which he had seen the light, he discovered it again as he came out of the wood.

They arrived at last at the house where this candle was, not without many frights; for very often they lost sight of it, which happened every time they came into a hollow. They knocked at the door, and a good woman came and opened it.

She asked them what they wanted. Little Thumb told her they were poor children who were lost in the forest, and desired to lodge there for charity’s sake. The woman, seeing them all so very pretty, began to weep and said to them: “Alas! poor babies, where do you come from? Do you know that this house belongs to a cruel Ogre who eats little children?”

“Alas! dear madam,” answered Little Thumb (who, with his brothers, was trembling in every limb), “what shall we do? The wolves of the forest surely will devour us to-night if you refuse us shelter in your house; and so we would rather the gentleman should eat us. Perhaps he may take pity upon us if you will be pleased to ask him to do so.”

The Ogre’s wife, who believed she could hide them from her husband till morning, let them come in, and took them to warm themselves at a very good fire; for there was a whole sheep roasting for the Ogre’s supper.

As they began to warm themselves they heard three or four great raps at the door; this was the Ogre, who was come home. His wife quickly hid them under the bed and went to open the door. The Ogre at once asked if supper was ready and the wine drawn, and then sat himself down to table. The sheep was as yet all raw, but he liked it the better for that. He sniffed about to the right and left, saying:—

“I smell fresh meat.”

“What you smell,” said his wife, “must be the calf which I have just now killed and flayed.”

“I smell fresh meat, I tell you once more,” replied the Ogre, looking crossly at his wife, “and there is something here which I do not understand.”

As he spoke these words he got up from the table and went straight to the bed.

“Ah!” said he, “that is how you would cheat me; I know not why I do not eat you, too; it is well for you that you are tough. Here is game, which comes very luckily to entertain three Ogres of my acquaintance who are to pay me a visit in a day or two.”

He dragged them out from under the bed, one by one. The poor children fell upon their knees and begged his pardon, but they had to do with one of the most cruel of Ogres, who, far from having any pity on them, was already devouring them in his mind, and told his wife they would be delicate eating when she had made a good sauce.

He then took a great knife, and, coming up to these poor children, sharpened it upon a great whetstone which he held in his left hand. He had already taken hold of one of them when his wife said to him:—

“What need you do it now? Will you not have time enough to-morrow?”

“Hold your prating,” said the Ogre; “they will eat the tenderer.”

“But you have so much meat already,” replied his wife; “here are a calf, two sheep, and half a pig.”

“That is true,” said the Ogre; “give them a good supper that they may not grow thin, and put them to bed.”

The good woman was overjoyed at this, and gave them a good supper; but they were so much afraid that they could not eat. As for the Ogre, he sat down again to drink, being highly pleased that he had the wherewithal to treat his friends. He drank a dozen glasses more than ordinary, which got up into his head and obliged him to go to bed.

The Ogre had seven daughters, who were still little children. These young Ogresses had all of them very fine complexions; but they all had little gray eyes, quite round, hooked noses, a very large mouth, and very long, sharp teeth, set far apart. They were not as yet wicked, but they promised well to be, for they had already bitten little children.

They had been put to bed early, all seven in one bed, with every one a crown of gold upon her head. There was in the same chamber a bed of the like size, and the Ogre’s wife put the seven little boys into this bed, after which she went to bed herself.

Little Thumb, who had observed that the Ogre’s daughters had crowns of gold upon their heads, and was afraid lest the Ogre should repent his not killing them that evening, got up about midnight, and, taking his brothers’ bonnets and his own, went very softly and put them upon the heads of the seven little Ogresses, after having taken off their crowns of gold, which he put upon his own head and his brothers’, so that the Ogre might take them for his daughters, and his daughters for the little boys whom he wanted to kill.

Things turned out just as he had thought; for the Ogre, waking about midnight, regretted that he had deferred till morning to do that which he might have done overnight, and jumped quickly out of bed, taking his great knife.

“Let us see,” said he, “how our little rogues do, and not make two jobs of the matter.”

He then went up, groping all the way, into his daughters’ chamber; and, coming to the bed where the little boys lay, and who were all fast asleep, except Little Thumb, who was terribly afraid when he found the Ogre fumbling about his head, as he had done about his brothers’, he felt the golden crowns, and said:—

“I should have made a fine piece of work of it, truly; it is clear I drank too much last night.”

Then he went to the bed where the girls lay, and, having found the boys’ little bonnets:—

“Ah!” said he, “my merry lads, are you there? Let us work boldly.”

And saying these words, without more ado, he cruelly murdered all his seven daughters. Well pleased with what he had done, he went to bed again.

So soon as Little Thumb heard the Ogre snore, he waked his brothers, and bade them put on their clothes quickly and follow him. They stole softly into the garden and got over the wall. They ran about, all night, trembling all the while, without knowing which way they went.

The Ogre, when he woke, said to his wife: “Go upstairs and dress those young rascals who came here last night.” The Ogress was very much surprised at this goodness of her husband, not dreaming after what manner she should dress them; but, thinking that he had ordered her to go up and put on their clothes, she went, and was horrified when she perceived her seven daughters all dead.

She began by fainting away, as was only natural in such a case. The Ogre, fearing his wife was too long in doing what he had ordered, went up himself to help her. He was no less amazed than his wife at this frightful spectacle.

“Ah! what have I done?” cried he. “The wretches shall pay for it, and that instantly.”

He threw a pitcher of water upon his wife’s face, and having brought her to herself, “Give me quickly,” cried he, “my seven-leagued boots, that I may go and catch them.”

He went out into the country, and, after running in all directions, he came at last into the very road where the poor children were, and not above a hundred paces from their father’s house. They espied the Ogre, who went at one step from mountain to mountain, and over rivers as easily as the narrowest brooks. Little Thumb, seeing a hollow rock near the place where they were, hid his brothers in it, and crowded into it himself, watching always what would become of the Ogre.

The Ogre, who found himself tired with his long and fruitless journey (for these boots of seven leagues greatly taxed the wearer), had a great mind to rest himself, and, by chance, went to sit down upon the rock in which the little boys had hidden themselves. As he was worn out with fatigue, he fell asleep, and, after reposing himself some time, began to snore so frightfully that the poor children were no less afraid of him than when he held up his great knife and was going to take their lives. Little Thumb was not so much frightened as his brothers, and told them that they should run away at once toward home while the Ogre was asleep so soundly, and that they need not be in any trouble about him. They took his advice, and got home quickly.

Little Thumb then went close to the Ogre, pulled off his boots gently, and put them on his own legs. The boots were very long and large, but as they were fairy boots, they had the gift of becoming big or little, according to the legs of those who wore them; so that they fitted his feet and legs as well as if they had been made for him. He went straight to the Ogre’s house, where he saw his wife crying bitterly for the loss of her murdered daughters.

“Your husband,” said Little Thumb, “is in very great danger, for he has been taken by a gang of thieves, who have sworn to kill him if he does not give them all his gold and silver. At the very moment they held their daggers at his throat he perceived me and begged me to come and tell you the condition he was in, and to say that you should give me all he has of value, without retaining any one thing; for otherwise they will kill him without mercy. As his case is very pressing, he desired me to make use of his seven-leagued boots, which you see I have on, so that I might make the more haste and that I might show you that I do not impose upon you.”

The good woman, being greatly frightened, gave him all she had; for this Ogre was a very good husband, though he ate up little children. Little Thumb, having thus got all the Ogre’s money, came home to his father’s house, where he was received with abundance of joy.

There are many people who do not agree in regard to this act of Little Thumb’s, and pretend that he never robbed the Ogre at all, and that he only thought he might very justly take off his seven-leagued boots because he made no other use of them but to run after little children. These folks affirm that they are very well assured of this, because they have drunk and eaten often at the fagot-maker’s house. They declare that when Little Thumb had taken off the Ogre’s boots he went to Court, where he was informed that they were very much in trouble about a certain army, which was two hundred leagues off, and anxious as to the success of a battle. He went, they say, to the King and told him that if he desired it, he would bring him news from the army before night.

The King promised him a great sum of money if he succeeded. Little Thumb returned that very same night with the news; and, this first expedition causing him to be known, he earned as much as he wished, for the King paid him very well for carrying his orders to the army. Many ladies employed him also to carry messages, from which he made much money. After having for some time carried on the business of a messenger and gained thereby great wealth, he went home to his father, and it is impossible to express the joy of his family. He placed them all in comfortable circumstances, bought places for his father and brothers, and by that means settled them very handsomely in the world, while he successfully continued to make his own way.