The Tale of
Once upon a time, there lived a miller who had three
sons.  Upon his death, his property was divided so
that the oldest received the mill, the second oldest
the donkey, but for the youngest, all that was left
was the old tomcat.
      That made the young man alternately sad and
mad.  H thought, "At least my brothers can band
together and thus make a living with their inheri-
tance, but what is there for me?  I guess I could
always eat the tomcat and then have his pelt made into a pair of mittens."
     The tomcat heard this and said "Don't be upset, Master!  All I ask is that you give me a sack, and have a pair of boots made for me.  And I guarantee you, not for long will your lot be as hopeless at it seems right now."
      Even if the young Master didn't give much credence to the cat's bragging, he had observed him at mousing and had always been amazed at the animal's cunning.  Perhaps there was something to this cat that no-one had yet suspected.
     When the tomcat got what he asked for, he slipped into the boots, slung the sack over his shoulder, and on two legs, he walked off to a clearing in the woods where he knew that rabbits came to feed and play.  He lined the sack with the best grasses and herbs that the rabbits would find irresistible, then he lay down next to the sack and played dead.  Not long that a couple of nosy young bucks came sniffing at the sack, and finally crawled inside to get at the tasty morsels ... when the cat pulled the string and they were caught.
     The cat was pretty proud of himself as he was on his way to the king's castle, where he asked for an audience with his majesty.  Soon, he was able to put the sack before the king and tell him that it contained a couple of fresh, succulent rabbits, for His Majesty's table, compliments of his Master, the Marquis de Carabas.  The king gladly accepted the gift and bade the cat to convey his thanks to the Marquis.
      This scenario repeated itself several times, as the cat brought fresh game to the king's table, pheasants, rabbits, partriges, whatever he managed to get into his sack.  And with each gift, the king got curioser and curioser about this Marquis de Carabas.
      Then one day, the cat was again at court.  There, he overheard that the king and his daughter were planning a trip through the kingdom.  He made sure he knew what route they would be taking.  He bade his Master to bathe in the river at a strategically selected location.  As the young man went for his swim, the cat waited until the royal coach was near enough so that anyone inside could hear his yelling and screaming.  Totally upset he sounded:  His Master, the Marquis de Carabas, was drowning in the river.  The king recognized the cat immediately and had his groomsmen pull the "Marquis" out of the river.  Alas, thieves had made off with his clothing (but you and I know that puss had carefully hidden them under some rocks).  The king had fine clothing and jewelry brought to the young man and it must be said, he cleaned up very nicely indeed.  The looks he threw the princess did not go unnoticed, and after the king had invited the handsome Marquis into his coach, it wasn't long before she had fallen for him, head over heels.
      While all this was happening, the cat scrambled along the road until he came to a beautiful meadow, rich and green; this was being mowed by some farmworkers.  He gave them the order that if anyone asked who this meadow belonged to, they were to answer "The Marquis de Carabas".  And this cat could be quite fearsome, having threatened to have them turned into mincemeat!  So when the royal coach reached the meadow and the king inquired as to the ownership, the workers bowed deeply and responded, "This meadow belongs to the Marquis de Carabas."  The king threw an admiring glance in the direction of the Marquis.
      Then they came upon a rich wheatfield, full of workers harvesting the golden crop.  Again, the king asked who owned this field, and again, the answer was that it belonged to the Marquis de Carabas.  The cat had done this all along the road, fields, meadows, wooded areas; the king was mighty impressed with the extent of the Marquis' holdings.
      Finally, the cat came to a magnificent castle which belonged to an ogre who was also a warlock.  He was the richest man in the land, all that the workers had told the king were the holdings of the Marquis really belonged to him.  The cat, who had done his homework and knew about the special magick talents of this warlock, asked for an audience.  After all, he didn't want to pass the castle of such a powerful Lord without paying his respects!  The audience was soon granted as the ogre, who was about to give a huge dinner party for his cronies, was in the mood for some fun.  He was a civil as it is possible for an ogre to be and even offered his visitor a chair.  They made small talk until the cat told him that it was rumored his host had the power to turn himself into any animal possible.  "But of course," answered the warlock, "just watch!"  And right before the cat's eyes, he turned into a mighty lion, throwing back his head and roaring loudly and menacingly.  It seems impossible, but somehow, boots and all, the cat managed to scamper right up to the roof, so scary was the lion.  Only when the ogre turned himself back that the cat came down from the roof.
      He let the ogre know how impressed he was.  "But," he said finally, "I find it quite impossible to believe that a big, powerful magickian like you could also turn himself into something very, very small, like a rat, for instance."
     "Impossible???" cried the ogre, "you doubt my powers?  I'll show you!" and in the blink of an eye, the mighty ogre had turned himself into a tiny little mouse, running circles across the floor.  A moment later, the mouse was no more but a snack for our wiley tomcat.
      Meanwhile, the king had come upon the castle and was curious to see the inside.  As the coach was on the drawbridge, the cat came running out, bowed deeply, and welcomed the king and his daughter to the home of the Marquis de Carabas.  Then he led them into a beautifully appointed dining room where the table was set for a sumptious feast.  After the king had emptied a cup or two of wine, he told the Marquis that his daughter's hand would be his for the asking.
      The Marquis gladly took the king up on his offer, and the princess was quite pleased at the prospect, too.  Soon, a great wedding took place.  From that day on, the tomcat was held in high honor, and he only went mousing for the fun of it!
This page and background created in September 2000 by Valkyrie