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Whittington and his cat.
From English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)
Start of Story
When the captain saw this, he sent patterns of the best things he had
to the king of the country; who was so much pleased with them, that he
sent for the captain to the palace. Here they were placed, as it is
the custom of the country, on rich carpets flowered with gold and
silver. The king and queen were seated at the upper end of the room;
and a number of dishes were brought in for dinner. They had not sat
long, when a vast number of rats and mice rushed in, and devoured all
the meat in an instant. The captain wondered at this, and asked if
these vermin were not unpleasant.
"Oh yes," said they, "very offensive, and the king would give half his
treasure to be freed of them, for they not only destroy his dinner, as
you see, but they assault him in his chamber, and even in bed, and so
that he is obliged to be watched while he is sleeping, for fear of
The captain jumped for joy; he remembered poor Whittington and his
cat, and told the king he had a creature on board the ship that would
despatch all these vermin immediately. The king jumped so high at the
joy which the news gave him, that his turban dropped off his head.
"Bring this creature to me," says he; "vermin are dreadful in a court,
and if she will perform what you say, I will load your ship with gold
and jewels in exchange for her."
The captain, who knew his business, took this opportunity to set forth
the merits of Miss Puss. He told his majesty; "It is not very
convenient to part with her, as, when she is gone, the rats and mice
may destroy the goods in the ship--but to oblige your majesty, I will
"Run, run!" said the queen; "I am impatient to see the dear creature."
Away went the captain to the ship, while another dinner was got ready.
He put Puss under his arm, and arrived at the place just in time to
see the table full of rats. When the cat saw them, she did not wait
for bidding, but jumped out of the captain's arms, and in a few
minutes laid almost all the rats and mice dead at her feet. The rest
of them in their fright scampered away to their holes.
The king was quite charmed to get rid so easily of such plagues, and
the queen desired that the creature who had done them so great a
kindness might be brought to her, that she might look at her. Upon
which the captain called: "Pussy, pussy, pussy!" and she came to him.
He then presented her to the queen, who started back, and was afraid
to touch a creature who had made such a havoc among the rats and mice.
However, when the captain stroked the cat and called: "Pussy, pussy,"
the queen also touched her and cried: "Putty, putty," for she had not
learned English. He then put her down on the queen's lap, where she
purred and played with her majesty's hand, and then purred herself to
The king, having seen the exploits of Mrs. Puss, and being informed
that her kittens would stock the whole country, and keep it free from
rats, bargained with the captain for the whole ship's cargo, and then
gave him ten times as much for the cat as all the rest amounted to.
The captain then took leave of the royal party, and set sail with a
fair wind for England, and after a happy voyage arrived safe in
One morning, early, Mr. Fitzwarren had just come to his counting-house
and seated himself at the desk, to count over the cash, and settle the
business for the day, when somebody came tap, tap, at the door. "Who's
there?" said Mr. Fitzwarren. "A friend," answered the other; "I come
to bring you good news of your ship _Unicorn_." The merchant,
bustling up in such a hurry that he forgot his gout, opened the door,
and who should he see waiting but the captain and factor, with a
cabinet of jewels, and a bill of lading; when he looked at this the
merchant lifted up his eyes and thanked Heaven for sending him such a
They then told the story of the cat, and showed the rich present that
the king and queen had sent for her to poor Dick. As soon as the
merchant heard this, he called out to his servants:
"Go send him in, and tell him of his fame;
Pray call him Mr. Whittington by name."