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Whittington and his cat.
From English Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs (coll. & ed.)
Start of Story
Mr. Fitzwarren now showed himself to be a good man; for when some of
his servants said so great a treasure was too much for him, he
answered: "God forbid I should deprive him of the value of a single
penny, it is his own, and he shall have it to a farthing." He then
sent for Dick, who at that time was scouring pots for the cook, and
was quite dirty. He would have excused himself from coming into the
counting-house, saying, "The room is swept, and my shoes are dirty and
full of hob-nails." But the merchant ordered him to come in.
Mr. Fitzwarren ordered a chair to be set for him, and so he began to
think they were making game of him, at the same time said to them: "Do
not play tricks with a poor simple boy, but let me go down again, if
you please, to my work."
"Indeed, Mr. Whittington," said the merchant, "we are all quite in
earnest with you, and I most heartily rejoice in the news that these
gentlemen have brought you; for the captain has sold your cat to the
King of Barbary, and brought you in return for her more riches than I
possess in the whole world; and I wish you may long enjoy them!"
Mr. Fitzwarren then told the men to open the great treasure they had
brought with them; and said: "Mr. Whittington has nothing to do but to
put it in some place of safety."
Poor Dick hardly knew how to behave himself for joy. He begged his
master to take what part of it he pleased, since he owed it all to his
kindness. "No, no," answered Mr. Fitzwarren, "this is all your own;
and I have no doubt but you will use it well."
Dick next asked his mistress, and then Miss Alice, to accept a part of
his good fortune; but they would not, and at the same time told him
they felt great joy at his good success. But this poor fellow was too
kind-hearted to keep it all to himself; so he made a present to the
captain, the mate, and the rest of Mr. Fitzwarren's servants; and even
to the ill-natured old cook.
After this Mr. Fitzwarren advised him to send for a proper tailor and
get himself dressed like a gentleman; and told him he was welcome to
live in his house till he could provide himself with a better.
When Whittington's face was washed, his hair curled, his hat cocked,
and he was dressed in a nice suit of clothes he was as handsome and
genteel as any young man who visited at Mr. Fitzwarren's; so that Miss
Alice, who had once been so kind to him, and thought of him with pity,
now looked upon him as fit to be her sweetheart; and the more so, no
doubt, because Whittington was now always thinking what he could do to
oblige her, and making her the prettiest presents that could be.
Mr. Fitzwarren soon saw their love for each other, and proposed to
join them in marriage; and to this they both readily agreed. A day for
the wedding was soon fixed; and they were attended to church by the
Lord Mayor, the court of aldermen, the sheriffs, and a great number of
the richest merchants in London, whom they afterwards treated with a
very rich feast.
History tells us that Mr. Whittington and his lady liven in great
splendour, and were very happy. They had several children. He was
Sheriff of London, thrice Lord Mayor, and received the honour of
knighthood by Henry V.
He entertained this king and his queen at dinner after his conquest of
France so grandly, that the king said "Never had prince such a
subject;" when Sir Richard heard this, he said: "Never had subject
such a prince."
The figure of Sir Richard Whittington with his cat in his arms, carved
in stone, was to be seen till the year 1780 over the archway of the
old prison of Newgate, which he built for criminals.