Long, long ago, there lived a miller with his three sons. He worked hard grinding wheat for the farmers, but could never manage to save any money. When he died, he left the mill to his eldest son. The second son received a donkey, while the youngest got the family cat.
The eldest son was now in charge of the mill, so the second son decided to take his donkey and seek his fortune elsewhere. The third son felt gloomy, not only because he had lost his father, but because the cat seemed so useless.
“At least people would pay me for carrying loads on a donkey,” he moaned, “but what can a cat do except catch mice?”
The cat overheard this remark and, being a very special sort of a cat, he thought he could do better in life than just catching mice.
“Young master, I`m worth more than you think,” he said.
“You are?” said the young man, amazed to hear a cat talk.
“Get me a cloak, a hat with a big feather, a sack, and a pair of tall, shiny boots, and I`ll prove it to you”. The young man thought it all very strange. Nevertheless, he found some clothes for the cat. Puss`n Boots, as he came to be known, was delighted. “I`m off to make your fortune, master!” Puss left the mill and went hunting. He soon caught a fat hare, popped it into the sack, and then trotted up to the big gates of the nearby castle of the king.
“Who goes there?” cried the sentry.
“I am the servant of the noble Marquis of Carabas. He has sent a gift for the king”, replied Puss. “Hmm. Well, you don`t look as if you could do much harm”, said the sentry, who wasn`t sure of the rules about cats wearing hats. Puss`n Boots was escorted into the throne room. He took off his hat and bowed low to the king and queen. “My master, the noble Marquis of Carabas, sends a gift of a plump, fresh hare from his estate,” said Puss.
“How very kind of the Marquis,” replied the king politely, even though he had never heard of such a person.
“Please thank him and give him our very best wishes”.
For the next few weeks, Puss`n Boots visited the castle often, each time with some new delicacy for the king`s table. Sometimes it was a hare, sometimes some fish. He always presented the food as a gift from the Marquis of Carabas. At last the curious queen asked Puss, “Is your master a young man?”
“Yes, and handsome too”, replied Puss, glancing at the princess, “and very rich,” When Puss got back to the mill, he told his master about his visit to the king`s castle. The miller`s son was amazed. The next afternoon Puss took his master to the river beside the road from the king`s castle. When he saw the king`s coach starting out, he said, “Take off your clothes and jump in.” Puss hid his master`s clothes in the bushes. Then, as the king`s coach rolled by, he rushed to the road. “Stop! Thieves have attacked my master and stolen his clothes. They threw him into the river and he`s drowning!”
The king`s footman helped the young man out of the river and gave him a cloak. Another servant was sent back to the castle for some clothes, and soon the young man looked as fine as any nobleman. Meanwhile, Puss`n Boots ran along the road to a great estate. As he passed workers in the fields, he called out, “When the king rides by, tell him this land belongs to the Marquis of Carabas!”
Puss came to the estate castle. It was owned by a fierce ogre who asked him angrily what he wanted. “I hear you can change yourself into anything, so I`ve come to see for myself,” said Puss`n Boots. The ogre changed himself into a lion. But Puss said that was too easy; what about changing into a tiny mouse? As soon as the ogre did so, Puss ate the mouse!
All this time, the young man was riding in the king`s coach. He couldn`t help noticing how pretty the princess was. She thought him very handsome, but kept her eyes lowered most of the time. Every once in a while she looked up and smiled. His heart began to beat very fast. The king, meanwhile, was looking out of the coach window. “What fine hayfields,” he remarked to the queen. “Just look at those big haystacks. Why there`s enough to feed a hundred horses all winter long! He ordered the coachman to stop, and leaned out of the window. “Who owns these fields?” he asked the haymakers.
“The Marquis of Carabas, your Majesty,” they replied.
“Quite an estate you`ve got here, Marquis,” said the king to the young man as they drove up to the castle. But the young man hardly heard a word the king said. He was too busy gazing at the princess.
Puss`n Boots came out of the castle to greet the visitors and led them through the grand rooms. The king saw that the marquis was very rich, and clearly in love with the princess, so he gave her hand in marriage. The princess was delighted, and soon a great wedding feast was held.
“Well, master” whispered Puss`n Boots as the guests raised their glasses to toast the happy couple, “I guess I`m worth a lot more than an old mill or donkey!”