The cat from the Puss in Boots fairy tale, painted by Juan Artola Miranda.

Puss in Boots (Classic Fairy Tale)

Puss in Boots (Constantino Fortunato) is a 16th-century fable by the Italian fabulist Giovanni Francesco Straparola. It was later popularised by even more famous fabulists, such as Charles Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. This version was written by Juan Artola Miranda.

Once upon a time, in a small village, there lived a poor miller who had three sons. When the miller grew old and passed away, he left his mill to his eldest son, his donkey to his second son, and his cat to his youngest son. The youngest son was dismayed to receive just a cat, as he worried he wouldn’t be able to make a living with such a meagre inheritance.

Feeling hopeless, the young man sighed and said, “At least I can make a fine pair of gloves from the cat’s fur.” To his astonishment, the cat replied, “Or, if you provide me with a pair of leather boots and a small bag, perhaps I can change your fortune.” The young man was too surprised to object to the cat’s demands. He spent the very last of his savings on a pair of sturdy leather boots and a small bag.

The cat donned the boots and snuck into the king’s palace to eavesdrop, hoping to hear of an opportunity. The cat soon discovered that the king craved partridge pie, but the partridges were too elusive, and none of the huntsmen could catch them.

The cat filled his bag with grain and ventured into the forest. He found a small clearing and left the bag there, open and inviting, then hid in a bush. As the partridges flew by, they were attracted by the scent of the grain. One by one, they flew into the bag to eat the grain. Once the bag was full of partridges, the cat closed it, trapping the birds inside.

The cat then went to see the king. “Your Majesty, I come bearing a gift from my master, the Marquis of Carabas. He has heard of your desire for partridge pie and has managed to catch these elusive birds for your pleasure.” The cat then presented the bag of partridges to the king, who was astonished and delighted by the unexpected gift.

The cat continued to spend his days in the palace, eavesdropping. One day, it overheard the king’s coachman complaining about how he needed to take the king and his daughter on a long ride through the countryside. “I don’t know what’s worse: the endless rides or listening to the king and his daughter debate the merits of every flower we pass. I’m starting to dream in floral arrangements!”

The carriage would be passing right by the mill. This was the perfect opportunity to bring his plan to fruition. The cat hurried home and told the boy to strip off his clothes and jump into the river. When the king’s carriage approached, the cat cried, “Help! My master, the Marquis of Carabas, has been attacked by robbers, thrown into the river, and left with nothing but his indecency!”

The king quickly ordered his guards to rescue the indecent young man from the water. While the guards struggled to get him out, the cat explained to the king how the bandits had stolen the Marquis’s carriage and clothes. The king, feeling indebted to the Marquis for his previous gifts, offered him a fine suit from his own wardrobe and then offered to drive him home.

Dressed in the beautiful new clothes, the boy looked almost like a nobleman. The king’s daughter was smitten by his charm and good looks. Meanwhile, the cat raced ahead to a nearby castle inhabited by a wizard.

When the cat arrived at the wizard’s gates, he announced himself as a shapeshifter, and that certainly seemed to be the case. He was granted an audience with the wizard at once. The cat said, “I have heard you are a wizard. If it is true, show me.”

The wizard, eager to prove his abilities, transformed into a tiger. The cat feigned boredom and said, “Impressive, but surely a beautiful peacock with its vibrant feathers would be more challenging.”

With a wave of his hand, the wizard turned into a magnificent peacock. The cat was still skeptical. “Your power is truly remarkable, but I cannot help but wonder if even the cleverest wizard could fit all of that power into an animal as small as a mouse.”

The wizard, growing angry now, transformed into a tiny mouse. At that moment, the cat pounced on him, tormented him briefly, for such was his nature, and then quickly devoured him before he could transform back into a wizard.

When the king’s carriage arrived at the castle, the cat announced that the grand estate belonged to the Marquis of Carabas. The king was thoroughly impressed. He gave his blessing for the Marquis to marry his daughter.

Juan Artola Miranda

I am Juan Artola Miranda, a fabulist living in the Mexican Caribbean. My friends know me by the name of my father's father, but that name grew into something bigger, my writing reaching tens of millions of readers. It was too strong for me to control. Artola Miranda is the name of my mother's mother. It's a better name for a fabulist.

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