This section is from the book "The Book Of Cats", by Charles Henry Ross. Also available from Amazon: The Book Of Cats: A Chit-Chat Chronicle Of Feline Facts And Fancies, Legendary, Lyrical, Medical, Mirthful And Miscellaneous.
"Of course this tale was false. The money existed where Tom had described, but it had been ill-gotten gold, with a curse upon it. But the wizard nibbled at the bait, put a chain round Tom's neck, and went to have a look at the treasure. There it was, sure enough, shining under the water.
"'Are you quite sure that there are exactly ten thousand florins?' asked the magician.
"'I've never been down to see,' replied Tom; 'I was obliged to take the old lady's word for it.'
"'But where shall I find a wife?' asked the wizard.
"'I'll find you one,' said Tom.
"'To be sure. Tear up that contract, though, to begin with.'
"The wizard, not without grumbling, drew from his pocket the fatal paper, which Tom no sooner perceived than he pounced on it and swallowed it whole, making at the same time the reflection that he had never before tasted so delicious a morsel in his life.
"In the neighbourhood dwelt an old woman, who was a witch - one of the ugliest old women you ever saw, who every night flew up the chimney on a broom-stick, and played Meg's diversions by the light of the moon. This lady had an owl, who was a bird of loose principles, and had been an associate of Tom's in his gay days. This bright couple consulted together how they should persuade the ancient maiden to marry the old man.
"'She never will,' said the owl.
"'Then we must make her; but how?'
"'We must catch her first, and take her prisoner, and that is to be done easily enough, with a net, spun by a man of sixty years old, who has never set eyes on the face of woman.'
"'Where are we to find him?'
"'Just round the corner: he has been blind from his birth.'
"When the net had been procured, they set it in the chimney, and presently caught the old lady, and after much trouble they starved her into compliance. Then, by magical art, she put on an appearance of youth and beauty, and the wizard married her in an ecstacy of delight; but was he not in a fury when, evening approaching, she resumed her pristine ugliness. And was he not disgusted at his bride, in spite of the treasure she had brought him. As for Tom, like many bad people, he lived happy ever afterwards."
Here is an abridgement of the famous tale of Puss in Boots: "A miller died, leaving his youngest son nothing but a Cat: the poor young fellow complained bitterly of his fate; the Cat bade him be of good cheer, and procure a pair of boots and a bag: the youth contrived to do so. The first attempt Puss made was to go into a warren, in which there was a great number of rabbits. He put some bran and parsley into his bag; and then, stretching himself out at full length, as if he were dead, he waited for some young rabbits, who as yet knew nothing of the cunning tricks of the world, to come and get into the bag. Scarcely had he laid down, before he succeeded as well as could be wished. A giddy young rabbit crept into the bag, and the Cat immediately drew the strings, and killed it without mercy. Puss, proud of his prey, hastened directly to the palace, where he asked to speak to the King. On being shown into the apartment of his Majesty, he made a low bow, and said: - "I have brought you, Sire, this rabbit from the warren of my Lord the Marquis of Carabas, who commanded me to present it to your Majesty, with the assurance of his respects." One day, the Cat having heard that the King intended to take a ride that morning by the river's side with his daughter, who was the most beautiful Princess in the world, he said to his master: - "Take off your clothes, and bathe yourself in the river, just in the place I shall show you, and leave the rest to me." The Marquis did exactly as he was desired, without being able to guess at what the Cat intended. While he was bathing, the King passed by, and Puss directly called out, as loudly as he could bawl: - "Help! help! My Lord Marquis of Carabas is in danger of being drowned!" The King hearing the cries, and recognising the Cat, ordered his attendants to go directly to the assistance of my Lord Marquis of Carabas; and the cunning Cat having hid his master's clothes under a large stone, the King commanded the officers of his wardrobe to fetch him the handsomest suit it contained. The King's daughter was mightily taken with his appearance, and the Marquis of Carabas had no sooner cast upon her two or three respectful glances, than she became violently in love with him. The Cat, enchanted to see how well his scheme was likely to succeed, ran before to a meadow that was reaping, and said to the reapers: -"Good people, if you do not tell the King, who will soon pass this way, that the meadow you are reaping belongs to my Lord Marquis of Carabas, you shall be chopped as small as mince-meat." The King did not fail to ask the reapers to whom the meadow belonged? "To my Lord Marquis of Carabas," said they all at once; for the threats of the Cat had terribly frightened them. Puss at length arrived at a stately castle that belonged to an Ogre, whom he first persuaded to assume the form of a mouse, and then cleverly gobbled him up before he could get back to his proper shape again. The King's party soon after arrived. The Cat said the castle was his master's; and the King was so much charmed with the amiable qualities and noble fortune of the Marquis of Carabas, and the young Princess too had fallen so violently in love with him, that when the King had partaken of a collation, he said to the Marquis:- "It will be your own fault, my Lord Marquis of Carabas, if you do not soon become my son-in-law." The Marquis received the intelligence with a thousand respectful acknowledgments, accepted the honour conferred upon him, and married the Princess that very day. The Cat became a great lord, and never after pursued rats, except for his own amusement.
I think, too, that the famous story of the White Cat should also find a place in this little volume:There once was a King, the legend says, who was growing old, and it was told to him that his three sons wished to govern the kingdom. The old King, who did not wish to give up his power just yet, thought the best way to prevent his sons from taking his throne was to send them out to seek for adventures; so he called them all around him, and said: "My sons, go away and travel for a year; and he of you who brings me the most beautiful little dog, shall have the kingdom, and be King after me."