Europa: The Earl of Cattenborough (cont.)

This story is part of the Europa unitStory source: Europa's Fairy Book by Joseph Jacobs and illustrated by John Batten (1916).

The Earl of Cattenborough (cont.)

The King was so much struck by Jack's riches and grandeur, and the Princess was so pleased with his good looks and fine dress, that it was determined that he should marry the Princess.

But the King thought he would try and see if he were really so nobly born and bred as he seemed. So he told his servants to put a mean truckle bed in the room in which Jack was to sleep, knowing that no noble would put up with such a thing.

When Miss Puss saw this bed, she at once guessed what was up. And when Jack began to undress to get into bed, she made him stop and called the attendants to say that he could not sleep in such a bed.

So they took him into another bedroom where there was a fine four-poster with a dais and everything worthy of a noble to sleep upon. Then the King became sure that Jack was a real noble and married him soon to his daughter the Princess.

After the wedding feast was over, the King told Jack that he and the Queen and the Princess would come with him to his castle of Cattenborough, and Jack did not know what to do. But Miss Puss told him it would be all right if he only didn't speak much while on the journey. And that suited Jack very well.

So they all set out in a carriage with four horses, and with the King's life-guards riding around it. But Miss Puss ran on in front of the carriage, and when she came to a field where men were mowing down the hay, she pointed to the life-guards riding along, and said: "Men, if you do not say that this field belongs to the Earl of Cattenborough, those soldiers will cut you to pieces with their swords."

So when the carriage came along the King called one of the men to the side of it and said, "Whose is this field?"

And the man said, "It belongs to the Earl of Cattenborough."

And the King turned to his son-in-law and said, "I did not know that you had estates so near us."

And Jack said, "I had forgotten it myself."

And this only confirmed the King in his idea about Jack's great wealth.

A little farther on, there was another great field in which men were raking hay. And Miss Puss spoke to them as before. So, when the carriage came up, they also declared that this field belonged to the Earl of Cattenborough. And so it went on through the whole drive. Then the King said, "Let us now go to your castle."

Then Jack looked at Miss Puss, and she said: "If your Majesty will but wait an hour, I will go on before and order the castle to be made ready for you."

With that she jumped away and went to the castle of a great ogre and asked to see him. When she came into his presence she said: "I have come to give you warning. The King with all his army is coming to the castle and will batter its walls down and kill you if he finds you here."

"What shall I do? What shall I do?" said the ogre.

"Is there no place where you can hide yourself?"

"I am too big to hide," said the ogre, "but my mother gave me a powder, and when I take that I can make myself as small as I like."

"Well, why not take it now?" said the cat.

And with that he took the powder and shrunk into a little body no bigger than a mouse. And thereupon Miss Puss jumped upon him and ate him all up, and then went down into the great yard of the castle and told the guards that it now belonged to her Master the Earl of Cattenborough. Then she ordered them to open the gates and let in the King's carriage, which came along just then.

The King was delighted to find what a fine castle his son-in-law possessed and left his daughter the Princess with him at the castle while he drove back to his own palace. And Jack and the Princess lived happily in the castle.

But one day Miss Puss felt very ill and lay down as if dead, and the chamberlain of the castle went to Jack and said: "My lord, your cat is dead."

And Jack said: "Well, throw her out on the dunghill."

But Miss Puss, when she heard it, called out: "Had you not better throw me into the mill stream?"

And Jack remembered where he had come from and was frightened that the cat would say. So he ordered the physician of the castle to attend to her, and ever after gave her whatever she wanted.

And when the King died, he succeeded him, and that was the end of the Earl of Cattenborough.

(900 words)

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