Europa: The Earl of Cattenborough

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 

Once upon a time there was a miller who had three sons: Charles, Sam, and John. And every night when the servant went to bed he used to call out:

Good-night, Missus; good-night, Master;
Good-night, Charles, Sam, John.

Now after a time the miller's wife died and, soon after, the miller, leaving only the mill, the donkey, and the cat. And Charles, as the eldest, took the mill, and Sam took the donkey and went off with it, and John was left with only the cat.

Now how do you think the cat used to help John to live? She used to take a bag with a string around the top and place it with some cheese in the bushes, and when a hare or a partridge would come and try to get the piece of cheese — snap! Miss Puss would draw the string, and there was the hare or partridge for Master Jack to eat. One day two hares happened to rush into the bag at the same time. So the cat, after giving one to Jack, took the other and went with it to the King's palace. And when she came outside the palace gate, she cried out, "Miaou."

The sentry at the gate came to see what was the matter. Miss Puss gave him the hare with a bow and said: "Give this to the King with the compliments of the Earl of Cattenborough."

The King liked jugged hare very much and was glad to get such a fine present.

Shortly after this, Miss Puss found a gold coin rolling in the dirt. And she went up to the palace and asked the sentry if he would lend her a corn measure.

The sentry asked who wanted it. And Puss said: "My Master, the Earl of Cattenborough."

So the sentry gave her the corn measure. And a little while afterwards she took it back with the gold coin, which she had found, fixed in a crack in the corn measure.

So the King was told that the Earl of Cattenborough measured his gold in a corn measure. When the King heard this, he told the sentry that if such a thing happened again, he was to deliver a message asking the Earl to come and stop at the palace.

Some time after, the cat caught two partridges and took one of them to the palace. And when she called out "Miaou" and presented it to the sentry in the name of the Earl of Cattenborough, the sentry told her that the King wished to see the Earl at his palace.

So Puss went back to Jack and said to him: "The King desires to see the Earl of Cattenborough at his palace."

"What is that to do with me?" said Jack.

"Oh, you can be the Earl of Cattenborough if you like. I'll help you."

"But I have no clothes, and they'll soon find out what I am when I talk."

"As for that," said Miss Puss, "I'll get you proper clothes if you do what I tell you, and when you come to the palacev I will see that you do not make any mistakes."

So next day she told Jack to take off his clothes and hide them under a big stone and dip himself into the river. And while he was doing this she went up to the palace gate and said: "Miaou, miaou, miaou!"

And when the sentry came to the gate she said: "My Master, the Earl of Cattenborough, has been robbed of all he possessed, even of his clothes, and he is hiding in the bramble bush by the side of the river. What is to be done? What is to be done?"

The sentry went and told the King. And the King gave orders that a suitable suit of clothes, worthy of an Earl, should be sent to Master Jack, who soon put them on and went to the King's palace accompanied by Puss. When they got there they were introduced into the chamber of the King, who thanked Jack for his kind presents.

Miss Puss stood forward and said: "My Master, the Earl of Cattenborough, desires to state to your Majesty that there is no need of any thanks for such trifles."

The King thought it was very grand of Jack not to speak directly to him, and summoned his lord chamberlain, and from that time onward only spoke through him. Thus, when they sat down to dinner with the Queen and the Princess, the King would say to his chamberlain, "Will the Earl of Cattenborough take a potato?"

Whereupon Miss Puss would bow and say: "The Earl of Cattenborough thanks his Majesty and would be glad to partake of a potato."




(800 words)

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