AUNT LOUISA'S BIG PICTURE SER..IE
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THE WHITE CAT.
THERE was once a King, who was growing old;
and it was told to him that his three sons wished
to govern the kingdom. The old King did not
wish to give up his power just yet. He 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," The6 the three Princes start-
.ed on the journey; but it is of the youngest of
the three that I have now to tell. He travelled
for many days, and at last found himself one
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2 The White Cat.
evening at the door of a splendid castle; but
not a man or woman was to be seen.
A number of hands, with no bodies to them,
appeared. Two hands took off the Prince's cloak;
two others seated him in a chair; another pair
brought a brush, to brush his hair; and several
pairs waited on him at supper. Then some
more hands came and put him to bed, in a fine
chamber, where he slept all night; but still no
one appeared. Next morning the hands brought
him to a splendid hall, where there sat a large
White Cat, who made him sit beside her, and
appeared glad to see him.
Next day the Prince and the White Cat went
out hunting together. The Cat was mounted on
a fine spirited monkey, and seemed very fond of
the Prince; who, on his part, was delighted with
3 The White Cat.
her wit and cleverness. Instead of dogs, cats
hunted for them. These creatures ran with great
agility after rats and mice, and birds, catching
and killing a great number of them; and some-
times the White Cat's monkey would climb a
tree, with the White Cat on his back, after a
bird, a mouse, or a squirrel.
This pleasant life went on for a long time.
Every day the White Cat became more fond of
the Prince; while, on his part, the Prince could
not help loving the poor Cat, who was so kind
and attentive to him. At last the time drew
near when the Prince was to return home, and
he had not thought of looking for a little dog.
But the Cat gave him a casket, and told him to
open this before the King, and all would be well.
So the Prince journeyed home, taking with him
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The White Cat. 4
an ugly mongrel cur. When his brothers saw
this, they laughed secretly to each other, and
thought themselves secure, so far as their young-
er brother was concerned. They had, with in-
finite pains, procured each of them a very rare
and beautiful little dog, and each thought him-
self quite sure to get the prize,
When the day came on which the dogs were
to be shown, each of the two elder Princes pro-
duced a beautiful little dog, on a silk velvet
cushion; no one could judge which was the
prettier. The youngest now opened his casket,
and found a walnut. He cracked this walnut;
and out of the walnut sprang a little tiny dog
of exquisite beauty. Still the old King would
not give up his kingdom. He told the young
Princes they must bring him home a piece of
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The White Cat. 5
cambric, so fine that it could be threaded through
the eye of a needle. And so they went away in
search of such a piece of cambric.
Again the youngest Prince passed a year with
the White Cat, and again the Cat gave him a
walnut when the time came for him to return
home. The three Princes were summoned be-
fore their father, who produced a needle. The
first and second Princes brought a piece of
cambric, which would almost, but not quite, go
through the needle's eye. The youngest Prince
broke open his walnut shell. He found inside
it a nut-shell, and then a cherry-stone, and
then a grain of wheat, and then a grain of mil-
let; and in this grain of millet a piece of cam-
bric four hundred yards long, which passed easily
through the eye of the needle. But the old King
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The IVhite Cat. 6
said, "He who brings the most beautiful lady
shall have the kingdom."
The Prince went back to the White Cat, and
told her what his father had said. She replied,
"Cut off my head and my tail." At last he con-
sented. Instantly the Cat was transformed into a
beautiful Princess; for she had been condemned
by a wicked'fairy to appear as a Cat, till a young
Prince should cut off her head and tail. The
Prince and Princess went to the old King's court,
and she was far more beautiful than the ladies.
brought by the other two Princes. But she did
not want the kingdom, for she owned four al-
ready. One of these she gave to each of the
elder brothers, and over the other two she ruled
with the young Prince, who married her, and
they lived happily together all their lives.
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