My father isn’t ready to give the throne to any of his three sons. Instead he sends us away on quests for things that are impossible to find. I don’t protest. It’s a waste of breath. And besides, I’m far too well-bred.
The funny thing is, I enjoyed the quests. My father sent us off to find a little dog for him, promising that the son who brought him back the most beautiful creature would succeed him. Off I went, quite merrily, and hardly a day went buy when I didn’t buy several dogs—big and little, greyhounds, mastiffs, spaniels, and lapdogs. As soon as I had bought a pretty one, I thought for sure I would find a still prettier one. Then I would rid myself of all the others and buy that one. I couldn’t go around with thirty or forty thousand dogs, now could I?
I wandered everywhere, not knowing where I was going, and then one night, I came to a great, gloomy forest. I did not know my way, and what’s worse, it began to thunder, and the rain poured down.
I took the first path I could find, and after walking for a long time I thought I saw a faint light. Perhaps I was coming to some sort of cottage where I might find shelter for the night. But as I approached I saw that it was a more splendid castle I had ever imagined. The door was covered in gold and precious stones. In fact, it was the pure red light from one of them that had shown me the way through the forest. The outer walls were made of fine porcelain, and in exquisitely delicate colors, they told all the stories of the world. Marvelous!
I was terribly wet, however, and as the rain continued to fall in torrents, I could not tarry. I returned to the golden door and pulled on the bell, a deer’s foot hung on a chain of diamonds.
Who could possibly be the owner of this magnificent castle, I wondered?
Why, a cat, of course.
The Well-Bred Prince in The White Cat, Blue Fairy Book. Illustration by Adrienne Segur.