The Blue Fairy Book HTML version

The White Cat
ONCE upon a time there was a king who had three sons, who were all so clever
and brave that he began to be afraid that they would want to reign over the
kingdom before he was dead. Now the King, though he felt that he was growing
old, did not at all wish to give up the government of his kingdom while he could
still manage it very well, so he thought the best way to live in peace would be to
divert the minds of his sons by promises which he could always get out of when
the time came for keeping them.
So he sent for them all, and, after speaking to them kindly, he added:
"You will quite agree with me, my dear children, that my great age makes it
impossible for me to look after my affairs of state as carefully as I once did. I
begin to fear that this may affect the welfare of my subjects, therefore I wish that
one of you should succeed to my crown; but in return for such a gift as this it is
only right that you should do something for me. Now, as I think of retiring into the
country, it seems to me that a pretty, lively, faithful little dog would be very good
company for me; so, without any regard for your ages, I promise that the one
who brings me the most beautiful little dog shall succeed me at once."
The three Princes were greatly surprised by their father's sudden fancy for a little
dog, but as it gave the two younger ones a chance they would not otherwise
have had of being king, and as the eldest was too polite to make any objection,
they accepted the commission with pleasure. They bade farewell to the King,
who gave them presents of silver and precious stones, and appointed to meet
them at the same hour, in the same place, after a year had passed, to see the
little dogs they had brought for him.