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Whittington and his Cat.
THERE was once a Lord Mayor of London, whose name was Sir Richard Whittington. He rose to that office from being a poor orphan, living in a distant village. Dick was a sharp boy, and was always picking up knowledge from some of the villagers. Dick heard of the great City of London; he often heard it said that the streets were paved all over with gold.
One day seeing a wagon and team of horses on the road to London, he took courage and asked the wagoner to let him walk by his side. Having gained permission, they set off together. When Dick got to London he was very eager to see the fine streets paved all over with gold, but the poor boy saw nothing but dirt instead of gold, so he crouched down at the door of one Mr. Fitzwarren, a great merchant. Here he was soon found by an ill-tempered cook, who ordered him to go about his business. But just at this moment Mr. Fitzwarren himself came home, and finding that the poor boy was willing to work, he took him into his house, and said that he should be kept to do what dirty work he was able for the cook. The cook was always scolding him from morning till night, and was very cruel to him. Poor Dick had another hardship. His bed was placed in a garret where there were great numbers of rats and mice, which ran over his face, and made a great noise. Dick at last bought a cat which was famous for being an excellent mouser.
Soon after this the merchant, who had a ship ready to sail, asked his servants if they would send any goods abroad. All the servants mentioned something they were willing to venture, but poor Whittington, who said he had nothing but a cat, which was his companion.
"Fetch thy cat, boy,” said Mr. Fitzwarren, “and let her go.” Dick hesitated for some time, at last he brought poor puss, and delivered her to the captain with tears in his eyes.
The cook continued to be so cruel to him that the unhappy fellow determined to leave his place. He accordingly packed up his few things, and travelled as far as Holloway, and there sat down on a stone. While he was there musing, Bow bells began to
ring; and it seemed to him that their sounds said:
“Turn again, Whittington,
Lord Mayor of London." So back went Dick, and got into the house before the cook came down-stairs.
The ship with Dick's cat on board happened to be driven by contrary winds on a part of the coast of Barbary inhabited by Moors, who showed great eagerness to purchase the things with which the ship was laden. The captain seeing this, took patterns of the choicest articles he had to the King of the Moors. While he was showing them to him, dinner was brought in, when immediately a great number of rats and mice came out of their holes, and helped themselves to all the dainties. The captain was much astonished at this, when the King informed him that he was always annoyed in the same way. The captain said he had an animal on board his vessel which would soon clear the place of them, and at once went to the ship, put puss in a bag, and returned to the palace. The second dinner had been brought in, and, as usual, in came the rats and mice. When the captain unloosed the bag, pussy, at sight of the rats and mice, sprang out, and in a trice killed numbers of them, whilst the others scampered away to their hiding places. The King was greatly delighted with the wonderful exploits of Mrs. Puss, and quickly bargained with the captain for his whole ship's cargo, and afterwards agreed to give a prodigious quantity of gold for the cat. Then the captain, after a happy voyage for England, safely arrived in the port of London. When Mr. Fitzwarren heard the news, he ordered Dick Whittington to be called, and showed him all the riches which the captain had brought in exchange for his cat. These riches soon altered Dick's state of life, and in a few years he was made the partner of his old master. He was married to Alice, the merchant's daughter, at Bow Church, the very church whose bells had been the means of calling Dick back. Dick became richer and richer; at last he was chosen Sheriff of London, and in a year or two afterwards became Lord Mayor of London.
BEAUTY was the youngest of the three daughters of a merchant. She had been called “Beauty" from her birth, on account of her great loveliness. Her father was very fond of her. It happened on one occasion that her father was obliged to leave home for a short time on business, so he called his three daughters together, and asked them what presents he should bring them on his return. The two eldest desired him to bring the most splendid diamonds and the richest dresses he could see, while the youngest requested him to bring a rose. As the merchant was returning home, he was overtaken by a violent storm and lost his way. Seeing before him a splendid palace, he entered it. Everything for his comfort seemed to have been provided. After supper he retired to his sleeping apartment. The next morning the merchant awoke quite refreshed from his fatigue. Having breakfasted, he walked in the gardens of the palace. The flowers made the merchant think of Beauty. He searched for a rose-tree, but could not see one for some time. At last, entering an arbour, he found some magnificent red roses. One of these the merchant plucked : suddenly a monster seized him. “Ungrateful wretch !" said the Beast, “is this the way you repay the kindness you have received? Your life is forfeited. I will, however, allow you to return home and take leave of your children, but you must return here in a week, or send some one in your stead. Take the rose and be gone.” Having so spoken, he instantly disappeared. In the evening the merchant, almost broken-hearted, reached his home.
When the merchant related to Beauty all that had occurred, she said, smilingly, "Oh, father, you shall not return; I alone will bear the punishment!” No entreaties of the father could alter her mind. In a few days she took leave of all her friends, giving each one some token of her love. The merchant insisted on accompanying her, and seeing her safe to the monster's palace. They mounted their horses and set off, and very soon they arrived at the golden gates of the palace, which instantly flew open. Having dismounted, the merchant and Beauty passed into the arcade. The merchant
went to his former room, whilst two humming-birds guided Beauty to a room, over the door of which was inscribed, “BEAUTY'S APARTMENT.” The door sprang open as she touched the enamelled handle. The room was most elegantly furnished. Adjoining to this apartment were dressing and bed rooms. She entered the former, where she found every article for her toilet prepared. Having changed her dress, she went in search of her father. They found a magnificent feast prepared for them. A magic fute played a few bars of music, then a voice said,
“ The Beast is near,
And asks leave to appear." The merchant having desired him to appear, a door sprang open at the further end of the saloon, and the Beast entered. As he came near, his appearance was so hideous that Beauty clung to her father's arm for protection. The Beast endeavoured to soothe her alarm, and informed her that she was to consider herself mistress of the whole palace. On the evening of the same day the merchant returned home.
On the departure of her father, Beauty was left alone with the Beast. He, however, never intruded himself on her presence, and was always kind and gentle towards her. By degrees she lost sight of his ugliness, and looked forward to his visits with pleasure. One day he never came near her, and so great was her anxiety respecting him that she could not rest. She went in search of him. She passed through every room in the palace, and at length went into the garden. What was her horror when she found the Beast lying on the ground as if dead! She knelt beside him, and tenderly took hold of his hand. After some time the Beast opened its eyes, and seeing Beauty, he said, "Ah, you have come only to see me die !” “Don't die ! what can I do to save you?” “Will you marry me?" faintly murmured the Beast.“Willingly, to save your life," answered Beauty. She had no sooner said these words than she saw at her feet one of the loveliest princes that she had ever beheld. The Prince and Beauty were soon married, and they lived happily together to a very old age.