XI. Dick Whittington and his Cat (2)
Mr Fitzwarren's ship was a long time at sea,1
and was at last driven by the winds on a part of the coast 2 of
where the only people
were Moors, whom the English had never seen before. They soon came
to the ship and admired 4 the fine wares and wanted to buy them.
The captain, however,
sent patterns5 of the best things he had to the king of the country,
who was so much pleased with them, that he invited the captain
to a grand dinner at the
palace.6 On arriving there, he was given a seat near the King and
the Queen.6 Many dishes 7 were then brought in for dinner ; but
very soon a huge number of rats and mice rushed in, helping themselves
8 from almost every dish. The captain wondered 9 at this, and asked
one who sat next to him, if 10 this was not very unpleasant.
Oh yes," was the reply, "most unpleasant. The King would
give almost 11 anything to get rid of them. They eat part of his
dinner, they go into his own room, and even run over his bed."
Then the captain had a happy thought 12 ; he remembered
the cat that poor Dick Whittington had given him, and told
the King he had a creature on board the ship 13 that would
kill all these rats and mice on the spot. The King was more
than glad 14 to hear this, but could hardly believe it was true.15"
Go and bring this creature to me," he cried, " and if
it is able to do what you
say, I will load
your ship with gold
and jewels,16 in
exchange 17 for it."
The captain, who
was a good business
man,18 replied :
" I shall be happy to let you see the creature, but I am
not sure whether I can sell it. The mice and rats might come and
eat the wares in our ship." "Run, run," said the
Queen. " I am anxious 19 to see the dear creature."
So the captain went to the ship, while another meal was got ready
and placed on the tables. He returned just as the mice and rats
began to appear.20 When the cat saw them, she jumped from the captain's
arms, and in a few minutes quite a number of rats and mice lay
dead at her feet. The rest of them had run away and disappeared
in their holes.
The King and Queen were delighted, and asked that the creature
should be brought to them. So the captain called "Puss, Puss,
Puss," and she came to him. At first the Queen was afraid
to touch 21 her; but the captain stroked 22 her, and said "Pussy" to
her, and the Queen then stroked her too, and said " Pussy" as
well as she could-for she did not know English. Then the cat was
allowed to rest on the Queen's lap, and sat there purring,23 until
she fell asleep.
The King said he must have the cat, so that he might never again
be troubled by mice and rats. He agreed to buy the whole of the
ship's cargo 24 at a very good price, and paid ten times as much
for the cat as for the cargo !
The captain then took leave 25 of the King and Queen, and after
a happy voyage 28 arrived safe in London.
He made his way 27 to the house of his master, Mr Fitzwarren, who
was delighted when the captain showed him some of the fine jewels
he had received from the King or Barbary. The captain then told
him of the rich present which the King and Queen had sent to Dick,
in exchange for his cat. As soon as the merchant heard this, he
told one of the servants to go and fetch him. "And be careful,"28
he added, "to call him Mr Whittington."
Dick, at the time, was cleaning things in the kitchen, and his
hands were dirty; but he had to do as he was told, and followed
the servant to Mr Fitzwarren's room. He was asked to sit down on
a chair; but he thought they were making fun
of him,29 and begged them to let him go back to his work. i'hen
Mr Fitzwarren said :
Indeed, Mr Whittington, we are all quite in earnest with
you, and I most heartily 3° rejoice in your good fortune; for
the captain has sold your cat to the King of Barbary, and brought
you in return for
her 31 more riches 32 than I
possess in the whole world ; and I wish you may long
enjoy 33 them."
Then all the gold and jewels were shown to Dick, and he could hardly
believe his eyes. He begged his master to take what part of it
he pleased, since he owed it all to his kindness.
No, no," answered Mr Fitzwarren. "This is all your own;
and I am sure you will
use it well." 34
Dick then asked his mistress, and Miss Alice, to accept 35 a part
of his treasures ; but they would not, and at the same time told
him that they rejoiced greatly at his good fortune. Dick was too
kind-hearted 36 to keep it all to himself ; he gave a present to
the captain and to each of the servants in the house, not forgetting
even the ill-tempered old cook.
Then Mr Fitzwarren advised him to get himself dressed like a gentleman,
and told him that he might live in his house as a friend until
he should find a better house for himself.
When he was dressed in nice clothes, Dick was as handsome as any
young man that visited Mr Fitzwarren's house. Miss Alice had always
been kind to him. When he was poor, she had felt sorry for him,
for she bad seen how bright he was, and had often thought him too
good for the kitchen. Now that he was a rich gentleman, and her
father's friend, she saw more of him ; and after some time her
father saw that they loved each other. A day for the wedding 37
was fised,38 and a splendid" wedding it was. Many of the richest
merchants in London were there, and even the Lord Mayor himself.
Mr Whittington and his lady lived in great splendour 39 and were
very happy. He was liked by everybody, and even became Lord Mayor,
as the bells of Bow Church had promised him, long before. From
King Henry V.40 he received the honour of knighthood.41
The figure of Sir Richard Whittington with his cat in his arms,
carved 42 in stone, was to be seen till the year 1780 on the wall
of the old prison of Newgate.
1 It was a long time before the ship came to land. 2 The coast
of a country is that part of it which is washed by the sea. 3
In Africa. 4 We admire a beautiful sunset, the flowers in spring,
a clever man. The Moors said: " How beautiful these things
are !" The wares filled them with admiration. 5 Not all
the best things, but some of each kind. We sometimes ask a merchant
to send us a pattern of his wares ; if we like it, wo tell him
to send a dozen. 6 The king and the queen (his wife) live in
beautiful palace. 7 Our food is placed on dishes in the kitchen,
and then brought into the dining-room. 8 Or: taking what they
pleased. s Or : was surprised. 10 Or : whether. 11 Nearly, not
quite. We say : it is almost seven, when it will soon be seven.
I have almost finished my work : it will be finished in a few
minutes. 12 Or : a good idea. 13 Or : on the ship. 14 Or: rejoiced
greatly, was delighted. 15 Or : it seemed too good to be true.
16 Such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies. 17 I shall give you gold,
if you give me the cat. 18 Or : who knew how to sell things at
a good price. 19 Or : I very much want. 20 Or : show themselves.
21 To place her hand on the cat. 22 Passed his hand over the
cat's back. A father sometimes strokes the head of his little
child. 23 When a cat is contented, she makes a noise which is
called purring. Y4 All the wares on board the ship ; all that
Mr Fitzwarren had put in the ship. 25 Or: said Good-bye. 26A
journey across the sea. 27 Or: went. 28 Or : take care, do not
forget. 29 Or : laughing at him: opp. to treat seriously. 30
Or: with all my heart. 310r : in exchange for her, or : in place
of her, instead of her. 32 Or: wealth, money. 33 Feel joy. We
enjoy a thing when it gives us joy. I enjoy a walk in the woods
: it gives me pleasure to walk through the woods. See V1II. 19.
'34 Or : make good use of it. 3s Or: take as a present. 36 Or
: had too kind a heart. 37 Or: marriage. 38 They chose a day
for the wedding. 39 Grand, wonderful, very fine; s, splendour.
40 He was King of England from 1413 to 1422. 41 He was made a
knight. 42 Cut.