From The Brown Fairy Book of Andrew Lang
Kissa the Cat
This charming story about a princess who is rescued by a magical cat originally came from Denmark – but as it happens, “kissa” is Russian for pussycat. Look out for the scary giant. We’ve adapted it slightly, as the original had some rather bloodthirsty bits.
Proofread by Claire Deakin.
Hello Everybody, my name’s Natasha, and his Royal Highness Prince Bertie the frog has commanded me to tell you the Storynory of Kissa the Cat.
Now Prince Bertie the Frog is not too sure whether he likes cats. As you know, before Bertie became a frog, he used to be a handsome prince. The palace cat used to sit on his lap and purr, and in those days, he liked cats very much. But now he’s a frog, he has a rather different point of view. If you are frog, and you see a cat who is much bigger than you and has very sharp claws, you can get a little bit frightened, especially when it’s in the habit of creeping silently up behind various birds and creatures, and jumping on them. But this Storynory is about a very nice cat called Kissa, and it’s from Andrew Lang’s Brown Fairy Book.
If you like this story, you will also enjoy The Cat’s Elopement
Read by Natasha, Duration 15 minutes.
Kissa the Cat
Once upon a time there lived a queen who had a beautiful cat, the colour of smoke and with china blue eyes, which she was very fond of. The cat was constantly with her, and ran after her wherever she went, and even sat up proudly by her side when she drove out in her fine glass coach.
“Oh, pussy,” said the queen one day, “you are happier than I am! For you have a dear kitten just like yourself, and I have nobody to play with but you.”
“Don’t cry,” answered the cat, laying her paw on her mistress’ arm. “Crying never does any good. I will see what can be done.”
The cat was as good as her word. As soon as she returned from her drive she trotted off to the forest to consult a fairy who dwelled there, and very soon after the queen had a little girl, who seemed to be made out of snow and sunbeams, and she called her Princess Ingibjorg. The queen was delighted, and soon the baby began to take notice of Kissa the kitten as she jumped about the room, and would not go to sleep at all unless the kitten lay curled up beside her.
Two or three months went by, and though the baby was still a baby, the kitten was fast becoming a cat, and one evening when, as usual, the nurse came to look for her, to put her in the baby’s cot, she was nowhere to be found. What a hunt there was for that kitten, to be sure! The servants, each anxious to find her, as the queen was certain to reward the lucky man, searched in the most impossible places. Boxes were opened that would hardly have held the kitten’s paw; books were taken from bookshelves, lest the kitten should have gotten behind them, drawers were pulled out, for perhaps the kitten might have been shut in. It was all no use though – the kitten had plainly run away, and nobody could tell if it would ever choose to come back.
Years passed by, and one day, when the princess was playing ball in the garden, she happened to throw her ball farther than usual, and it fell into a clump of rose-bushes. The princess of course ran after it at once, and she was stooping down to feel if it was hidden in the long grass, when she heard a voice calling her.”Ingibjorg! Ingibjorg!” It said. “Have you forgotten me? I am Kissa, your sister!”
“But I never had a sister,” answered Ingibjorg, very much puzzled – for she knew nothing of what had taken place so long ago. How could she suspect that a little kitten was practically her sister?
“Don’t you remember how I always slept in your cot beside you, and how you cried until I came? Girls have no memories at all! Why, I could find my way straight up to that cot this moment, if I were once inside the palace.”
“Why did you go away then?” Asked the princess. Before Kissa could answer, little Princess Ingibjorg’s attendants arrived breathless on the scene, and were so horrified at the sight of a strange cat, that Kissa plunged into the bushes and went back to the forest.
The princess was angry with her ladies-in-waiting for frightening away her old playfellow, and told the queen who came to her room every evening to bid her goodnight.
“Yes, it is quite true what Kissa said,” answered the queen. “I should have liked to see her again. Perhaps, some day, she will return, and then you must bring her to me.”
Next morning it was very hot, and the princess declared that she must go and play in the forest, where it was always cool under the big shady trees. As usual, her attendants let her do anything she pleased, and sitting down on a mossy bank where a little stream tinkled by, soon fell sound asleep. The princess saw with delight that they would pay no heed to her, and wandered on and on, expecting any moment to see some fairies dancing round a ring, or some little brown elves peeping at her from behind a tree. But, alas! she met none of these. Instead, a horrible giant came out of his cave and ordered her to follow him. The princess felt much afraid, as he was so big and ugly, and began to be sorry that she had not stayed within reach of help, but as there was no use in disobeying the giant, she walked meekly behind.
They went a long way, and Princess Ingibjorg grew very tired, and at length began to cry.
“I don’t like girls who make horrid noises,” said the giant, turning around. “But if you want to cry, I will give you something to cry for.” And with those words he started to draw his axe from his belt. Ingibjorg became very frightened and started to run. Fortunately, although the giant was very big and had long legs, he was also very fat, so he couldn’t run quickly. As Ingibjorg escaped, she lost her slippers that were embroidered with gold thread and studded with precious stones, which were special slippers made for a princess. On she ran in her bare feet, which soon became very cut and full of thorns. She did not look around to see the giant stopping down to pick up her expensive slippers.
She ran into a part of the forest that was too thick and overgrown for him to find her, and finally she got away from that wicked giant, who would surely have killed her with his axe if he could have done. Now she was quite lost. How long it was since she had set out in the morning she could not tell – it seemed years to her. Her legs were cut by brambles and thorns and a wasp had stung her on the nose. Eventually she lay down and started to cry. Darkness came over, and she was shivering all night with cold. When she woke up, she was hungry and thirsty. “Now I shall surely die!” she said to herself.
The sun was still high in the heavens when she heard the sound of wheels, and then, with a great effort, for her throat was parched with fright and pain, she gave a shout.
“I am coming!” Was the answer, and in another moment a cart made its way through the trees, driven by Kissa, who used her tail as a whip to urge the horse to go faster. Directly, Kissa saw Ingibjorg lying there, she jumped quickly down, and lifting the girl carefully in her two front paws, laid her upon some soft hay, and drove back to her own little hut.
In the corner of the room was a pile of cushions, and these Kissa arranged as a bed. Princess Ingibjorg, who by this time was nearly fainting from all she had gone through, drank some milk greedily, and then sank back on the cushions while Kissa fetched some dried herbs from a cupboard, soaked them in warm water and tended to her cuts and bruises. The pain vanished at once, and Ingibjorg looked up and smiled at Kissa.
“You will go to sleep now,” said the cat, “for you have a fever and must rest. You will not mind if I leave you for a little while. I will lock the door, and no one can hurt you.” But before she had finished the princess was asleep. Kissa got into the cart, which was standing at the door, and catching up the reins, drove straight to the giant’s cave.
Leaving her cart behind some trees, Kissa crept gently up to the open door, and crouching down, listened to what the giant was telling his wife, who was at supper with him.
“The first day that I can spare I shall just go back and kill her,” he said. “It would never do for people in the forest to know that a mere girl can defy me!” He and his wife were so busy calling Ingibjorg all sorts of names for her bad behaviour, that they never noticed Kissa stealing into a dark corner, and upsetting a whole bag of salt into the great pot before the fire. By-and-By the giant and giantess had the salty soup for their supper.
“Dear me, how thirsty I am!” Cried the giant after supper – for the salt had made him so.
“So am I,” answered the wife. “I do wish I had not taken that last spoonful of broth; I am sure something was wrong with it.”
“If I don’t get some water I shall die,” went on the giant. Rushing out of the cave, followed by his wife, he ran down the path which led to the river.
Then Kissa entered the hut, and lost no time in searching every hole until she came upon some grass, under which Ingibjorg’s gold embroidered slippers were hidden, and putting them in her cart, drove back again to her own hut.
Ingibjorg was thankful to see her, for she had lain, too frightened to sleep, trembling at every noise.
“Oh, is it you?” She cried joyfully, as Kissa turned the key. The cat came in, holding up the two neat little slippers.
“Now if you are feeling better, it is time to take you home,” said Kissa.
When the cat drove the cart up to the palace gate, lashing the horse furiously with her tail, and the king and queen saw their lost daughter sitting beside her, they declared that no reward could be too great for the person who had brought her out of the giant’s hands.
“We will talk about that by-and-by,” said the cat, as she made her best bow, and turned her horse’s head.
The princess was very unhappy when Kissa left her without even bidding her farewell. She would neither eat nor drink, nor take any notice of all the beautiful dresses her parents bought for her.
“She will die, unless we can make her laugh,” one whispered to the other. “Is there anything in the world that we have left untried?”
“Nothing except marriage,” answered the King. He invited all the handsomest young men he could think of to the palace, and bade the princess choose a husband from among them.
It took her some time to decide which she admired the most, but at last she fixed upon a young prince, whose eyes were like the pools in the forest, and his hair of bright gold. The king and the queen were greatly pleased, as the young man was the son of a neighbouring king, and they gave orders that a splendid feast should be made ready.
When the wedding was over, Kissa suddenly stood before them, and Ingibjorg rushed forward and clasped her in her arms.
“I have come to claim my reward,” said the cat. “Let me sleep for this night at the foot of your bed.”
“Is that all?” Asked Ingibjorg, much disappointed.
“It is enough,” answered the cat. When the morning dawned, it was no cat that lay upon the bed, but a beautiful princess.
“My mother and I were both put under an evil spell by a spiteful fairy,” said she. “We could not free ourselves until we had done some kindly deed that had never been wrought before. My mother died without ever finding a chance of doing anything new, but I saved you from the forest, and now am turned back into a princess.”
Then they were all more delighted than before, and the princess lived in the court until she too married.
And that’s the Storynory, of Kissa the cat, who was really a princess. Bertie the frog likes this storynory because he once once a handsome prince. He hopes to turn back into a royal person one day, just like Kissa the cat did. You can help him by listening to all his free stories which you can find on Storynory.com. While you are there, you can also drop into Bertie’s online shop.
I’ll be back with another Storynory soon. Until then, from me, Natasha, Bye Bye!