THE WHITE CAT
everything he saw, and the deft way in which the hands waited on him, though they sometimes appeared so suddenly that they made him jump.
When he was quite ready—and I can assure you that he looked very different from the wet and weary Prince who had stood outside in the rain, and pulled the deer's foot—the hands led him to a splendid room, upon the walls of which were painted the histories of Puss in Boots and a number of other famous cats. The table was laid for supper with two golden plates, and golden spoons and forks, and the sideboard was covered with dishes and glasses of crystal set with precious stones. The Prince was wondering who the second place could be for, when suddenly in came about a dozen cats carrying guitars and rolls of music, who took their places at one end of the room, and under the direction of a cat who beat time with a roll of paper began to mew in every imaginable key, and to draw their claws across the strings of the guitars, making the strangest kind of music that could be heard. The Prince hastily stopped up his ears, but even then the sight of these comical musicians sent him into fits of laughter.
' What funny thing shall I see next ?' he said to himself, and instantly the door opened, and in came a tiny figure covered by a long black veil. It was conducted by two cats wearing black mantles and carrying swords, and a large party of cats followed, who brought in cages full of rats and mice.
The Prince was so much astonished that he thought he must be dreaming, but the little figure came up to him and threw back its veil, and he saw that it was the loveliest little white cat it is possible to imagine. She looked very young and very sad, and in a sweet little voice that went straight to his heart she said to the Prince:
' King's son, you are welcome ; the Queen of the Cats is glad to see you.'
' Lady Cat,' replied the Prince, ' I thank you for receiving me so kindly, but surely you are no ordinary pussy-cat ? Indeed, the way you speak and the magnificence of your castle prove it plainly.'
' King's son,' said the White Cat, ' I beg you to spare me these compliments, for I am not used to them. But now,' she added, ' let supper be served, and let the musicians be silent, as the Prince does not understand what they are saying.'
So the mysterious hands began to bring in the supper, and