210 THE HISTORY OF WHITTINGTON
The factor, in surprise, turned round to the nobles and asked if these vermin were not offensive. ' Oh! yes,' said they, ' very offensive ; and the King would give half his treasure to be freed of them, for they not only destroy his dinner, as you see, but they assault him in his chamber, and even in bed, so that he is obliged to be watched while he is sleeping, for fear of them.'
The factor jumped for joy; he remembered poor Whittington and his cat, and told the King he had a creature on board the ship that would despatch all these vermin immediately. The King's heart heaved so high at the joy which this news gave him that his turban dropped off his head. * Bring this creature to me,' said he ; ' vermin are dreadful in a court, and if she will perform what you say I will load your ship with gold and jewels in exchange for her.' The factor, who knew his business, took this opportunity to set forth the merits of Miss Puss. He told his Majesty that it would be inconvenient to part with her, as, when she was gone, the rats and mice might destroy the goods in the shipóbut to oblige his Majesty he would fetch her. ' Kun, run,' said the Queen; ' I am impatient to see the dear creature.'
Away flew the factor, while another dinner was providing, and returned with the cat just as the rats and mice were devouring that also. He immediately put down Miss Puss, who killed a great number of them.
The King rejoiced greatly to see his old enemies destroyed by so small a creature, and the Queen was highly pleased, and desired the cat might be brought near that she might look at her. Upon which the factor called ' Pussy, pussy, pussy!' and she came to him. He then presented her to the Queen, who started back, and was afraid to touch a creature who had made such a havoc among the rats and mice ; however, when the factor stroked the cat and called ' Pussy, pussy!' the Queen also touched her and cried ' Putty, putty !' for she had not learned English.
He then put her down on the Queen's lap, where she, purring, played with her Majesty's hand, and then sang herself to sleep.
The King having seen the exploits of Miss Puss, and being informed that her kittens would stock the whole country, bar≠gained with the captain and factor for the whole ship's cargo, and then gave them ten times as much for the cat as all the rest amounted to. On which, taking leave of their Majesties and other great personages at court, they sailed with a fair wind for England, whither we must now attend them.