wildforce71: (triskell)
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Gobbolino was sitting sadly by the roadside when he heard the Clop! Clop! Clop! of a horse approaching.

A fine horse was coming along the road. But the knight who sat astride it was pale and sad. The horse shied at the sight of Gobbolino, nearly throwing the knight off.

"Good day to you, little cat!" said the knight. "And what are you doing on the king's highway? You're a very pretty cat. Why don't you jump up on my horse and come with me?"

As they rode along, the knight told Gobbolino why he was so sad. He said he was in love with the beautiful Lady Alice. But she had been shut up in a high tower by her father until she made up her mind which of two suitors she would marry. One was the knight himself, and the other was the black baron who lived in a castle nearby.

Both suitors went to visit her every day and took her wonderful presents. The Lady Alice had promised to marry the man whose present the other man could not guess. Every day the black baron would guess what present the sad knight had brought. And every day the sad knight would guess what present the baron had brought.

Now, the tower stood in the middle of a wood, and it was guarded by a huge dragon. The dragon was old and lazy, but Gobbolino had never seen a dragon before, and he was more than a little frightened when he saw the green coils of the monster wrapped around the bottom of the tower. The knight, holding Gobbolino on his arm, knocked boldly on the door of the tower. The lazy dragon opened one eye and looked at them, but he did not move.

Rosabel, serving maid to the Lady Alice, ran down the stairs and opened the door.

"Is my lady alone?" asked the knight.

"Why, yes sir, she is. The baron left half an hour ago. And he brought the loveliest set of ivory balls you ever saw!"

Gobbolino could see now how the suitors found it so easy to guess each other's presents.

The knight and Gobbolino followed Rosabel up the stairs to the top of the tower, where the Lady Alice sat beside her spinning wheel, looking out over the forest.

"Oh, what a pretty little cat," she cried. "Do let him come and sit on my lap." Gobbolino leapt on to her lap and sat there, purring. "Stay with me for ever little cat!" the Lady Alice whispered. "It's so lonely here in the tower with nobody but my serving maid and the silly knight and the stupid baron and that lazy dragon to talk to. I've never had such a pretty gift before!"

Sitting at the feet of the Lady Alice, Gobbolino thought he had never been so contented before in his life.

The next morning the Lady Alice leaned out of her window and cried: "I can see the baron coming. Go and let him in, Rosabel - but don't say what present the knight brought me yesterday."

Gobbolino, who knew that Rosabel would tell the baron about him, slipped out of the room behind her and hissed in her ear. "If you tell the baron about me, Rosabel, I'll turn you into gingerbread and the dragon will eat you up!"

The black baron thundered on the tower door and Rosabel opened it. But she would not say a word about the knight's present. So the baron came up the stairs in a very bad temper, for Rosabel had never failed to tell him before.

"The knight brought you a pair of pigeons, I suppose?" he said to the Lady Alice.

"Oh dear me, no! And if you don't guess in two more days, I'll marry him and not you!"

When night fell the Lady Alice brought out her harp. The music grew sadder and sadder, till at last she burst into tears. "Oh Gobbolino! What is to become of me. Now I'll have to marry the knight and I don't want to marry either of them. I'm in love with a noble young lord. But he went to the wars, and now my father says I must marry one of these stupid men. What shall I do?"

The baron arrived the next morning with five gold coins for Rosabel. But still she would not tell him about the knight's present.

"Oh no!" she sobbed. "I dare not. The present would turn me into gingerbread and scratch me with its claws."

"It's a cat!" shouted the baron. "A witch's cat!"

Just then the knight arrived at the door. Both suitors ran up the stairs, with Rosabel sobbing behind them. "It's a witch's cat!" shouted the baron.

"Rosabel told you!" cried the knight.

"It'll cast a spell on us all," said the baron, as he reached the top.

"I claim your hand, Lady Alice," said the knight. But before she could answer the baron drew out his sword and a terrific fight began.

At that moment a bugle call sounded through the forest and a horse and rider galloped towards the tower.

"It's my young lord!" cried Lady Alice as she darted to the stairs. Rosabel followed her, jumped over the dragon and ran home sobbing. But the Lady Alice ran to meet her young lover, who lifted her on to his saddle and galloped back into the forest.

Upstairs the knight and the baron were still fighting. And with all the noise the dragon started to wake up. The tower began to rock as he slowly uncoiled himself and stretched. Then, with a tremendous yawn, he opened his mouth and roared.

Gobbolino barely had time to leap clear before the whole tower crashed down around the baron and knight still fighting among the ruins. Gobbolino escaped just in time and he ran away from the tower as fast as he could.

"I've been a kitchen cat and a show cat and a ship's cat and now a knight's cat. It was fun being a kitchen cat - I wonder if I'll be one again?" And he trotted out of the forest to look for a new home...



https://soundcloud.com/jenn-mitchell-984638890/gobbolino-the-knights-cat

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