The Ogre, as he has come to be known, was the
last member of an ancient family that had resided in this
castle in Carrabas for hundreds of years. The family was a
generous one that always looked after their own servants as
well as all of the peasants in the surrounding area. My own
family had worked for the Ogre’s family for at least
eight generations. I was still a young man when tragedy
befell them. The Ogre’s father was a handsome young
man who married a beautiful distant cousin who had come
north from Spain to stay with the family one summer. They
soon had two daughters who were a joy to the family as they
grew into womanhood. When I was about 18 years old, and
their daughters were just a bit younger than I was, there
was great excitement when the mistress became pregnant
again. Unfortunately it was a most difficult pregnancy that
lasted almost ten months. On a cold December night she
finally gave birth to a son who, alas, turned out by some
freak of nature to be enormously large and badly
disfigured. Like all good families they loved and treasured
their son and cared for him carefully as he grew; and grow
he did for, it turned out, his large birth size was only a
precursor of what was to come.
When their son first began to make noises he muttered a sound that seemed like “argghh.” It was from that sound that they began to call him their little ogre and, as he grew older, simply Ogre. Ogre was large and unusual looking but he was an intelligent and cheerful boy who, as he grew older, developed a wonderful sense of humor. His special tutor found Ogre to be an apt pupil and together they created a special persona for him. Much of that persona was designed to mask Ogre’s size and appearance by making use of the skills that the tutor had as a would-be magician and actor specializing in rapid costume changes. They made for him a series of costumes, of both animal and human form, that could be stored in a hidden chamber behind the bookcases in the great hall. Ogre soon learned how to create a cloud of smoke, move into the chamber and emerge by the time the smoke had cleared in a different form. Eventually they created a small hole in the bottom of the bookcase so that Ogre could disappear into the hidden chamber, put on a small mouse hand-puppet, and lie on the floor while sticking his hand through the hole to make people think he had transformed himself into a mouse. Over time he became extremely adept at these transformations and consistently fooled his family, servants, and the few visitors to the castle.
By the time Ogre was 30 the family had a comfortable life and a well-established routine. They lived in quiet isolation surrounded only by a small body of faithful servants and a circle of local friends. Nevertheless rumors about this family, and their son Ogre, began to circulate throughout the surrounding area as visitors to the castle or trades people who dealt with the castle told of the isolation in which they lived and the antics of Ogre. Soon references to the Ogre became widespread and fantastic tales about his shape-changing abilities became common throughout the region. When Ogre was about 35 his mother died, a few years later his father also died, as did his faithful tutor. He was left alone in the family castle with only my family and a few other servants to take care of him. Ogre became more and more isolated from the world and, as he did, the rumors about him grew more expansive and fantastic. As the rumors magnified the isolation increased and soon he was living in solitude.
Thus it was a truly unusual circumstance when I was summoned to the gate one day to meet a visitor. She was a young woman with long silky hair wearing a man’s costume and a beautiful pair of long leather boots. A cat’s mask covered her face. Pleased at the appearance of this visitor, whom I knew would amuse Ogre, I invited her in. When I asked her what she wanted she told me that she was with a traveling troupe of actors who had recently come to the area to entertain the king. Since their plays involved a cast of animal characters they had been told, or so she informed me, about the Ogre who lived here and his shape-changing abilities. She thought they might learn from him and that he might want to join her troupe in some of their local performances. I knew that Ogre had become lonesome and longed for the opportunity to entertain people with his antics. So, much to my later dismay, I invited her to rest for a few moments while I consulted with my master. He readily agreed to meet her and told me to summon her to his chamber.
As was usual, after I brought her in and introduced them I pretended to take my leave but, instead, hid behind the arras just inside the door. There I remained as a witness to the horrible events that were to transpire. After a brief conversation Puss, for such she had told me was her name, explained to Ogre that she had heard much of his ability to change himself into various shapes including even an elephant or a lion. In the twinkling of an eye he released a cloud of smoke and the next thing Puss knew she was confronted with an elephant. In another puff of smoke the elephant disappeared only to be replaced by a roaring lion. Pretending to be appropriately scared she sweetly asked him if he could make himself smaller. Soon the lion was gone and a small mouse emerged from a hole along the wall. The evil Puss pulled out a sword and slashed at the mouse which rolled on the floor as if dead. I rushed out to open the hidden door and check on my master only to find that it was locked or jammed. By the time I scrambled down the stairs and around to the other entrance to the chamber it was too late. Stunned by the fact that his hand had been cut off, Ogre had collapsed and soon bled to death. There was nothing more that could be done for him either in life or after death. Bragging of her exploits, Puss in Boots – for so she now styled herself – claimed the castle for her master and turned it over to him.
Soon thereafter her master married the king’s beautiful daughter but, I can assure you, took ample and loving care of Puss in Boots as well.