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“Dick Whittington and his cat” is all about a poor boy, Dick, who makes his fortune through a series of luck and blessings but completely through natural events and through the kindness showed by Mr. Fitzwarren and Alice.
As suggested in the title itself, the cat plays a major role in the lesson being exceptionally good at catching mice and rats.
The protagonist, Dick Whittington, was once a poor boy, who lived in a small village in the South England. He was an orphan and had no proper home to live in. Even his fellow villagers used to treat him inhumanly.
One day, Dick overheard someone that the streets of London were paved with Gold and thus, he decided to go there at once and pick his fortune up in gold pieces from the streets, for he thought people might treat him kindlier if he becomes rich.
Dick’s arrival in London
However, Dick was very much disappointed on arriving London because the streets were not paved with gold instead, they were covered with dirts. He was so tired and hungry that he sat outside the home of a wealthy merchant named Mr. Fitzwarren.
Feeling pity for the young boy, Mr. Fitzwarren takes Dick into his home, feeds him and gives him a job as the cook’s assistant. Dick was supposed to help the cook with all the pots and pans in the kitchen.
Dick had two major difficulties to face, the first was a small room he slept in because at night the rats and mice used to scamper all over him and kept him awake.
To overcome this problem, Dick purchased a cat with the few pennies which he saved. The cat chased away all the rats and mice and thus, Dick was able to sleep peacefully.
His other difficulty was the bad temper of the cook under whom he works. Not able to stand it any more,Dick along with his cat set out to seek his fortune elsewhere.
The Change in Dick’s Fortune
It was the first of November, All Saints Day, and the church bells were ringing. As Dick sat and listened to them, it seemed that they were ringing out a message for him and calling him as Lord Mayor of London.
Mr. Fitzwarren had begun to send ships far across the sea to trade with other countries.
One day Mr. Fitzwarren asked everyone in his household to put something forward to send away to sea and make their fortune. Dick parts with his only possession, his cat, to be send on ship. The cook was very irritated on seeing the kindness showered upon Dick by all the members of Mr. Fitzwarren including his daughter, Alice.
The captain of the ship was very delighted for the cat was an excellent mouser and so he had no trouble with rats and mice on his voyage.
The Cat and the Plague
After some months, the ship arrived Barbary, an African coast. The captain sent a message to the King that he may buy some fine goods from him as he had them for sale.
The captain came to know that the king’s country was suffering from a plague of rats and mice and people wanted to get rid of them.
The captain took this plague as a great opportunity and advised the King to buy one of his goods that was cat because only this cat had the solution of this great trouble.
Dick’s cat proved really helpful to the King and his palace. The Queen told that she would give great wealth to own this animal.
Even the king got ready to buy the whole cargo from Mr. Fitzwarren’s ship to pay a fine price for it and for the cat alone he paid ten times the sum again.
On returning back to London, the captain showed all the wealth, jewels and gold to Mr. Fitzwarren which the King gave him. He then narrated the entire story of the cat and the plague.
Lord Mayor of London
People then started calling Dick as Mr. Whittington for he had become a rich man for owning the fantastic cat. Dick started working with Mr. Fitzwarren and became a successful merchant himself.
Dick married Alice, the daughter of Mr. Fitzwarren.
He was elected as Lord Mayor of London for three times and he was also given highly honoured title by the King and became Sir Richard Whittington.
He remembered telling his grandchildren the story of his cat and how the bells of London had called him back when he was only a poor boy:
Turn again Whittington
Thou worthy citizen
Lord Mayor of London