Imagine you wake up one morning and find out that you have become one of the richest people in your city. You have a lot of money and can buy whatever you want. How would you feel? What would you do with all that money? Let’s read an interesting tale about how the poor little boy Dick Whittington became Sir Richard Whittington, three times mayor of London; all because of his pet cat, Miss Puss.
Long ago, a poor little boy roamed the streets in torn and dirty clothes. He never saw or knew his parents or his birthplace. He called himself Dick Whittington. One fine day, he met a wagoner who was on his way to London. Dick asked if he could join the wagoner on his journey. The kind man agreed but did not ask him to pay. Little Dick was very excited to see London and imagined that its streets were made of gold. However, to his utter disappointment, London was covered in dirt and there was no sign of gold.
Dick was soon all by himself. He had gone days without food or money. He was weakened by cold and hunger. He begged for food, work, and money but no one showed him mercy. Out of exhaustion and hunger, he collapsed at the door of a kind merchant Mr Fitzwarren. The cook at his place was a cruel woman who threatened Dick to leave or she would pour hot water on him. Mr Fitzwarren, who had just returned from the Exchange, took pity on the boy and brought him in. He ordered his servants to provide him with food and drink and the cook to let him work as her helper.
Just when little Whittington hoped for brighter days, he was subjected to the beatings of the cook and the mockery of the servants. They did not treat him well and made fun of him. When the merchant’s daughter, Miss Alice, found out about it, the kind soul pitied him and ordered everyone to be nice to Dick.
Dick with Miss Puss
Dick Whittington slept in a bed in a tiny attic room that was infested with rats and mice. They troubled him enough to prevent him from having a sound sleep. A gentleman once visited Mr Fitzwarren who rewarded Whittington with a penny in return for brushing his shoes. Whittington set out with that penny to buy something for himself. On the way, he saw a woman with a cat. He wanted to buy the cat from her but the price was too high for him. He explained his plight and said, “A penny is all I have in the whole world.” The good woman allowed him to have the cat for a penny. He named her Miss Puss and hid her in his attic room. She soon got him rid of all the rats and mice and helped him sleep peacefully.
Soon afterwards, it was time for Mr Fitzwarren’s ship to set sail on a voyage. As per custom, the master ordered each servant to send something of their own for trade and try their luck at earning a fortune. Poor Whittington had nothing to offer but Miss Puss whom he unwillingly parted with.
Dick Whittington’s troubles were far from over. The cruel cook continued beating him and laughing at him for sending his cat on the voyage. Fed up with the situation, the poor boy fled from his place on All-Hallows Day. While deciding which direction to continue his journey from Holloway, he heard St. Mary-le-Bow church’s bells ringing. It appeared to him as if they said:
“Turn back, Dick Whittington, Thrice Lord Mayor of London.”
Dick thought about it for some time and then decided to give his fate a chance. He set out to return to his master’s place, ready to face what awaited him there.
Mr Fitzwarren’s ship had survived a terrible storm at the sea and drifted towards the unknown land of the Moors at the Barbary Coast. The Moorish people welcomed the captain and his crew with open arms and soon they found themselves at the palace showing their possessions for trade. The King and Queen invited the captain and his assistant to dinner, where many delicious dishes were spread. But before they could start eating, a large group of rats and mice appeared and ate up all the food. The nobles told the captain that these creatures had caused the King and Queen a lot of trouble and even attacked them in their sleep. They further added that the King would reward half his treasure to anyone who would help him get rid of these wicked creatures. The captain suddenly remembered about Whittington’s cat and quickly fetched her.
When a secound dinner was laid out, the rats and mice returned to create havoc. The captain let loose Miss Puss and she killed many of them. She then got on the Queen’s lap and purred. The highly impressed King bought all the cargo as well as Miss Puss and stocked the ship with huge treasures. The ship sailed for England with happy news.
When the ship arrived and Mr Fitzwarren was informed of all that had happened, he immediately sent for Mr Whittington as Dick came to be addressed. The honest merchant congratulated Dick Whittington and handed him the huge fortune that his cat had earned him. Dick fell upon his knees and conveyed his gratitude towards his master. He thanked the captain and his crew and presented everyone, including the cook, with gifts. Thereafter, washed and dressed handsomely, Miss Alice fell in love with him and they were soon married.
Dick was knighted by the Queen and became Mr Richard Whittington. He served as the Sheriff of London and indeed became Lord Mayor, thrice. He used his money wisely. He helped the poor and built colleges, churches, and hospitals. He became famous for his charity.
Although Dick Whittington was poor and suffered a lot at the hands of others, he never mistreated anyone. Despite becoming rich, he was not arrogant and instead thanked everyone with gifts, even the cook. This story of rags to riches teaches us how to be courageous in adversity and humble while possessing power.
1. How do we know that Dick Whittington was honest and hardworking?
When Dick arrived in London, he went days without food or money. Although he was dying of hunger, he never resorted to stealing or performing any illegal task. Instead, he begged for food and work. At Mr Fitzwarren’s house, he worked hard and did everything he was asked to do despite being beaten and humiliated by the servants and the cook. He was also honest with the woman who sold him Miss Puss about having only a penny to offer, which he had earned with honest work.
2. What good qualities of Mr Whittington does the story teach us?
Throughout the story of Dick Whittington, we find several good qualities in him that teaches us to be good humans. During distress, he never took revenge on those who mistreated or bullied him. Although he ran away on All-Hallows Day, he was courageous enough to return and face his problems. He was a hardworking fellow who earned every penny honestly. He was also humble and grateful to all those who helped him become a rich man and gave presents to the cook too. Later in life, he continued to be generous and kind and helped the needy.