Language and History English two-minute tales, music and mental agility puzzles
The Tale of Dick Whittington : The 14th century Mayor of London owed his fortune (and his wife) to his cat.
The Tale of Dick Whittington

This tale is tagged as ‘history’ because Richard Whittington (c.1354-1423) was a real historical person, elected three times as Mayor of London and famous for his charitable work. The story of his cat is moreover perfectly plausible; whether it is true or not is lost in the mists of time.

WHEN Dick Whittington was a young boy, the merchant he worked for demanded that each of his employees invest something in his latest venture, a trade agreement with a wealthy African prince.

Dick had no money, so the merchant took Dick’s beloved cat and put it on board ship, bound for Africa.

The boy became so depressed that he ran away from home. But as he went, he fancied he heard Bow Bells chiming

‘Turn again, Dick Whittington, Thrice mayor of London!’

So he turned again for home, determined to see it through.

But what of Dick’s cat, meanwhile? She was having much more fun, dispatching a plague of mice at the palace of the African prince.

The delighted prince showered her with gold, which (along with the cat) the honest merchant handed over to Dick as soon as the ship docked.

That gold became the foundation of Dick’s fabulous wealth. He was indeed elected Mayor three times, and married his boss’s daughter, Alice.

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Picture: © Erik Christensen, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0. View original
A prowling cat on a fishing boat in Gjógv on Eysturoy, one of the Faroe Islands. © Erik Christensen, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: CC-BY-SA 3.0.
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By Charles H. Ross
(1835-1897)

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