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Cat And Mouse In Partnership

Cat And Mouse In Partnership

A certain cat had made the acquaintance  of a mouse, and had said somuch to her about  the great  love and  friendship she  felt for  her,that  at length the mouse  agreed that they  should live and  keep housetogether. «But we must make  a provision for  winter, or else  we shallsuffer  from hunger,» said the cat; «and you, little mouse, cannotventure  everywhere, or you will be caught in a  trap some day.» Thegood advice was  followed, and a pot of  fat was bought, but  they didnot know  where to put it.  At length, after much consideration, the catsaid: «I know no place where  it will be  better stored  up  than inthe church,  for  no one  dares  take anything away from there. We willset it beneath the altar, and not  touch it until we are really  in needof it.»

So  the pot was placed in  safety, but it was not long beforethe cat  had a great yearning for it, and  said to the mouse: «I want totell  you something, little mouse; my cousin  has brought a little soninto the world, and has asked me to be godmother;  he is white withbrown spots,  and I am  to hold  him over the  font at  the christening.Let  me  go  out today,  and  you  look after  the  house  by yourself.’«Yes, yes,» answered  the mouse, «by all  means go, and if  you getanything very good to eat, think of me. I should like a drop of  sweetred christening wine myself.» All this,  however, was untrue; the cathad no cousin, and had not  been asked to be  godmother. She wentstraight  to the church, stole to the pot of fat,  began to lick at it,and licked  the top of the  fat off. 

Then she took  a walk  upon theroofs  of the  town, looked out for opportunities, and then  stretchedherself in the sun,  and licked her lips whenever she thought of  thepot of fat, and not until  it was evening did  she return  home. «Well,here  you are  again,» said  the mouse, «no doubt you have had a merryday.» «All went off well,»  answered the cat. «What  name did they  givethe  child?» «Top off!»  said the  cat quite coolly. «Top off!» criedthe mouse, «that is a very odd and uncommon name, is it a usual one inyour family?» «What does that matter,» said the cat, «it is no worsethan Crumb-stealer, as your godchildren are called.»

Before long the cat was seized by another fit of yearning. She said tothe mouse: «You must do me a favour, and once more manage the house fora  day alone. I am again  asked to be  godmother, and, as the  child hasa  white ring round its neck, I cannot  refuse.» The good mouseconsented, but  the cat crept behind the town walls to  the church, anddevoured half the  pot of fat. «Nothing ever seems  so good as what  onekeeps to oneself,»  said she, and was quite satisfied with her  day’swork. When she went home  the mouse inquired: «And what was the childchristened?» «Half-done,» answered the cat. «Half-done! What  are yousaying?  I never heard  the name in  my life, I’ll wager anything it isnot in the calendar!»

The cat’s  mouth soon  began to  water for  some more  licking. «Allgood things go in threes,» said she, «I am asked to stand godmotheragain.  The child is quite black, only it has white paws, but with thatexception,  it has not a  single white hair  on its  whole body; thisonly happens  once every few years,  you will let  me go, won’t  you?’«Top-off!  Half-done!» answered  the  mouse,  «they  are  such  oddnames,  they  make  me  very thoughtful.» «You sit at home,» said thecat, «in your dark-grey fur  coat and long tail, and are filled withfancies, that’s because you do not  go out in the daytime.» During thecat’s absence the mouse cleaned the house, and put it in order, but thegreedy cat entirely emptied the pot of  fat. «When everything is eatenup one has some peace,» said she to herself, and well filled and fat shedid not return home till night. The mouse at  once asked what name hadbeen given to the third child. «It will not please you more than theothers,» said the cat. «He is called All-gone.»  «All-gone,» cried themouse «that  is the most  suspicious name of  all! I have  never seen itin print. All-gone; what can  that mean?» and she shook her  head,curled herself up, and lay down to sleep.

From this time forth no one invited the cat to be godmother, but whenthe winter had come and there was no longer anything to be foundoutside,  the mouse thought of their provision, and said: «Come, cat, wewill go to  our pot of fat  which we have  stored up for  ourselves—weshall enjoy  that.» «Yes,» answered the cat,  «you will enjoy  it asmuch  as you would  enjoy sticking that dainty tongue of yours out  ofthe window.» They set out  on their way, but when they  arrived, the potof  fat certainly was still  in its place, but it was empty. «Alas!’said the mouse, «now I see what  has happened, now it comes to light!You a true friend! You have devoured  all when you were standinggodmother. First top  off, then half-done,  then—» «Will you hold yourtongue,» cried the cat, «one word more, and I will eat you too.’«All-gone» was  already on the poor  mouse’s lips; scarcely  had shespoken it before the cat sprang on her, seized her, and swallowed  herdown. Verily, that is the way of the world.

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