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.