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Cat And Mouse In Partnership

from Grimms' Fairy Tales





A certain cat had made the acquaintance of a mouse, and had said so much
to her about the great love and friendship she felt for her, that at
length the mouse agreed that they should live and keep house together.
'But we must make a provision for winter, or else we shall suffer
from hunger,' said the cat; 'and you, little mouse, cannot venture
everywhere, or you will be caught in a trap some day.' The good advice
was followed, and a pot of fat was bought, but they did not know where
to put it. At length, after much consideration, the cat said: 'I know no
place where it will be better stored up than in the church, for no one
dares take anything away from there. We will set it beneath the altar,
and not touch it until we are really in need of it.' So the pot was
placed in safety, but it was not long before the cat had a great
yearning for it, and said to the mouse: 'I want to tell you something,
little mouse; my cousin has brought a little son into the world, and has
asked me to be godmother; he is white with brown 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 get anything very good to eat, think of me. I
should like a drop of sweet red christening wine myself.' All this,
however, was untrue; the cat had no cousin, and had not been asked to
be godmother. She went straight 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 the roofs of the town, looked out for opportunities, and then
stretched herself in the sun, and licked her lips whenever she thought
of the pot 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
merry day.' 'All went off well,' answered the cat. 'What name did they
give the child?' 'Top off!' said the cat quite coolly. 'Top off!' cried
the mouse, 'that is a very odd and uncommon name, is it a usual one in
your family?' 'What does that matter,' said the cat, 'it is no worse
than Crumb-stealer, as your godchildren are called.'

Before long the cat was seized by another fit of yearning. She said to
the mouse: 'You must do me a favour, and once more manage the house for
a day alone. I am again asked to be godmother, and, as the child has a
white ring round its neck, I cannot refuse.' The good mouse consented,
but the cat crept behind the town walls to the church, and devoured
half the pot of fat. 'Nothing ever seems so good as what one keeps to
oneself,' said she, and was quite satisfied with her day's work. When
she went home the mouse inquired: 'And what was the child christened?'
'Half-done,' answered the cat. 'Half-done! What are you saying? I
never heard the name in my life, I'll wager anything it is not in the
calendar!'

The cat's mouth soon began to water for some more licking. 'All good
things go in threes,' said she, 'I am asked to stand godmother again.
The child is quite black, only it has white paws, but with that
exception, it has not a single white hair on its whole body; this only
happens once every few years, you will let me go, won't you?' 'Top-off!
Half-done!' answered the mouse, 'they are such odd names, they make me
very thoughtful.' 'You sit at home,' said the cat, 'in your dark-grey
fur coat and long tail, and are filled with fancies, that's because
you do not go out in the daytime.' During the cat's absence the mouse
cleaned the house, and put it in order, but the greedy cat entirely
emptied the pot of fat. 'When everything is eaten up one has some
peace,' said she to herself, and well filled and fat she did not return
home till night. The mouse at once asked what name had been given to
the third child. 'It will not please you more than the others,' said the
cat. 'He is called All-gone.' 'All-gone,' cried the mouse 'that is the
most suspicious name of all! I have never seen it in 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
when the winter had come and there was no longer anything to be found
outside, the mouse thought of their provision, and said: 'Come, cat,
we will go to our pot of fat which we have stored up for ourselves--we
shall enjoy that.' 'Yes,' answered the cat, 'you will enjoy it as much
as you would enjoy sticking that dainty tongue of yours out of the
window.' They set out on their way, but when they arrived, the pot of
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 standing godmother. First
top off, then half-done, then--' 'Will you hold your tongue,' cried the
cat, 'one word more, and I will eat you too.' 'All-gone' was already on
the poor mouse's lips; scarcely had she spoken it before the cat sprang
on her, seized her, and swallowed her down. Verily, that is the way of
the world.





Next: The Goose-girl

Previous: The Frog-prince



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