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Cat and Mouse in Partnership
Grimms Fairy Tales and German Folklore
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 to-day, 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 God-children are called.
Before long the cat was seized by another fit of yearning. She
said to the mouse, you must do me a favor, 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 this 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
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 are 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.