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The Cat And Mouse In Partnership

2006-07-13 23:33

  Would you believe it if I told you that a cat wanted to make friends with a mouse? The mouse did not believe it either, but it is true.

  'I'm very fond of you, little whiskers,' said the cat.

  'Why?' asked the mouse. 'Do you want to eat me?'

  'Good heavens, no!' exclaimed the cat. 'I only want to be friendly.'

  'I don't trust you,' said the mouse.

  'Oh, come now,' replied the cat. 'I'm lonely and so are you. Winter is coming on. It will be dark and cold. If we live together we can keep each other company and help each other to find food.'

  'I know who will be the food!' said the mouse.

  'Nonsense,' said the cat. 'I love you far too much.'

  'I'll think about it,' said the mouse.

  In the end, she agreed to set up house with the cat. They found a comfortable, broken-down cottage. It was so old that only animals ever used it. There, they cleaned up one room to their liking and laid down plenty of warm straw.

  'We must get a store of food for the winter,' said the cat, 'or we shall go hungry. There will not be much food around when the ground is thick with snow. It will be dangerous for you to go out in the winter, little whiskers. I'll not be able to get you out of every trap you fall into.'

  'A pot of dripping would be nice,' said the mouse.

  'That would be very good,' agreed the cat.

  They stole a pot of dripping from the larder of a house and they hid it in the safest place they could think of. They hid it under the altar in the nearby church.

  'No one will dare go looking for it there,' said the cat.

  'We must not touch it until the winter is very cold and we are hungry,' said the mouse.

  'Agreed,' said the cat. 'It shall be our secret store when times get bad.'

  They settled into their new life together quite happily. The mouse kept a careful eye on the cat, in case she should get a little too hungry for safety. Happily, the cat behaved herself and life was peaceful.

  Soon enough the cat began to think about the pot of dripping hidden underneath the altar. The more she thought about it, the more she longed for it.

  'I deserver a treat for behaving so well,' she said to herself. 'Friendship is a great strain when one is hungry.'

  One day, she could not wait no longer.

  'Little whiskers,' she said to the mouse, 'my cousin has just had a son and has asked me to be godmother. I hear he is a charming child, white with brown spots. Can you imagine such a pretty kitten?'

  The mouse shivered. 'Kittens are just as dangerous as cats, in my opinion,' she said.

  'I must hold him at the font when he is baptized,' said the cat. 'You will not mind if I go out for the day and leave you to look after the house, will you?'

  'Of course not,' said the mouse, 'but don't bring the kitten or your cousin back here, that's all.'

  The cat went straight off to the church. There was no cousin and kitten. She crept beneath the altar and began to lick greedily at the pot of dripping. It was so good that she licked the whole of the top off.

  'Delicious,' she murmured. 'Quite delicious.'

  She went for a stroll along the rooftops. She lay out in the afternoon sun. She purred and stretched and rubbed her whiskers with her paws every time she thought about the hidden pot of dripping.

  'Life is not altogether bad,' she thought.

  She did not return home until evening.

  'How was it?' said the cat. 'Very, Very good.'

  'What was its name?' asked the mouse.

  'Name? Name?' said the cat in surprise.

  'The kitten did have a name, didn't it?' asked the mouse.

  'Oh, the kitten, yes, of course,' said the cat. 'Topoff was its name.'

  'Topoff!' exclaimed the mouse. 'That's funny sort of name.'

  'Well, it was a funny sort of kitten,' said the cat. 'It's rather like your nephew being called Crumbstealer.'

  'That's true,' thought the mouse, and said not more about it. They continued their life together as before.

  Not for long!

  The cat could not forget about the hidden pot of dripping. It seemed wrong that the pot should lie there with its top off. What it someone should find it? What if someone else should ate it? The thought was too terrible.

  'Dear little whiskers,' said the cat, 'there seems to be a rush of births in my family just now. Another cousin has asked me to be godmother to her child. She says that the kitten has a beautiful white ring around its neck. Who could refuse to be godmother to such a creature?'

  'I could,' said the mouse.

  'You will not mind if I go off for the day again, will you?' asked the cat. 'Keep the house nice and warm while I'm away. I'll not be long.'

  'Have a good time,' called the mouse, 'and bring me back some wine this time.'

  'I will, I will,' said the cat.

  She raced along the town walls and in through the back of the church. The dripping tasted even better than before.

  'It's true,' thought the cat. 'The best things in life are the things that you save for yourself.'

  By the time she had finished licking the dripping, it was half gone.

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