The Cat and the Mice

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Caxton's translation (1484)[edit]

Of the catte and of the rat

He whiche is wyse / and that ones hath ben begyled / ought not to truste more hym that hath begyled hym As reherceth this Fable of a catte whiche wente in to a hows / where as many rats were / the whiche he dyd ete eche one after other / And whanne the rats perceyued the grete fyersnes and crudelyte of the catte / held a counceylle to gyder where as they determyned of one comyn wylle / that they shold no more hold them ne come nor goo on the lowe floore wherfore one of them moost auncyent profered and sayd to al the other suche wordes / My brethern and my frendes / ye knowe wel / that we haue a grete enemye / whiche is a grete persecutour ouer vs alle / to whome we may not resyste / wherfor of nede we must hold our self vpon the hyghe balkes / to thende that he may not take vs / Of the whiche proposycion or wordes the other rats were wel content and apayd / and byleuyd this counceylle / And whanne the kat knewe the counceylle of the rats / he hynge hym self by his two feet behynd at a pynne of yron whiche was styked at a balke / feynynge hym self to be dede / And whanne one of the rats lokynge dounward sawe the katte beganne to lawhe and sayd to the cat / O my Frend yf I supposed that thow were dede / I shold goo doune / but wel I knowe the so fals & peruers / that thou mayst wel haue hanged thy self / faynynge to be dede / wherfore I shalle not go doune /

And therfore he that hath ben ones begyled by somme other / ought to kepe hym wel fro the same

Townsend's translation (1887)[edit]

The Cat and the Mice

A certain house was overrun with Mice. A Cat, discovering this, made her way into it and began to catch and eat them one by one. Fearing for their lives, the Mice kept themselves close in their holes. The Cat was no longer able to get at them and perceived that she must tempt them forth by some device. For this purpose she jumped upon a peg, and suspending herself from it, pretended to be dead. One of the Mice, peeping stealthily out, saw her and said, "Ah, my good madam, even though you should turn into a meal-bag, we will not come near you."