The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (Rackham)/The Cat and Mouse in Partnership

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The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (1909)
Jacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Alice Lucas
The Cat and Mouse in Partnership
4116664The Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm — The Cat and Mouse in PartnershipAlice LucasJacob Grimm and Wilhelm Grimm
For other English-language translations of this work, see Cat and Mouse in Partnership.

The Cat and Mouse in Partnership


CAT once made the acquaintance of a Mouse, and she said so much to it about her love and friendship that at last the Mouse agreed to go into partnership and live with her.

‘We must take precautions for the winter,’ said the Cat, ‘or we shall suffer from hunger. You, little Mouse, dare not venture everywhere, and in the end you will get me into a fix.’

So the good advice was followed, and a pot of fat was purchased. They did not know where to keep it, but, after much deliberation, the Cat said, ‘I know no place where it would be safer than in the church; nobody dare venture to take anything there. We will put it under the altar, and will not touch it till we are obliged to.’

So the pot was deposited in safety; but, before long, the Cat began to hanker after it, and said to the Mouse:

‘Oh, little Mouse, my cousin has asked me to be godmother. She has brought a son into the world. He is white, with brown spots; and I am to hold him at the font. Let me go out to-day, and you stay alone to look after the house.’

‘Oh yes,’ said the Mouse, ‘by all means go; and if you have anything nice to eat, think of me. I would gladly have a drop of sweet raspberry wine myself.’

Now there wasn’t a word of truth in all this. The Cat had no cousin, and she had not been invited to be godmother at all. She went straight to the church, crept to the pot of fat, and began to lick it, and she licked and licked the whole of the top off it. Then she took a stroll on the house-tops and reflected on her proceedings, after which she stretched herself in the sun, and wiped her whiskers every time she thought of the pot of fat. She did not go home till evening.

‘Oh, there you are again,’ said the Mouse; ‘you must have had a merry time.’

‘Oh, well enough,’ answered the Cat.

‘What kind of name was given to the child?’ asked the Mouse.

‘Top-off,’ answered the Cat, drily.

‘Top-off!’ cried the Mouse. ‘What an extraordinary name; is it a common one in your family?’

‘What does it matter!’ said the Cat. ‘It’s not worse than crumbstealers, as your godchildren are called.’

Not long after the Cat was again overcome by her desires. She said to the Mouse, ‘You must oblige me again by looking after the house alone. For the second time I have been asked to be sponsor, and, as the child has a white ring round its neck, I can’t refuse.’

The good little Mouse was quite ready to oblige, and the Cat stole away behind the city walls to the church, and ate half of the pot of fat. ‘Nothing tastes better,’ she said, ‘than what one eats by oneself’; and she was quite satisfied with her day’s work. When she got home, the Mouse asked what this child had been named.


‘What do you say? I have never heard such a name in my life. I don’t believe you would find it in the calendar.’

Soon the Cat’s mouth watered again for the dainty morsel.

‘Good things always come in threes,’ she said to the Mouse; ‘again I am to stand sponsor. This child is quite black, with big white paws, but not another white hair on its body. Such a thing only occurs once in a few years. You will let me go out again, won’t you?’

‘Top-off! Half-gone! They are such curious names; they set me thinking.’

‘You sit at home in your dark grey velvet coat,’ said the Cat, ‘getting your head full of fancies. It all comes of not going out in the daytime.’

During the Cat’s absence, the Mouse cleared up and made the house tidy; but the greedy Cat ate up all the fat. ‘When it ’s all gone, one can be at peace,’ said she to herself, as she went home, late at night, fat and satiated.

The Mouse immediately asked what name had been given to the third child.

‘I don’t suppose it will please you any better,’ said the Cat. ‘He is called All-gone!’

‘All-gone!’ exclaimed the Mouse. ‘I have never seen it in print. All-gone! What is the meaning of it?’

She shook her head, rolled herself up, and went to sleep.

From this time nobody asked the Cat to be sponsor. But when the winter came, and it grew very difficult to get food, the Mouse remembered their store, and said, ‘Come, Cat, we will go to our pot of fat which we have saved up; won’t it be good now?’

‘Yes, indeed!’ answered the Cat; ‘it will do you just as much good as putting your tongue out of the window.’

They started off to the church, and when they got there they found the fat-pot still in its place, but it was quite empty.

‘Alas,’ said the Mouse, ‘now I see it all. Everything has come to the light of day. You have indeed been a true friend! You ate it all up when you went to be godmother. First Top-off, then Half-gone, then——

‘Hold your tongue,’ cried the Cat. ‘Another word, and I'll eat you too.’

But the unfortunate Mouse had ‘All-gone’ on its lips, and hardly had it come out than the Cat made a spring, seized the Mouse, and gobbled it up.

Now, that ’s the way of the world, you see.

The Cat stole away behind the city walls to the church.