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The Elves and the Shoemaker - Эльфы и башмачник
A shoemaker, by no fault of his own, became so poor that at last he had nothing left but enough leather for one pair of shoes.
So in the evening, he cut the leather into the shape of the shoes, and he left his work on the table to finish in the morning. He lay down quietly in his bed, and before he fell asleep he asked God to help him.
In the morning, just as he was about to sit down to work, he saw the two shoes standing quite finished on his table.
He was astounded, and did not know what to make of it.
He took the shoes in his hands to look at them them more closely and he saw that they were so neatly made that there was not one bad stitch in them. It just as if they were intended as a masterpiece.
Soon after, a customer came in to the shop, and as the shoes pleased him so well, he paid more than the usual price. Now the shoe maker had enough money to buy leather for two pairs of shoes.
That night, he cut out the leather. Next morning he was about to set to work with fresh hope for the future when he saw that the shoes were already made.
There was no shortage of customers who wanted the shoes. The shoemaker soon had enough to buy leather for four pairs of shoes.
The following morning he found the four pairs made; and so it went on. Any leather that he cut out in in the evening was finished by the morning,
Soon he was no longer poor, and he even became quite rich.
Now one evening not long before Christmas, the man finished cutting out the leather as usual. But this time he said to his wife, “Let’s stay up to-night to see who it is that lends us this helping hand?”
The woman liked the idea, and lighted a candle, and then they hid themselves in a corner of the room, behind some clothes which were hanging up there, and watched.
When it was midnight, two little elves came into the room, both without any clothes on, and sat down by the shoemaker’s table. They took all the work which was cut out before them and began to stitch, and sew, and hammer so skillfully and so quickly with their little fingers that the shoemaker could not turn away his eyes for astonishment.
They did not stop until all was done, and stood finished on the table, and then they
ran quickly away.
Next morning the woman said, “The little men have made us rich, and we really must show that we are grateful for it. They run about so, and have nothing on, and must be cold. I’ll tell you what I’ll do: I will make them little shirts, and coats, and vests, and trousers, and knit both of them a pair of stockings, and you can help too – make them two little pairs
The man said, “I shall be very glad to do it;” and one night, when everything was ready, they laid their presents all together on the table instead of the cut-out work. Then hid themselves to see what the little men would do.
At midnight they came bounding in, and wanted to get to work at once, but as they did not find any leather cut out, but only the pretty little articles of clothing, they were at first puzzled, and then delighted. They dressed themselves very quickly, putting the pretty clothes on, and singing,
“Now we are boys so fine to see,
Why should we longer cobblers be?”
Then they danced and skipped and leapt over chairs and benches. At last they danced out of doors. From that time one they came no more, but as long as the shoemaker lived all went well with him, and all his business prospered.
Rumpelstiltskin - Румпельштильцхен
Once there was a miller who was poor, but who had a beautiful daughter. Now it happened that he had an audience with the King, and in order to make himself appear as a person of importance he said to him, “I have a daughter who can spin straw into gold.” The King said to the miller, “That is an art which pleases me well; if your daughter is as clever as you say,
bring her to-morrow to my palace, and I will try what she can do.”
And when the girl was brought to him he took her into a room which was quite full of straw, gave her a spinning-wheel and a reel, and said, “Now set to work, and if by to-morrow morning early you have not spun this straw into gold during the night, you must die.” Thereupon he himself locked up the room, and left her in it alone. So there sat the poor miller’s daughter, and for the life of her could not tell what to do; she had no idea how straw could be spun into gold, and she grew more and more miserable, until at last she began to weep.
But all at once the door opened, and in came a little man, and said, “Good evening, Mistress Miller; why are you crying so?” “Alas!” answered the girl, “I have to spin straw into gold, and I do not know how to do it.” “What will you give me,” said the manikin, “if I do it for you?” “My necklace,” said the girl. The little man took the necklace, seated himself in front of the wheel, and “whirr, whirr, whirr,” three turns, and the reel was full; then he put another on, and whirr, whirr,whirr, three times round, and the second was full too. And so it went on until the morning, when all the straw was spun, and all the reelswere full of gold. By daybreak the King was already there, and when hesaw the gold he was astonished and delighted, but his heart became onlymore greedy. He had the miller’s daughter taken into another room full of straw, which was much larger, and commanded her to spin that also in one night if she valued her life. The girl knew not how to help herself, and was crying, when the door again opened, and the little man appeared, and said, “What will you give me if I spin that straw into gold for you?” “The ring on my finger,” answered the girl. The little man took the ring, again began to turn the wheel, and by morning had spun all the straw into glittering gold.
The King rejoiced beyond measure at the sight, but still he had not gold enough; and he had the miller’s daughter taken into a still larger room full of straw, and said, “You must spin this, too, in the course of this night; but if you succeed, you shall be my wife.” “Even if shebe a miller’s daughter,” thought he, “I could not find a richer wife in the whole world.”
When the girl was alone the manikin came again for the third time, and said, “What will you give me if I spin the straw for you this time also?” “I have nothing left that I could give,” answered the girl. “Then promise me, if you should become Queen, your first child.” “Who knows whether that will ever happen?” thought the miller’s daughter; and, not knowing how else to help herself in this strait, she promised the manikin what he wanted, and for that he once more span the straw into gold. And when the King came in the morning, and found all as he had wished, he took her in marriage, and the pretty miller’s daughter became a Queen.
A year after, she had a beautiful child, and she never gave a thought to the manikin. But suddenly he came into her room, and said, “Now give mewhat you promised.” The Queen was horror-struck, and offered the manikin all the riches of the kingdom if he would leave her the child. But the manikin said, “No, something that is living is dearer to me than all the
treasures in the world.” Then the Queen began to weep and cry, so that the manikin pitied her. “I will give you three days’ time,” said he, “if by that time you find out my name, then shall you keep your child.”
So the Queen thought the whole night of all the names that she had ever heard, and she sent a messenger over the country to inquire, far and wide, for any other names that there might be. When the manikin came the next day, she began with Caspar, Melchior, Balthazar, and said all thenames she knew, one after another; but to every one the little man said,
“That is not my name.” On the second day she had inquiries made in the neighborhood as to the names of the people there, and she repeated to the manikin the most uncommon and curious. “Perhaps your name is Shortribs, or Sheepshanks, or Laceleg?” but he always answered, “That is not my name.”
On the third day the messenger came back again, and said, “I have not been able to find a single new name, but as I came to a high mountain at the end of the forest, where the fox and the hare bid each other good night, there I saw a little house, and before the house a fire was burning, and round about the fire quite a ridiculous little man was jumping:
he hopped upon one leg, and shouted—
“To-day I bake, to-morrow brew,
The next I’ll have the young Queen’s child.
Ha! glad am I that no one knew
That Rumpelstiltskin I am styled.”
You may think how glad the Queen was when she heard the name! And when soon afterwards the little man came in, and asked, “Now, Mistress Queen, what is my name?” at first she said, “Is your name Conrad?” “No.” “Is your name Harry?” “No.” “Perhaps your name is Rumpelstiltskin?”
“The devil has told you that! the devil has told you that!” cried the little man, and in his anger he plunged his right foot so deep into the earth that his whole leg went in; and then in rage he pulled at his left leg so hard with both hands that he tore himself in two.
The Golden Goose - Золотой гусь
Once upon a time, there lived a wood-cutter and his wife who had three sons. The eldest two were strong and tall, and their mother and father were always telling them how handsome and clever they were. But the youngest son was, to tell you the truth, just a bit simple in the head. He wasn’t very tall, and he wasn’t very strong, and his family thought he was good for nothing. They hardly ever called him by his real name, but instead they gave him a cruel nickname. They called him Dummy, because they said he was stupid.
One day the eldest son wanted to go to the forest to cut wood. The mother praised him for being such a useful boy and before he set out, she gave him some of her best fruit cake for his lunch, and a bottle of wine to wash it down. While the boy was walking through the forest, he met a little grey old man who said to him:
“Do give me a little piece of you cake and a swig of your wine. I’m so terribly hungry and thirsty.”
And the eldest son replied;
“Be off with you, you filthy old beggar. “
And the little grey old man went away, but not without taking his revenge. He put a curse on the boy, so that when he started to cut a tree down, his axe slipped and went into his leg. The boy limped home to his mother who washed his wound and bandaged him.
The next day, the second eldest son went out to the forest to cut wood. Before he set out, his mother praised him for being such a useful boy, but especially asked him to be careful with the axe, so as not to have a nasty accident like his brother. The boy promised to not to be careless, and his mother gave him some of her best sponge cake for his lunch, and a bottle of wine to wash it down.
It happened that as the boy was walking through the woods, he came across the same little gray old man. The man said to him, “Do please share your sponge cake and your wine with me, for I am so terribly weak with hunger and thirst.” And the boy said;
“Be off with you, you lazy old scoundrel. If you want to eat, you’d better work.”
And the little grey old man went away, but not without taking his revenge. Not long after, when the boy was cutting down a tree, his axe flew out of his hand and hit him on the head. He crawled home to his mother who bandaged up his wound and asked him why he had not kept his promise to be more careful.
For the rest of the week, the two eldest sons were both lying in bed recovering from their wounds. The father said to the third and youngest son:
“Get on your feet, you lazy Dummy, why are you sitting around doing nothing, when both brothers are hurt and unable to work? Get out to the forest and cut some wood – if you’re not too stupid to do that.”
The mother laughed at him and said, “It’s more than likely that Dummy will cut his own head off – but it won’t be much of loss to anyone.” And before he left she gave him some cake that she had burnt almost to a crust in the oven, and a bottle of sour beer to wash it down.
As the youngest boy was going through the woods, he met the same little gray old man who had crossed the path of his brothers. The man said to him:
“Do please share some of your cake and beer with me. I am so terribly hungry and thirsty, and I fear that if I don’t have something to eat and drink soon, I will surely die”
The young boy replied;
“Old man, I will gladly share with you what I have. But the cake is burned and the beer is sour.”
“Never mind that,” said the man. “I am grateful for what you can give me.”
And the boy and the little gray old man sat down and shared the cake and the beer. After they had finished their lunch, the man said:
“Since you have a good heart, and have shared what you have with me, I will give you a reward. You see that old tree over there. Cut it down with your axe and you will find something of value inside its hollow trunk.”
And so when the little gray old man had left, the young boy, whose parents called him “Dummy”, took his axe and cut down the hollow tree just as he had been told. Inside he found a goose – but this was no ordinary bird – for its feathers were made of gold.
The boy realised that he was in luck, and thought to himself: “Why should I go home now and suffer the insults of my parents and brothers? They will take this valuable bird from me, and I shall have nothing.”
And so the boy decided to run away from home. He put the golden goose under his arm and set out for the town. Then he went to the inn, intending to stay there. He stood at the bar and asked the innkeeper if he would accept a golden feather as payment for his board and lodgings. When the innkeeper, saw the golden goose, he readily agreed. But after the boy had gone to bed he said his three daughters:
“That young boy whose parents call him Dummy is staying up in our guest room. But he can’t be a simple in the head as they say – for he’s got a valuable bird with him – a goose with feathers made of gold.”
The eldest daughter thought to herself, “ Well fancy that. Feathers made of gold. I’ll pluck one or maybe more of those for myself.”
After the clock struck midnight, she sneaked into the boy’s room, and saw that he was asleep with his arm around the golden goose. She crept up and tried to pluck a feather. But the feather wouldn’t budge, and when she tried to take her hand away, she found that she was stuck to it. She couldn’t move, and she couldn’t cry out for fear of waking the boy. She had to stay where she was, on her knees by the bead, with her hand on the feather.
After the clock struck one in the morning, the second sister came in the room, planning to take one feather or more for herself. In the dark she didn’t see her sister, but as soon as she touched her back, she found that her hand was stuck fast to her, and she had to say where she was, not moving and not making a sound.
After the clock struck two in the morning, the third sister came in. The other two shouted: “Stay back !” but it was two late, – she reached out hoping to steal a feather and found that her hand was stuck to the middle sister.
The boy and the goose slept soundly through all of this. In the morning the boy got up, paid his bill with a golden feather, and left with inn with the goose under his arm. The sisters had no choice but to follow on behind him. A pretty procession they made.
Along the way they met the Bishop:
“What a sight!” he exclaimed. “It’s hardly right for three young women to follow a boy around like that !”
And as the girls went past he tapped the youngest on the shoulder. In doing so he found that he was stuck to her and had to follow.
Further up the road they met a police sergeant. The Bishop called out to him “Sergeant: Help me get free from this young woman’s shoulder. I’m stuck to her and people are bound to start all kind of gossip about it!”
The police sergeant tried to pull the Bishop free, but in doing so he found that both his hands stuck to his waste, and he had to follow along with the procession.
At the top of the road they met the mayor.
‘What’s this town coming to?” cried the mayor. “The Bishop and the police sergeant following three young girls who are following a young boy, all holding on to each other in a most unseemly fashion. Have they gone mad?”
And as he spoke, he tried to pull the police sergeant and the Bishop away – but in doing so he found that he was stuck to both of them, and had to follow on.
The boy and led the little line of townspeople along up the road, and at the top of the hill they passed the Kings Palace. Now the king’s daughter was very beautiful, but she had the saddest face in the whole wide world. She had never laughed and not once even smiled. The king was so troubled by the young princesses’ unhappiness, that he had made a special law. Whosoever could make her laugh and smile would win her hand in marriage.
But the truth was that nothing very funny ever happened inside the Royal Palace. All the kings servants and advisers were far to high and mighty to understand what would make a young girl laugh – or indeed to allow anything amusing to happen at all.
As the boy known as Dummy went past the palace, he still held the golden goose under his arm, and he was followed by the innkeeper’s three daughters, the Bishop, the police sergeant, and the mayor. The princess looked out at saw the important people in their uniforms being tugged along behind three girls and a boy with a goose, and she thought that it was the first thing she had seen in her life that was truly funny. She burst out laughing and ran, still giggling, to her father to tell him all about what she had seen. When the King looked out of his window and saw the procession, he couldn’t help laughing himself. He sent for his guards and told them to bring the boy and his followers directly to him. When the boy entered the King’s chamber, with the followers behind him, the mayor, the Bishop and the policeman all called out angrily that he should pay for his crime with his head. The king, still laughing, said that on the contrary – he would be rewarded with the hand in marriage of his daughter the princess.
For an entire week after that , the inn keepers three daughters, the Bishop, the policeman, and the mayor were all stuck to the gold goose and to one another. And while they were stuck , all the towns people and the whole court laughed and laughed at them.
And the boy whose family called him Dummy married the princess and inherited the kingdom. He lived with his beautiful wife and they had six happy smiling children, and the palace was often filled with laughter.
The Town Musicians of Breman - Бременские музыканты
A certain man had a donkey, which had carried the corn-sacks to the mill loyally for many a long year; but his strength was going, and he was growing more and more unfit for work. Then his master began to wonder if it was worth his while keeping this old donkey much longer.
The donkey, seeing that no good wind was blowing, ran away and set out on the road to Bremen. “There,” he thought, “I can surely be town-musician.”
When he had walked some distance, he found a dog lying on the road, gasping like one who had run till he was tired. “What are you gasping so for, you big fellow?” asked the donkey.
“Ah,” replied the dog, “as I am old, and daily grow weaker, and no longer can hunt, my master wanted to kill me, so I ran away, but now how am I to earn my bread?”
“I tell you what,” said the donkey, “I am going to Bremen, and shall be a town-musician there; go with me and work also as a musician. I will play the lute, and you shall beat the kettledrum.”
The dog agreed, and on they went. Before long they came to a cat, sitting on the path, with a face like three rainy days! “Now then, old fluff and claws, what gone all wrong with you?” asked the donkey.
“Who can be merry when his neck is in danger?” answered the cat. “Because I am now getting old, and my teeth are worn to stumps, and I prefer to sit by the fire and spin, rather than hunt about after mice, my mistress wanted to drown me, so I ran away. But now good advice is scarce. Where am I to go?”
“Go with us to Bremen. You understand night-music, you can be a town-musician.”
The cat thought well of it, and went with them. After this the three runaways came to a farm-yard, where the cockerel was sitting upon the gate, cock-a-doodle-doing with all his might. “Your cock-a-doodle-do goes through and through my skull” said the donkey. “What is the matter?”
` Guests are coming for Sunday and the housewife has no pity,’ said the cockerel, ‘ And has told the cook that she intends to eat me in the soup to-morrow, and this evening I am to have my head cut off. Now I am cock-a-doodle-doing at full pitch while I can.”
“Ah you red-headed bird” said the donkey, “you had better come away with us. We are going to Bremen; you can find something better than death everywhere: you have a good voice, and if we make music together it must have some quality!”
The cockerel agreed to this plan, and all four went on together. They could not, however, reach the city of Bremen in one day, and in the evening they came to a forest where they meant to pass the night. The donkey and the dog laid themselves down under a large tree, the cat and the cockerel settled themselves in the branches; but the cockerel flew right to the top, where he was most safe. Before he went to sleep, he called out to his companions that there must be a house not far off, for he saw a light. The donkey said, “If so, we had better get up and go on, for the shelter here is bad.” The dog thought that a few bones with some meat on would do him good too!
So they moved further on, and soon saw the light shine brighter and grow larger, until they came to a well-lit robber’s house. The donkey, as the biggest, went to the window and looked in. “What do you see, my grey-horse?” asked the cockerel. “What do I see?” answered the donkey; “a table covered with good things to eat and drink, and robbers sitting at it enjoying themselves.” “That would be the sort of thing for us,” said the cockerel. “Yes, yes; ah, how I wish we were there!” said the donkey.
Then the animals put their heads together and schemed how to best win an invitation to come inside and join the robbers at the table.
“Come, come my friends,,” said the donkey, “We are musicians, so let us sing for our supper.”
And so they began to perform their music together: the donkey brayed, the dog barked, the cat mewed, and the cockerel cock-a-doodle-doed; then they burst through the window into the room, so that the glass clattered! At this horrible din, the robbers sprang up, thinking no otherwise than that a ghost had come in, and fled in a great fright out into the forest. The four companions now sat down at the table, well content with what was left, and ate as if they were going to fast for a month.
As soon as the four musicians had done, they put out the light, and each found a sleeping-place according to his nature and to what suited him. The donkey laid himself down upon some straw in the yard, the dog behind the door, the cat upon the hearth near the warm ashes, and the cockrel perched himself upon a beam of the roof; and being tired from their long walk, they soon went to sleep.
When it was past midnight, and the robbers saw from afar that the light was no longer burning in their house, and all appeared quiet, the captain said, “We ought not to have let ourselves be frightened out of our wits;” and ordered one of them to go and examine the house.
The messenger finding all still, went into the kitchen to light a candle, and, taking the glistening fiery eyes of the cat for burning coals, he held the candle to them to light it. But the cat did not understand what he meant to do, and flew in his face, spitting and scratching. He was dreadfully frightened, and ran to the back-door, but the dog, who lay there sprang up and bit his leg; and as he ran across the yard by the straw-heap, the donkey gave him a smart kick with its hind foot. The cockerel, too, who had been awakened by the noise, and had become lively, cried down from the beam, “cock-a-doodle-doo!”
Then the robber ran back as fast as he could to his captain, and said, “Ah, there is a horrible witch sitting in the house, who spat on me and scratched my face with her long claws; and by the door stands a man with a knife, who stabbed me in the leg; and in the yard there lies a black monster, who beat me with a wooden club; and above, upon the roof, sits the judge, who called out, `Bring the rogue here to me!’ so I got away as well as I could.”
After this the robbers did not trust themselves in the house again; but it suited the four musicians of Bremen so well that they did not care to leave it any more.
Old Sultan - Старый Султан
A farmer once had a faithful dog called Sultan, who had grown old, and lost all his teeth, so that he could no longer bite. One day the farmer was standing with his wife before the house-door, and said, “To-morrow I intend to shoot Old Sultan, he is no longer of any use.”
His wife, who felt pity for the faithful beast, answered, “He has served us so long, and been so faithful, that we might well keep him.”
“Eh! what?” said the man. “You are not very sharp. He has not a tooth left in his mouth, and no thief is afraid of him; now he may be off. If he has served us, he has had good feeding for it.”
The poor dog, who was lying stretched out in the sun not far off, had heard everything, and was sorry that the morrow was to be his last day. He had a good friend, the wolf, and he crept out in the evening into the forest to him, and complained of the fate that awaited him. “Listen well,” said the wolf, ” and Don’t be sad. I will help you out of your trouble. I have thought of something. To-morrow, early in the morning, your master is going with his wife to make hay, and they will take their little child with them, for no one will be left behind in the house. As usual, during work-time, they will lay the child under the hedge in the shade; you lie there too, just as if you wished to guard it. Then I will come out of the wood, and carry off the child. You must rush swiftly after me. I will let it fall, and you will take it back to its parents, who will think that you have saved it, and will be far too grateful to do you any harm; quite the opposite; you will dear to their hearts, and they will never let you lack for anything again.”
The plan pleased the dog, and it was carried out just as it was arranged. The father screamed when he saw the Wolf running across the field with his child, but when Old Sultan brought it back, then he was full of joy, and stroked him and said, “Not a hair of yours shall be hurt, you shall eat my bread free as long as you live.” And to his wife he said, “Go home at once and make Old Sultan some soggy bread that he will not have to bite, and bring the pillow out of my bed, I will give it to him to lie upon.”
From that time on, Old Sultan was as well off as he could wish to be.
Soon afterwards the wolf visited him, and was pleased that everything had succeeded so well. “But, listen well,” said he, “you will just wink an eye when I carry off one of your master’s fat sheep.”
“Do not reckon upon that,” answered the dog; “I will remain true to my master; I cannot agree to that.” The wolf, who thought that this could not be spoken in earnest, came creeping about in the night and was going to take away the sheep. But faithful old Sultan barked, and the farmer chased after the wolf with a big stick. The wolf had to pack off, but he cried out to the dog, “Wait a bit, you scoundrel, you shall pay for this.”
The next morning the wolf sent the wild boar to challenge the dog to come out into the forest so that they might settle the affair. Old Sultan could find no one to stand by him but a cat with only three legs, and as they went out together the poor cat limped along, and at the same time stretched out her tail into the air with pain.
The wolf and his friend were already on the spot appointed, but when they saw their enemy coming they thought that he was bringing a sabre with him, for they mistook the outstretched tail of the cat for one. And when the poor beast hopped on its three legs, they could only think every time that it was picking up a stone to throw at them. So they were both afraid; the wild boar crept into the under-wood and the wolf jumped up a tree.
The dog and the cat, when they came up, wondered that there was no one to be seen. The wild boar, however, had not been able to hide himself altogether; and one of his ears was still to be seen. Whilst the cat was looking carefully about, the boar moved his ear; the cat, who thought it was a mouse moving there, jumped upon it and bit it hard. The boar made a fearful noise and ran away, crying out, “The guilty one is up in the tree !” The dog and cat looked up and saw the wolf, who was ashamed of having proved himself to be so afraid, and made friends with the dog
The Cat and the Mouse in Partnership - Дружба кота и мышки
A cat got to know a mouse, and spoke so much of the great love and friendship she felt for her, that at last the Mouse agreed to live in the same house with her, and to go shares in the housekeeping. ‘But we must store up food for the winter or else we shall be hungry,’ said the Cat. ‘And You, little Mouse, cannot venture everywhere in case you run into a trap.’ This good advice was followed, and a little pot of fat was bought. But they did not know where to put it. At length, after long discussion, the Cat said, ‘I know of no place where it could be better put than in the church. No one will trouble to take it away from there. We will hide it in a corner, and we won’t touch it till we really need it.’ So the little pot was placed in safety; but it was not long before the Cat had a great longing for it, and said to the Mouse, ‘I wanted to tell you, little Mouse, that my cousin has a little son, white with brown spots, and she wants me to be godmother to that little kitten. Let me go out to-day, and do you take care of the house alone.’
‘Yes, go certainly,’ replied the Mouse, ‘and when you eat anything good, think of me; I should very much like a drop of the red christening wine.’
But it was all untrue. The Cat had no cousin, and had not been asked to be godmother. She went straight to the church, slunk to the little pot of fat, began to lick it, and licked the top off. Then she took a walk on the roofs of the town, looked at the view, stretched herself out in the sun, and licked her lips whenever she thought of the little pot of fat. As soon as it was evening she went home again.
‘Ah, here you are again!’ said the Mouse; ‘you must certainly have had an enjoyable day.’
‘It went off very well,’ answered the Cat.
‘What was the child’s name?’ asked the Mouse.
‘Top Off,’ said the Cat drily.
‘Topoff!’ echoed the Mouse, ‘it is indeed a wonderful and curious name. Are there others called Topoff in your family?’
‘What is there odd about it?’ said the Cat. ‘It is not worse than Breadthief, as your godchild is called.’
Not long after this another great longing came over the Cat. She said to the Mouse, ‘You must again be kind enough to look after the house alone, for I have been asked a second time to stand godmother, and as this kitten has a white ring round its neck, I cannot refuse.’
The kind Mouse agreed, but the Cat slunk under the town wall to the church, and ate up half of the pot of fat. ‘Nothing tastes better,’ said she, ‘than what one eats by oneself,’ and she was very much pleased with her day’s work. When she came home the Mouse asked, ‘What was this child called?’
‘Half Gone,’ answered the Cat.
‘Halfgone! what a name! I have never heard it in my life. I don’t believe it is in any book!’
Soon the Cat’s mouth began to water once more after her licking business. ‘All good things in threes,’ she said to the Mouse; ‘I have again to stand godmother. The child is quite black, and has very white paws, but not a single white hair on its body. This only happens once in two years, so you will let me go out?’
‘Topoff! Halfgone!’ repeated the Mouse, ‘they are such curious names; they make me very thoughtful.’
‘Oh, you sit at home in your dark grey coat and your long tail,’ said the Cat, ‘and you get fanciful. That comes of not going out in the day.’
The Mouse had a good cleaning out while the Cat was gone, and made the house tidy; but the greedy Cat ate the fat every bit up.
‘When it is all gone one can be at rest,’ she said to herself, and at night she came home sleek and satisfied. The Mouse asked at once after the third child’s name.
‘It won’t please you any better,’ said the Cat, ‘he was called Clean Gone.’
‘Cleangone!’ repeated the Mouse. ‘I do not believe that name has been printed any more than the others. Cleangone! What can it mean?’ She shook her head, curled herself up, and went to sleep.
From this time on no one asked the Cat to stand godmother; but when the winter came and there was nothing to be got outside, the Mouse remembered their provision and said, ‘Come, Cat, we will go to our pot of fat which we have stored away; it will taste very good.’
‘Yes, indeed,’ answered the Cat; ‘ it will taste as good to you as if you stretched your thin tongue out of the window.’
They started off, and when they reached it they found the pot in its place, but quite empty!
‘Ah,’ said the Mouse,’ ‘now I know what has happened! It has all come out! You are a true friend to me! You have eaten it all when you stood godmother; first the top off, then half of it gone, then—-’
‘Will you be quiet!’ screamed the Cat. ‘Another word and I will eat you up.’
‘Cleangone’ was already on the poor Mouse’s tongue, and scarcely was it out than the Cat made a spring at her, seized and swallowed her.
You see that is the way of the world.
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