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2004CatAndMouse

2004 photograph of a cat and a mouse.

"Cat and Mouse in Partnership" (German: "Katze und Maus in Gesellschaft"[1]) is a German fairy tale. It is included in Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), the 1812 anthology of German folktales compiled by the Brothers Grimm.

The story's two title characters share a house. So that they will have enough food to last them through the winter, they decide to lay aside a jar of fat and store it in a safe place outside of their home. On three separate occasions, the Cat gives in to temptation and goes to eat some fat from the jar. He lies to the Mouse in order to do so.

Plot

Cat and Mouse become friends and decide to set up home together. Not wanting to go out in search of food during the cold winter, Cat suggests that they take a jar of fat, hide it in a secret location and retrieve it when winter comes. Cat says that the safest place to hide the jar of fat is in the church because nobody would ever dare steal from there. He and Mouse take the jar to the church and place it under the altar.

The temptation to eat some of the fat from the jar is too strong for Cat to resist. So that he has an excuse to leave the house, he tells Mouse that a kitten has been born to one of his cousins. Cat says that he has to attend the kitten's baptism because he has been chosen to be the little one's godfather.[2] Mouse believes this lie. Cat goes to the church and eats some of the fat from the jar. When he returns home, Mouse asks him what name was given to the kitten. Cat replies, "Top Off."

Cat and Mouse in Partnership by Walter Crane

Late 19th century illustration for "Cat and Mouse in Partnership" by the British artist and writer Walter Crane.

On two further occasions, Cat gives in to the temptation to eat some fat from the jar. He uses the same lie that he used before, saying that he has to attend the baptism of his cousin's kitten because he has been chosen to be godfather. On his second return visit to the church, Cat leaves the jar of fat half empty. On his third return visit, he eats all of the fat that is left in the jar. When Cat returns home both times, Mouse asks him what name was given to the kitten. After his second return visit, the Cat answers, "Half Gone.' After his third one, he replies, "All Gone."

Since there is no more fat to be eaten, Cat does not pretend to have to attend the baptisms of any more kittens.

When winter comes, Mouse says that it is time to retrieve their jar of fat. The two animals go to the church and take the jar from beneath the altar. Mouse sees that the jar is empty and suddenly realizes what Cat was referring to by the names Top Off, Half Gone and All Gone. Mouse starts to berate Cat for being greedy and deceitful. Cat angrily replies, "one more word and I will eat you too." Mouse ignores Cat's warning and carries on talking. True to his word, Cat silences Mouse by eating the little creature.

The story concludes with the words, "that is the way of the world."

See also

Footnotes

  1. In the 1812 first edition of the Brothers Grimm's Kinder- und Hausmärchen (Children's and Household Tales), the story is entitled Katz und Maus in Gesellschaft. The title was changed to Katze und Maus in Gesellschaft for the 1837 third edition of the anthology.
  2. In the Brothers Grimm's original German text, the word Gevatter ("godfather") is used. In some English translations, the Cat is made female and the word "godmother' appears instead.

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