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Main > Indian folktales > Fairy tale "The Story of a Cat, a Mouse, a Lizard and an Owl"

The Story of a Cat, a Mouse, a Lizard and an Owl

If only you will nibble through that string which is killing me, I promise that I will always love you, always be your friend, and however hungry I may be, I will starve rather than hurt your tender little body."

On hearing this, the mouse, without hesitating a moment, climbed up on to the cat's back, and cuddled down in the soft fur near her neck, feeling very safe and warm there. The owl would certainly not attack him there, he thought, and the cat could not possibly hurt him. It was one thing to pounce down on a defenceless little creature running on the ground amongst the barley, quite another to try and snatch him from the very neck of a cat.

The cat of course expected the mouse to begin to nibble through the string at once, and became very uneasy when she felt the little creature nestle down as if to go to sleep, instead of helping her. Poor Pussy could not turn her head so as to see the mouse without drawing the string tighter, and she did not dare to speak angrily lest she should offend him. "My dear little friend," she said, "do you not think it is high time to keep your promise and set me free?"

Hearing this, the mouse pretended to bite the string, but took care not to do so really; and the cat waited and waited, getting more miserable every minute. All through the long night the same thing went on: the mouse taking a little nap now and then, the cat getting weaker and weaker. "Oh," she thought to herself, "if only I could get free, the first thing I would do would be to gobble up that horrid little mouse." The moon rose, the stars came out, the wind murmured amongst the branches of the banyan tree, making the unfortunate cat long to be safe in her cosy home in the trunk. The cries of the wild animals which prowl about at night seeking their food were heard, and the cat feared one of them might find her and kill her. A mother tiger perhaps would snatch her, and take her to her hungry cubs, hidden away in the deep forest, or a bird of prey might swoop down on her and grip her in his terrible claws.

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