There was a house that I used to visit for my super sometimes. I knew the way in very well – there was a tiny little door by the back window, so small that you would probably never notice it, but I’m a mouse, and I can squeeze through the teeniest of entrances. To tell you the truth, the joint was going down hill. Every time I visited, there were fewer and fewer crumbs.
It was hardly worth going there anymore and besides there were dangers. They had a cat. This cat was getting skinnier and skinnier, and I should have known that he would be on the lookout for a tasty morsel such as me.
This is how I got caught. I wasn’t paying enough attention. I got distracted.
Although I have a twitchy nose, I’m not nosy in the other sense of the word. I like to mind my own business. But one night, I could not help overhearing an argument. The man and the woman of the house were shouting so loud.
“It’s all your fault we’re starving,” said the woman in a high pitched voice that sounded most distressed. “You shouldn’t have gone and sold my mother’s ring behind my back. All you got for it was an old horse that went lame. Now we’ve got nothing, nothing.”
“What’s your mother’s ring got to do with it?” asked the man.
“Because I told you a thousand times, the person who wears that ring will never go hungry.”
“Well I don’t believe in that magic and nonsense,” replied the man
“You don’t believe in anything I say. That’s why you are so thin your trousers keep falling down around your knees.”
Ooh, that was quite an argument. But now I understood why the house was getting so poor. The man had sold the magic ring that kept the larder stocked up. I wish I had a ring like that, I thought.
It was all so interesting that I hung around for a fraction too long. That was my big mistake. Bam! Everything went black. “Am I dead or alive?” I thought. But I soon knew that I was alive because I heard a voice that I recognised. The dog, a scratchy mutt who smelt like a rotting old blanket, was saying:
“Hey cat, hang on, don’t eat that mouse just yet.”
“Why shouldn’t I?” whined the cat. “I haven’t had a decent meal in days.”
“Neither have I,” said the dog, “But the mouse will only satisfy your tum for a few hours. Let’s be smart about this. He can help us fill our stomachs, and our masters’, for the rest of our days.”
“Starvation has robbed your good sense,” said the cat. “This is a mouse, not a hen. He can’t lay eggs.”
“No, no no,” woofed the dog, “That’s not what I mean. The chief thing about a mouse is that err… he’s small…”
“Yes…..” said the cat.
“And he can slip through the tiniest of holes…”
“So…” said the cat.
“And if we take him to the house where the magic ring is now, he can slip inside and get it for us. He’ll do this for you, because his life depends on it. I know where that house is. The magpie told me. Let’s head off straight away.”
The cat saw that the dog was not quite as stupid as he looked. He held me by my tale in his mouth and sprang through the window. The dog followed. Off they both ran down the alleyway. I was bouncing around all over the place, I can tell you, it was the most horrid way to travel – but hey, I was alive, and that’s usually the main thing.
We left the town and reached a river. The dog said, “Right-oh, in we go!”
But the cat put me down and held me with a paw.
“Not so fast,” she said, “I haven’t learnt to swim.”
“Never mind that, “ woofed the dog, “Jump on my back and I’ll carry you over.”
So “Splash!” In we all went. The dog paddled to the other side, and from there it was not far to the house where the ring was to be found. Inside we could see a man and woman, both plump, with well fed, happy expressions on their faces.The dog said:
“We’ve come to the right place. Let’s hope she takes the ring off when she goes to bed.”
The cat prowled round the house looking for a way in. There’s usually one, if you search hard enough. We found a tiny little hole.
“In you go,” she said, “And bring back the ring if you value your pathetic little mousey life.”
In I went, still glad to be alive, but not too optimistic about finding anything. I can sniff out crumbs, but mice aren’t equipped with a nose for gold you know. Fortunately, I saw it glinting in the moonlight. The lady had left it on the table with her other jewellry. They were pretty rich. The man was probably some sort of government official.
I seized the ring in my mouth, and slipped back out again.
“Here it is,” I said, “I hope you are as good as your word.”
“Say goodbye to this cruel world, little mouse,” replied the cat, with claws flashing in the moonlight. I trembled for my life, but the dog woofed:
“Stop right there, cat. We gave our word, and we must keep it. A promise is a promise.
We returned to the river, and swam back as before. Soon we were in the town. This time, the cat went over the rooftops – while the dog ran down the alleyways. I went home to my nest for a good sleep.
Now there is a follow up to this story. A few weeks later, I was going past the house where the cat and the dog lived. The light was on, and I looked through the window. The human couple were having a feast, and the cat, had put on weight.
“So,” I thought, “It’s true. The owners of the magic ring will never go hungry.”
I too deserved a reward for my daring part in the rescue of the ring, and I decided to slip inside and take some crumbs. But round the back, I found the dog tied up, more miserable than ever.
“What’s happened?” I asked, “The house is full of food. Why aren’t you tucking in?”
The dog whined. “Aroooo! That filthy lying cat deceived me! She ran to the house before me, taking the short way over the rooftops. As soon as she got back, she sprang onto our owners’ bed and woke them up with the great gift of the ring. Oh how delighted they were! He is rewarded every day. But as for me, they punished me. They think I’m just a smelly, useless animal, and they tie me up outside. I’m lucky if they remember to throw me a scrap. GRRRRRRR! I shall hate that cat till the day I die, and so shall all my puppies hate all cats for ever!”
That’s the story of why cats and dogs are enemies, a traditional tale adapted for Storynory.com by Bertie, and read by me, Natasha. Bertie’s asked me to tell you that there are loads of other stories from all over the world so do drop by soon and listen to some at storynory.cpm And you can always leave a comment and say hello to us.
And if you listen to our latest episodes via the podcast on iTunes or using our app, please find a moment to leave a comment in iTunes and say something nice about us.