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The Cock, the Cat and the Mouse

Once upon a time . . . a little mouse decided to go and see the world. Packing some food for the journey, he carefully locked his door and set off for the unknown. And what a wonderful world he saw! Tall trees, rolling countryside, flowers and butterflies he had never set eyes on before. On he hiked till, tired out, he came to a peasant's cottage. After eating some of his packed lunch, he thought he would inspect what, to him, was a peculiar sort of building. He entered the farmyard and his eyes grew round as saucers: there in front of him were two strange animals he had never seen before. One was large and handsome, with four legs, covered all over with soft fur, and sporting splendid white whiskers that gave it a solemn respectable air. It was dozing against the wall. The other, a two-legged creature, had red, yellow and green feathers and a fierce, bad-tempered look. A pair of cruel eyes in a red-crested head glared at the little mouse. "How do you do, sir! How do you do..." began the mouse's greeting, as he felt foollsh at not knowing the stranger's name. But the feathered creature simply puffed out its chest, screeched a loud "Cocka-doodle-doo!" and strutted towards the mouse, now paralyzed with fear. The little mouse saw the big yellow beak hovering over him. "I must run!" he squeaked, turning tail and fleeing as fast as his legs would carry him. He spied a hole in the wall and dived into it. Inside, three faces stared at him in amazement.
"Where did you appear from?" they asked.
"I've come . . ." gasped the little mouse breathlessly, ". . . from far
away! Where am I now?"
"This is our home. We're field mice. What happened?" And the little mouse told them about the animals he had met in the farmyard: one handsome and harmless, the other brightly coloured and ferocious. The three field mice laughed. "Calm down," they said. "Have a cup of coffee. Don't you realize the danger you were in? The creature that frightened you is only a cock, but the nice harmless one is our deadliest enemy, the cat! If he'd seen you, you wouldn't be here to tell the tale. As you see, you can't always judge by appearances!"

An African Fable of the Cat
resource: Rhodesian Native Affairs Department

Once upon a time the cat did not live in the houses of men. He lived only in the bush or in the jungle.

One cat became friendly with a rabbit. He went everywhere with the rabbit and was astonished at the craftiness of his friend. One day a duiker fought with the rabbit and killed it with its horns. As his friend was dead the cat lived with the duiker. Then the duiker was killed by a leopard, so the cat decided to live with the leopard. A few days later they met with a lion. The lion fought the leopard and killed it. The poor cat then made friends with the lion and lived with him until one day they met a herd of elephant. A huge bull fought with the lion and killed it.

The cat thought to herself, "I must make friends with an animal as large and strong as this elephant - surely nothing can defeat it!."

But his troubles were not yet over, for one day a hunter shot the elephant with a poisoned arrow and the elephant died.

Now the cat did not know what to do, for he had never seen a two - legged animal such as this. He thought hard and said to himself, "if this man can kill a huge animal like an elephant, I had better make friends with him so that I can live in safety."

He followed the hunter back to his home, and when the hunter entered his hut the cat crept up on to the verandah. He heard sounds of quarrelling in the hut and saw the man in flight from a woman who was beating him with a stick for stirring porridge.

The cat said to herself, "Now I have seen the strongest of all creatures - a woman!".

Ever after this the cat has lived in the huts with the woman, because it is they who are all-powerful.