The Cats and the Mice
A Story from Wollega
Before you read the story
- Do you take care of your younger brothers or sisters?
- Do you take care of animals or plants?
- How do you take care of them?
- Who do you trust?
- Why do you trust them?
Now read the story.
A long time ago, the cats and the mice were friends. They worked together and played together. Cats married mice and mice married cats. They were happy.
But one day the mice became worried.
"Some of our relatives have gone," they said. "Where are they?"
"I haven't seen my uncle for a long time," one mouse said.
"And I've haven't seen my aunt," said another mouse.
"My sister isn't here any more," a third mouse said.
"And where's my brother?" said a fourth mouse.
An old mouse shook his head. He looked sad.
"I have bad news for you, my friends," he said. "The cats are eating us. We must be very careful. Soon they will eat us all."
The mice were very frightened. The mothers called to their children.
"Don't go outside," they said. "Be careful. The cats will catch you."
All the mice were careful now. They stayed inside their holes. They didn't like to go outside.
Now the cats were worried too.
"Where have all the mice gone?" they said. "We're hungry. We haven't got anything to eat."
"They're hiding from us," a big cat said. "How can we catch them?"
"I've got an idea," another cat said. "Let's go and visit the mice. We'll arrange a wedding. We'll ask for one of their daughters. We can ask her to marry one of our sons. The mice will make a big wedding feast. They'll all be together in one place. We can catch them all at the same time. It will be a great feast for us!"
"That's a very good idea," said all the other cats.
So the cats sent their elders to the mice.
"Give us one of your daughters," they said. "We want a wife for one of our sons."
The mice were very surprised.
"We don’t trust you," they said. "You only want to eat us."
"No! No!" answered the cats. "We're very honest and sincere. We want to be your friends. It's true, a long time ago some of us ate some of you. But we must all forget that now. We'll never eat you again."
The mice looked at the cats. The cats were all smiling.
"All right," the mice said. "We agree. We will give one of our daughters to one of your sons."
The cats went home again. They were very happy.
"The wedding day will be wonderful," they said. "All the mice will come to the wedding. We will have a great feast. We’ll catch and eat them all!"
The wedding day came. The mice were still very worried.
"Stay near your holes," they said to their children. "Look, the cats are coming. If they're nice to us, we'll be nice to them. But if they try to eat us, we'll be ready."
The cats came down the road. They were singing a wedding song.
"Can you hear the words of the song?" an old mouse asked a young one.
"Yes," the young mouse said.
"What are they?" asked the old mouse.
Catch them and eat them,
Catch them and eat them,"
answered the young mouse.
"Then we must sing too," said old mouse, and he began to sing,
"Run, mice, run.
Run, mice, run!"
All the mice jumped into their holes and escaped. Then the cats arrived.
"Where are they?" they asked each other. "Where is the bride for our son?"
An old mouse put his head out of his hole.
"We've learned our lesson," he said. "When your enemies pretend to be your friends, you must be ready to run away."
Listen to the story: