A certain man had a donkey, which had carried the corn-sacks to the mill loyally for many a long year; but his strength was going, and he was growing more and more unfit for work. Then his master began to wonder if it was worth his while keeping this old donkey much longer.
The donkey, seeing that no good wind was blowing, ran away and set out on the road to Bremen. «There,” he thought, «I can surely be town-musician.”
When he had walked some distance, he found a dog lying on the road, gasping like one who had run till he was tired. «What are you gasping so for, you big fellow?” asked the donkey.
«Ah,” replied the dog, «as I am old, and daily grow weaker, and no longer can hunt, my master wanted to kill me, so I ran away, but now how am I to earn my bread?”
«I tell you what,” said the donkey, «I am going to Bremen, and shall be a town-musician there; go with me and work also as a musician. I will play the lute, and you shall beat the kettledrum.”
The dog agreed, and on they went. Before long they came to a cat, sitting on the path, with a face like three rainy days! «Now then, old fluff and claws, what gone all wrong with you?” asked the donkey.
«Who can be merry when his neck is in danger?” answered the cat. «Because I am now getting old, and my teeth are worn to stumps, and I prefer to sit by the fire and spin, rather than hunt about after mice, my mistress wanted to drown me, so I ran away. But now good advice is scarce. Where am I to go?”
«Go with us to Bremen. You understand night-music, you can be a town-musician.”
The cat thought well of it, and went with them. After this the three runaways came to a farm-yard, where the cockerel was sitting upon the gate, cock-a-doodle-doing with all his might. «Your cock-a-doodle-do goes through and through my skull” said the donkey. «What is the matter?”
` Guests are coming for Sunday and the housewife has no pity,’ said the cockerel, ‘ And has told the cook that she intends to eat me in the soup to-morrow, and this evening I am to have my head cut off. Now I am cock-a-doodle-doing at full pitch while I can.”
«Ah you red-headed bird” said the donkey, «you had better come away with us. We are going to Bremen; you can find something better than death everywhere: you have a good voice, and if we make music together it must have some quality!”
The cockerel agreed to this plan, and all four went on together. They could not, however, reach the city of Bremen in one day, and in the evening they came to a forest where they meant to pass the night. The donkey and the dog laid themselves down under a large tree, the cat and the cockerel settled themselves in the branches; but the cockerel flew right to the top, where he was most safe. Before he went to sleep, he called out to his companions that there must be a house not far off, for he saw a light. The donkey said, «If so, we had better get up and go on, for the shelter here is bad.” The dog thought that a few bones with some meat on would do him good too!
So they moved further on, and soon saw the light shine brighter and grow larger, until they came to a well-lit robber’s house. The donkey, as the biggest, went to the window and looked in. «What do you see, my grey-horse?” asked the cockerel. «What do I see?” answered the donkey; «a table covered with good things to eat and drink, and robbers sitting at it enjoying themselves.” «That would be the sort of thing for us,” said the cockerel. «Yes, yes; ah, how I wish we were there!” said the donkey.
Then the animals put their heads together and schemed how to best win an invitation to come inside and join the robbers at the table.
«Come, come my friends,,” said the donkey, «We are musicians, so let us sing for our supper.”
And so they began to perform their music together: the donkey brayed, the dog barked, the cat mewed, and the cockerel cock-a-doodle-doed; then they burst through the window into the room, so that the glass clattered! At this horrible din, the robbers sprang up, thinking no otherwise than that a ghost had come in, and fled in a great fright out into the forest. The four companions now sat down at the table, well content with what was left, and ate as if they were going to fast for a month.
As soon as the four musicians had done, they put out the light, and each found a sleeping-place according to his nature and to what suited him. The donkey laid himself down upon some straw in the yard, the dog behind the door, the cat upon the hearth near the warm ashes, and the cockrel perched himself upon a beam of the roof; and being tired from their long walk, they soon went to sleep.
When it was past midnight, and the robbers saw from afar that the light was no longer burning in their house, and all appeared quiet, the captain said, «We ought not to have let ourselves be frightened out of our wits;” and ordered one of them to go and examine the house.
The messenger finding all still, went into the kitchen to light a candle, and, taking the glistening fiery eyes of the cat for burning coals, he held the candle to them to light it. But the cat did not understand what he meant to do, and flew in his face, spitting and scratching. He was dreadfully frightened, and ran to the back-door, but the dog, who lay there sprang up and bit his leg; and as he ran across the yard by the straw-heap, the donkey gave him a smart kick with its hind foot. The cockerel, too, who had been awakened by the noise, and had become lively, cried down from the beam, «cock-a-doodle-doo!”
Then the robber ran back as fast as he could to his captain, and said, «Ah, there is a horrible witch sitting in the house, who spat on me and scratched my face with her long claws; and by the door stands a man with a knife, who stabbed me in the leg; and in the yard there lies a black monster, who beat me with a wooden club; and above, upon the roof, sits the judge, who called out, `Bring the rogue here to me!’ so I got away as well as I could.”
After this the robbers did not trust themselves in the house again; but it suited the four musicians of Bremen so well that they did not care to leave it any more.
Old Sultan — Старый Султан
A farmer once had a faithful dog called Sultan, who had grown old, and lost all his teeth, so that he could no longer bite. One day the farmer was standing with his wife before the house-door, and said, «To-morrow I intend to shoot Old Sultan, he is no longer of any use.”
His wife, who felt pity for the faithful beast, answered, «He has served us so long, and been so faithful, that we might well keep him.”
«Eh! what?” said the man. «You are not very sharp. He has not a tooth left in his mouth, and no thief is afraid of him; now he may be off. If he has served us, he has had good feeding for it.”
The poor dog, who was lying stretched out in the sun not far off, had heard everything, and was sorry that the morrow was to be his last day. He had a good friend, the wolf, and he crept out in the evening into the forest to him, and complained of the fate that awaited him. «Listen well,” said the wolf, ” and Don’t be sad. I will help you out of your trouble. I have thought of something. To-morrow, early in the morning, your master is going with his wife to make hay, and they will take their little child with them, for no one will be left behind in the house. As usual, during work-time, they will lay the child under the hedge in the shade; you lie there too, just as if you wished to guard it. Then I will come out of the wood, and carry off the child. You must rush swiftly after me. I will let it fall, and you will take it back to its parents, who will think that you have saved it, and will be far too grateful to do you any harm; quite the opposite; you will dear to their hearts, and they will never let you lack for anything again.”
The plan pleased the dog, and it was carried out just as it was arranged. The father screamed when he saw the Wolf running across the field with his child, but when Old Sultan brought it back, then he was full of joy, and stroked him and said, «Not a hair of yours shall be hurt, you shall eat my bread free as long as you live.” And to his wife he said, «Go home at once and make Old Sultan some soggy bread that he will not have to bite, and bring the pillow out of my bed, I will give it to him to lie upon.”
From that time on, Old Sultan was as well off as he could wish to be.
Soon afterwards the wolf visited him, and was pleased that everything had succeeded so well. «But, listen well,” said he, «you will just wink an eye when I carry off one of your master’s fat sheep.”
«Do not reckon upon that,” answered the dog; «I will remain true to my master; I cannot agree to that.” The wolf, who thought that this could not be spoken in earnest, came creeping about in the night and was going to take away the sheep. But faithful old Sultan barked, and the farmer chased after the wolf with a big stick. The wolf had to pack off, but he cried out to the dog, «Wait a bit, you scoundrel, you shall pay for this.”
The next morning the wolf sent the wild boar to challenge the dog to come out into the forest so that they might settle the affair. Old Sultan could find no one to stand by him but a cat with only three legs, and as they went out together the poor cat limped along, and at the same time stretched out her tail into the air with pain.
The wolf and his friend were already on the spot appointed, but when they saw their enemy coming they thought that he was bringing a sabre with him, for they mistook the outstretched tail of the cat for one. And when the poor beast hopped on its three legs, they could only think every time that it was picking up a stone to throw at them. So they were both afraid; the wild boar crept into the under-wood and the wolf jumped up a tree.
The dog and the cat, when they came up, wondered that there was no one to be seen. The wild boar, however, had not been able to hide himself altogether; and one of his ears was still to be seen. Whilst the cat was looking carefully about, the boar moved his ear; the cat, who thought it was a mouse moving there, jumped upon it and bit it hard. The boar made a fearful noise and ran away, crying out, «The guilty one is up in the tree !” The dog and cat looked up and saw the wolf, who was ashamed of having proved himself to be so afraid, and made friends with the dog
The Cat and the Mouse in Partnership — Дружба кота и мышки
A cat got to know a mouse, and spoke so much of the great love and friendship she felt for her, that at last the Mouse agreed to live in the same house with her, and to go shares in the housekeeping. ‘But we must store up food for the winter or else we shall be hungry,’ said the Cat. ‘And You, little Mouse, cannot venture everywhere in case you run into a trap.’ This good advice was followed, and a little pot of fat was bought. But they did not know where to put it. At length, after long discussion, the Cat said, ‘I know of no place where it could be better put than in the church. No one will trouble to take it away from there. We will hide it in a corner, and we won’t touch it till we really need it.’ So the little pot was placed in safety; but it was not long before the Cat had a great longing for it, and said to the Mouse, ‘I wanted to tell you, little Mouse, that my cousin has a little son, white with brown spots, and she wants me to be godmother to that little kitten. Let me go out to-day, and do you take care of the house alone.’
‘Yes, go certainly,’ replied the Mouse, ‘and when you eat anything good, think of me; I should very much like a drop of the red christening wine.’
But it was all untrue. The Cat had no cousin, and had not been asked to be godmother. She went straight to the church, slunk to the little pot of fat, began to lick it, and licked the top off. Then she took a walk on the roofs of the town, looked at the view, stretched herself out in the sun, and licked her lips whenever she thought of the little pot of fat. As soon as it was evening she went home again.
‘Ah, here you are again!’ said the Mouse; ‘you must certainly have had an enjoyable day.’
‘It went off very well,’ answered the Cat.
‘What was the child’s name?’ asked the Mouse.
‘Top Off,’ said the Cat drily.
‘Topoff!’ echoed the Mouse, ‘it is indeed a wonderful and curious name. Are there others called Topoff in your family?’
‘What is there odd about it?’ said the Cat. ‘It is not worse than Breadthief, as your godchild is called.’
Not long after this another great longing came over the Cat. She said to the Mouse, ‘You must again be kind enough to look after the house alone, for I have been asked a second time to stand godmother, and as this kitten has a white ring round its neck, I cannot refuse.’
The kind Mouse agreed, but the Cat slunk under the town wall to the church, and ate up half of the pot of fat. ‘Nothing tastes better,’ said she, ‘than what one eats by oneself,’ and she was very much pleased with her day’s work. When she came home the Mouse asked, ‘What was this child called?’
‘Half Gone,’ answered the Cat.
‘Halfgone! what a name! I have never heard it in my life. I don’t believe it is in any book!’
Soon the Cat’s mouth began to water once more after her licking business. ‘All good things in threes,’ she said to the Mouse; ‘I have again to stand godmother. The child is quite black, and has very white paws, but not a single white hair on its body. This only happens once in two years, so you will let me go out?’
‘Topoff! Halfgone!’ repeated the Mouse, ‘they are such curious names; they make me very thoughtful.’
‘Oh, you sit at home in your dark grey coat and your long tail,’ said the Cat, ‘and you get fanciful. That comes of not going out in the day.’
The Mouse had a good cleaning out while the Cat was gone, and made the house tidy; but the greedy Cat ate the fat every bit up.
‘When it is all gone one can be at rest,’ she said to herself, and at night she came home sleek and satisfied. The Mouse asked at once after the third child’s name.
‘It won’t please you any better,’ said the Cat, ‘he was called Clean Gone.’
‘Cleangone!’ repeated the Mouse. ‘I do not believe that name has been printed any more than the others. Cleangone! What can it mean?’ She shook her head, curled herself up, and went to sleep.
From this time on no one asked the Cat to stand godmother; but when the winter came and there was nothing to be got outside, the Mouse remembered their provision and said, ‘Come, Cat, we will go to our pot of fat which we have stored away; it will taste very good.’
‘Yes, indeed,’ answered the Cat; ‘ it will taste as good to you as if you stretched your thin tongue out of the window.’
They started off, and when they reached it they found the pot in its place, but quite empty!
‘Ah,’ said the Mouse,’ ‘now I know what has happened! It has all come out! You are a true friend to me! You have eaten it all when you stood godmother; first the top off, then half of it gone, then—-’
‘Will you be quiet!’ screamed the Cat. ‘Another word and I will eat you up.’
‘Cleangone’ was already on the poor Mouse’s tongue, and scarcely was it out than the Cat made a spring at her, seized and swallowed her.
You see that is the way of the world.
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