How the Mice Belled the Cat Part 2 of 3
The stable boy quietly crouched down. And whoosh! He scooped up the cat and popped him into a sack, and ignoring the yowls and screeches, and bumps and lumps, the stable boy carried the bumpy, lumpy, yowling sack back to the palace
He carried the sack down to the lowest basement, where the cracks and crannies in the palace walls were most plentiful. He carefully undid the string around the sack and tipped the cat out.
The cat tumbled out, and when he had righted himself, he sat there and gave the stable boy an evil look.
The stable boy just said: “Mr Cat, you are angry now, but you will thank me later. A feast awaits you behind those walls. An army of tasty mice are there for the asking.”
Hearing these words, the cat settled himself down next to the largest hole. The tip of his long tail flicked back and forth. He sniffed the air. And he waited.
Now what do you suppose happened next? A sleek grey mouse, named Crumb-Stealer, came trotting out of his front door, and walked right up to the Cat.
The Cat sat still as a stone. Then he licked his lips, and he bared his needle sharp teeth, and he hissed at the little grey mouse.
Crumb-Stealer’s eyes widened in terror, his grey fur turned white, and he scribbled and scrabbled on his little pointy claws. He spun on the spot and, Snap! He was back in his hole just as the jaws of the Cat snapped shut on empty air.
When the mice heard of Crumb-Stealer’s narrow escape, they all shivered and shook, and wept and wailed, and ran here and ran there, wondering what to do.
From that day on, whenever the mice went out for food, the Cat would sneak up on them without a sound, and the terrified mice would run for their lives.
The mice began to starve. From the safety of their nest in the palace walls, they could smell the breadcrumbs, and the morsels of cheese, and the scraps of fruit. But the mice were all too frightened to go out and bring them home.
So one day an old mouse named Cheese-Thief called a meeting. All the mice gathered around him.
He cleared his throat and spoke: “Oh Friends, we are in a terrible fix. The ferocious Cat has turned our happy home into a palace of fear. Whenever we go out to collect our food, he sneaks up on us without a sound. I have called this meeting to find out if anyone can come up with a plan to defeat the Cat before we all starve.”
All the other mice spoke at once, offering one solution after another.
“We must pay a hero to drive the cat away,” cried Bread-Taker.
“That will never do,” squeaked Scrap-Hunter, “We have no money.”
“We must stand on each other’s shoulders and disguise ourselves as a dog!” said another.
“Nonsense”, shouted Pantry-Raider, “We must find ourselves a real dog!”
At this suggestion several mice fainted clean away!
All the Mice cheered Picnic-Bandit. She was the cleverest mouse who had ever lived! She was the Queen of Mice! She had saved them all!
Until Pantry-Raider spoke up again and asked: “Oh Picnic-Raider, what you say is true but how can we make the Cat noisy? How can we make him call out to warn us, as he comes to gobble us up?”
All the other mice held their breath while Picnic-Bandit thought and thought. Finally she clapped her paws together, and cried: “I’ve got it! There is a scrap heap in the corner of our nest, and in that scrap heap lie trinkets and beads and shiny things. Among those shiny things is a little silver bell on a long purple ribbon. Let us take that bell, hanging on its ribbon, and put it around the neck of the cat. Then, whenever the cat approaches, we will hear him coming!”