How the Mice Belled the Cat Part 3 of 3
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!”
All the mice hugged each other, and danced about, and a few grew so excited that they fainted on the spot.
Then one mouse named Kitchen-Burglar, who was old and wise, cleared his throat and said: “That is all very well Picnic-Bandit, but how, I pray, are we to persuade Mr Cat to put this bell around his neck? Or do you propose that someone just walks up to him, and places it there?”
Several more mice swooned at this suggestion. All of them shivered and shook. The clack, clack, clack of their knees knocking, and their teeth chattering, drowned out all other sounds.
Picnic-Bandit, thought and thought, until she wondered if her brain would burst. Finally she clapped her paws again, and cried out: “That is exactly what I will do! I will bell the Cat!”
And with that she snatched up the bell, and headed for the crack in the wall, which led outside to the waiting cat.
As little Picnic-Bandit bravely made her way into the corridor, a hundred pairs of round mouse eyes stared first at the cat, and then at Picnic-Bandit. No one breathed, no one moved. Several mice prepared to faint again, in case that became necessary.
The cat watched Picnic-Bandit approach, unable to believe his luck. His dinner was walking straight towards him!
But before Picnic-Bandit got too close, she put her paws together and bowed low to the ground.
The cat was intrigued.
“Oh Great Cat,” said Picnic-Bandit, “You are such a beautiful Cat, and so powerful and strong. You must indeed be the royal Rajah of Cats.”
The cat was very pleased to hear these words of Picnic-Bandit, and decided he would wait just a moment or two before gobbling her up.
“We lowly Mice are truly humbled,” she continued, “To have such a great one as you come to watch over us. I have been sent by the Mouse People to beg you to become our King.”
The cat was extremely pleased with these words. For too long, he felt, his great qualities had not been recognised. Now these mice were going to make him their King. He graciously agreed.
“Oh King, could we make one more humble request?” continued Picnic-Bandit, “We have a special gift for you, on this your Coronation Day. Please be kind to us, and agree to wear this beautiful silver bell, tied with a rich royal purple ribbon.”
Picnic-Bandit bowed even lower, holding out the bell and the ribbon, for the cat to see. She hardly dared to breathe.
From that day to this, the mice feasted happily on the crumbs of the palace, safe and sound, ready to run and hide as soon as they heard the tell-tale tinkle of their approaching “King”.
The Moral of this tale is:
Brave words mean nothing, without brave deeds.