Cat and Mouse in Partnership
A cat and a mouse wanted to live together and keep house as a partnership. They prepared for winter by buying a pot of fat, and because they had no safer spot for it, they placed it under the alter in the church until such time that they would need it. However, one day the cat took a longing for it, and approached the mouse. “Listen, little mouse, my cousin has invited me to serve as godfather. She has given birth to a brown and white spotted little son, and I am supposed to carry him to his baptism. Is it all right for me to leave you home alone with the housework today?”
“Go ahead,” said the mouse, “and if they serve you something good, just think of me. I would certainly welcome a drop of good red christening wine.” But the cat went straight to the church and ate the top off the fat and then went strolling about the town and did not return home until evening.
“You must have had a good time,” said the mouse. “What name did they give the child?”
“Top-Off,” answered the cat.
“Top-Off? That’s a strange name, one that I’ve not yet heard.”
Soon afterward the cat took another longing, went to the mouse, and said, “I’ve been asked to serve as godfather once again. The child has a white ring around its body. I can’t say no. You’ll have to do me a favor and take care of the house by yourself today.”
The mouse agreed, and the cat went and ate up half the fat. When she returned home, the mouse asked, “What name did this godchild receive?”
“Half-Gone? What are you telling me? I’ve never heard that name. It certainly isn’t in the almanac.”
Now the cat could not take his mind off the pot of fat. “I’ve been invited to serve as godfather for a third time,” he said. “The child is black and has white paws, but not another white hair on his entire body. That only happens once in a few years. You will let me go, won’t you?”
“Top-Off, Half-Gone,” said the mouse. “Those names are so curious that it makes me a bit suspicious, but go ahead.”
The mouse took care of the house and cleaned up everything, while the cat finished off the pot of fat. Round and full, she did not return until nighttime.
“What is the third child’s name?”
“All-Gone! That is a worrisome name!” said the mouse. “All-Gone. Just what does this mean? I’ve never seen that name in print,” and she shook her head and went to bed.
No one invited the cat to serve as godfather a fourth time. Winter soon came, and when they could no longer find anything to eat outside, the mouse said to the cat, “Let’s get the provisions that we’ve hid in the church under the altar.” They went there, but the pot was empty.
“Now I see!” said the mouse. “You came here when you said you were invited to be a godfather. First came Top-Off, then it was Half-Gone, and then…”
“Be still,” said the cat. “I’ll eat you up, if you say another word.”
“All-Gone” was already in the poor mouse’s mouth, and she had scarcely said it before the cat jumped on her and swallowed her down.
Source: Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, Kinder- und Hausmrchen, 1st ed. (Berlin, 1812/1815), v. 1, no. 2.