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The Dog, the Cat, the Ass, and the Cock

The Dog, the Cat, the Ass, and the Cock
The Dog, the Cat, the Ass, and the Cock

Once upon a time, a long while ago, when beasts and fowls could talk, it happened that a dog lived in a farmer’s barnyard. By and by he grew tired of watching the house all night and working hard all day, so he thought he’d go out into the world to seek his fortune. One fine day, when the farmer had gone away, he started off down the road.
He hadn’t gone far when he spied a cat curled up asleep on a door-stone in a farmer’s yard, so he looked over the fence and called to the cat, «I’m going out into the world to seek my fortune. Don’t you want to come along too?»

But the cat said she was very comfortable where she was, and didn’t think she cared to go traveling. But the dog told her that by and by when she got old the farmer wouldn’t let her lie on his sunny door-stone, but would make her lie in the cold, no matter whether it snowed or not. So the cat concluded she’d go along too, and they walked down the road arm in arm.

They hadn’t gone far when they spied a jackass eating grass in a farmer’s yard.

So the dog looked over the fence and called to the jackass, «We’re going out into the world to seek our fortune. Don’t you want to come along too?»

But the jackass said he was very comfortable where he was, and didn’t think he cared to go traveling. But the dog told him that by and by, when he got old and stiff, he’d have to work early and late, year after year, for only just what he would eat, and short allowance at that. So the jackass concluded to go along too, and they all walked down the road arm in arm.

They hadn’t gone far when they spied a cock crowing in a farmer’s yard, so the dog looked over the fence and called, «We’re going out into the world to seek our fortune. Don’t you want to come along too?»

But the rooster said he was very comfortable where he was, and didn’t think he cared to go traveling. But the dog told him that by and by, when it came Thanksgiving, pop would go his head, and he’d make a fine dinner for the farmer. So the rooster concluded he’d go along too, and they all walked down the road arm in arm.

Now they had neglected to take anything to eat along with them, and when night overtook them, weary, footsore, and hungry, they were in a dense forest, and they all began to blame the dog for getting them into such a scrape. The ass proposed that the cock should fly to the top of a high tree to see if he could discover a place for them to lodge. He had scarcely perched on a limb before he called to his friends that a house was a little way off, for he could see a light in the window. The dog called to him to come down and lead the was to the house, and they all walked off arm in arm to the house.

When they got there it was perfectly still about the house. They could hear no one inside. The ass kicked at the door, but no one answered. They looked about and found the house had only one window, and that was so high up they couldn’t look in. He proposed that the jackass should stand on his hind legs, with his forelegs resting against the house, while the dog should clamber up his back and stand on his head, the cat run up the backs of both, and the rooster fly to the cat’s head, and then he could just look in at the window.

«Hurry and tell what you see,» said the jackass, «for my neck is breaking off.»

«I see a fire on a hearth and a table loaded with all sorts of fine things to eat: turkey and plum pudding, and pan-dowdy, and a band of men sitting round the table.»

«Zounds!» said the dog, «we must get in.»

So the rooster flew against the window with such a crash that it scared the robbers — for this was a band of robbers — nearly to death. They jumped up from the table so quickly that they overturned their chairs and whisked out the candles, while in flew the rooster, the cat, and the dog at the window, while the jackass went round and waited at the door till the robbers came out and ran away.

Then the beasts lighted the candles again, and picked up the chairs, and sat down and had a good supper. Then they began to look about to see how they should dispose of themselves for the night. The jackass went out in the barn to sleep in the hay, the dog lay on the rug by the hearth, the cat took up her bed among the warm ashes, and the rooster flew to the ridgepole of the house, and soon all were fast asleep, being very tired by their long day’s journey.

By and by the robbers plucked up courage, and about midnight came back to the house to see if perchance they had not been scared at their shadows. Two of them got in at the window to take a survey, and seeing the cat’s glowing eyes in the ashes mistook them for coals, and scratching a match in them the cat sunk her claws in his hand, which terrified him so much that in attempting to escape he ran against the dog, and he in turn caught the robber by the leg and bit him.

By this time the tumult had awakened the ass, and just as the robber rushed out at the door the jackass met him and kicked him ten feet in the air, while the rooster set up a hideous crowing. It took but a few minutes for the robbers to escape to the woods and find their companions, to whom they told a doleful tale, how in trying to light a match at the fireplace the devil with red-hot eyes stuck his claws into his hands, a second devil attacked him in the rear, while another devil kicked him into the air, and as he came down on the greensward, more dead than alive, another horrid demon form the housetop cried out, «Throw the rascal up her, through the rascal up here.»

The thieves could never be induced to go back to the house. They thought it haunted by devils. So our friends, the jackass, the dog, the cat, and the rooster, lived there happy forever after, preferring it to traveling about to see the world.