The Cat and the Rooster

Ukrainian folk tail

Once upon a time there lived a Cat and a Cock who loved one another dearly. The Cat would play his fiddle and the Cock would sing, the Cat would go out to get food for the two of them, and the Cock would stay at home and look after the house. Every time the Cat prepared to go out he would say to the Cock:

"You mustn't let anyone into the house, Cock, or go out yourself, no matter who calls you."
"I won't, don't you worry," the Cock would reply, and he would get into the house and stay there till the Cat came home.

Now, a Fox once saw the Cock and decided to lure him out and catch him. She crept up to the window of their house when the Cat was out and called out:

"Come out, Cock, and join me, and I'll give you grains of wheat and some water clear and sweet."

But the Cock called out in reply: "Cock-a-doodle-doo, I'll do without, For I promised Puss I'd not go out!"

The Fox saw that this was not the way to go about things, so one night she crept up to the house, threw some wheat grains under the window for the Cock to see and herself hid behind a bush.

By and by the Cat went out hunting as usual, and the Cock opened the window and looked out. There was no one about, he saw, but there, scattered on the ground, lay some luscious grains of wheat. The Cock was eager to eat them and said to himself:

"I think I'll go out and peck at those grains for a bit. There is no one about, so no one will see me or tell Puss on me."

But no sooner did he step over the threshold than the Fox was upon him. She seized him by the scruff of his neck and away she ran to her own house! And the Cock called out to the Cat:

"Save me, Brother Puss, I pray!
Foxy's taking me far away.
For her bushy tail
I can't see the trail.
If you don't come, friend,
I will meet my end."

Now, the Cat was a long way off and he did not hear the Cock, and by the time he returned home it was too late for him to go after the Fox. He tried to overtake her, but could not, so back he went home and wept and cried. But he got to thinking after a while, and, taking his fiddle and a bright-pictured sack, set out for the Fox's house.

Now, the Fox had four daughters and a son, and before going out hunting that day, she told them to keep an eye on the Cock and to heat a potfull of water so that as soon as she was back she could kill and cook him for dinner.

"And mind you let no one into the house while I'm away," she said.

Away she went, and the Cat came up to the house, stood under the window and began to play and to sing the following song:

"Foxy's house is big and tall,
Her four little daughters are beauties all,
And Pilipko, her only son,
Is very sweet to look upon.
Step outside, young Foxy, do,
And I'll sing some more for you!"

Now, the Fox's eldest daughter felt that she must go and see who it was playing and she said to the others:

"Stay here in the house and I'll go and see who it is that plays so well."

She came out of the house, and the Cat rapped her smartly on the nose, whisked her into his sack and began to play and to sing again:

"Foxy's house is big and tall,
Her four little daughters are beauties all,
And Pilipko, her only son,
Is very sweet to look upon.
Step outside, young Foxy, do,
And I'll sing some more for you!"

The Fox's second daughter went out to see who it was playing, and the Cat rapped her on the nose and whisked her into his sack. And the very same thing happened to the Fox's two younger daughters. There sat their brother Pilipko in the house and waited for his sisters, but they did not come back.

"I think I'll go out and get them to come home," said he to himself, "or our mother will give me a good hiding when she gets back."

He stepped outside, and the Cat rapped him on the nose too and whisked him into the sack! Then he hanged the sack on a dry willow tree and ran into the Fox's house. He found the Cock and untied him, and the two of them ate all of the Fox's food, overturned the pot of boiling water, broke all the dishes and ran home. And the Cock did just as the Cat told him ever after and never, never disobeyed him.

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