Friday, February 1, 2008

Good Ol' Aesop: Mice in Council

My favorite collection of Aesop's fables are in an old, old book, so old there's no copyright date and the price written inside the cover in pencil is 12 1/2--is that cents? It's falling apart, I'm afraid, and I must handle it very carefully. But there is something special about reading the stories from old yellow pages, the spine stitching clearly visible on each page.

(Illustration from Joseph Jacob's collection of Aesop fables, illustrated by Richard Heighway, 1894)

This story is one of my favorites. I've edited to update the language, but the moral remains the same:

Once upon a time, the Mice were terribly persecuted by a Cat. A meeting was called to search for a resolution to the problem, and to decide on the best method of getting rid of the continuing annoyance.
Many plans were discussed and rejected. Finally a young Mouse stood up and spoke.

"I propose," he said, looking around to be sure he had everyone's attention, "I propose that a Bell be hung around the Cat's neck. A Bell would give us warning of the Cat's approach, and we will be able to escape." He sat down, feeling very pleased with himself for his wonderful idea.

The other Mice were impressed. To be so young and yet so wise! They agreed unanimously that this was the best solution to the problem.

An old Mouse had been sitting quietly, listening to the discussion. When the applause that followed the young Mouse's idea had died down, he stood up stiffly.

"It is a most excellent idea," he said slowly. "I am sure it will be very successful. We will always be able to hear the Cat's approach. I have only one question:

"Who will bell the Cat?"

No one had an answer to that.

(from the Jacob's book)

Some sources of Aesop Fables online:


fudgelady said...

"Who will bell the Cat?" Great line! Sounds like a question for the Presidential candidates...

Granny Sue said...

Doesn't it, though! I've heard the phrase used a few times, and it makes sense.

I think one of my son got chosen for it this week, but contrary to the story, he did it. I can't say more, but it wasn't an easy task he took on.

David Wayne Hampton: said...

I love the illustrations they used to use in vintage children's books. That book must be old, because I don't think a US 1/2 cent piece has been minted since the mid 1850s! Thanks for sharing this find with everyone.

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