A MOUSE living in the town one day met a mouse which lived in the field.
"Whence do you come?" asked the latter when she saw the town-mouse.
"I come from yonder town," replied the first mouse.
"How is life going there with you?"
"Very well, indeed. I am living in the lap of luxury. Whatever I want of sweets or any other good things is to be found in abundance in my master's house. But how are you living?"
"I have nothing to complain of. You just come and see my stores. I have grain and nuts, and all the fruits of the tree and field in my storehouse."
The town-mouse did not quite believe the story of her new friend, and, driven by curiosity, went with her to the latter's house. How great was her surprise when she found that the field-mouse had spoken the truth; her garner was full of nuts and grain and other stores, and her mouth watered when she saw all the riches which were stored up there.
Then she turned to the field-mouse and said, "Oh, yes, you have here a nice snug place and something to live upon, but you should come to my house and see what I have there. Your stock is as nothing compared with the riches which are mine."
The field mouse, who was rather simple by nature and trusted her new friend, went with her into the town to see what better things the other could have. She had never been into the town and did not know what her friend could mean when she boasted of her greater riches. So they went together, and the town-mouse took her friend to her master's house. He was a grocer, and there were boxes and sacks full of every good thing the heart of a mouse could desire. When she saw all these riches, the field mouse said she could never have believed it, had she not seen it with her own eyes.
Whilst they were talking together, who should come in but the cat. As soon as the town-mouse saw the cat, she slipped quietly behind a box and hid herself. Her friend, who had never yet seen a cat, turned to her and asked her who that gentleman was who had come in so quietly?
"Do you not know who he is? Why, he is our priest (popa), and he has come to see me. You must go and pay your respects to him and kiss his hand. See what a beautiful, glossy coat he has on, and how his eyes sparkle, and how demurely he keeps his hands in the sleeves of his coat." Not suspecting anything, the field-mouse did as she was told and went up to the cat. He gave her at once his blessing, and the mouse had no need of another after that: the cat gave her extreme unction there and then. That was just what the town-mouse had intended. When she saw how well stored the home of the field-mouse was, she made up her mind to trap her and to kill her, so that she might take possession of all that the field-mouse had gathered up. She had learned the ways of the townspeople and had acted up to them.
This story reminds one of the story of La Fontaine, yet the conclusion here is quite different. The popular tale undoubtedly underwent a definite change in the hands of La Fontaine, who used the fable for driving home a totally different moral lesson, just in the style of all the fables so used since Aesop downwards. The popular tale as told here is perhaps more crude, but still much more true to nature--a picture of life.
Hahn (No. 90) tells an Albanian tale where the fox goes on a pilgrimage and becomes a monk, just as the cat in the Rumanian story is a priest.
Story of the Town Mouse and the Field Mouse, The.
Rumanian Bird and Beast Stories
Sidgwick & Jackson
Year of Publication:
Country of Origin:
ATU 112: Country Mouse Visits Town Mouse