The Cat In the Woods
Written and illustrated by Adrienne Potter
This is the story of a cat who lived
in a wild, wild, wood. He always stayed in the bushes and was afraid to come out
for he had seen the other animals eat each other, and it did not look pleasant
to be eaten. One day the cat found himself next to another animal who was
sitting and watching like he was. It was a sleek mongoose, about his same size.
The mongoose looked him over.
"You have a tail like a
snake," he said, "but you are not a snake. You could be my
friend." The cat said, "No, I am not a snake. Are you going to eat
me?" The mongoose replied, "No. I do not eat my friends. I only eat
"Oh," said the cat.
"I have seen many animals eat each other up."
"Yes," said the mongoose,
"but they do not eat their friends--only their prey. That is the law of
nature." The cat thought about that. He did not know that there were laws
about such things.
"I have seen you eat a
mouse," continued the mongoose. "Was the mouse your friend?"
"Oh, no!" answered the
cat. "It was my enemy."
"Why was it your enemy? What
did it do to you?" questioned the mongoose.
"Why nothing, of course,"
he answered. "I have simply always eaten mice, ever since I was
"Ah, yes," said the
mongoose, "and I have always eaten snakes."
"Is the snake your enemy?"
asked the cat.
"Oh yes," replied the
mongoose. "The snake tries to kill me, so I must kill him first. And he
tries to kill the children, so I protect them too."
"That is very honorable,"
said the cat. "I suppose that I am also protecting the children from the
"Indeed," answered the
mongoose. And they both felt very satisfied with themselves.
A hyena passing by heard their
conversation. "So you think yourselves heroes because you eat?" he
laughed. The cat and mongoose looked at each other. Was the hyena going to eat
them? Quickly they scrambled up a tree, out of reach, and looked down at him
from a fat branch. "Do you want to eat us?" they asked together.
"No," he laughed again.
"I only eat what the lioness leaves for me. Therefore, everyone is my
"But the lioness eats
everyone," countered the mongoose wisely.
"So, everyone is my friend
until the lioness pounces on them and I eat them," retorted the hyena.
"Will the lioness pounce on us and eat us?" asked the cat and the
"No," answered the hyena
as he licked his paws. "Only old lionesses eat cats and mongooses, so you
see, I can be your friend."
"Why does the lion not eat
you?" asked the cat curiously. "Because I always stay in a pack and
the lion fears the pack," was the hyena's reply.
While they were having this
conversation it began to rain and soon many animals had taken cover under the
trees. The cat looked around nervously. He had never had so many animals close
to him. "Will they eat us?" he asked the mongoose. "No," he
replied. "Now is not the time to eat. Now is the time to watch nature
perform its wonders." And they watched the lightening shoot down from the
sky and listened as the thunder shook the leaves. When it was over the sun came
out and all the animals returned to their usual business.
The cat and the mongoose did not see
it, but there was snake slowly slithering up behind them. It was a cobra who
wanted to eat a mouse that was hiding near the cat, under a leaf. Sensing
something, the mongoose suddenly froze. The cat looked around, startled, and in
that instant the cobra struck. Quick as a flash, before he even reached his
victim, the mongoose had him by the throat. The cat shot up to a higher branch
and watched the fight below. The snake defended itself bravely as the mongoose
struck again and again. The mouse was frozen in fear and nearly fainted. When
the mongoose had completed its work the mouse cried out, "Thank-you sir!
You saved my life!"
"Oh, it was nothing," said
the mongoose casually as he licked himself clean. "Just doing my
duty." But the mouse cried as he ran from the scene, "I will tell all
my friends of your bravery."
"Bravery, Ha!" laughed the
hyena. "Any mongoose can kill a snake!"
"Oh, but I did fight
well," answered the mongoose, "More bravely than you have ever
fought." With that the hyena slunk away, as was his manner.
The cat had a puzzled look on his
face. "I don't understand," he said. "I kill mice, and you kill snakes, and snakes
kill mice and cats and mongooses. But you saved the mouse, and
I suppose you would have saved me were it not for the mouse. And now the mouse
is your friend."
"Such is the universe,"
answered the mongoose. "Circles linked with other circles, until all is
"You are very wise," said
the cat. "No, I am just saying what I know," replied the mongoose, and
he and the cat curled up and had a nice nap together, each facing the other way,
in case an animal wanted to eat them.
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