The Rat said, ‘They have related that a mouse had taken up its abode on the brink of a fountain, and had fixed its residence at the foot of a tree. A Frog, too, passed his time in the water there, and sometimes came to the margin of the pool to take the air. One day coming to the edge of the water he continued uttering his voice in a heart-rending cadence, and assuming himself to be a nightingale of a thousand melodies, he set free with his distressing tones the birds of the hearts [of his audience] from the cages of their bodies.

’Tis true his execrable voice was harsh and bad enough,
But tone and execution joined made him completely rough.

At that time the mouse was engaged in chanting in a corner of his cell. Directly he heard the uproarious yelling of the Frog he was astounded, and came out with the intention of taking a look at the reciter; and while occupied with listening to him, kept smiting his hands together and shaking his head. These gestures, which seemed to display approbation, pleased the Frog, and he made advances towards acquaintance with him. The tongue of understanding was warning him not to associate with one of a different species, but the vanity of his disposition was inclining him towards the mouse. In short, being mutually pleased with each other, they became inseparable companions, and used to narrate to each other entertaining stories and tales.

With hearts, as at a game of draughts, they played,
Nor suffered doubt their bosoms to invade.
Oft to the mouse the joyful Frog would hie,
And tell the tale of five years’ life gone by.
An eager tongue denotes a friendly mind,
Ill-will is tokened by a tongue confined.

One day the mouse said to the Frog, ‘I am oftentimes desirous of disclosing to thee a secret, and recounting to thee a grief which I have at heart, and at that moment thou art abiding under the water.

’Tis hard for me where thou art to repair.
And where I am my heart is filled with care.

However much I shout thou hearest me not, owing to the noise of the water, and in spite of my crying to thee, the sound cannot reach thee, because of the clamor of the other frogs. We must devise some artifice by which thou mayest know when I come to the brink of the water, and thus mayest be informed of my arrival without my shouting to thee.’ The frog said, ‘Thou speakest the truth. I, too, have often pondered uneasily, thinking, should my friend come to the brink of the water, how shall I, at the bottom of this fountain, learn his arrival? and how absolve myself of the anxiety which he will be enduring to gain sight of me? And it sometimes happens that I, too, come to the mouth of thy hole, and thou hast gone out from another side, and I have to wait long. I had intended to have touched somewhat on this subject to thee, but thou thyself, with the kindness thou possessest, has set forth the circumstance, and with candor of heart hast made known the hidden feelings of my own mind. Now the arrangement of this matter rests, too, with thee.

Thy judgment fair lays every project well.’

The mouse replied, ‘I have got hold of the thread of a plan, and it appears to me the best thing to get a long string, and to fasten one end to thy foot, and tie the other tight round my own, in order that when I come to the water’s edge and shake the string, thou mayest know what I want; and if thou too art so kind as to come to the door of my cell, I may also get information of this by your jerking the string.’ Both parties agreed to this, and the knot of friendship was in this manner firmly secured, and they were also kept informed of one another’s condition. One day, the mouse came to the water’s edge to seek the Frog, in order to renew their friendly converse. All of a sudden a crow, like an unforeseen calamity, flew down from the air, and snatching up the mouse, soared up with him. The string which was tied to the leg of the mouse drew forth the frog from the bottom of the water, and, as the other leg was fastened to the Frog’s leg, he was suspended head down­wards in the air. The crow flew on, holding the mouse in its beak, and lower down the Frog hanging head downwards. People witnessing that extra-ordinary sight, were uttering in the road various jokes and sarcasms, ‘A strange thing this, that contrary to his wont a crow has made prey of a frog,’ and ‘Never before was a frog the prey of a crow.’ The Frog was howling out in reply, ‘Now, too, a frog is not the prey of a crow, but from the bad luck of associating with a mouse, I have been caught in this calamity, and he who associates with those of a different species deserves a thousand times as much.

Woe worth the friend of different race! ’twere best
To seek a well-matched comrade—O my guest!’

And the citation of this story carries with it this beneficial advice, that no one ought to associate with one of a different race, in order that like the frog, he may not be suspended on the string of calamity. And for my own part I have no desire to mingle with those of my own race, then what must I feel towards those of another?

Leave the gay crowd, thou! who wouldst be alone,
And thy own self thy own companion be.
The Símurgh won by this the bird-king’s throne,
And is called thirty* though but one is he.’

The Cat rejoined, ‘Since thou hadst no wish for society, why didst thou show, in the commencement, all that courtesy? By thy friendly and polite manner, thou capturedst me, and when I have become foot-bound in the snare of friendship, thou severest the cord of union and beginnest to separate.

With truth, O cup-bearer! at first, thou to me the fair goblet didst offer,
But soon I grew drunken, and thou from thy hand didst that goblet resign.
Since at last thou intendedst the lees of sorrowful parting to proffer,
Say, why at commencing present to my lips the sweet draught of pure wine?’

The Rat replied, ‘At that time I stood in need of thee; and a wise man, if he fall into a difficulty from which he may hope to extricate himself by the aid of an enemy, will undoubtedly have recourse to conciliatory measures and exert himself to display the proofs of his regard. Afterwards if he should foresee any injury to himself, he will shun his society, not through enmity or perversity, nor from aversion or arrogance, but just as the young of animals follow their mothers for the sake of the milk, and when they are independent of that nature, abandon their society without any previous distrust. Nor does any intelligent person impute that conduct to enmity; but when advantage is withheld, it appears more reasonable that the connection should cease.

He by whose aid we can secure our ends,
His presence joy to heart and soul will bring.
But he, whose converse nothing good attends,
From meeting him some mischiefs swift will spring.

Moreover my nature and thine have in their origin been predisposed to hostility, and the fame of our enmity has reached the hearing of all, and it is imbedded in our dispositions; and no great dependance can be placed on a friendship which has arisen of necessity, in order to expedite something imperatively required, nor can much weight be attached to it. For when the necessity is removed things will assuredly return to their original state. Thus water, so long as it is set over the fire, will keep warm, but when it is taken off will become cold as before. And every one knows that the rat has no more dangerous enemy than the cat, and I am convinced that thou hast no inclination towards me, save that thou wishest to prepare a draught for thy breakfast of my blood, and to use my flesh to supply thy morning meal. And no sophistry will avail to allure me to thee, or to make me rely or confide in thy friendship.

When did cats feel maternal love for rats?’

The Cat said, ‘Dost thou speak these words in earnest, or, in point of fact, dost thou merely jest and banter?’ The Rat replied,

‘With life at stake what room is there for play?

I speak this in solemn seriousness, and I am convinced that it is safer for a weak creature like me to shun the society of a powerful one like thee, and for a weak man to abstain from a contest with a strong one. For if he happen to act at variance with this rule, he will receive a wound which will not be curable with any plaster.

The weak man who a strong defies,
Will fall so as no more to rise.

I am now of opinion that it is advisable for me at present to be fully on my guard towards thee, and that thou shouldest be wary of the hunter, and then between me and thee there will be a purity of faith which can be relied on. For the best foundation for a sincere friendship is coincidence of sentiment and mental acquaintance.*

If I and thou in soul approximate,
It matters not if place us separate.’

We must confine ourselves to this, for closer union is impossible, and the point of conjunction is quite beyond the circle of discussion.’ The Cat began to be much agitated, and uttered lamentations mingled with tears, and outcries fraught with anguish of heart, and said,

‘’Tis fortune’s wont, with disappointment’s steel,
To separate companions. I can, then, do nought.
When soul from body parts, see! what all feel;
And yet to part with friends with fiercer pain is fraught.’

With these declarations they took leave of each other, and turned to their respective homes. Now, a wise man of clear intellect will draw the following lesson from this story. In time of emergency he will not let slip an opportunity of making truce with an enemy, and when his object is attained, he will not neglect to observe the requisite caution. Praise be to God! the Rat, notwithstanding his weakness and helplessness when encom­passed by a variety of perils, and surrounded by powerful foes and mighty enemies, by having recourse to ingenious stratagems drew one of them into the net of amity, and by means of his friendship escaped from the torrent of calamity, and having found an opportunity, discharged his promises, and fulfilled the duties of caution and foresight. If persons of wisdom and understanding, and people of sagacity and penetration, will make these experiences a pattern for their own undertakings, and take these directions as their guide in performing the important business of life, both the com­mencements and the conclusions of their affairs will be linked and attended with abundant success; and happiness in this world and blessing in the next will accompany them in their fortunate career.

They who the guidance of the wise obey;
Danger will ne’er their happy state come nigh.
The waters of experience allay,
For them the dust of troubles; so that it
Will never rest upon their fortunes high.
And who their greatness prudently commit
To cautious keeping—in their dignity
No evil influence will work decay.