Multilingual Folk Tale Database


Author: Jean de La Fontaine

Translated into English
  by Frederick Colin Tilney - 1913

Original title (French):
La Ligue des rats

Country of origin: France


English - aligned

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The League of Rats

Jean de La Fontaine / Frederick Colin Tilney

There was once a mouse who lived in terrible fear of a cat that
had lain in wait watching for her. She was in great anxiety to know what
she could do to escape the threatening danger.

Being prudent and wise she consulted her neighbour, a large and
important rat. His lordship the rat had taken up his abode in a very
good inn, and had boasted a hundred times that he had no fear for either
tom-cat or she-cat. Neither teeth nor claws caused him any anxious

"Dame Mouse," said this boaster, "whatever I do, I cannot, upon my word,
chase away this cat that threatens you without some help. But let me
call together all the rats hereabouts and I'll play him a sorry trick or

The mouse curtsied humbly her thanks and the rat ran with speed to the
head-quarters; that is to say to the larder, where the rats were in the
habit of assembling. Arriving out of breath and perturbed in mind he
found them making a great feast at the expense of their host.

"What ails you?" asked one of the feasters. "Speak!"

"In two words," answered he, "the reason for my coming among you in
this way is simply that it has become absolutely necessary to help the
mice; for Grimalkin is abroad making terrible slaughter among them.
This, the most devilish of cats, will, when she has no mice left, turn
her attention to the eating of rats."

"He says what is true," cried they all. "To arms, to arms!" Nothing
could stem the tide of their impetuosity; although, it is said, a few
she-rats shed tears. It was no matter. Every one overhauled his
equipment, and filled his wallet with cheese. To risk life was the
determination of all. They set off, as if to a fĂȘte, with happy minds
and joyful hearts.

Alas, for the mouse! These warriors were a moment too late. The cat had
her already by the head. Advancing at the double the rats ran to the
succour of their good little friend; but the cat swore, and stalked away
in front of the enemy, having no intention of surrendering her prey.

At the sound of the cat's defiance, the prudent rats, fearing ill fate,
beat a safe retreat without carrying any further their intended
onslaught. Each one ran to his hole, and whenever any ventured out again
it was always with the utmost caution to avoid the cat.