The Pike and the Cat – Jataka Tales

Kriloff’s Original Fables
The pieman, that doth try to cobble shoes,
The cobbler, that doth take to pies and stews, Will find that with them things go badly ! Have we not seen full oft, how sadly
Stupid and obstinate are those, that ever Must take on them another’s trade ? The best affairs with them can never Be aught but downright ruin made
;
They’d rather serve as food for laughter,
Than honest counsel list to or run after.
A sharp-toothed Pike once got it in his head,
That he was to the cat’s vocation bred.
I know not if the evil one had tricked him,
Or if his fish fare to disgust had pricked him : But he resolved a Cat to pray, That she would take him to a warehouse near To hunt for mice the livelong day.
” But you’re scarce up to work like this, I fear,” Unto the Pike did Tabby say ! ” Look out, my friend, or you to shame may come
:
The saying’s never dumb,
That by his work the workman we must judge.” —”Come now, as if ’twere difficult with mice,
To make them budge ! When gudgeons we can snap up in a trice !

—” Then, no time like the present, come ! “—They
started. Once there, the Cat at ease did eat her fill, Then went to know her new friend’s will
;
And there the Pike lay dying, gasping with open gill

And with his tail, thanks to the rats, had parted.
Then, seeing that her mate to move all strength did lack,
To the pond, but half alive, did Tabby drag him back. And serve him right ! Let ‘t be
A lesson, Pike, to thee,
To wiser grow in future, if so nice,
And not go running after mice !
[This refers to the appointment of Admiral Tchitchagoff
to a military command against the French, and his gross
incapacity in allowing Napoleon to escape over the Beresina. By an absurd retrograde movement Tchitchagoff ” parted
with his tail,” losing a mass of baggage and provisions.]