The Lazy Cat
Source: The Folk-tales Of The Magyars
A lad married a lazy rich girl, and he made a vow that he would never
beat her. The missis never did any work but went about from house to
house gossiping and making all kinds of mischief, but still her husband
never beat her. One morning as he was going out to his work he said to
the cat, "You cat, I command you to do everything that is needed in the
house. While I am away put everything in order, cook the dinner, and do
some spinning; if you don't, I'll give you such a thrashing as you won't
forget." The cat listened to his speech half asleep, blinking on the
hearth. The woman thought to herself, "My husband has gone mad." So she
said, "Why do you order the cat to do all these things, which she knows
nothing about?" "Whether she does or whether she doesn't it's all the
same to me, wife. I have no one else whom I can ask to do anything; and
if she does not do all that I have ordered her to do you will see that I
will give her such a thrashing as she will never forget." With this he
went out to work, and the wife began to talk to the cat and said, "You
had better get your work done, or he will beat you;" but the cat did not
work, and the wife went from house to house gossiping. When she came
home the cat was asleep on the hearth, and the fire had gone out; so she
said, "Make the fire up, cat, and get your work done, or you will get a
sound thrashing;" but the cat did no work. In the evening the master
came home and found that nothing was done and that his orders were not
carried out; so he took hold of the cat by its tail and fastened it to
his wife's back, and began to beat till his wife cried out, "Don't beat
that cat any more! Don't beat that cat any more! it is not her fault,
she cannot help it, she does not understand these things." "Will you
promise then that you will do it all in her stead?" inquired her
husband. "I will do it all and even more than you order," replied his
wife, "if you will only leave off beating that cat."
The woman then ran off home to complain to her mother of all these
things, and said, "I have promised that I will do all the work instead
of the cat, in order to prevent my husband beating her to death on my
back." And then her father spoke up and said, "If you have promised to
do it you must do it; if not, the cat will get a thrashing to-morrow."
And he sent her back to her husband.
Next time the master again ordered the cat what she had to do, and she
did nothing again. So she got another beating on the wife's back, who
ran home again to complain; but her father drove her back, and she ran
so fast that her foot did not touch the ground as she went.
On the third morning again the master commenced to give his commands to
the cat, who, however, was too frightened to listen, and did no work
that day; but this time the mistress did her work for her. She forgot no
one thing she had promised--she lighted the fire, fetched water, cooked
the food, swept the house, and put everything in order; for she was
frightened lest her husband should beat the poor cat again; for the
wretched animal in its agony stuck its claws into her back, and,
besides, the end of the two-tailed whip reached further than the cat's
back, so that with every stroke she received one as well as the cat.
When her husband came home everything was in order, and he kept
muttering, "Don't be afraid, cat, I won't thrash you this time;" and his
wife laid the cloth joyfully, dished up the food, and they had a good
meal in peace.
After that the cat had no more beatings, and the mistress became such a
good housewife that you could not wish for a better.
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