IT happened once that the cat met Mr. Fox in the wood, and because she thought he was clever and experienced in all the ways of the world, she addressed him in a friendly manner.
“Good-morning, dear Mr. Fox! how are you, and how do you get along in these hard times?”
The fox, full of pride, looked at the cat from head to foot for some time, hardly knowing whether he would deign to answer or not. At last he said:
“Oh, you poor whisker-wiper, you silly piebald, you starveling mouse-hunter! what has come into your head? How dare you ask me how I am getting on? What sort of education have you had? How many arts are you master of?”
“Only one,” said the cat meekly.
“And what might that one be?” asked the fox.
“When the dogs run after me, I can jump into a tree and save myself.”
“Is that all?” said the fox. “I am master of a hundred arts, and I have a sackful of cunning tricks in addition. But I pity you. Come with me, and I will teach you how to escape from the dogs.”
Just then a huntsman came along with four hounds. The cat sprang trembling into a tree, and crept stealthily up to the topmost branch, where she was entirely hidden by twigs and leaves.
“Open your sack, Mr. Fox! open your sack!” cried the cat, but the dogs had gripped him, and held him fast.
“Oh, Mr. Fox!” cried the cat, “you with your hundred arts, and your sackful of tricks, are held fast, while I, with my one, am safe. Had you been able to creep up here, you would not have lost you life.”