The Fugitive Cat (Hungarian folk tale)

Once upon a time there was a cat, I don’t know where it was, but somewhere there was a cat. His wife treated this cat very rudely, she became very bitter, and in great grief and sorrow, she left her owner and went out into the world.

But in order not to confuse my words, before he set off, he found a large red carrot in the yard, made a cart out of it, suddenly caught two mice, caught them in front of the cart, and went to hide.

They go, take refuge in mountains and valleys, but the mice are certainly tired, they walk more and more slowly. The cat thinks to himself: we won’t get very far this way. He caught two more mice on the road, caught them in front of the other two, and drove on like that.

As soon as they go, they take shelter, they meet a crab. Cancer asks:

  • Where are you going, you cat?
  • I’m going to wander.
  • Take me too, because the fish have chased me out of the water.
  • Why did you chase me out?
  • Because I always pinched them with my scissors.
  • Well, come on, sit up.

They go on, take shelter, and there are two eggs in the middle of the road. One of the eggs speaks and asks the cat:

  • Where are you going, you cat?
  • I’m going to wander.
  • Take us too! We didn’t stay with our lady because she wanted us to hatch three chickens, even though we only have one.
  • It’s okay, come on, sit up.

The eggs sat on the carrot cart, and the cat drove on. Ten swallows and ten larks landed on the cart at once. They didn’t even ask the cat if it was okay or not, they settled down nicely and left.

They don’t even go a good throw, they find a bunch of pins on the road. The cat asks:

  • How did you get here?
  • We are sure that a friend of ours stabbed our wife, and our wife threw everything out on the road in her anger.
  • Then just get on the cart, come with us.

They go on, take shelter, and towards evening they reach a small cottage. An old woman lived in that small cottage, the cat went in, greeted her properly, and asked for a place to stay for the night.

The old woman says:

  • I would gladly give it, but rogues come here every night, you won’t have peace of mind here.

But the cat kept talking so that they were not afraid of the rascals, that the old woman gave them a place to stay. The four mice were tied up in the barn. The two eggs sat in the fiery ashes. The crab went into the tub of water, the pins into the towel, the cat curled up in the corner of the door, the swallows went under the eaves, and the larks went to the roof of the house.

The rascals do indeed come at night, they enter the house, they settle down next to the stove, they want to light a fire.

But as soon as they poked the ashes, the two hot eggs burst open, and their eyes and mouths were filled with egg hair and yolk. Hey, my lord, my creator, the rascals were scared, the egg burned their faces hard, they ran to the water tank to wash themselves.

But as they reached into the tub, the crab stung their fingers. They grab the towel off the bottom nail to get toweled off, but the pins gave them a good nudge.

They get even more scared, they run outside, and the cat jumps at them and claws their faces.

Out into the yard, as if they were blinded, but there the swallows and larks started chirping:

  • Rogues, rogues! Grab it!

As many as there were, they ran in so many directions, and never came back to the old woman’s house again.

In the morning, the cat thanked the old woman for the accommodation, took the four mice into the beet cart, and then they all got up and went on.

But as soon as they reached a bridge, you can hear what happened. The mice were scared by something, and they dragged the cart into the water. Oh my god, I’m so scared. The larks and the swallows fluttered and flew away. The cat also swam out with great difficulty, but the poor crab stayed in the water, and so did the pins.

If they hadn’t stayed in the water, my story would have lasted longer.

(Benedek Elek: Hungarian Fairy Tale and Legend World, Volume 2)

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