One very fine day it came to pass that God wished to enjoy himself in the heavenly garden and took all the holy ones with him, so that no one stayed in heaven but the janitor. God had commanded him to let no one in during his absence, so the janitor stood by the door and kept watch. Before long someone knocked. The janitor asked who was there, and what he wanted? "I am a poor, honest tailor who prays to be let in," replied a smooth voice.
"Honest indeed," said the janitor, "honest like the thief on the gallows! You won't get into heaven for now, for God has forbidden me to let anyone in while he is out."
"Be merciful," cried the tailor. "Look, I have blisters on my feet with walking here. I can patch all the torn clothes inside, you know."
The janitor opened the door of heaven just wide enough for the lame tailor to slip his lean body in. He was to sit down quietly in a corner behind the door until God returned. The tailor agreed, but once when the janitor went outside the door, he got up. Full of curiosity he went round about into every corner of heaven and inspected of every place. At last he came to a spot where many beautiful and delightful chairs were standing, and in the middle was a seat of gold. The seat was set with shining jewels, and was much higher than the other chairs. A footstool of gold was before it. It was God's seat when he was at home. From it, he could see everything that happened in heaven and on earth.
The tailor stood still and looked at the seat for a long time, for it pleased him better than all else. At last he could master his curiosity no longer, and climbed up and seated himself in the chair. Then he saw everything which was happening on earth, and observed an ugly old woman who was standing washing by the side of a stream, secretly laying two veils on one side for herself. The sight of this made the tailor so angry that he laid hold of the golden footstool and threw it down at the old thief through heaven. But now he found he could not bring the stool back again, so he slipped quietly out of the chair, seated himself in his place behind the door and behaved as if he had never stirred from the spot.
When God came back again with his companions, he did not see the tailor behind the door. But when he seated himself on his chair the footstool was missing. He asked the janitor what had become of the stool, but he did not know. Then God asked if he had let anyone come in.
"I know of no one who has been here," answered the janitor, "but a lame tailor, who is still sitting behind the door."
Then God had the tailor brought before him and asked him if he had taken away the stool, and where he had put it. "In my anger I threw it down to earth at an old woman whom I saw stealing two veils at the washing," said the tailor
"Now then," said God. "If I should judge as clumsily as you do, how do you think you could have escaped so long? I should long ago have had no chairs, benches, seats, nay, not even an oven-fork, but should have thrown everything down at the sinners.
A certain cat had made the acquaintance of a mouse, and had said so much to her about the great love and friendship she felt for her, that at length the mouse agreed that they should live and keep house together.
"But we must make a provision for winter, or else we shall suffer from hunger," said the cat, "and you, little mouse, cannot venture everywhere, or you will be caught in a trap some day."
The good advice was followed, and a pot of fat was bought, but they did not know where to put it. At length, after much consideration, the cat said, "I know no place where it will be better stored up than in the church, for no one dares take anything away from there. We will set it beneath the altar, and not touch it till we are really in need of it."
So the pot was placed in safety, but it was not long before the cat had a great yearning for it, and said to the mouse, "I want to tell you something, little mouse; my cousin has brought a little son into the world, and has asked me to be godmother; he is white with brown spots, and I am to hold him over the font at the christening. Let me go out today, and you look after the house by yourself."
"Yes, yes," answered the mouse, "by all means go, and if you get anything very good, think of me, I should like a drop of sweet red christening wine too."
All this, however, was untrue; the cat had no cousin, and had not been asked to be godmother. She went straight to the church, stole to the pot of fat, began to lick at it, and licked the top of the fat off. Then she took a walk on the roofs of the town, looked out for opportunities, and then stretched herself in the sun, and licked her lips whenever she thought of the pot of fat, and not till it was evening did she return home.
"Well, here you are again," said the mouse, "no doubt you have had a merry day."
"All went off well," answered the cat.
"What name did they give the child?"
"Top off!" said the cat quite coolly.
"Top off!" cried the mouse, "that is a very odd and uncommon name, is it a usual one in your family?"
"What does it signify," said the cat, "it is no worse than Crumb-stealer, as your god-children are called."
Before long the cat was seized by another fit of longing. She said to the mouse, "You must do me a favour, and once more manage the house for a day alone. I am again asked to be godmother, and, as the child has a white ring round its neck, I cannot refuse."
The good mouse consented, but the cat crept behind the town walls to the church, and devoured half the pot of fat.
"Nothing ever seems so good as what one keeps to oneself," said she, and was quite satisfied with her day's work. When she went home the mouse inquired, "And what was this child christened?"
"Half-done," answered the cat.
"Half-done! What are you saying? I never heard the name in my life, I'll wager anything it is not in the calendar!"
The cat's mouth soon began to water for some more licking.
"All good things go in threes," said she, "I am asked to stand godmother again. The child is quite black, only it has white paws, but with that exception, it has not a single white hair on its whole body; this only happens once every few years, you will let me go, won't you?"
"Top-off! Half-done!" answered the mouse, "they are such odd names, they make me very thoughtful."
"You sit at home," said the cat, "in your dark-grey fur coat and long tail, and are filled with fancies, that's because you do not go out in the daytime."
During the cat's absence the mouse cleaned the house, and put it in order but the greedy cat entirely emptied the pot of fat.
"When everything is eaten up one has some peace," said she to herself, and well filled and fat she did not return home till night. The mouse at once asked what name had been given to the third child.
"It will not please you more than the others," said the cat.
"He is called All-gone."
"All-gone," cried the mouse, "that is the most suspicious name of all! I have never seen it in print. All-gone; what can that mean?" and she shook her head, curled herself up, and lay down to sleep.
From this time forth no one invited the cat to be god-mother, but when the winter had come and there was no longer anything to be found outside, the mouse thought of their provision, and said, "Come cat, we will go to our pot of fat which we have stored up for ourselves we shall enjoy that."
"Yes," answered the cat, "you will enjoy it as much as you would enjoy sticking that dainty tongue of yours out of the window."
They set out on their way, but when they arrived, the pot of fat certainly was still in its place, but it was empty.
"Alas!" said the mouse, "now I see what has happened, now it comes to light! You are a true friend! You have devoured all when you were standing godmother. First top off, then half done, then --."
"Will you hold your tongue," cried the cat, "one word more and I will eat you too."
"All gone" was already on the poor mouse's lips; scarcely had she spoken it before the cat sprang on her, seized her, and swallowed her down. Verily, that is the way of the world.