Aesop's Fables "Who Is To Bell The Cat?"


"Who Is To Bell The Cat?"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Although the original group of tales attributed to Aesop does not include this story, it does include a similar one in which the cat tries to outwit the mice who have retreated to their holes. The cat plays dead and hangs himself by his tail from a hook. The mice come out and say, "Very good, but I won't come near you even if they make a moneybag of you." In the popular fable, however, the mice believe they have a solution to their problem. One mouse says, "You will all agree . . . that our chief danger consists in the sly and treacherous manner in which the enemy approaches us. . . . I venture, therefore, to propose that a small bell be procured, and attached by a ribbon round the neck of the Cat. By this means we should always know when she was about, and could easily retire while she was in the neighborhood."

This proposal met with general applause, until an old mouse got up and said: "That is all very well, but who is to bell the Cat?" The mice looked at one another and nobody spoke. Then the old mouse said:
"It Is Easy To Propose Impossible Remedies."