THE CAT WHICH COULD NOT BE KILLED (Indian Fairy Tales, 1880) collected and translated by Maive Stokes
THERE were once a dog and a cat, who were always quarrelling. The dog used to beat the cat, but he never could hurt her. She would only dance about and cry, “You never hurt me, you never hurt me! I had a pain in my shoulder, but now it is all gone away.” So the dog went to a mainá and said, “What shall I do to hurt this cat? I beat her and I bite her, and yet I can’t hurt her. I am such a big dog and she is rather a big cat, yet if I beat her I don’t hurt her, but if she beats me she hurts me so much.” The mainá said, “Bite her mouth very, very hard, and then you’ll hurt her.” “Oh, no,” said the cat, who had just come up, laughing; “you won’t hurt me at all.” The dog bit her mouth as hard as he could. “Oh, you don’t hurt me,” said the cat, dancing about. So the dog went again to the mainá and said, “What shall I do?” “Bite her ears,” said the mainá. So the dog bit the cat’s ears, but she danced about and said, “Oh, you did not hurt me; now I can put earrings in my ears.” So she put in earrings.
The dog went to the elephant. “Can you kill this cat? she worries me so every day.” “Oh, yes,” said the elephant, “of course I can kill her. She is so little and I am so big.” Then the elephant came and took her up with his trunk, and threw her a long way. Up she jumped at once and danced about, saying, “You did not hurt me one bit. I had a pain, but now I am quite well.” Then the elephant got cross and said, “I’ll teach you to dance in another way than that,” and he took the cat and laid her on the ground and put his great foot on her. But she was not hurt at all. She danced about and said, “You did not hurt me one bit, not one bit,” and she dug her claws into the elephant’s trunk. The elephant ran away screaming, and he told the dog, “You had better beware of that cat. She belongs to the tiger tribe.” The dog felt very angry with the cat. “What shall I do,” said he, “to kill this cat?” And he bit her nose so hard that it bled. But she laughed at him. “Now I can put a ring in my nose,” said she. He got furious. “I’ll bite her tail in half,” said he. So he bit her tail in half, and yet he did not hurt her.
He then went to a leopard. “If you can kill this cat I will give you anything you want.” “Very well, I’ll kill her,” said the leopard. And they went together to the cat. “Stop,” said the cat to the leopard; “I want to speak to you first. I’ll give you something to eat, and then I’ll tell you what I want to say.” And then she ran off ever so far, and after she had run a mile she stopped and danced, calling out, “Oh! I’ll give you nothing to eat; you could not kill me.” The leopard went away very cross, and saying, “What a clever cat that is.”
The dog next went to a man, and said, “Can you kill this cat, she worries me so?” “Of course I can,” said the man; “I’ll stick this knife into her stomach.” And he stuck his knife into the cat’s stomach, but the cat jumped up, and her stomach closed, and the man went home.
And the dog went to a bear. “Can you kill this cat? I can’t.” “I’ll kill her,” said the bear; so he stuck all his claws into the cat, but he didn’t hurt her; and she stuck her claws into the bear’s nose so deep that he died immediately.
Then the poor dog felt very unhappy, and went and threw himself into a hole, and there he died, while the cat went away to her friends.
Told by Dunkní at Simla, July 26th, 1876.
Enjoy other stories by Maive Stokes.