One day the news flashed around the neighborhood that the old man's supply of wine was exhausted; not a drop remained in his jug, and he had no more with which to refill it. Each man on hearing the news ran to see if it were indeed true, and the little straw-thatched hut and its small court encircled by a mud wall were soon filled with anxious seekers after the truth. The old man admitted the statement to be true, but had little to say; while the dog's ears hung neglectedly over his cheeks, his eyes dropped, and he looked as though he might be asleep, but for the persistent manner in which he refused to lie down, but dignifiedly bore his portion of the sorrow sitting upright, but with bowed head.
"Thomas" seemed to have been charged with agitation enough for the whole family. He walked nervously about the floor till he felt that justice to his tail demanded a higher plane, where shoes could not offend, and then betook himself to the counter, and later to the beam which supported the roof, and made a sort of cats' and rats' attic under the thatch.
All condoled with the old man, and not one but regretted that their supply of cheap, good wine was exhausted. The old man offered no explanation, though he had about concluded in his own mind that, as no one knew the secret, he must have in some way poured the bit of amber into a customer's jug. But who possessed the jug be could not surmise, nor could he think of any way of reclaiming it. He talked the matter over carefully and fully to himself at night, and the dog and cat listened attentively, winking knowingly at each other, and puzzling their brains much as to what was to be done and how they were to assist their kind old friend.
At last the old man fell asleep, and then sitting down face to face by his side, the dog and cat began a discussion. "I am sure," says the cat, "that I can detect that thing if I only come within smelling distance of it; but how do we know where to look for it." That was a puzzler, but the dog proposed that they make a search through every house in the neighborhood. "We can go on a mere huh kyung (look see), you know, and while you call on the cats indoors, and keep your smellers open, I will yay gee (chat) with the dogs outside, and if you smell any thing you can tell me."
The plan seemed to be the only good one, and it was adopted that very night. They were not cast down because the first search was unsuccessful, and continued their work night after night. Sometimes their calls were not appreciated, and in a few cases they had to clear the field by battle before they could go on with the search. No house was neglected, however, and in due time they had done the whole neighborhood, but with no success. They then determined that it must have been carried to the other side of the river, to which place they decided to extend their search as soon as the Water was frozen over, so that they could cross on the ice, for they knew they would not be allowed in the crowded ferry-boats; and while the dog could swim, he knew that the water was too icy for that. As it soon grew very cold, the river froze so solidly that bull-carts, ponies, and all passed over on the ice, and so it remained for near two months, allowing the searching party to return each morning to their poor old master, who seemed completely broken up by his loss, and did not venture away from his door, except to buy the few provisions which his little fund of savings would allow.
Time flew by without bringing success to the faithful comrades, and the old man began to think they too were deserting him, as his old customers had done. It was nearing the time for the spring thaw and freshet, when one night as the cat was chasing around over the roof timbers, in a house away to the outside of the settlement across the river, he detected an odor that caused him to stop so suddenly as to nearly precipitate himself upon a Bleeping man on the floor below. He carefully traced up the odor, and found that it came from a soapstone tobacco box that eat upon the top of a high clothes-press near by. The box was dusty with neglect, and "Thomas" concluded that the possessor had accidentally turned the coveted gem (for it was from that the odor came) out into his wine bowl, and, not knowing its nature, had put it into this stone box rather than throw it away. The lid was so securely fastened that the box seemed to be one solid piece, and in despair of opening it, the cat went out to consult the superior wisdom of the dog, and see what could be done. "I can't get up there," said the dog, "nor can you bring me the box, or I might break it."
"I cannot move the thing, or I might push it off, and let it fall to the floor and break," said the cat.
So after explaining the things they could not do, the dog finally hit upon a plan they might perhaps successfully carry out. "I will tell you," said he. "You go and see the chief of the rat guild in this neighborhood, tell him that if he will help you in this matter, we will both let him alone for ten years, and not hurt even a mouse of them."
"But what good is that going to do?"
"Why, don't you see, that stone is no harder than some wood, and they can take turns at it till they gnaw a hole through, then we can easily get the gem."
The cat bowed before the marvellous judgment of the dog, and went off to accomplish the somewhat difficult task of obtaining an interview with the master rat. Meanwhile the dog wagged his ears and tail, and strode about with a swinging stride, in imitation of the great yang ban, or official, who occasionally walked past his master's door, and who seemed to denote by his haughty gait his superiority to other men. His importance made him impudent, and when the cat returned, to his dismay, he found his friend engaged in a genuine fight with a lot of curs who had dared to intrude upon his period of self-congratulation. "Thomas" mounted the nearest wall, and howled so lustily that the inmates of the house, awakened by the uproar, came out and dispersed the contestants.