The cat had found the rat, who, upon being assured of safety, came to the mouth of his hole, and listened attentively to the proposition. It is needless to say he accepted it, and a contract was made forthwith. It was arranged that work was to begin at once, and be continued by relays as longas they could work undisturbed, and when the box was perforated, the cat was to be summoned.
The ice had now broken up and the pair could not return home very easily, so they waited about the neighborhood for some months, picking up a scant living, and making many friends and not a few enemies, for they were a proud pair, and ready to fight on provocation.
It was warm weather, when, one night, the cat almost forgot his compact as he saw a big fat rat slinking along towards him. He crouched low and dug his long claws into the earth, while every nerve seemed on the jump; but before he was ready to spring upon his prey, he fortunately remembered his contract. It was just in time, too, for as the rat was none Other than the other party to the contract, such a mistake at that time would have been fatal to their object.
The rat announced that the hole was completed, but was so small at the inside end that they were at a loss to know how to get the gem out, unless the cat could reach it with his paw. Having acquainted the dog with the good news, the cat hurried off to see for himself. He could introduce his paw, but as the object was at the other end of the box he could not quite reach it. They were in a dilemma, and were about to give up, when the cat went again to consult with the dog. The latter promptly told them to put a mouse into the box, and let him bring out the gem. They did so, but the hole was too small for the little fellow and his load to get out at the same time, so that much pushing and pulling had to be done before they were successful. They got it safely at last, however, and gave it at once to the dog for safe-keeping. Then, with much purring and wagging of tails, the contract of friendship was again renewed, and the strange party broke up; the rats to go and jubilate over their safety, the dog and cat to carry the good news to their mourning master.
Again canine wisdom was called into play in devising a means for crossing the river. The now happy dog was equal to such a trifling thing as this, however, and instructed the cat that he must take the gem in his mouth, hold it well between his teeth, and then mount his (the dog's) back, where he could hold on firmly to the long hair of his neck while he swam across the river. This was agreed upon, and arriving at the river they put the plan into execution. All went well until, as they neared the opposite bank, a party of school-children chanced to notice them coming, and, after their amazement at the strange sight wore away, they burst into uproarious laughter, which increased the more they looked at the absurd sight. They clapped their hands and danced with glee, while some fell on the ground and rolled about in an exhaustion of merriment at seeing a cat astride a dog's back being ferried across the river.
The dog was too weary, and consequently matter-of-fact, to see much fun in it, but the cat shook his sides till his agitation caused the dog to take in great gulps of water in attempting to keep his head up. This hut increased the cat's merriment, till he broke out in a laugh as hearty as that of the children, and in doing so dropped the precious gem into the water. The dog, seeing the sad accident, dove at once for the gem; regardless of the cat, who could not let go in time to escape, and was dragged down under the water. Sticking his claws into the dog's skin, in his agony of suffocation, he caused him so much pain that he missed the object of his search, and came to the surface.
The cat got ashore in some way, greatly angered at the dog's rude conduct. The latter, however, cared little for that, and as soon as he had shaken the water from his hide, he made a lunge at his unlucky companion, who had lost the results of a half year's faithful work in one moment of foolishness.
Dripping like a "drowned cat," "Thomas" was, however, able to climb a tree, and there he stayed till the sun had dried the water from his fur, and he had spat the water from his inwards in the constant spitting he kept up at his now enemy, who kept barking ferociously about the tree below. The cat knew that the dog was dangerous when aroused, and was careful not to descend from his perch till the coast was clear; though at one time he really feared the ugly boys would knock him off with stones as they passed. Once down, he has ever since been careful to avoid the dog, with whom he has never patched up the quarrel. Nor does he wish to do so, for the very sight of a dog causes him to recall that horrible cold (locking and the day spent up a tree, and involuntarily he spits as though still filled with river-water, and his tail blows up as it had never learned to do till the day when for so long its damp and draggled condition would not permit of its assuming the haughty shape. This accounts for the scarcity of cats and the popularity of dogs. 1
The dog did not give up his efforts even now. He dove many times in vain, and spent most of the following days sitting on the river's bank, apparently lost in thought. Thus the winter found him - his two chief aims apparently being to find the gem and to kill the cat. The latter kept well out of his way, and the ice now covered the place where the former lay hidden. One day he espied a man spearing fish through a hole in the ice, as was very common. Having a natural desire to be around where any thing eatable was being displayed, and feeling a sort of proprietorship in the particular part of the river where the man was fishing, and where he himself had had such a sad experience, he went down and looked on. As a fish came up, something natural seemed to greet his nostrils, and then, as the man lay down his catch, the dog grabbed it and rushed off in the greatest haste. He ran with all his might to his master, who, poor man, was now at the end of his string (coin in Korea is perforated and strung on a string), and was almost reduced to begging. He was therefore delighted when his faithful old friend brought him so acceptable a present as a fresh fish. He at once commenced dressing it, but when he slit it open, to his infinite joy, his long-lost gem fell out of the fish's belly. The dog was too happy to contain himself, but jumping upon his master, he licked him with his tongue, and struck him with his paws, barking meanwhile as though he had again treed the cat.
1 Cats are indeed rare in Korea, while dogs are as abundant as in Constantinople.
As soon as their joy had become somewhat natural, the old man carefully placed the gem in his trunk, from which he took the last money he had, together with some fine clothes - relies of his more fortunate days. He had feared he must soon pawn these clothes, and had even shown them to the brokers. But now he took them out to put them on, as his fortune had returned to him. Leaving the fish baking on the coals, he donned his fine clothes, and taking his last money, he went and purchased wine for his feast, and for a beginning; for he knew that once he placed the gem back in the jug, the supply of wine would not cease. On bis return he and the good dog made a happy feast of the generous fish, and the old man completely recovered his spirits when he had quaffed deeply of the familiar liquid to which his mouth was now such a stranger. Going to his trunk directly, he found to his amazement that it contained another suit of clothes exactly like the first ones he had removed, while there lay also a broken string of cash of just the amount which he had previously taken out.
Sitting down to think, the whole truth dawned upon him, and he then saw how he had abused his privilege before in being content to use his talisman simply to run a wine-shop, while he might have had money and every thing else in abundance by simply giving the charm a chance to work.
Acting upon this principle, the old man eventually became immensely wealthy, for he could always duplicate any thing with his piece of amber. He carefully tended his faithful dog, who never in his remaining days molested a rat, and never lost an opportunity to attack every eat he saw.