138 THE CLEVER CAT
and putting the stone in her mouth she went off to seek the falcon.
Now all this time neither the cat nor the falcon had had any food, and the falcon soon got tired carrying such a heavy burden. When night arrived he declared he could go no further, but would spend it on the banks of a river.
'And it is my turn to take care of the stone,' said he, 'or it will seem as if you had done everything and I nothing.'
'No, I got it, and I will keep it,' answered the cat, who was tired and cross; and they began a fine quarrel. But, unluckily, in the midst of it, the cat raised her voice, and the stone fell into the ear of a big fish which happened to be swimming by, and though both the cat and the falcon sprang into the water after it, they were too late.
Half drowned, and more than half choked, the two faithful servants scrambled back to land again. The falcon flew to a tree and spread his wings in the sun to dry, but the cat, after giving herself a good shake, began to scratch up the sandy banks and to throw the bits into the stream.
'What are you doing that for?' asked a little fish. 'Do you know that you are making the water quite muddy ?'
'That doesn't matter at all to me,' answered the cat. 'I am going to fill up all the river, so that the fishes may die.'
'That is very unkind, as we have never done you any harm,' replied the fish. 'Why are you so angry with us?'
' Because one of you has got a stone of mine — a stone with strange signs upon it — which dropped into the water. If you will promise to get it back for me, why, perhaps I will leave your river alone.'
'I will certainly try,' answered the fish in a great hurry; 'but you must have a little patience, as it may not