Krylov’s THE COOK AND THE CAT*

Posted by jlubans on September 07, 2018

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Oil painting by Sergei Gribkov 1854

A CERTAIN Cook, rather more educated than his fellows, went from his kitchen one day to a neighboring tavern —he was of a serious turn of mind, and on that day he celebrated the anniversary of a friend's death—leaving a Cat at home, to guard his viands from the mice.
On his return, what does he see?
The floor strewed with fragments of a pie, and Vaska the Cat crouching in a corner behind a vinegar-barrel, purring with satisfaction, and busily engaged in disposing of a chicken.
"Ah, glutton! ah, evil-doer!" exclaims the reproachful Cook. "Are you not ashamed of being seen by these walls, let alone living witnesses? What! be an honorable Cat up to this time—one who might be pointed out as a model of discretion!
And поw, ah me! how great a disgrace!
Now all the neighbors will say,
“The cat Vaska is a rogue; the cat Vaska is a thief.
Vaska must not be admitted into the kitchen, not even into the courtyard, any more than a ravenous wolf into the sheepfold.
He is utterly corrupt; he is a pest, the plague of the neighborhood."
Thus did our orator, letting loose the current of his Words, lecture away without stopping.
But what was the result? While he was delivering his discourse, Vaska the Cat ate up the whole of the chicken.

I would advise some cooks to inscribe these words on their walls : "Don't waste time in useless speech, when it is action that is needed.”
________
Likely the cook stumbled
home in the wee hours (viz the dangling bottle) and the cat - honorable up to now - got hungry.
One indiscreet nibble, gluttony took over.
Krylov’s advice is clear. When someone reverts to type, why talk about it, take action: Save the chicken!
The office needs Krylov’s inscription as much as the kitchen.
So, at work, when a previously honorable Vaska exercises his envy and seeks to destroy your storehouse of good deeds and successes, don’t just cry in your beer, do something about it.
Time to leave? Don’t linger with false hope. Leave and begin anew.
If it is time to confront the “utterly corrupt”, do so.
Probably long overdue, kicking Vaska in the pants is not a bad idea.

*Source: Krilof and his fables, by Krylov, Ivan Andreevich, 1768-1844; Ralston, William Ralston Shedden, 1828-1889. Tr. London, 1869.
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© Copyright John Lubans 2018

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