Many an afternoon when I get that hankering for a “cap” (that would be cappuccino), I take a short drive over to Bell the Cat, a cute little coffee bar that resides in the same grand room as a book store and gift store — well, I could spend hours there. (1 Belmont Ave, Belfast, ME, 207-338-2084; they also do great catering). Today I discovered the lineage of the name “Bell the Cat”. Aesop wrote a fable called “Mice in a Meeting”. Rather than give a summation, here is the real thing:
In the kitchen the mice all met in a meeting
With many a squeak and many a greeting
To try to decide on something that
Would save them all from the terrible cat.
For she was the killer of many a mouse
Both in the field and in the house.
Then on his hind legs a sleek fellow stood
And said he had a plan that was good.
So after a speech that ruffled his fuzz,
He told them at last just what his plan was.
“There’s nothing to it,” he said, “by heck,
We’ll just tie a bell around the cat’s neck,
And then we will know where she is in a twinkle
Whenever we hear the little bell tinkle.” …..
The mice continue with an amusing discussion about who exactly will bell the cat, and that turns out to be a problem. You can guess the Aesopian moral here! Anyway some years later Mr. Webster came up with a definition of bell the cat – to do a daring or risky deed.