This tale is actually a thirteenth-century fable first told by Odo of Cheriton, though it takes a typically Aesopic form.
LONG ago, the Mice gathered in anxious council to debate how they could best defend themselves against their great enemy, the Cat.
After a great deal of excited squeaking, one Mouse addressed the assembly with statesmanlike gravity.
“My fellow Mice” said he, “the solution must be this. Let a bell be fastened around the cat’s neck. Then we shall be able to hear him on the prowl, and take evasive action against his assaults.”
This ingenious plan pleased the council very much.
However, amid all the back-slapping and hubbub of congratulation a voice rose to ask, “Who will fasten the bell on the cat’s neck?”, and a rather awkward silence followed.
“Not me, that’s for sure” said someone. “Nor me” piped another, “I wouldn’t so much as go near him, not for all the tea in China.”
And that is why we let the rich and powerful go on lording it over us.*
* Odo tells his tale to illustrate the dilemma facing monks living under the rule of a wicked abbot or bishop, and this is the moral he draws.