The Baldwul Lbrary
STORY OF A CAT.
TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH OF
1EMILE DE LA B-kD OLLIERRE
T. B. ALDRICH.
WITH NUMEROUS DESIGNS IN SILHOUETTE BY HOPKINS.
HOUGHTON, OSGOOD AND COMPANY
Gbe Bibersibe preS, Caambrige,.
BY HOUGHTON, OSGOOD AND COMPANY.
All rights reserved.
ELECTROTYPED AND PRINTED BY
H. 0. HOUGHTON AND COMPANY
M. BEDOLLIERRE'S charming story of Mother
Michel and her cat was turned into English for the
entertainment of two small readers at the writer's
fireside. Subsequently the translation was fortunate
enough to find a larger audience in the pages of a
popular juvenile magazine. The ingenious and spir-
ited series of silhouettes with which Mr. Hopkins
has enriched the text is the translator's only plea
for presenting in book form so slight a performance
as his own part of the work.
How MOTHER MICHEL MADE THE ACQUAINTANCE OF HER CAT 7
HOW THE CAT WAS INSTALLED WITH MADAME DE LA GRENOUILLIRE, AND
CONFIDED TO THE CARE OF MOTHER MICHEL 18
IN WHICH ARE SHOWN THE GOODNESS OF MOTHER MICHEL AND THE
WICKEDNESS OF FATHER LUSTUCRU 28
IN WHICH THE CAT DISPLAYS INTELLIGENCE BEYOND HIS STATION IN LIFE
AND BEHAVES HANDSOMELY IN ADVERSITY 38
IN WHICH THE CAT CONTENDS SUCCESSFULLY AGAINST HIS ENEMY 51
How FATHER LUSTUCRU CONFIDES HIS ODIOUS PLANS TO NICHOLAS FARI-
BOLE .. 62
IN WHICH FATHER LUSTUCRU IS ON THE POINT OF ACCOMPLISHING HIS
PURPOSE, AND MOTHER MICHEL'S CAT IS IN AN UNPLEASANT PREDIC-
AMENT .. 74
IN WHICH MOTHER MICHEL SEARCHES FOR HER CAT 81
WHICH IS SATISFACTORY TO EVERYBODY BUT THE GUILTY 91
LIST OF SILHOUETTES.
Initial Letter, Chap. I. 7
The Countess distributes Alms . 8
The Ape fatally exposes Himself . 9
Her Friends propose Squirrels, Canaries, Mice, etc. 9
The Boys after the Cat . 10
The Luckless Creature bowed his Head 12
The Cat presented half dead to the Countess 13
"Dear me, how Homely he is !" 14
Mother Michel is told to take the Cat 17
Mother Michel 18
Father Lustucru 19
"Oh, the Beautiful Cat!" 20
The Cat is washed 21
The Old Scholar looks for a Name .. 22
The Cat grows Fat 22
He will take nothing from the Steward .22
He crouches in a Corner of the Hearth 23
"I depart To-morrow!" 24
"In her Youth she caressed a Kitten" 24
"Mother Michel, I confide my Cat to you 25
The Post-chaise is ready 26
The Cat wishes to go with the Carriage 27
Moumouth Faints . 27
"He shall Die! 27
Initial Letter, Chap. III. .. .28
Father Lustucru's Stratagem 30
The Porter 30
The Steward seizes Moumouth 31
The Cat is plunged into the Basket. 32
The Steward hurries away .. 32
He dances with Delight 32
The Cat is thrown into the River 33
Mother Michel looks for the Cat 34
iv LIST OF SILHOUETTES.
She knocks at the Steward's Door 35
Every Nook and Corner is ransacked 36
The Shock is too much for Mother Michel 37
Initial Letter, Chap. IV. 38
"Agreed said M. Guignolet 39
The Fishermen pursue the Cat 40
Moumouth grapples the Lines 41
The Imprudent Mouse .42
"Don't hurt Him! said the Baker 42
Monmouth jumps out of the Window 43
All the Street Dogs pursue Moumouth 44
He meets a Bull-dog 45
He climbs a Wall 46
Mother Michel laments 46
Father Lustucru dreams 47
Mother Michel encounters nothing but Rats .. .. 48
She searches the Attic 49
"It is he! It is he I cried Mother Michel. 49
Initial Letter, Chap. V. 51
Lustucru meditates 52
The Green Package 53
"Come, let us go!" 54
Moumouth is pleased to see the Hash 55
He sniffs with Disgust 56
"Don't touch it, I beg of you" 56
The Fatal Plate remains forgotten 57
Louis XIV. ......58
Downfall of Louis XIV. 59
Lustucru appears 59
Moumouth comes forth 60
Mother Michel is revived .61
Initial Letter, Chap. VI. 62
The Old Woman and the Boy 63
Lustucru is absorbed. .64
The Boy on the Stone Post 64
The Steward engages Faribole 66
A little awkward at first 67
The Cat and the Boy become Friends 67
Lustucru and Faribole 69
Faribole's Old Clothes 70
Only one is kept; the rest are tossed into the River . 71
"Getup! Depart!" 72
Initial Letter, Chap. VII. 74
The Steward lifted his Cudgel 76
Malyng a Speaking-trumpet of his Hand 77
The Countess embraces Mother Michel 78
LIST OF SILHOUETTES. V
Faribole seated in the Garden .. 79
Initial Letter, Chap. VIII. .. 81
Mother Michel pays Three Crowns . 84
The Fortune-teller consults her Cards . . 86
Moumouth appears .. 87
"Do not ruin me, I conjure you!" .. 88
Lustucru assisted at this touching Scene . . 90
Initial Letter, Chap. IX. . 91
Faribole Explains 92
Faribole is treated Roughly on the Staircase 94
A celebrated Chemist analyzes the Hash . 95
The Fate of the Steward 96
Lustucru flies .. .. ........97
Mother Michel's Cottage 98
Moumouth and his Family 99
THE STORY OF A CAT.
HOW MOTHER MICHEL MADE THE ACQUAINTANCE OF
HERE lived in Paris, under the
reign of King Louis XV., a very
rich old countess named Yolande
de la Grenouillere. She was a
worthy and charitable lady, who
distributed alms not only to the
poor of her own parish, Saint-
Germain-1'Auxerrois, but to the
unfortunate of other quarters.
Her husband, Roch-Eustache-
S Jermie, Count of Grenouillere,
had fallen gloriously at the battle of Fontenoy, on
the 11th of May, 1745. The noble widow had long
mourned for him, and even now at times wept over
his death. Left without children, and almost en-
tirely alone in the world, she gave herself up to a
strange fancy, a fancy, it is true, which in no
8 THE STORY OF A CAT.
manner detracted from her real virtues and admi-
rable qualities: she had a passion for animals. And
an unhappy passion it was, since all those she had pos-
sessed had died in her arms.
The first, in date, in her affections had been a
green parrot, which, having been so imprudent as to
The Countess distributes Alms.
eat some parsley, fell a victim to frightful colics. An
indigestion, caused by sweet biscuits, had taken from
Madame de la Grenouillbre a pug-dog of the most
brilliant promise. A third favorite, an ape of a very
interesting species, having broken his chain one night,
went clambering over the trees in the garden, where,
during a shower, he caught a cold in the head, which
conducted him to the tomb.
THE STORY OF A CAT.
Following these, the Countess had birds of divers
kinds; but some of them had flown away, and the
others had died of the
pip. Cast down by
such continuous dis- /
asters, Madame de la /
many tears. Seeing
her inconsolable, the "
friends of the Count- /
ess proposed success-
ively squirrels, learned
canaries, white mice,
cockatoos; but she
would not listen to
them; she even re- .
fused a superb spaniel
who played dominoes, The Ape fatally exposes himself
danced to music, ate salad, and translated Greek.
Her Friends propose Squirrels, Canaries, Mice, etc.
No, no," she said, "I do not want any more ani-
mals; the air of my house is death to them."
The Boys after the Cat.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 11
She had ended by believing in fatality.
One day, as the Countess was leaving the church,
she saw a crowd of boys hustling and elbowing each
other, and giving vent to peals of joyous laughter.
When, seated in her carriage, she was able to over-
look the throng, she discovered that the cause of this
tumult was a poor cat to whose tail the little wretches
had tied a tin saucepan.
The unfortunate cat had evidently been running
a long time, for he seemed overcome with fatigue.
Seeing that he slackened his speed, his tormentors
formed a circle around him, and began pelting him
with stones. The luckless creature bowed his head,
and, recognizing that he was surrounded by none but
enemies, resigned himself to his hard fate with the
heroism of a Roman senator. Several stones had al-
ready reached him, when Madame de la Grenouillere,
seized with deep compassion, descended from her car-
riage, and, pushing the crowd aside, exclaimed: "I
will give a louis to whoever will save that animal! "
These words produced a magical effect; they trans-
formed the persecutors into liberators; the poor cat
came near being suffocated by those who now dis-
puted the honor of rescuing him safe and sound.
Finally, a sort of young Hercules overthrew his rivals,
brought off the cat, and presented it half dead to the
Very well," she said; here, my brave little
man, is the reward I promised." She gave him a
Th l C-e ,,hHa
The Luckless Creature bowed his Head.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 13
bright golden louis just out of the mint, and then
added, Relieve this poor animal of his inconvenient
While the young Hercules obeyed, Madame de la
Grenouillere regarded the creature she had rescued.
It was a true type of the street-cat. His natural
hideousness was increased by the accidents of a long
Dear me, how homely he is! "
and irregular career; his short hair was soiled with
mud; one could scarcely distinguish beneath the vari-
ous splashes his gray fur robe striped with black.
He was so thin as to be nearly transparent, so
shrunken that one could count his ribs, and so dis-
pirited that a mouse might have beaten him. There
was only one thing in his favor, and that was his
The Cat is presented, half dead, to the Countess.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 15
"Dear me, how homely he is !" said Madame de la
Grenouillere, after finishing her examination.
At the moment she stepped into the carriage, the
cat fixed his great sea-green eyes upon her and gave
her a look, strange, indefinable, full at the same time
of gratitude and reproach, and so expressive that the
good lady was instantly fascinated. She read in this
glance a discourse of great eloquence. The look
seemed to wish to say,-
"You have obeyed a generous impulse; you saw
me feeble, suffering, oppressed, and you took pity on
me. Now that your benevolence is satisfied, my de-
formity inspires you with contempt. I thought you
were good, but you are not good; you have the in-
stinct of kindness, but you are not kind. If you
were really charitable you would continue to interest
yourself in me for the very reason that I am homely;
you would reflect that my misfortunes- are owing to
my ugly appearance, and that the same cause,-
should you leave me there in the street, at the mercy
of the wicked boys, the same cause, I say, would
produce the same effects. Go! you needn't pride
yourself on your half-way benevolence! you have
not done me a service; you have only prolonged my
agony. I am an outcast, the whole world is against
me, I am condemned to die; let my destiny be ac-
Madame de la Grenouillbre was moved to tears.
The cat seemed to her superhuman- no, it was a
16 THE STORY OF A CAT.
cat; it seemed to her superanimal! She thought of
the mysteries of transformation, and imagined that
the cat, before assuming his present form, had been
a great orator and a person of standing. She said to
her maid, Mother Michel, who was in the carriage, -
"Take the cat and carry him."
"What, you will bring him with you, madame ?"
cried Mother Michel.
Certainly. As long as I live that animal shall
have a place at my fireside and at my table. If you
wish to please me, you will treat him with the same
zeal and affection you show to myself."
"Madame shall be obeyed."
"That is well, and now for home "
Mother Michel is told to take the Cat.
HOW TIE CAT WAS INSTALLED WITH MADAME DE LA
GRENOUILLERE, AND CONFIDED TO THE CARE OF
MADAME DE LA GRENOUILLERE inhabited a mag-
nificent mansion situated on the corner of the streets
Saint -Thomas du- Louvre and Orties-
Saint-Louis; there she led a very re-
tired life, on almost intimate terms with
her two principal domestics,- Madame
Michel, her maid and companion, and
M. Lustucru, the steward. These serv-
ants being elderly persons, the Countess,
who was possessed of a pleasant humor,
had christened them Mother Michel and
The features of Mother Michel bore
the imprint of her amiable disposition;
she was as open and candid as Father
Lustucru was sly and dissimulating.
Mother Michel. The plausible air of the steward might
deceive persons without much experience; but close
observers could easily discover the most perverse in-
THE STORY OF A CAT. 19
clinations under his false mask of good nature. There
was duplicity in his great blue eyes, anger concen-
trated in his nostrils, something wily in the end of
his tapering nose, and malice in the shape of his
However, this man had never, in appearance, at
least, done anything to forfeit his honor; he had been
able to guard an outside air of honesty, hiding very
carefully the blackness of his nature. His wickedness
was like a mine to which
one has not yet applied the
match, it waited only for
an occasion to flash out.
Lustucru detested ani-
mals, but, in order to flatter
the taste of his mistress, he
pretended to idolize them.
On seeing Mother Michel
bearing in her arms the res-
cued cat, he said to himself:
What, another beast!
As if there were not enough
of us in the house Father Lustucru.
He could not help throwing a glance of antipathy
at the new-comer; then, curbing himself quickly, he
cried, with an affected admiration, -
Oh, the beautiful cat! the pretty cat! that cat
has n't his equal! and he caressed it in the most
20 T'E STORY OF A CA7.
Truly? said Madame de la Grenouillere; you
do not find him too homely ? "
"Oh, the Beautiful Cat!"
".Too homely! But, then, he has charming eyes.
But, if he was frightful, your interesting yourself in
him would change him."
He displeased me at first."
The beings who displease at first are those one
loves the most after awhile," replied Father Lustucru,
THE STORY OF A CAT. 21
They proceeded at once to make the toilet of the
cat, who, in spite of his instinctive horror of water,
submitted with touching resignation to being washed;
he seemed to understand that it improved his per-
sonal appearance. After giving him a dish of broken
meat, which he ate with great relish, they arranged
the hours for his meals, the employment of his days,
and the place where he was to sleep.
The Cat is washed.
They thought also to give him a name. Mother
Michel and Father Lustucru proposed several that
were quite happy, such as Mistigris, Tristepatte, etc.;
but the Countess rejected them all successively. She
desired a name that would recall the circumstances in
which the cat was found. An old scholar, whom she
consulted the next day, suggested that of Moumouth,
composed of two Hebrew words which signify saved
22 THE STORY OF A CAT.
At the end of a few days, Moumouth was unrecog-
nizable. His fur was polished with care; nourishing
food had filled
WCR g out his form; -
stood up like
thosee of a
swordsman of The Cat grows Fat.
the seventeenth century; his eyes
shone as emeralds. He was a liv-
ing proof of the influence of good
"fare upon the race. He owed his
excellent condition chiefly to
The Old Scholar looks for a Mother Michel, whom he held in
Name. affectionate consideration; he
showed, on the other hand, for Father Lustucru a
very marked dislike. As if he had divined that here
He will take Nothing from the Steward.
he had to do with an enemy, he refused to accept
anything presented by the steward. However, they
THE STORY OF A CAlT 23
saw but little of each other. The days passed very
happily with Moumouth, and everything promised a
smiling future for him; but, like the sword of Damo-
cles, troubles are ever suspended above the heads
of men and of cats. On the 24th of January, 1753,
an unusual sadness was observed in Moumouth;
he scarcely responded to the caresses which Madame
de la Grenonillbre lavished upon him; he ate noth-
ing, and spent the day crouched on a corner of the
hearth, gazing mournfully into the fire. He had a
He crouches in a Corner of the Hearth.
presentiment of some misfortune, and the misfortune
That night a messenger, sent from the Chateau de
la Gingeole in Normandy, brought a letter to the
Countess from her younger sister, who, having broken
a leg in getting out of her carriage, begged the
Countess, her only relative, to come to her at once.
Madame de la Grenouillbre was too sympathetic and
kind-hearted to hesitate an instant.
"I depart to-morrow," said she.
24 THE STORY OF A CAT.
At these words, Moumouth, who followed his bene-
factress with his
eyes, gave a mel-
"Poor cat !
resumed the lady, in her Youth she
with emotion, it caressed a Kitten."
is necessary that we should
be separated! I cannot bring
you with me, for my sister
"I depart To-morrow !" has the weakness to hate ani-
mals of your species; she pretends they are treach-
erous. What slander! In her youth she caressed
a kitten, who, too much excited by marks of affection,
scratched her involuntarily. Was it from wicked-
ness? No, it was from sensibility. However, since
that day my sister has sworn an eternal hatred for
Moumouth regarded his mistress with an air which
seemed to say, -
"But you, at least, you do us justice, truly supe-
rior woman "
After a moment of silence and meditation, the
Countess added, -
Mother Michel, I confide my cat to you."
"We will take good care of him, madame," said
Don't you trouble yourself about him, I pray
you," interrupted the Countess. "You know that
THE STORY OF A CAT. 25
he has taken a dislike to you; your presence merely
is sufficient to irritate him. Why, I don't know; but
you are insupportable to him."
That is true," said Father Lustucru, with contri-
tion; ',' but the cat is unjust, for I love him and he
does n't love me."
Mother Michel, I confide my Cat to you."
"My sister is also unjust. Cats, perhaps, love her,
and she does not love them. I respect her opinion.
Respect that of Moumouth." Having pronounced
these words in a firm tone, Madame de la Grenouillere
addressed herself to Mother Michel.
It is to you, Mother Michel, and to you alone,
that I confide him. Return him to me safe and
sound, and I will cover you with benefits. I am
sixty-five years of age, you are ten years younger;
it is probable that you will live to close my eyes -
Ah, madame why such sorrowful ideas ? "
"Let me finish. To guard against mischance, I
have already thought to provide for you comfortably;
but, if you keep Moumouth for me, I will give you
a pension of fifteen hundred livres."
26 THE STORY OF A CAT.
Ah, madame said Mother Michel, in an impres-
sive tone, it is not necessary to hire my services;
I love the cat with all my heart, and I will always be
devoted to him."
I am sure of it, and I shall also know how to re-
ward your zeal." During this conversation, Father
Lustucru employed all his forces to conceal the ex-
pression of his jealousy.
Everything for her, and nothing for me!" he
said to himself. Fifteen hundred livres a, year It
is a fortune, and she will have it Oh, no! she shall
not have it."
The next morning, at half-past seven, four lively
The Post-chaise is ready.
horses.were harnessed to the post-chaise which was
to convey the excellent old lady to Normandy. She
said a last adieu to her favorite, pressed him to her
heart, and stepped into the carriage.
Until then, Moumouth had felt only a vague un-
easiness; but at this moment he understood it all!
He saw his benefactress ready to depart; and, trem-
bling at the thought of losing her, he made one bound
to her side.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 27
"It is necessary for you to stay here," said Mad-
ame de la GrenouillBre, making an effort to restrain
Will it be believed ? the cat also wept!
To put an end to this painful scene, Mother Michel
seized the cat by
the shoulders and
detached him from
ion, to which he
clung; the door
closed, the horses
gave a vigorous
pull, and started The Cat wishes to go with the Carriage.
off at a speed of not less than three leagues an hour.
Moumouth rolled in a convul-
sion, and then fainted.
Madame de la GrenouillBre,
out of the Moumouth faints.
post-chaise, waved her handker-
chief, crying : -
"Mother Michel, I commend
my cat to you !"
"" Be tranquil, madame; I swear
He shall die!" yOU Shallfind him large and plump
when you return."
"And I," muttered Father Lustucru, in a deep
voice, "I swear he shall die !"
IN WHICH ARE SHOWN THE GOODNESS OF MOTHER
MICHEL AND THE WICKEDNESS OF FATHER
OTHER MICHEL, worthy of the
confidence which had been re-
posed in her, displayed for Mou-
mouth a truly maternal tender-
I ness; she tended him, coddled
him, took such pains with him, in short, that he
became one of the most beautiful cats in that quarter
of the town where the cats are magnificent. She
watched over him constantly, gave him the choicest
bits to eat, and put him to bed at night on the soft-
est of eider-down quilts.
Fearing that he might fall ill some day, and wish-
ing to inform herself concerning the maladies to
which 6ats are liable, she procured various books on
that important subject; she even went so far in her
devotion as to read the History of Cats," by Fran-
Cois-Auguste Paradis de Moncrif, a member of the
The conduct of Mother Michel had no low motive
THE STORY OF A CAT. 29
of personal interest. She gave scarcely a thought to
herself, the good old soul! Content with little, she
would always have enough to live on; she required
nothing but a small room, brown bread, a supply
of wood in winter, and a spinning-wheel. But
she had nephews and nieces, god-children, whom
she hoped to be able to help; it was to them that
she destined in advance the gifts of Madame de la
The continually increasing prosperity of Moumouth
exasperated Father Lustucru. He saw with a sort
of dread the approach of the hour when the faithful
guardian would be rewarded; he dreamt day and
night of the means to prevent it, to carry off her
four-footed pupil, and bring down on her the wrath
of their mistress. By dint of indulging his hatred
and envy in solitary reflections, he ceased at last to
draw back at the prospect of committing a crime.
How," he said, how rid the house of that mis-
erable cat ? What arms shall I use against him ?
Fire, poison, or water ? I will try water "
This resolution taken, he thought of nothing but
to put it into execution. It was difficult to get pos-
session of Moumouth, of whom Mother Michel rarely
lost sight; and Moumouth, too, not having the slight-
est confidence in the steward, was always on the de-
fensive. Lustucru watched during several days for
a favorable occasion.
One night, after making an excellent supper, Mou-
30 THE STORY OF A CAT.
mouth curled himself up near the fire in the parlor,
at the feet of Mother Michel, and slept the sleep of
the just with good digestion. In the midst of this,
Father Lustucru came into the room.
Good he thought. The cat sleeps. Let us
get the guardian out of the way."
How amiable of you to come and keep me com-
pany!" said Mother Michel, politely. "You are
quite well this evening?"
"Perfectly; but every-
w body is not like me. Our
porter, for ex-
ample, is in
state; he is
suffering e x-
Father Lustucu 's Stratagem. tism and
would be very happy to see you a moment. You
have gentle words to console
the afflicted, and excellent re-
ceipts to cure them. Go, then,
and pay a little visit to our
friend Krautman; I am per-
suaded that your presence will -
help him." The Porter.
Mother Michel got up at once and descended to
the apartment of the porter, who was, indeed, suffer-
ing from a violent rheumatic pain.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 31
Now for us two! cried Father Lustucru to him-
He went stealthily into an adjoining room, walking
upon the tips of his toes, and took a covered basket
which he had hidden in the bottom of a closet.
Then he re-
turned to Mou-
roughly by the
with a start,
and found him-
in the air face
to face with
cru, his enemy. The Steward seizes Moumouth.
In that horrible situation he would have cried, and
struggled, and called for assistance, but he had no
time. The odious steward plunged the poor cat into
the basket, quickly clapped down the solid cover, and
ran rapidly to the staircase, his eyes haggard and his
hair standing on end, like a man who commits a
It was a beautiful night in February, with a clear
sky and a dry, cold atmosphere. The moon shone
32 THE STORY OF A CAT.
with all her brightness ; but, at intervals, great clouds
her face and
rendered the ob-
pl ete. Father
i ad Lustucru was
Obliged to cross
"' lthe garden, in
order to pass out
The Cat is plunged into the BaSket. by a small door,
of which he had taken the key. He glided from bush
to bush, carefully avoiding the
paths, except when the clouds veiled
the moon. He had half-opened the
door, when he heard a sound of
footsteps and voices outside. He
involuntarily, The Steward hurries away.
then stood still and listened.
"What foolishness he said,
after a moment of silent obser-
vation. "I had forgotten that
it was carnival-time; those are
He dances with Delight. It was, in effect, a band of
masqueraders from the Palais Royal. Lustucru
waited until they were gone; then he hurried out..
When he reached the qu-iay, in the joy of success, he
THE STORY OF A CAT. 33
began to whistle a dancing-tune and -E-
cut capers; his transports resembled
those of a cannibal who dances
around his victim.
He went up the Seine as far as the
bridge of Notre Dame, in the middle
of which he halted, and holding the
basket over the parapet, turned it
suddenly upside down, and launched
the luckless Moumouth into the icy -=-
waters of the river. The cat, in
dropping through space, gave a cry
that seemed to come from a human
voice. The assassin shuddered, but
his emotion did not last long. He _
thrust his hands into his pockets
and said, in a tone of bitter mock-
Pleasant voyage to you, dear
Moumouth; endeavor to arrive all
right! By the way," added he, "I
think cats know how to swim; that
briganid is capable of getting himself
out of this business. Bah! it is a
long distance from the bridge of i
Notre Dame to Saint-Thomas-du-
Reassured by this reflection, Lustu-
cru continued on his way home, re-
The Cat is thrown into the River
34 THE STORY OF A CAT.
entered by the door of the garden, climbed cautiously
up to his room, and held himself in readiness to en-
joy the lamentations of Mother Michel.
Mother Michel was detained some time by the
porter; finally, she left him, to give her cat the cup
of milk and sugar with which she regaled him every
She ascended to the parlor with measured steps,
calmly, not anticipating any catastrophe. Failing to
see Moumouth in the place he had occupied, she sim-
ply believed that he had smuggled himself behind the
cushions of the sofa. She looked there, and beneath
Mother Michel looks for the Cat.
the sofa, and searched under the other pieces of fur-
niture. Then, running to the staircase, she called:
"Moumouth Moumouth! "
He doesn't answer me," said she. But when
I went down-stairs, Lustucru was here; may be he
can tell me what has become of the cat."
She knocked without delay at the door of the
THE STORY OF A CAT. 35
steward, who pretended to rouse himself from a deep
slumber, and, in a gruff voice, demanded what was
Is n't Moumouth with you ? "
"Does your cat ever come where I am ? You
know very well that he can't bear me."
is he? I left
him in the par-
"lor, near the, "
fire, and I can-
"not find him."
Can he be
lost ? said She knocks at the Steward's Door.
Father Lustucru, feigning the most lively anxiety.
Lost Oh, no, it is impossible He is somewhere
in the house."
He ought to be found," said the villain, gravely.
"He ought to be searched for this very instant.
Moumouth is a precious animal, whose merit makes
it well worth while to wake up the servants."
All the inmates of the house were soon on foot,
each armed with a candle. They ransacked the
nooks and corners, from the cellar to the garret, from
the court to the garden. Lustucru directed the
operations with apparent zeal. After ineffectual
searches, Mother Michel, exhausted by emotion and
fatigue, threw herself helplessly into an arm-chair.
Every Nook and Corner is ransacked.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 37
"Alas said she, I left him only an instant, and
it was to do a good action."
I begin to believe that your cat is really lost,"
replied Lustucru, in a severe tone. It is a great
misfortune for you What will Madame de la Gre-
nouillere say when she comes back ? She is capable
of turning you out of doors !"
"Turn me out of doors! cried Mother Michel,
ing herself up
to her full
she sunk down
again, her face
grew pallid, her
eyes closed, and
she fell back
without co n- /
Father Lus- The Shock is too much for Mother Michel.
tucru regarded her with a dry eye, and without feel-
ing the slightest remorse. He laughed, the infamous
IN WHICH THE CAT DISPLAYS INTELLIGENCE BEYOND
HIS STATION IN LIFE, AND BEHAVES HANDSOMELY
E lost sight of Moumouth at the
"moment when, precipitated from
the parapet of the bridge of Notre
Dame, he found himself struggling
in the water.
- Luckily for him, the piles of
the principal arch had a wide ledge, to which he was
able to attach himself. From this place he cast a
glance around him. The Seine appeared to him a
boundless ocean, which it was beyond his strength
to cross; rather than attempt to reach the shores
that seemed to recede before him, he prepared to
stay where he was, at the risk of perishing with
hunger or cold, or being swept away by a wave.
He mewed at first in sign of distress, but very soon,
believing himself hopelessly lost, he judged it useless
to tire his lungs, and awaited the end with a resigna-
tion which formed the basis of his character.
Toward five o'clock in the morning, two gentlemen
THE STORY OF A CAT. 39
from the island of Saint-Louis,- two very skillful
amateur fishermen, came to throw their lines from
the top of the bridge of Notre Dame.
You are early, neighbor Guignolet," said the per-
son who arrived last; it appears that we have both
had the same idea."
And we have done well, neighbor Groquemouche;
there was a rise in the river last night, great numbers
of fish have descended from the upper Seine, and one
will have to be dreadfully awkward not to take
Will you enter into an agreement, neighbor
Guignolet ? Let us fish in partnership, divide the
catch, and dine together to-day."
Agreed! said M. Guignolet, and as each held
his line in his
right hand, they
clasped their left
in token of the
On seeing the
two cords de-
hope. As soon Agreed said M. Guignolet.
as they were.within his reach he grappled them, and
the fishermen, feeling the unusual weight, cried out
The Fishermen pursue the Cat.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 41
with one voice, "A bite! a bite and hastened to
haul in their lines.
I bet I have caught a wattle," said M. Guignolet,
regretting that he couldn't rub his hands together
to testify his satisfaction.
"I must have an immense carp," replied M. Gro-
quemouche. He had scarce-
ly finished the sentence
when Moumouth leaped
over the parapet. "
Treason! cried the two
fishers, who started in pur-
suit of the quadruped that
had come so miraculously L
out of the water; but Mou-
mouth ran faster than they
did and easily escaped them.
When he was alone, he ___
took breath, examined the
houses, and, not finding -
one that resembled his, nat- Moumouth grapples the Lines.
urallj concluded that it was not there. It was neces-
sary, however, to find shelter; shivering with cold
and panting with his exertions, he could not remain
a moment longer in the street without exposing him-
self to an inflammation of the chest. Guided by a
light, he made his way into the basement of a baker's
shop, and, hiding himself behind a pile of bread-
baskets, went quietly to sleep.
42 THE STORY OF A CAT.
He was awakened by hunger.
Moumouth was born of poor parents who had
abandoned him in his earliest infancy; he had been
brought up in the streets, obliged to procure his own
living, and trained in the school of adversity. Thus
he was very skillful in the art of catching rats and
mice, a useful art, too often
neglected by cats belonging
to the first families.
He placed himself on the
'- watch, and surprised a mouse
S that had stolen out of its
Shole to eat some flour. He
The imprudent Mouse. dropped upon the imprudent
mouse, in describing what is called in geometry a
parabola, and seized it by the nose, to prevent it
from crying out. This feat, although performed
with address and in silence, attracted the attention of
the baker's boy. "Hi!
a cat! cried the ap-
prentice, arming him-
self with a scoop.
turned his eyes to-
Sw wards Moumouth,
Don't hurt him !" said the Baker. saw him devouring
the mouse, and said to the boy: -
Don't hurt him; he is doing us a service."
But where did he come from ? "
THE STORY OF A CAT. 43
"What does that matter, provided he is useful
here ? answered the baker, who was a man of in-
telligence. Eat, eat, my friend," he continued,
stooping down to gently caress Moumouth; eat as
many mice as possible, there will always be enough
Our cat profited by the permission accorded to him,
and, having satisfied his hunger, had a desire to set
out in search of the mansion of Madame de la Gre-
nouillere; but the baker barred the passage.
"Wait a minute! he said. "I wanted a good
cat; Heaven sent me one, and I shall not forgive
myself if I let him escape. Hulloo! Jacques, shut
up all the openings, and if this rogue makes a show
of running off, give him three or four smart blows
with the broom."
Thus the host of Moumouth became his tyrant; so
true is it that personal interest
depraves the best natures. Our
cat, as if comprehending what
was passing, leaped without
hesitation upon the shoulders
of the baker's boy, and thence
into the street. V
There a new danger awaited
him. Surprised by this unex-
pected apparition, an enormous \ 1
bull-dog planted himself directly Moumouth jumps out of the Window.
in front of Moumouth. Moumouth had a lively de-
All the Street Dogs pursue Moumouth.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 45
sire to avoid an unequal contest, but the dog kept
an eye on him, and did not lose one of his move-
ments, going to the right when Moumouth went to
the left, and to the left when Moumouth moved to
the right, and growled all the while in a ma-
licious fashion. For an instant they stood
motionless, observing each other r,- the
dog with paws extended, teeth displayed,
and body drawn
back, and the cat
with open mouth,
his back arched
and his head
Neither seemed He meets a Bull-dog.
disposed to begin hostilities. Finally the dog rushed
upon his adversary, who avoided him adroitly, passed
underneath him, and fled in the direction of the
quay, the bull-dog giving chase. Away they went,
darting among the crowd of pedestrians and in and
out between the carriages. In a natural spirit of
imitation, the wandering dogs that encountered them
running joined in the race, and at the end of a min-
ute Moumouth had more than thirty-seven dogs in
pursuit of him.
I am lost," he says to himself, but at least I
shall sell my life dearly."
He backs against a wall, and braces himself haugh-
tily on his feet; his teeth gnashing, his hair bristling,
46 THE STORY OF A CAT.
he faces his numerous enemies with so terrible an
eye that they recoil like a single man. Profiting by
their hesitation, he
... turns suddenly and
scrambles to the
top of the wall.
He is soon beyond
the reach of the
dogs, but he is not
yet in safety; if
he makes a false
s step, if his strength
Ter lg,, gives out, if the
under his claws,
He climbs a Wall. mouths, hungry for
slaughter, are there to tear him to pieces !
In the meanwhile, Mother Michel had passed the
night in lamentation. She
could not control her grief for
the loss of Moumouth; she
called him continually in a
plaintive voice, and--if we
may credit the popular song -
the neighbors heard her cry at Mother Michel laments.
the window: Who will bring him back to me ? "
The next morning, at the rising of the smiling sun,
THE STORY OF A CAT. 47
the perfidious Lustucru presented himself before
Mother Michel in order to say to her: -
Well, my dear companion, have you found him ?"
Alas, no! she murmured. Have you any
news of him? "
Nothing positive," replied the steward, who
wished to tor- _
ment the poor
woman ; "but -:
I dreamed of / K
him all night
long; he ap-
peared to me
in a dream,
with his face Father Lustucru dreams.
pale and an exhausted air, like a cat who did not feel
"In what place was he ? "
He seemed to be in a garden, at the foot of a
Mother Michel instantly ran to the garden, where,
as you may imagine, she did not find Moumouth.
During the whole day Lustucru amused himself
by giving her false exultations, which were followed
by increased despondency.
"Mother Michel," said he, "just now, in passing
the store-room, I thought I heard a kind of meyow-
Mother Michel hastened to visit the store-room.
48 THE STORY OF A CAT.
Presently he came to her out of breath, and said :-
We have him at last! I am nearly certain that
She is rummaging in the cellar."
And Mother Michel ventured
into the gloomy vaults of the
cellar, where 'she encountered
nothing but rats.
It was near the close of the
Stf day that Lustucru pronounced
Mother Michel encounters noth- these words, which a popular song
ing but Rats. has happily preserved for us: -
Oh, Mother Michel,
Your cat is not lost;
He is up in the garret
A-hunting the rats,
With his little straw gun
And his sabre of wood "
The words were full of a bitter raillery, which
Father Lustucru was unable to disguise. To pretend
that Moumouth was hunting rats with his little straw
gun and his wooden sword was to suppose something
quite unlikely, for nobody ever saw a cat make use
of such arms. But the agonies of Mother Michel
had so confused her mind, that she noticed only what
could give her a gleam of hope.
le is in the garret! she cried, without paying
attention to the rest of the verse. Let us hasten
there, my dear sir; let us search for him. Give me
your arm, for I am so nervous, so troubled, so har-
THE STORY OF A CAT. 49
assed by fatigue, that I have not the strength to get
The two mounted to the garret, and Mother
Michel, lantern in hand, searched in the attic and
under the roof. Si-
lence and solitude
"You are again
"No, no," replied
the malicious man; She searches the Attic.
"let us continue to hunt, we shall finish by finding.
We have n't looked there behind those fagots."
The credulous Mother Michel advanced in the
direction indicated, and to the great stupefaction
of Lustucru the cat, which he believed drowned,
appeared in full health and strength, and fixed its
gaze upon him
"It is he! it
is he!" cried
mouth in her
arms. Ah, my ,-
dear Lustucru "It is he! It is he!" cried Mother Michel.
my good and true friend, how I thank you for con-
ducting me here !"
50 THE STORY OF A CAT.
The steward had scarcely any taste for compli-
ments which he so little merited. Pale-faced and
cold, he hung his head before his victim, whose pres-
ervation he could not explain to himself. It was,
however, a very simple thing: Moumouth, pursued
by the dogs, succeeded in leaping from the wall,
and, passing from gutter to gutter, from garden to
"garden, from roof to roof, had reached his domicil;
but, dreading the resentment of his enemy, he had
not dared to appear, and had hidden himself in
"Am I the dupe of a nightmare?" said Father
Lustucru to himself. "Is it really that rascal of a
Moumouth that I have there under my eyes, in flesh
and bone ? Is n't it his ghost that has come back
to torment me ? This cat, then, is the evil one in
The cat was not the evil one Providence had
( \ IN WHICH THE CAT CONTENDS
-, SUCCESSFULLY AGAINST
L HIS ENEMY.
\ HE events we have recorded
indicate very clearly the
position of our personages.
Fearing to lose both the
well-beloved cat and the
advantages she was ambi-
tious to obtain, Mother
Michel redoubled her vigi-
lance and attention.
Moumouth, knowing henceforth with whom he had
to deal, promised himself to avoid the steward, or to
fight him, if need be, with tooth and nail.
As to Father Lustucru, it was enough that his proj-
ects had been defeated, in order that he should per-
sist in them with desperation. He now wished the
destruction of the poor and innocent cat, not only on
account of his jealousy of Mother Michel, but because
he hated the cat itself.
52 THE STORY OF A CAT.
Oh, what humiliation he said to himself, with
bitterness. I ought to hide myself, retire to a des-
ert, and bury me in the bowels of the earth! What!
I, Jerome Lustucru, a grown man, a man of knowl-
edge and experience, a man I dare say it -
charming in society, I am vanquished, scoffed at,
taken for a dupe, by a cat of the gutter I leave
him at the bottom of a river, and find him at the top
of a house I wish to separate him from his guard-
ian, and I am the means of bringing them together !
S I Jead Mother Michel to the garret
to torture her, and there I witness
her transports of joy! The cat I
believed dead reappears to defy me !
./ .... He shall not defy me long!"
And Father Lustucru remained
Absorbed in deep meditation.
Lustucru meditates Moumouth had not yet dined that
day, and he made it plain by expressive miau-ing
that he would very willingly place something under
his teeth. Presently, Mother Michel said to him-
for she spoke to him as if he were an intelligent be-
"Have patience, sir; we are going to attend to
She descended to the parlor, which she habitually
occupied since the departure of Madame de la Gren-
ouillere, and the cat, who accompanied Mother
Michel, was clearly displeased at seeing her take the
THE STORY OF A CAT. 53
road to the chamber of Lustucru. Nevertheless, he
went in with her, persuaded that in the presence of
that faithful friend the steward would not dare to
undertake anything against him.
At the moment she knocked at the door, Father
Lustucru was taking from the shelf a green package
which bore this label: Death to Rats.
"This is the
thing," he said to
the paper into his I
vest. Death to
Rats should also be
Death to Cats. Our
shall make the trial.
S. What can
one do to serve you,
my good Mother
"It is five o'clock,
M. Lustucru, an d
you forget my cat."
"I forget him!"
cried the steward,
clasping his hands as
if very much hurt by The Green Package.
the suspicion, I was just thinking of him .... 1
am going to prepare for him such a delicious hash
that he will never want another "
54 THE STORY OF A CAT.
Thanks, Monsieur Lustucru! I shall inform
Madame, the Countess, of your care for her favorite.
I have received a letter from her this very day; she
sends me word that she shall return shortly; that she
hopes to find Moumouth in good condition, and that
she has in reserve for me a very handsome reward.
You comprehend my joy, Monsieur Lustucru! My
sister is left a widow with four children, to whom I
hand over my little savings each year. Until now
this assistance has not been much; but, thanks to the
gifts of Madame, the Countess, the poor children will
be able to go to school and learn a trade."
In pronouncing these words the eyes of Mother
Michel were moist and bright with the most sweet
joy, -that which one experiences in performing or
meditating good actions. The steward, however, was
not affected. He had so given himself up to his evil
passions that they completely mastered him, and had
by degrees stifled all generous sentiments in his soul,
as the tares which one lets grow
choke the good grain.
One would have said that
Moumouth understood this man.
The cat approached Mother Mi-
"" chel, who had seated herself to
4 chat awhile, and looking at her
"Come, let us go with supplicating eyes, pulled at
the skirt of her robe, as if to say to her: -
Come, let us go !"
THE STORY OF A CAT. 55
"Take care !" said the good creature, "you will
tear my dress."
Moumouth began again.
What is it? Do you want to get out of here ? "
asked Mother Michel.
Moumouth made several affirmative capers in the
Decidedly," she added, this cat is not contented
anywhere but in the parlor."
She rose and withdrew, preceded by Moumouth,
who bounded with joy.
A quarter of an hour afterward the steward had
prepared a most appetizing hash composed of the
breast of chicken, the best quality of bread, and other
ingredients justly esteemed by dainty eaters. After
adding a large dose of the "Death to Rats," he set the
hash down in an ad-
joining room, and,
opening the parlor
door, cried: J_
"Monsieur is -
On beholding this
delicate dish, Mou- I
mouth thrilled with .
pleasure, for, to tell Moumouth is pleased to see the Hash.
the truth, he was rather greedy. He stretched his
nose over the plate, and then suddenly retreated,
arching his back. A sickening and infectious odor
56 THE STORY OF A CAT.
had mounted to his nostrils. He made a tour round
the plate, took another sniff, and again retreated.
This animal, full of sagacity, had scented the
Well, that is very extraordinary," said
Mother Michel; and, having
vainly offered the food to her
cat, she went to find Lustucru,
to inform him what had oc-
curred. He sniffs with Disgust.
The traitor listened with inward rage.
What! said he, he has refused to eat it ? It
is probably because he is not hungry."
"So I suppose, Mon-
"sieur Lustucru; for your
hash looks very nice. I
should like it myself, and
I 've half a
mind to taste
it, to set Mou-
mouth an ex-
spite of his
Don't touch it, I beg of you.' could not help
trembling. For a minute he was horrified at his
crime, and cried hastily:--
THE STORY OF A CAT. 57
Don't touch it, I beg of you "
"Why not ? Is there anything wrong in the hash ?"
No, certainly not," stammered Father Lustucru;
"but what has been prepared for a cat should not
serve for a Christian. It is necessary to guard pro-
priety, and not trifle with the dignity of human na-
Mother Michel accepted this reasoning, and said, a
little snappishly: -
Very well; Moumouth may suit himself! I do
not wish to yield to all his fancies, and I shall not
give him anything else."
The following day the hash was still uneaten.
The steward had hoped that the cat, pressed by
hunger, would have thrown himself upon the poisoned
food; but Moumouth knew how to suffer. He put
up with abstinence, lived on scraps and crumbs of
bread, and recoiled with terror every time that his
guardian offered him the fatal plate,
which finally remained forgotten in -
a corner of the closet in the
Father Lustucru, seeing that
his plot had not succeeded, was
more irritable than ever. The The Fatal Plate remains for-
desire to rid himself of Mou- gotten.
mouth became a fixed idea with him, a passion, a
monomania; he dreamed of it day and night. Each
letter in which Madame de la GrenouillBre demanded
58 THE STORY OF A CAT.
news of the cat and repeated her promise of recom-
pense to Mother Michel, each sign of interest given
by the Countess to her two favorites, increased the
blind fury of their enemy. He thought of the most
infernal plans to demolish Moumouth without risk to
himself, but none of them seemed sufficiently safe and
expeditious. Finally he decided on this one:-
On a heavy pedestal, in the chamber of Mother
Michel, was a marble bust of Louis XIV., represented
with a Roman helmet and a
peruke interlaced with laurel-
leaves. Behind this bust was,
a round window, which looked
upon the staircase; and just in
S front of the pedestal was the
Sdowny cushion that served as
a bed for Moumouth, who
BI^ would certainly have been
crushed if the bust had taken
it into its head to topple over
One night Lustucru stole
noiselessly into the chamber of
Louis xiv. Mother Michel, opened the
round window, which he was careful to leave ajar,
and retired silently. At midnight, when everybody
was asleep in the house, he took one of those long
brooms, commonly called a wolf-head, placed himself
on the staircase opposite the small window, rested his
back firmly against the banister, and, with the aid
THE STORY OF A CAT. 59
of the wolf-head, pushed over the bust, which tum-
bled with a loud crash on the cushion beneath.
The wicked man had expected this result of his
movement; it was for him the signal
of his triumph and the death of Mou-
mouth. However, when he heard
the bust roll heavily on
the floor, he was seized
by a panic, and, with
trembling steps, regained
awoke with a
start; she was
in complete 4z_
darkness, and downfall of Louis XIV.
unable to procure a light, for German chemical
matches were not yet invented.
Surprise and fright had taken away
S her faculties for an instant, then she
cried, "Stop thief!" with all the
strength of her lungs. Very soon
k iLJ the whole house was roused, and
S all the servants came running in to
S"' learn what was the matter.
Lustucru appears. Lustucru appeared last, with a
cotton night-cap on his head, and, for the rest, very
What has happened ? he demanded.
60 THE STORY OF A CAT.
I see now," answered Mother Michel; it is the
bust of Louis XIV. that has fallen down."
"Bah!" said Father Lustucru, playing astonish-
ment. But, in that case, your cat must have re-
ceived it on his head."
As he said these words, Moumouth came out from
under the bed
and threw him-
as if to implore
her aid and pro-
Si cru stood amazed.
Moumouth comes forth. knows how light
is the slumber of cats. Moumouth, who had the
habit of sleeping with only one eye, had risen quickly
on hearing a rustling behind the round window.
Like nearly all animals, he was curious, and sought
to understand anything that astonished him; so he
camped himself in the middle of the chamber, the
better to observe with what intention the wolf-head
advanced at that unseasonable hour by so unusual a
route. Startled by the fall of the bust, he had fled
for refuge to the bottom of the alcove.
They gave Mother Michel, to revive her, a glass of
sugar and water, flavored with orange-flower; they
picked up the great king, who had smashed his nose
THE STORY OF A CAT. 61
and chin, and lost half of his beautiful peruke; then
everybody went to bed once more.
Saved again said Father Lustucru to himself.
" He always escapes me I shall not be able, then,
to send him to his fathers before the return of the
Countess! Mother Michel will get her pension of
fifteen hundred livres, and I shall remain a nobody,
the same as before. That rascally cat distrusts me;
everything I undertake alone against him fails. .
Decidedly, I must get somebody to help me !"
Mother Michel is revived.
HOW FATHER LUSTUCRU CONFIDES HIS ODIOUS PLANS
TO NICHOLAS FARIBOLE.
ATHER LUSTUCRU searched
for an accomplice. He at first
thought of finding one among
the domestics of the household ;
but he reflected that they all
were devoted to Mother Michel,
.p -and were capable of betraying
-.- him, and causing him to be
shamefully turned out of the mansion, in which he
held so honorable and lucrative a post. However, he
had great desire for an accomplice. In what class,
of what age and sex, and on what terms should he
select one ?
Occupied with these thoughts, Lustucru went out
one morning at about half-past six, to take a walk on
the quay. As he crossed the threshold, he noticed
on the other side of the street a large woman, dry
and angular, clothed in cheap, flashy colors. This
woman had sunken eyes, a copper-colored complex-
ion, the nose of a bird of prey, and a face as wrinkled
THE STORY OF A CAT. 63
as an old apple. She was talking with a boy of thir-
teen or fourteen, covered with rags, but possessing a
sharp, intelligent countenance.
Father Lustucru thought he recognized the old
woman, but without recalling
where he had seen her. If he
had been less occupied he would
have searched longer
into his memory; but
the idea of making
away with the cat ab-
sorbed him entirely,
and he continued
his route with a
his head bent
arms crossed /
upon his breast, /
and his eyes
fixed upon the i
ground, as if *' '
th6 accomplice The old Woman and the Boy.
he wanted might possibly spring up out of the
Thus he wandered for some time; the breeze of
the morning failed to cool his blood, heated with evil
passions. Neither the spectacle of the pure skies,
nor the songs of the birds, who 'enjoyed themselves
64 THE STORY OF A CAT.
on the border of the river, awoke in him those calni
and sweet emotions with which
S-they inspire honest people.
At the moment when he re-
",||^-i- _, turned, the old woman was no
1telv longer to be seen; but the boy
/J remained in the same place,
Seated upon a stone post, with
his nose in the air, regarding the
mansion of Madame de la Gre-
nouillere very attentively. Lus-
"tucru approached him and ad-
Lustucru is absorbed.
Lust is absorbed dressed him in these terms: -
"What are you doing there,
youngster ? "
"I? Nothing. I am look-
ing ,at that mansion."
"1I believe that without diffi-
culty; but why do you look at
Because I find it handsome,
and would like to live in it; one
ought to be happy there."
"Yes, indeed," answered the
steward, with emphasis ; they -
pass the days there happily The Boy on the Stone Post.
enough. Who is that woman with whom you were
speaking a while since ? "
It was Madame Bradamor."
THE STORY OF A CAT. 65
"Madame Bradamor, the famous fortune-teller,
who lives below, at the other end of the street? "
You know her ? "
A little; I sometimes do errands for her."
Ah, ah .... .And what did the old wizard say
to you? "
"She said that if I could enter that house as a
domestic, I should have a very agreeable existence."
Madame de la GrenouillBre is absent, my little
friend, and, besides, her house is full."
That is a pity," said the boy, drawing a deep
Father Lustucru made several steps as if to re-
enter, rested his hand upon the knocker of the door,
then turned abruptly and walked up to the boy.
"What is your name ? "
"Nicholas Langlumn, the same as my father's;
but I am more generally known under the nickname
"What do you do ?"
Nothing; my father works on the quay, and I,-
I live from day to day, gaining my bread as I can.
I run errands, I sell May-bugs and black-birds and
sparrows, I pick up nails in the gutters and sell them,
I open the doors of carriages, I fish for logs in the
Seine, I sing verses in the streets, I light lamps, and
sometimes I play in the pantomimes at the theatre of
Nicolet. These trades, sir, are not worth much; and
66 THE STORY OF A CAT.
I have all I can do to get something to eat every
You interest me," replied Father Lustucru, and
I've a wish to help you on in the world. Tell me,
Faribole, have you a taste for choking? "
Rather! I love the tid-bits, but my means do
not allow me -
I did not ask you if you were fond of eating,
stupid! I asked you if you had the taste, the incli-
nation, to do cooking."
"I don't know; I never tried."
"Well, then, Faribole, I will give you lessons.
Come, follow me; I will clothe you
and take care of you at my own ex-
"pense, in awaiting
the arrival of Mad-
ame de la Grenouil-
lere. She is a good
lady, and will doubt-
less retain you; but
7 if she does not, your
/ 1' / education will be
The Steward engages Faribole. commenced, and
you'll be able to place yourself elsewhere."
"You are, then, in the service of the Countess?"
"I am her steward," said Father Lustucru, with
The eyes of Faribole sparkled with pleasure; he
bowed respectfully before the steward, and said with
THE STORY OF A CAT. 67
"Ah, how much I owe to you! "
Faribole was installed that same day, and cordially
received by the other servants of the household. He
was a good-natured boy, ser-
viceable and quick, and, al-
though a little awkward in his
new clothes and at his new
duties, he showed plenty of
"Faribole," said the stew-
,ard to his protdeg, several :j
days afterward, It is well to
A little awkward at first.
let you know the ways of the
house. There is an individual here, all-powerful,
who reigns as sovereign master, whose will is obeyed,
whose whims are anticipated, -and that individual
is a cat. If you wish to make your way in the
world, it is necessary to seek to please Moumouth;
if the cat Moumouth accords you his affections, you
will also have that of Madame de la Grenouillbre and
her companion, Mother Michel."
"" The cat shall be my friend,
and I will be the friend of the
cat," responded the young fellow,
The Cat and the Boy become In effect, he showered on Mou-.
Friends. mouth so many kindnesses and
caresses and attentions, that the cat, although natu-
rally suspicious, conceived a lively attachment for
68 THE STORY OF A CAT.
Faribole, followed him with pleasure, teased him, and
invited him to frolics. Mother Michel was nearly
jealous of the small boy; Father Lustucru, who had
ideas of his own, laughed in his sleeve, and rubbed
his hands together.
The steward, one evening, ordered Faribole to
come to his chamber, and after closing the door care-
fully and assuring himself that no one was listening,
he said: -
Moumouth is your friend; you have followed
my recommendations exactly."
I shall remain in the house is it not so ?"
"Probably. You find yourself very well here ?"
"Without doubt! I, who lived on black bread, I
make four good meals a day. I had a wretched
blouse, full of holes, and patched trousers, and now
I am dressed like a prince. I suffer no more from
cold, and, instead of lying out under the stars, I go
to sleep every night in a comfortable bed, where I
dream of gingerbread and fruit-cake."
Father Lustucru rested his chin on the palm of
his right hand, and fixing his piercing eyes upon
Faribole, said to him:-
Suppose you were obliged to take up again with
the vagabond life from which I lifted you ? "
I believe I should die with shame !"
"Then you would do anything to preserve your
present position ? "
"I would do anything."
THE STORY OF A CAT. 69
"Very well. Now, this is what I demand of you
lows you will- I
row, just at
night-fall, you i
will lead him
into the gar- i
den; you will
put him into a Lustucru and Faribole.
sack which I have made expressly, and tightly draw
the cords of the sack -
"' And then? said Faribole, who opened his eyes
We will each arm us with a stick, and we will
beat upon the sack until he is dead."
Never never cried the poor boy, whose hair
stood up with fright.
"Then pack your bundle quickly, and be off; I
turn you away "
"You turn me away! repeated young Faribole,
lifting up his hands to the sky.
I do not give you five minutes to be gone; you
depend upon me here, solely on me."
The unhappy Faribole began to weep, and the
steward added, in a savage voice, -
70 THE STORY OF A CAT.
Come, now! no faces! Take off your clothes,
and put on your rags, and disappear! "
Having pronounced these words, Lustucru took
from a closet the miserable vestments which Faribole
had worn the day of his installation. The steward
seized them disdainfully between his thumb and fore-
finger, and threw them
upon the floor.
The boy looked with
an air of de-
spair at the
habits he had
he was obliged
to resume, and
Faribole's Old Clothes. the compari-
son was so little to the advantage of the latter, that
he broke into loud sobs.
However, he was decided not to purchase hand-
some clothes at the price of a perfidy and a horrible
murder. He resolutely threw off his vest, then his
neckerchief; but at the idea of giving up his new
shoes, of walking barefoot, as formerly, over roads
paved with gravel and broken glass, the luckless
Faribole had, a moment of hesitation.
Father Lustucru, who observed him closely, profited
by this circumstance with consummate cunning.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 71
"Foolish fellow said he; you refuse happiness
when it would be so easy for you to retain it. If I
proposed to you the death of a man, I could under-
stand, I could even approve of your scruples; but I
propose that of a cat a simple cat! What do you
find in that so terrible ? What is a cat ? Nothing -
less than nothing; one does n't attach the least value
to the lives of cats. Inn-keepers give them to their
customers to eat; the most celebrated surgeons mas-
sacre them in making certain experiments. Cats are
thought so little of, that when a
litter of six or seven are born,
only one is kept; the rest are _
tossed into the river."
"But Moumouth is large,
Moumouth is fully grown," said
Faribole in a plaintive tone;
" and then, you do not know, I
"You love him! you dare to
Only one is kept the rest are
love him cried the steward tossed into the River."
with inexpressible rage. Very well! I- I detest
him, and I wish his death "
"But what has he done to you, then ? "
"What business is that to you ? I desire his
death, and that's enough."
"Mercy for him! cried Faribole, throwing him-
self at the feet of hard-hearted Lustucru.
72 THE STORY OF A CAT.
No mercy replied Lustucru, hissing the words
through his clenched teeth. No mercy, neither for
him nor for you. Get up, de-
part, be off this very instant!
It rains in torrents; you will
be drenched, you will die of
cold this night, so much the
A beating rain, mixed with
hailstones, pattered against the
^-5 window-panes, and the wind
swept with a mournful sound
"Get up! Depart!" through the halls of the house.
Then poor Faribole thought of the cold that would
seize him, of the privations which awaited him, of his
few resources, of his immense appetite, and how dis-
agreeable it was to sleep on the damp earth. His
evil genius took possession of him, and whispered
into his ear these words of Father Lustucru: What
is a cat ? "
"Monsieur Lustucru," said he, weeping, do not
send me away, I will do all that you wish."
To-morrow, at night-fall, you will lead Moumouth
into the garden ? "
Yes, Monsieur Lustucru."
"You will put him into this sack ?"
Yes, Monsieur Lustucru."
"And you will beat it with me ?"
THE STORY OF A CAT. 73
The response to this question was long coming;
Faribole turned pale, his legs bent under him; finally
he bowed his head, letting his arms droop at his sides,
as if he had sunk under the weight of his destiny,
and murmured, in a stifled voice :-
Yes, Monsieur Lustucru."
IN WHICH FATHER LUSTUCRU IS ON THE POINT OF
ACCOMPLISHING HIS PURPOSE, AND MOTHER MICHEL'S
CAT IS IN AN UNPLEASANT PREDICAMENT.
USTUCRU had fixed the following
day for the cruel execution of
Moumouth, for he knew that
"Mother Michel on that day was
to carry to the express office
/ a package destined for her sis-
All the forenoon and after-
noon Faribole was plunged in the darkest despond-
ency, and when the fatal hour sounded, he was as-
sailed by the irresolutions of the previous day.
When Mother Michel, before going out, said to him,
" I leave Moumouth in your charge; you must take
care of him, and make him play, so that he will not
fret too much during my absence," the poor lad felt
his heart fail, and his natural loyalty revolted.
Come, we have not a minute to lose," said Father
Lustucru to Faribole; "here is the sack; go look for
the beast! "
THE STORY OF A CAT. 75
Faribole once more appealed to the pity of the
steward; he was eloquent, he had tears in his voice,
he pronounced a most touching plea, but without be-
ing able to gain his cause. The executioner was im-
movable; he insisted on the death of the cat; and
the boy, overpowered by this evil spirit, saw himself
forced to obey.
Moumouth allowed himself to be enticed into the
garden; he followed his treacherous friend with the
confidence of the lamb following the butcher, and, at
the very moment when he least thought of it, he
found himself fastened in the sack that was to be his
tomb. Lustucru, who was hiding, appeared suddenly,
bearing two enormous cudgels; he handed one to his
accomplice, and taking hold of the sack, cried:-
" Now to work, and no quarter "
Faribole heard him not; the boy was struck with
stupor -his eyes rolled wildly in their sockets, his
face was livid, his mouth open, his arms without
Father Lustucru, animated by the nearness of his
vengeance, did not remark what passed in the mind
of his companion. Having thrown the sack rudely on
the ground, the steward lifted his cudgel, and was
about to strike when the small door of the garden
"How unfortunate! he muttered; Faribole,
hide yourself in the hedge; I will come back here
The Steward lifted his Cudgel.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 77
He approached the person who had entered, and
halted, petrified with amazement, on beholding
Mother Michel. He imagined at first that she had
been brought back by some vague suspicion, by some
presentiment; but he recovered himself, hearing her
I am obliged to postpone my walk, for I have
seen Madame de la Grenouillere's carriage coming;
it turned out of its way on account
of the repairs being made in the street.
By reentering through the
garden I was able to get
here in advance.
let us hasten to
good mistress." 'm
"I am with
you, madame," `.. .
said the stew-
ard; then, mak- Making a Speaking-trumpet of his Hand.
ing a speaking-trumpet of his hand, he cried to
Faribole : -
"Strike all alone! strike until the cat has ceased
to move !" and he rejoined Mother Michel in the
court, where the domestics were drawn up in a line
like a well-drilled battalion.
On stepping from the carriage Madame de la Gre-
78 THE STORY OF A CAT.
nouillere honored her servitors with a benevolent
glance, embraced Mother Michel with touching famil-
iarity, and de-
toge is wonder-
fully well," said
"he grows fat-
ter and hand-
"-> somer underour
very eyes; but
it may be said,
The Countess embraces Mother Michel. to the truth,
that his moral qualities are even beyond his physical
Poor friend, if he does not love me he will be a
monster of ingratitude, for since our separation I
have thought of him constantly; Heaven has taken
away many beings that were dear to me, but Mou-
mouth will be the consolation of my old age "
As soon as the Countess had given the orders which
her arrival made necessary, she prayed Mother Michel
to fetch Moumouth.
He will be charmed to see you again, madame,"
Mother Michel answered; "he is in the garden in
the care of Faribole, a little young man whom your
THE STORY OF A CAT. 79
steward judged proper to admit to the house; the
young rogue and the cat have become a pair of inti-
Mother Michel went down to the garden and there
found Faribole alone, seated
upon a bench, and with a pre-
occupied air stripping the
leaves from a branch of box-
wood which he held in his
My friend," said the good -..-- '
woman, Madame, the Count- Faribole seated in the Garden.
ess, desires you to bring Moumouth to her."
"Mou-mouth stammered Faribole, starting at
the name as if he had been stung by a wasp.
Yes, Moumouth; I thought he was with you."
He just quitted me; some persons passing in the
street made a noise that frightened him, and he
leaped into the hedge."
Mother Michel, after having spent more than half
an hour in scouring the garden, returned to Madame
de la Grenouillbre and said: Moumouth is absent,
madame; but do not be anxious; he disappeared
once before, and we found him in the garret."
Let him be searched for! I do not wish to wait.
I desire to see him this instant! "
Alas this desire was not likely to be gratified, if
any reliance could be placed upon the words ex-
changed in the dark between Lustucru and his ac-
80 THE STORY OF A CAT.
"Well, did you do it? "
"Yes, Monsieur Lustucru, I pounded until the cat
ceased to move."
"What have you done with the body ?"
"I have thrown it into the Seine."
"Was he quite dead ? "
He did n't stir."
"Anyway, the sack was securely fastened. Justice
is done !"
IN WHICH MOTHER MICHEL SEARCHES FOR HER CAT.
EVERAL days passed in painful
expectation; but the cat, like
General Marlborough, did not
come back. The despair of
Madame de la Grenouillbre was
sincere, profound, and silent, -
all the more intense because it
was suppressed. She continu-
ally pictured to herself the
charming ways of Moumouth, his natural goodness,
his superior intelligence. No animal had ever dis-
played to her so many brilliant qualities; not one of
her previous favorites had ever caused her such bitter
Generous in her misfortune, she did not reproach
Mother Michel; on the contrary, the Countess sought
to comfort that poor woman, who had given herself
up wholly to grief. The Countess said to her one
What can you do against an irresistible calamity ?
The wisdom of man consists not in struggling with
82 THE STORY OF A CAT.
unhappiness, but in submitting himself to the will of
I am of your opinion," replied Mother Michel.
"If I believed, like you, in the death of Moumouth,
I would resign myself without a murmur. But I
have the idea that he still lives; I picture him run-
ning through the streets, the victim of ill treatment,
with saucepans, may be -
Go to, Mother Michel, you deceive yourself;
Moumouth is dead, otherwise he would have come
back to us."
Something tells me that he is still in this world,
and if Madame the Countess wishes to have tidings of
him, she has only to address herself"-
To whom ? "
"To our neighbor, Madame Bradamor, that cele-
brated fortune-teller, who predicts the future, removes
freckles, reads in the Book of Destinies, and charms
away the toothache."
"Fie, Mother Michel! how can you, a sensible
woman, have any confidence in the juggling of an
adventuress ? "
"But, madame, I am not alone; the most distin-
guished people go to Madame Bradamor; she is more
learned and less dear than her rivals, and asks only
ten crowns to make you behold the devil Astaroth."
Enough, for pity's sake! responded the Count-
Mother Michel remained silent; but she had made
THE STORY OF A CAT. 83
up her mind, and, the first time she had a moment
of liberty, she ran to the house of the necromancer.
The fortune-teller occupied a spacious apartment
richly furnished, for she gained a great deal of money
by cheating the public. Her consultation-room was
draped with hangings of black velvet sprinkled with
gilt stars; upon a square table, in the centre of the
chamber, stood painted tin obelisks, jars of electricity,
retorts, and divers mathematical instruments, of
whose uses the pretended sorceress was quite igno-
rant, but which she had placed, there in order to
impose on the weak-minded persons who came to
She at first showed some embarrassment on be-
holding Mother Michel; however, after having closed
a glass door which communicated with the other
apartments, she returned to salute her new client,
and said in a solemn tone: -
What is your desire ? "
"To question the present, the past, and the
"I am the very one to satisfy you," replied Madame
Bradamor; "but what you demand is very difficult,
and will cost you three crowns."
There they are; I give them to you with all my
Madame Bradamor, full of regret that she had not
insisted on having more, pocketed the money, and
began in these terms :-
84 THE STORY OF A CAT.
What is the date of your birth ? "
"The 24th of May, 1698."
What are the initials of your name and the first
letter of the place in which you were born ? "
Mother Michel pays Three Crowns.
A, R, M, N, L, S."
Madame Michel was named Anastasie Ravegot;
the widow, since twelve years, of Frangois Michel, in
life inspector of butter in the Paris markets; she
was born in Noisy-le-Sec.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 85
What is your favorite flower ?"
The Jerusalem artichoke."
After these customary questions, the fortune-teller
examined some coffee-grounds poured into a saucer,
and said : -
Phaldarus, the genie of things unknown, informs
me that you are in search of a being very dear to
Mother Michel bounded in her chair with surprise.
Madame Bradamor continued: This being is not a
man; it is a quadruped either a dog or a cat.
Ariel, spirit celestial, reveals to me that it is a cat."
Mother Michel was more and more impressed;
without giving her time to recover herself, the for-
tune-teller took a pack of cards, shuffled them, cut
them three times, then disposed them in a systematic
order on the table, and said gravely: -
Your cat is the knave of clubs; let us see what
happens to him. One, two, three, four; ten of
spades! He is a wanderer, he has a passion for
travel, he sets out at night to see the curiosities of
Paris. One, two, three, four; the queen of spades!
It is a woman who manufactures ermine fur out of
cat-skin. One, two, three, four ; the knave of spades!
It is a rag-picker. One, two, three, four; the king
of spades It is a restaurant-keeper. The falling
together of these three persons alarms me. One,
two, three, four, clubs! One, two, three, four,-
clubs again One, two, three, four, always clubs.
86 THE STORY OF A CAT.
Your cat would bring money to these three persons:
the rag-picker wishes to kill him in order to sell the
skin to the furrier, and the body to the restaurant-
keeper, who will serve it up to his customers as
stewed rabbit. Will the cat be able to resist his
The Fortune-teller consults her Cards.
persecutors. One, two, three, four; seven of spades !
It is all over, madame; your cat no longer exists! "
They have eaten him, the cannibals!" cried
Mother Michel, sinking back, and she fancied she
heard a plaintive miau, the last agonized cry of Mou-
mouth. But it was not an illusion; a cat had
miaued, and was still miauing in the next chamber.
THE STORY OF A CAT. 87
Suddenly a pane of glass in the door described was
shivered to atoms, and Moumouth in person tumbled
at the feet of Mother Michel.
From the top of a wardrobe he had perceived his
affectionate guardian; he had called to her several
times, and as
she did not an- -
swer him, he
himself, in his
against the .
he had broken
a passage. V
My cat was I
with you!" Moumouth appears.
said Mother Michel; "'you have stolen him! My
mistress is powerful; my mistress is the Countess
Yolande de la Grenouillere; she will have you chas-
tised as you deserve to be!"
While making these threats Mother Michel placed
Moumouth under her arm, and prepared to depart.
Madame Bradamor stopped her, saying: -
"Do not ruin me, I conjure you! I have not
stolen your cat! "
"How is it in your house, then? "
I have it from a little boy named Faribole; he
88 THE STORY OF A CAT.
got this cat for me, which I have long desired to
have, on account of his supernatural shape and ap-
pearance, to figure in my cabalistic conjurations.
This is the truth, the whole truth. I beg of you that
your mistress will not disturb me."
"Madame the Countess will act as she thinks
Do not ruin me, I conjure you "
proper," responded Mother Michel, haughtily; and
she vanished with her cat.
She made but one step from the house of Madame
Bradamor to that of Madame de la GrenouillBre; one
would have said that Mother Michel had on the
seven-league boots of little Tom Thumb. She did
not linger in the parlor, when she arrived out of
THE STORY OP A CAT. 89
breath and unable to speak a word, but carried Mou-
mouth straight to the Countess.
On recognizing the animal, the Countess gave so
loud a cry of joy that it was heard as far as the Place
de la Carrousel.
Lustucru assisted at this touching scene. At the
sight of the cat he was so dumbfounded that his
reason wavered for a moment. He imagined that
the cat, so many times saved, was a fantastic being,
capable of speaking, like the beasts in the fairy-tales,
and he said to himself with a shiver: "I am lost!
Moumouth is going to denounce me !"
Lustucru assisted at this touching Scene.
WHICH IS SATISFACTORY TO EVERYBODY BUT THE
S soon as Madame de la GrenouillBre
learned how Moumouth had been
recovered, she ordered young Fari-
bole to be brought before her.
"-"I'll go and look him up," said
Father Lustucru, with alacrity.
He was very anxious to warn his accomplice, and
sought an excuse to steal off.
"No, remain! You have admitted him to the
mansion, you shall see him turned away, and will
learn to bestow your confidence more wisely in
Lustucru remained, and, recovering from his first
stupor, resolved to boldly deny everything, if Fari-
bole should dare to accuse him.
Introduced into the parlor, Faribole did not wait
to be interrogated.
Madame the Countess," said he, the presence
of your cat tells me why you have called me; but
THE STORY OF A CAT. 93
I am less guilty than I appear; permit me to ex-
It is useless," replied Madame de la Grenouillbre;
"your justification is impossible."
The steward, believing it best to play a bold
game, said with irony : -
I am curious to know what unlikely story this
rogue has to tell," and in accenting these words
slowly he gave Faribole a glance which signified:
" If you accuse me, woe to you !'"
Without allowing himself to be confused, Faribole
commenced in these terms: -
It is necessary to avow it, madame; I entered
into your service with the intention of stealing your
cat; the fortune-teller wished to have him, to make
him play the part of the devil Astaroth; and she had
seduced me by the promise of a crown of six livres
and a pair of shoes. They treated me so well, and
Moumouth appeared to me so charming, that I re-
nounced my wicked plans; I never, no, never would
have put them into execution, if I had not found it
was necessary to get Moumouth out of the way in
order to rescue him from the attacks of an enemy all
the more terrible because he was hidden."
Of whom does he wish to speak ? demanded
Of you! of you who have said to me, Kill Mou-
mouth, or I chase you from the house !'"
"I, I have said that what an impudent falsehood!
94 THE STORY OF A CAT.
Ah, Madame the Countess, you know me well enough
not to hesitate between the declarations of this fellow
and my flat denial."
Faribole," said the Countess severely, "your
charge is grave; can you bring any proof to support
"Proof, alas! no, madame; but I am ready to
swear to you" -
"Enough," interrupted the Countess; "do not
add calumny to the theft of the cat, but deliver me
of your presence."
The miserable Faribole wished to protest, but at a
sign from Madame de la GrenouillBre, Lustucru seized
him by the arm, led him through
the door without further cere-
mony, and treated him in so
rough a manner on the stair-
case as to quite relieve him of
any idea of asking for his per-
"However, the iniquities of
the steward were not to remain
Faribole is treated Roughly on the long unpunished; that same
Staircase day, Mother Michel, in arrang-
ing the closet in the antechamber, was very much
astonished at finding the bodies of several dead rats
and mice; she was wondering what had caused their
death, when she recognized the famous hash that the
cat had refused to eat, and which had been left there
THE STORY OF A CAT. 95
by mistake. Two mice were dead in the plate itself,
so powerful and subtile was the poison !
This discovery tore away the veil which covered
the past of Lustucru. Mother Michel, divining that
the charges of Faribole were well founded, hastened
to inform Madame de la Grenouillbre, who recom-
mended her to keep silent, and sent for the steward.
Have you still the,' Death to Rats ?' she asked
"Yes, madame, I think I have a little left."
Some should be placed in the antechamber; you
have not thought of that before? "
Never, madame; I did not know there were rats
in that part of the house."
Very well; you can retire."
Madame de la GrenouillBre wrote to a celebrated
chemist, who, after having ana-
lyzed the hash, declared that it
contained a prodigious quantity
The crime of Lustucru was
then evident; but other proofs
were not long in rising against A Ceebrated Chemist analyzes
him. The adventure of Croque- the Hash.
mouche and. Guignolet was talked about among the
boatmen; Faribole heard the story from one of them,
and discovered a person who had seen Lustucru
throw Moumouth from the bridge of Notre Dame.
The steward, confounded, did not wait to be dis-