Short Stories

The crying cat

The Long Ear is lying in the sun, resting. Feels lazy. It’s summer. The hunt is closed. Strollers only show up on Sundays. The guard went on vacation and took his dog Virgil. The woods are beautiful and calm, there are only leaves, there is only silence. Suddenly, the Long Ear pricks the ear… Someone is crying! A mouse sticks its head out of a trunk and says:

  – There is no doubt! … It’s the voice of a cat.

  Like squirrels and birds, the Long Ear distrusts cats. They crawl and climb trees without the slightest noise. The mouse adds:

  – When a cat cries like that, it’s because it’s so sad!

  The Long Ear hesitates. The crying cat may have fallen into a poacher trap.

  – With a thousand clovers! This case is a mystery! Mutters the Long Ear.

  The eared tribe has its own subway. Digs underground in the sand. Each burrow has several exits. The Long Ear knows them all. So he can approach, unseen, the crying cat.

  – With a thousand clovers! I know that cat, ”says the Long Ear. – It’s Patafofa, the goat farmer’s cat.

  The rabbit appears and says:

  – Let’s make it up!

  The cat is startled and then replies:

  – Let’s make it up!

  – Are you sick? Asks the Long Ear.

  – No! – meow the Patafofa.

  – So, with a thousand clovers, why do you cry?

  – Tomorrow – whines the cat – my owners will visit relatives who live far away… They decided to abandon me.

  The cat didn’t lie. The goat farmer and his wife are packing a lot of things in suitcases and bags. Tomorrow, very early, they make their way. But what about their cat? The Long Ear is not happy at all. Want to help Patafofa. A goat, some goats and a goat graze on a fence.

  – With a thousand clovers! … Tomorrow will your owners also abandon these horned heads and milk teatles? Mutters the Long Ear.

  – No! – meows the sad-eyed cat … – Tonight the goats go to a valley farm … My owners need the milk to make cheese …

  – Cheese? – repeats the Long Ear.

  Suddenly the rabbit seems very interested.

  – Do your owners sleep with the window open? Asks Long Ear.

  – Yes, even winter! – says the Patafofa.

  As always, when it wants to reflect, the Long Ear turns upside down. Close the eyes. Not one of your hairs moves. It looks like a four-legged stake, a tail, mustaches, and two long ears.

  The Patafofa is so amazed that he forgets to cry. You think you should imitate this acrobat rabbit.

  Zás! … Throws his hind legs towards the clouds. Catrapus! … A great stumble. The cat hits the ground with dry leaves. He no longer knows whether to laugh or cry. You even have a crazy urge to run away.

  Suddenly the Long Ear opens an eye and says:

  – With a thousand clovers! I have an idea.

  In the clearing, the Long Ear gathered the tribe of pointed noses and long tails. There are rats, shrews, mice, and even a muskrat from the river. The Long Ear stood on a mound and spoke. He shakes his paws and his head to explain himself better. The little brown ears are alert. In one corner, two rabbits build a ladder with barked branches and twine. An owl came out of a hole … Never seen so many long tails, so many pointed noses. His big staring eyes sparkle with appetite. Likes to eat mice. The Long Ear is pleased. Everyone knows what they have to do. All that remains is to wait for the night.

  Everything sleeps in Patafofa’s house. The goat herder and his wife went to bed earlier than usual. In the middle of the courtyard, the car is ready to leave. The rabbits have already put the ladder under the bedroom window. The long-tailed family comes out of the woods and strides toward the farm.

  One after another, shrews, rats, muskrat, and mice climb the stairs and run through the dark room.

  The Long Ear went to the Patafofa.

  – Let’s get out the vent! He says in the cat’s ear. “We have to talk.”

  Suddenly the bedroom light comes on.

  The owners of the house wake up with a start.

  – Hiii! … hiii! Shouts the woman, raising her arms. – Hiii! …

  Mice! … Mice everywhere! … On the floor, on the bed, the wardrobe, and the bedside table…

  The goat raiser was wide-eyed in surprise. A rat swings at the end of the lamp wire. And besides, at the window, two rabbits make faces… It’s amazing!

  Just then, the house cat meows in front of the bedroom door.

  – Come on, come on, Patafofa! Shouts the housewife.

  The Patafofa pushed the door open. It bends the loin and shows its teeth like an angry cat. But tonight, it’s just faking it.

  There is but a desire to laugh.

  Everything goes as Long Ear predicted. Rats, shrews, mice, and the big muskrat flee out the window with the two rabbits and the ladder.

  – You are a formidable cat! Shouts the woman.

  – It’s true! – says the goat farmer. – Tomorrow you are going with us… Surely there are rats there too!

  The owner of Patafofa goes to the kitchen. Give the cat a big slice of cheese and chorizo.

  In the forest the night has finally come. However, the clearing is lit. The Long Ear brought its three lanterns and turned three perches into lamps.

  The long tails dance a swirling ball around a large hedgehog.

  The owl doesn’t even believe what he sees. Never seen such a weird hedgehog. On the peaks are spiky fruits that the pointed snouts are gnawing, all happy. It was Patafofa’s gift to thank the help of his friends.

  – Mission accomplished! Mutters the Long Ear, yawning. Thanks to him, Patafofa is no longer a sad-eyed cat. Tonight go to sleep with a happy heart. Tomorrow will not be abandoned by the owners. For the first time in his cat life, Patafofa will travel.

  Pierre Coran
  The crying cat
  Porto, Editorial Way, 1989
  (adapted text)

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