other Michel, worthy of the confidence which had been reposed in her, displayed for Moumouth a truly maternal tenderness; 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 softest of eider-down quilts.
Fearing that he might fall ill some day, and wishing to inform herself concerning the maladies to which cats 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 François-Auguste Paradis de Moncrif, a member of the French Academy. The conduct of Mother Michel had no low motive 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 Grenouillère
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 miserable 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 possession of Moumouth, of whom Mother Michel rarely lost sight; and Moumouth, too, not having the slightest confidence in the steward, was always on the defensive. Lustucru watched during several days for a favorable occasion. One night, after making an excellent supper, Moumouth 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 company!" said Mother Michel, politely. "You are quite well this evening?"
"Perfectly; but everybody is not like me. Our porter, for example, is in a deplorable state; he is suffering excessively from his rheumatism, and would be very happy to see you a moment. You have gentle words to console the afflicted, and excellent receipts to cure them. Go, then, and pay a little visit to our friend Krautman; I am persuaded that your presence will help him."
Mother Michel got up at once and descended to the apartment of the porter, who was, indeed, suffering from a violent rheumatic pain. "Now for us two!" cried Father Lustucru to himself.