- L’Arbre-Monde ou comment la Femme devint Sage
- The five-cat or how cats tamed themselves
T’was long and ago, Best Beloved, in the time before time, before the cats changed to the little furry things that purr on your knees.
In that time, cats were wild and fierce and they really could live nine lives. They were so wild they could barely live within ten miles of one another. As you can guess Best Beloved, kittens were becoming scarce. One of them, by the name She-Of-The-Lashing-Claws, was a five-cat : she had lived a few of her lives already and only had five left. She had died the first time under the fangs of her mother, as was customary, as soon as she was weaned. It had toughened her and she had fought many battles against her kind but not so much that she wouldn’t see how few of them were left, without enough birth to replenish their numbers.
She decided to leave their lands and travel the world to see what could be done about it. Of her travels, very little is known. All that is certain is that when she came back, she was a one-cat and was far more shrewd than any other cat. She dedicated herself to hunting them down and one by one they went missing. Rumour spread and fear along with it. A warned three-cat might equal two but still none of them were a match for her. Finally she faced the last of them. T’d been a long hunt and it was an even longer battle until finally she pinned him down. He writhed and thrashed to no avail: she had him bound in a jiffy. Panting, his fur coated with blood, he waited for death, knowing that she would keep killing him until all his lives were spent and nothingness was the end his journey. She slashed his throat and the darkness engulfed him.
He woke in a cage, surrounded by many other cages, each one containing a seemingly sleeping cat. Bewildered, he faked sleep too but kept a lookout. Soon, She-Of-The-Lashing-Claws appeared in front of his cage. She surveyed him but didn’t say anything. Then suddenly, she lashed out and there came the darkness again. When he woke this time, he was acutely conscious that he was now a one-cat, with one only and last life promising to be short. He was also very aware that though he had believed he was the last cat, many of them were still breathing. She-Of-The-Lashing-Claws came into sight again. She circled the cages slowly and every pair of eyes followed intently. She knew she had their attention. Snarling, she stepped gracefully in the midst of the cages. Then she began the one and most famous speech in cat’s history. In a few scarce and concise mews, she stated the situation. All of the cats left in the entire world were assembled here – and that Best Beloved, she knew for a fact because she had seen the further reaches of the earth. All of them were now one-cats, and at that, growls and snarls erupted from the cages. She waited unfazed for the silence to return. She then reminded them that she was of the last litter conceived and born and that no kittens had been bread in a long long stretch of time. She waited some more to let it sink in. Cats, Best Beloved, have always been creatures of huge sapience and wisdom despite their murderous minds. They saw the end of their species looming.
Then She-Of-The-Lashing-Claws began a new tale, one of soft hunters without fur, one of spilled milk and petting. There were indignant snarls again and again she waited for quiet. These creatures she said, were clever but not that much, good hunters but not that much, patient with their kittens but ruthless to their enemies and if sometimes they fell prey to better hunters, they were conquering the world as a species. She convinced her fellow cats that they could learn many a trick from them and that they could eventually enslave them to do their bidding. Then she was done talking and she opened all the cages at once. The one-cats gingerly stepped out of it and one by one disappeared in the wilderness. Not one of them declared war that day despite there being life-long enemies among them. In the end, only remained the last cat captured. She-Of-The-Lashing-Claws turned her back on him and went, walking by herself, as her kind is, has been, and will always be known to do.
Last-Caught, as he was now calling himself, followed, softly, tip-toey, stalking and hunting. Again she traveled the world and everywhere he followed, witnessing many wonders on the way. Eventually she stopped and purred. T’was a soft purr Best Beloved, maybe the first purr ever uttered by a cat and it changed the heart of Last-Caught forever. He came by her side and cocked his head. In front of them, a kitten without any fur laid on his back, giggling madly as She-Of-The-Lashing-Claws tickled him with her tail. Claws carefully tucked in, Last-Caught pawed the little being who began sobbing with laughter. He sat back, pondered then left. The next day he was back to witness She-Of-The-Lashing-Claws lapping warm milk, then the next and she was sleeping in front of a hot fire. He watched her and watched the creatures she was bonded with and thought. Then he came in front of the cave where they dwelled and mewed. She barely twitched her mustache. He mewed again and this time she lashed her tail, annoyed. He mewed a third time and she finally stood, taking her sweet time stretching every muscle of her lithe body in a very indifferent manner. She came to the mat at the entrance and watched him with curiosity. Last-Caught cleared his throat and purred. It was more of a growl to be honest but She-Of-The-Lashing-Claws seemed satisfied. She gave him a playful paw pat over his mustaches and fled not too quickly, waiting for him to catch up every now and then. They disappeared in the wild woods for some time, until one day, She-Of-The-Lashing-Claws came back with kittens in her jaw. Only she took good care of them, as she had seen the woman take good care of her child and when they were weaned she didn’t kill them, because they were one-kittens but rather drove them away in the wilderness. Last-Caught was never seen again, as every tomcat thereafter always abandoned their mate. She-Of-The-Lashing-Claws now came by the name Purring-Mother-Of-Cats and she had many a litter after that and all of them were one lived cats. But they remained fierce and wild and occasionally one would break the truce and go berserk.
The artist was Sid, the tale was inspired by Albert (no kidding), some day he was raving about a dead bird and a 🐱 cat wanted for murder…
Also starring : Gourgandine !