Yllacaspia, who shares my passion for bizarre French books, gave me this one earlier today. I've been thinking about it ever since. When it was first published in 1952, it may have been a simple, harmless little story. But in these dark, post-E.L.-James days, nothing is as it was.
The hero, a kitten, is bored. He is an unusually attractive kitten, he is constantly given little treats by his human owner, yet he has no animal companions with whom to share his life. He decided he wants to play with a bird and a mouse. "Play"? I hear you ask. Now what does that
mean? What kind of play is likely between these particular species? Indeed. But the bird and mouse, no fools, tell the kitten they're not interested.
Undeterred, the kitten sets out to disguise his essentially kitten-like nature. He jumps into a pot of blue paint. Is this some kind of attention-getting suicide bid? No, he just wants to look blue. He thinks the bird and the mouse will fall for it. And that's precisely what happens! They all play happily together. No one gets killed, eaten, raped or even addressed in a harsh tone. It is Eden before the Fall. But then it starts raining. The paint (evidently he has used water-colours) washes off. The implausibly myopic bird and mouse suddenly recognise Pouf. They abandon him.
Pouf seeks advice from the elderly Noiraud. "You have to be careful with your claws and share your treats," says the older cat. This is an utter non-sequitur. I have searched the text carefully, and there is no mention of the other animals complaining about prior rough treatment or lack of treats. Noiraud's comments, at least on the surface, could not be more irrelevant. But Pouf follows his advice, and it works! Soon he is sleeping with the mouse on a regular basis. You can see them blissfully curled up together on the last page, while the bird, apparently more a voyeur than a participant, watches.
We are told, in a rather sinister parting remark, that Pouf now knows how to keep his friends. I am not sure this is knowledge I wish to acquire, but maybe I am still too naive and idealistic.