You knew that she was as simple as the modest room in which she lived alone with her little cat that some one had given her. Every morning before she went to the shop, she left for her a little bit of milk in a bowl.
And like her gentle mistress the little cat had sad, kind eyes. She warmed herself on the window-sill in the sun beside a pot of basil. Sometimes she licked her little paw, and used it as a brush on the short fur of her head. Sometimes she played with a mouse.
One day the cat and the mistress both found themselves pregnant, the one by a handsome fellow who deserted her, and the other by a beautiful tom-cat who also went his way.
But there was this difference. The poor girl became ill, very ill, and passed her days sobbing. The little cat made for herself a kind of joyous cradling-place in the sun where it shone upon her white, drolly inflated abdomen.
The cat’s lover had come later than the girl’s. So things happened that they were both confined at the same time.
One day the little working-girl received a letter from the handsome fellow who had deserted her. He sent her twenty-five francs, and spoke of his generosity to her. She bought charcoal, a burner, and a sou’s worth of matches. Then she killed herself.
When she had entered heaven, which a young priest had at first tried to prevent, the dainty and delicate creature trembled because that she was pregnant and that the Bon Dieu would condemn her.
But the Bon Dieu said to her:
“My dear young friend, I have made ready for you a charming room. Go there for your confinement. Everything ends happily in heaven and you will not die. I love little children and suffer them to come unto me.”
And when she entered the little room which had been made ready for her in the great Hospital of Divine Mercy, she saw that God had arranged a surprise for her. There in a box lay the cat she loved, and there was also a pot of basil on the window-sill. She lay down.
She had a pretty, little, golden-haired daughter, and the cat had four sweet, delightfully black kittens.
THE LITTLE NEGRESS
Sometimes my imagination is fascinated by the yellowing of old ocean charts, and in my feverish brain I hear the roaring of monsoons. What then? Must I, in order to have an interest in this present life, exhume that which, perhaps, I led before my birth, between two black suns?
It was a vague region, abounding in stars and in the diffused sobbing of an ocean. There was a scratching at my door, and I said, “Come in.”
A young negress in a loose blue loincloth, reaching halfway down her thighs, entered. She crouched down on the ground, and held out her thin clasped hands toward me. And I saw that her bare arms were covered with the blows of a lash.
“Who did this to you, Assumption?” I asked.