(From Chuckle With Chumleigh Once More)
Our pet chums (Chumleigh, the gerbil; Cleo, the cat and Cookie the Dachshund) have embarked on a pets exchange visit to France, where they meet up with their French counterparts and discover a little more than they’d bargained for….
The café was called “Les Chat Merveilleux”. Intrigued by the name, Cleo turned to Cabot.
“They named it after cats?” she asked.
“Mais oui, ma chère, it is for us!” Cabot told her, and looking down, Cleo saw a large cat flap had been installed into the café door.
Cabot elegantly stepped through the flap, waving his tail to motion Cleo to follow. Cleo had never seen anything like this before! There were small wooden tables and chairs alongside one wall, interspersed with cat climbing trees and little stools; there were a variety of cat beds in different colours and sizes, along with squishy cushions scattered here and there. Scalloped, shelves were secured to the walls at various intervals and there was even a wooden planked platform suspended from the ceiling. Small sofas were dotted about at the far end of the café, which lead to an open area, where a ring of cat bowls was arranged. At the bowls sat 12 cats – all different colours and sizes. Cabot stepped forwards.
“Tout le monde, may I present my friend from Angleterre, Cleo,” Cabot addressed the assembled felines.
The cats sat listening to Cabot and then, in perfect sequence, they bowed to Cleo in turn.
“Here we have, chat tigre, chat blanc, chat bleu, chat gris, chat brun, chat crème, chat fauve, chat roux, chat cannelle, chat calico, chat siamois and of course chat noir”, introduced Cabot.
Cleo bowed politely to the cats. “So, all the cats are called after their colours?” she asked, taking in the assortment of long haired, short haired, large and small, long and short eared – they were a delightfully diverse group.
Formalities completed, the cats wondered off to relax on cushions, drape themselves on shelves, climb up on cupboards, or peer down from the suspended bridge.
“Please, you will take a little something?” invited Cabot, gesturing to a few bowls arranged on a nearby mat, with a variety of meat and biscuits.
After a delicious lunch, Cleo settled down with Cabot and the café cats for a lazy afternoon snoozing, posing, getting pampered by the cat loving customers and generally having a ball. “I like France,” thought Cleo contentedly.
Chanceux grinned at Cookie, who was looking a little perplexed. “You will love this mon aime,” he assured her.
An assistant in a smart black overall bent down to the dogs, stroking their heads and softly cooing to them in French. She made a particular fuss of Cookie, telling her she was très adorable! “I could get to like it here,” mused Cookie.
The dogs were placed into a round bath, washed with delicately fragranced shampoo and rinsed down. As Chanceux’s coat was only short, he was treated to a grooming and blow dry.
“Trust me, you need a little restyle ma chère,” he encouraged. Cookie pondered for a moment. “Honestly, it will make you look most stylish, I promise,” assured Chanceux winking at her. Nodding, Cookie was then treated to a thorough trimming and tidying up, followed by a blow dry. She had to admit, she did look good!
When they were both completed, they stood admiring themselves in the saloon mirror.
“We look gorgeous, no?” asked Chanceux, turning himself about to take in his appearance. Cookie laughed; she was enjoying this weekend.
As they made their way along, the stream grew broader and deeper, becoming a small river. Eventually the river plunged into some woodland.
They entered the woods and came to a large pile of sticks and twigs, that were neatly arranged in a wigwam shape.
Claudette called out, “Halo, Coupé?” a few times, before ripples appeared on the surface of the water and the top of a large, flat furry head popped up. The animal’s dark eyes quickly surveyed them, before it swam effortlessly to the bank and climbed out of the water. Chumleigh could see it had dense, dark brown fur and two protruding teeth at the front. Its front paws were quite small and it stood on its larger back paws, which had webbing between the toes. Its impressive tail was long, oval and flat.
“Bonjour, Coupé, ca va?” greeted Claudette smiling at the beaver.
“Ah bonjour Claudette ca va,” replied Coupé nodding at her, “and who ‘ave we ‘ere?” he asked (Chumleigh wondered how it was that everyone seemed able to squeak English so well – it was very handy!)
“This is Chumleigh,” introduced Claudette.
“Hello there,” stammered Chumleigh, taking in the large rodent.
“Nice to meet you Chumleigh,” nodded Coupé.
“If you don’t mind me asking – what kind of rodent might you be?” Chumleigh asked, curiosity getting the better of him as always.
“Ha ha, I am a beaver,” chortled Coupé, “and you are a gerbil, non?” he asked.
“Yes, that’s right, from England,” replied Chumleigh, thinking that Coupé was obviously a very intelligent beaver.
“Welcome mon petit, it is always good to meet fellow rodents,” smiled Coupé.
“Coupé is very friendly,” smiled Claudette, winking at her friend. “So how is the wood business?” she asked.
“It’s not quite so good at the moment,” Coupé told them.
“I see,” replied Claudette, “I don’t suppose it’s got anything to do with that muskrat?” she asked……
What’s the problem with Coupé and his dam-mate muskrat?
Find out, in Chuckle With Chumleigh Once More – available now on Amazon Kindle!