232 MADAME THEOPHILE AND THE PARROT
' Of course, it must be a kind of green chicken.'
Having set the question at rest, Madame Theophile jumped down from the table where she had been seated while she made her observations, and walked quickly to the corner of the room, where she laid herself flat down, with her head bent and her paws stretched out, like a panther watching his prey.
The parrot followed all her movements with his round eyes, and felt that they meant no good to him. He ruffled his feathers, pulled at his chain, lifted one of his paws in a nervous way, and rubbed his beak up and down his food tin. All the while the cat's blue eyes were talking in a language the parrot clearly understood, and they said : ' Although it is green, that fowl would make a nice dinner.'
But Madame Theophile had not lain still all this while. Slowly, without even appearing to move, she had drawn closer and closer. Her pink nostrils trembled, her eyes were half shut, her claws were pushed out and pulled into their sheaths, and little shivers ran down her back.
Suddenly her back rounded itself like a bent bow, and with one bound she leapt on the cage. The parrot knew his danger, and was too frightened to move; then, calling up all his courage, he looked his enemy full in the face, and, in a low and deep voice he put the question: ' Jacky, did you have a good breakfast?'
This simple phrase struck terror into the heart of the cat, who made a spring backwards. If a cannon had been fired close to her ear, or a shopful of glass had been broken, she could not have been more alarmed. Never had she dreamed of anything like this.
'And what did you have — some of the king's roast beef?' continued the parrot.
' It is not a chicken, it is a man that is speaking,' thought the cat with amazement, and looking at her master, who was standing by, she retired under the bed. Madame Theophile knew when she was beaten.