Crébillon and the Rat by Unknown

Claude De Crébillon, son of the well-known French poet of that name, and himself a man of letters of some merit, had been sent to the prison of St. Vincent on account of his writings. The first night he spent there he had scarcely fallen asleep when he was roused by feeling something warm and rough in his bed. He took the thing for a kitten, drove it away, and went on sleeping. In the morning he was sorry to have frightened the poor animal, for he was fond of cats, and in the solitude any companion would have been agreeable. He sought in all corners, but could not find anything alive. At noon, he was just beginning to eat his frugal meal, when he perceived an animal sitting on his hind legs and looking steadfastly at him; he thought at first that it was a very small monkey, and rose to have a nearer view of it, for the room was none of the lightest. He held a bit of meat in his hand, and the creature came to meet him; but what was his surprise when he saw that he had to deal with a remarkably large and well-fed rat! Now, rats were detested by him; he could not even bear the sight of them. He would almost have preferred to see a rattlesnake in his room, and he uttered a cry of horror on making the discovery.

The visitor disappeared immediately, but in his place came the jailor, who had been attracted by the exclamation. He laughed at the prisoner, and told him that his predecessor in the cell had tamed the rat when it was young, and that the two fellow-lodgers had become so intimate as to eat continually together. 'I was so interested,' he continued, 'that when the man obtained his liberty, I tried to win the affections of the animal, and you shall see how far I have succeeded.' With these words he seized something on the table and called out, 'Raton! Raton! Come here, my little friend.' Immediately Raton's head was protruded, and as soon as he saw his well-known benefactor, he did not hesitate for a moment to jump upon his hand and to eat what had been offered to him. From this moment Raton was restored to all his former rights and privileges; and Crébillon related afterwards to his friends, that he had tried to obtain the creature from the jailor, and that the latter's refusal had actually cost him tears at his release from prison.