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Full text of "My pets"

MY PETS 






...... J .• • • 

•.*.• •,*.• 











I SEIZKI) Till-; NKiciEK ll\- TlllC SHcHLDERS AND HALLKl) HIM OUT OF THK HASKET 



MY PETS 

BY 

ALEXANDRE DUMAS 



NEWLY TRANSLATED 

BY 

ALFRED ALLINSON 

WITH SIXTEEN ILLUSTRATIONS BY 

V. LECOMTE 



' • . > . » • 



METHUEN & CO. 

36 ESSEX STREET W.C. 

LONDON 



This Translation by Alfred Allinson was first published 

in igog 



• ! •* ' 






r:^ 



4^A^ 



E. 



INTRODUCTORY NOTE 



T T has been found necessary to omit two brief 

-■- passages and a few scattered lines from Mes 

Betes in its present form to bring it into line with 



English taste. 



THE TRANSLATOR 



252454 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. 
I. 

II. 

III. 

IV. 

V. 

VI. 

VII. 

VIII. 

IX. 

X. 

XI. 

XII. 

XIII. 

XIV. 

XV. 

XVI. 

XVII. 

XVIII. 

XIX. 

XX. 

XXI. 



ihe dog i own, and the fowls i once owned 

enumeration of my pets . 

a scotch pointer . 

"they've got the jay!" . 

vatrin and his pipe 

pritchard and the cutlet 

a glass of wine 

worse and worse . 

cunning better than hrute force 

a capacious pocket 

MOUTON .... 

A COMING CATASTROPHE CASTS ITS SHADOW BEFORE 

HOW I WAS OVER-PERSUADED TO BUY A GREEN MONKEY 
AND A BLUE MACAW 

HOW 1 ARRIVED AT THE INTERESTING INFORMATION 
THAT PARROTS BREED IN FRANCE 

A CABRIOLET DRIVER WHO WAS A GREAT GEOGRAPHER 
ASSURES ME I AM A NEGRO 

I BUY MADEMOISELLE DESGARCINS A HUSBAND 

THE FOUNDLING 

MYSOUFF — FIRST OF THE NAME 

DORVAL's BASKET OF FLOWERS 

TOO GOOD A "character"! 

ALEXIS JOINS THE GARDE MOBILE 

vii 



PAGE 
I 

8 

12 

17 

22 

28 

33 
39 
46 

50 
56 
60 

64 
70 

74 
80 
84 
88 

91 

96 

lOI 



viii MY PETS 

CHAP. PAGE 

XXII. THE PRODIGAL RETURNS ..... Io6 

XXIII. ALEXIS FINDS SCOPE FOR HIS MILITARY PROCLIVITIES 

AT LAST . . . . . , . I lO 

XXIV. MAQUET BUYS A SECOND HUSBAND FOR MADEMOISELLE 

DESGARCINS . . . . . . Il6 

XXV. MADEMOISELLE DESGARCINS AND THE SODA-WATER 

BOTTLE . . . . . . .120 

XXVI. INFAMOUS CONDUCT OF POTICH, THE " LAST OF THE 
LAIDMANOIRS," MADEMOISELLE DESGARCINS, AND 
MYSOUFF 11 . . . . . .125 

XXVII. A WAGER ....... I30 

XXVIII. TRIAL AND CONDEMNATION OF MYSOUFF . -136 

XXIX. DON RUSCONI . . . . . . I4I 

XXX. IN WHICH MOUTON BETRAYS HIS ODIOUS CHARACTER I49 

XXXI. THE GREATEST AUTOGRAPH-HUNTER IN PARIS . . 153 
XXXII. MY FIRST HARE . . . . . -159 

XXXIII, ALFRED AND M^DOR ..... 166 

XXXIV. HOW ALFRED WAS OBLIGED TO RETURN TO COM- 

PI^GNE IN HIGHLAND COSTUME . . . 177 

XXXV. HOW I BROUGHT BACK FROM CONSTANTINE A 
VULTURE WHICH COST ME FORTY THOUSAND 
FRANCS — AND THE GOVERNMENT TEN THOUSAND . 188 

XXXVI. HOW PRITCHARD BEGAN TO RESEMBLE THE MAR^CHAL 
DE SAXE, TO WHOM MARS HAD LEFT NOTHING BUT 
A LOVING HEART ..... 209 

XXXVII. WHICH DEALS WITH MY D^BUT AS AN ORATOR IN THE 

DEPARTMENT OF THE YONNE, AND PRITCHARD's 
D^BUT IN THE SAME DEPARTMENT AS A POACHER . 223 

XXXVIII. AN IMPECCABLE MAGISTRATE .... 238 

XXXIX. DISCUSSING THE ERUDITE QUESTION : WAS IT THE 

TOAD TAUGHT THE DOCTORS TO BE ACCOUCHEURS, 
OR THE DOCTORS TAUGHT THE TOADS? . . 244 

XL. IN WHICH PRITCHARD HAS THE CALAMITY TO 
ENCOUNTER A CANON FULBERT WITHOUT HAVING 
MET A HELOiSE ..... 254 



CONTENTS ix 

CHAP. PAGE 

XLI. A SCENE IN THE CHAMBER .... 261 

XLII. DEALS WITH THE REVOLUTION OF FEBRUARY, AND 
THE INFLUENCE EXERTED BY THAT EVENT ON 

ANIMALS AND MEN , . . . . 27I 

XLIII. MY BEST PLAY AND MY BEST FRIEND . . . 277 

XLIV. FLORA ....... 286 

XLV, THE DEATH OF PRITCHARD .... 29I 

XLVI. A WAY MICHEL HAD OF CURING DOGS OF THE BAD 

HABIT OF EATING FOWLS .... 299 

XLVII. JUSTIFYING WHAT WAS SAID AS TO THE RESEMBLANCE 

BETWEEN flora's DEATH AND THAT OF EURYDICE 306 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



I SEIZED THE NIGGER BY THE SHOULDERS AND HAULED HIM OUT 

OF THE BASKET. ..... Frontispiece 

FACING PAGE 
IN HIS JAWS HE HELD A CUTLET HE HAD JUST FILCHED FROM 

THE GRIDIRON ...... 



THE DOG HAD THE SUGAR-BASIN ON HIS NOSE LIKE A MUZZLE 

MYSOUFF USED TO DANCE ABOUT MY LEGS LIKE A DOG . 

"I IMAGINED MONSIEUR WOULD LIKE ME TO BE HANDSOMELY 
dressed" ...... 

MADEMOISELLE DESGARCINS OPENS THE SODA-WATER BOTTLE 

MOUTON WAS MANGLING MY HAND 

I CAUGHT MY VICTIM BY ONE PAW 

THE DOG GAVE A SPRING AND SEIZED THE LAD BY THE POCKET 
OF HIS JACKET ...... 

THE HORSE HUNG SUSPENDED OVER THE PRECIPICE 

I LET FLY WITH MY SWITCH FULL TILT AT JUGURTHA . 

SUDDENLY PRITCHARD GAVE A LEAP 

PRITCHARD WALKED IN PROUDLY HOLDING IN HIS JAWS A 
MAGNIFICENT GREAT HAKE .... 

PRITCHARD HAD COLLAPSED ON THE GROUND 

CATINAT LEAPT AT MY THROAT AS IF HE WANTED TO STRANGLE 
ME ...... . 



31 

44 
90 

109 
122 

151 
162 

176 
184 
208 
218 

235 

260 

299 



PRITCHARD LOOKED AT ME SADLY AND LOVINGLY . . . AND DIED 303 



MY PETS 



CHAPTER I 

THE DOG I OWN, AND THE FOWLS 
I ONCE OWNED 

MAY I assume you, reader, to be a sportsman — and 
a poultry fancier to boot ? Well, then, did it 
ever happen to you that your sporting dog, with the 
best intentions in the world, and fully believing he was 
after game, chivied and killed your fowls ? 

This is quite a likely thing to have occurred, and one 
you have no call to be ashamed of after all ; so I will 
make bold to make all these several assumptions. 

Such being the case, I have no doubt that, loving 
your dog and loving your fowls too, you deeply regretted 
you knew of no way of punishing the former adequately, 
short of beating him to death. 

For beat your dog as you may, you cannot bring 
your poultry to life again. Besides which, the Bible 
expressly says that God desires not the death of a sinner, 
but his repentance. 

You object that in this precept God was not think- 
ing about dogs. I say you are puffed up with the 
insolence of your supposed human superiority. 

I firmly believe God paid just as much attention 
as He did to man to every animal He endowed with 



2 MY PETS 

life, from the tiniest insect to the elephant, from the 
humming-bird to the eagle. 

However, I will make some concession to your pre- 
judices, reader, and allow that perhaps God implanted 
a special liability to be tempted in this particular 
direction in the dog, which of all beasts is the one whose 
instinct comes nearest to human intelligence. 

Perhaps we might even venture on the proposition 
that some dogs have more instinct than some men have 
intelligence. 

Remember what Michelet said so pleasantly : " Dogs 
are candidates for humanity." 

Finally, if the point is contested, we can allege this 
convincing proof — that dogs go mad, and bite. 

This settled, let us to our story. 

I own a dog, and I once owned fowls. 

There ! just think what it is to be a dramatic author, 
and with what an artful touch a dramatic author can 
broach a subject ! " I own a dog, and I once owned 
fowls ! " Why, that single sentence, those nine simple 
words, imply a whole catastrophe in the past, and give 
the actual state of things here and now into the 
bargain. 

/ own a dog — yes, I have one still ; my dog, there- 
fore, is alive. / ojice owned fowls, but I do so no longer ; 
ergo, my fowls are dead. 

Nay ! it is plain that, if you have any powers of 
deduction at all, — even though I had not told you, 
perhaps rather prematurely, — by means of the phrase 
" I own a dog, I once owned fowls," you would know 
perfectly well not merely that my dog is alive and my 
poultry dead, but be able to guess, into the bargain, 
that in all probability it was my dog killed my fowls. 

So you see there is a whole tragedy implicit in the 
words : / own a dog, I once owned fowls ' 



THE DOG I OWN 3 

If I could ever hope to be elected a member of the 
Academy, I should enjoy the certainty that one day 
at any rate my panegyric would be pronounced by 
my successor ; and lauded by a great noble or a great 
poet of the future, a Noailles or a future Viennet, I 
could fall asleep in calm reliance on this one sentence : 
/ own a dog, and I once oivned foivls, confident that 
the fine implications involved would not be lost on an 
admiring posterity. 

But, alas ! I shall never join the Immortal Forty ! 
A fellow-Academician will never pronounce my pane- 
gyric after I am dead ! 

The simplest plan, therefore, is for me to do it for 
myself while I am still alive. 

Now you are aware, dear reader, or possibly you 
are not aware, that in dramatic art everything 
depends on the preparation, the working-up. 

To introduce and make known the dramatis personcB 
is one of the surest ways of forcing the reader to be 
interested in them. 

To force — it is a hard word, I know, but it is the 
proper technical expression; we must always yi7;r^ the 
reader to be interested in some person or some thing. 

Only there are several different means of arriving at 
this result. 

Remember Walter Scott, — well, Walter Scott had a 
way of his own of attracting interest to his characters, 
one which, though it was with a very few exceptions 
always the same and of a kind to strike one. at the 
first blush as very extraordinary, nevertheless proved 
highly successful. 

His way was to be tiresome, deadly tiresome, often 
for half the first volume, sometimes for the whole of it. 

But, in the course of this volume he was bringing his 
personages on the scene, and giving so minute and 



4 MY PETS 

detailed a description of their personal appearance, their 
moral character, their habits and idiosyncrasies, the 
reader learnt so exactly how they dressed and walked 
and talked, that when at the beginning of volume ii. 
one of these individuals found himself in some danger 
or emergency, you could not help exclaiming — 

" Ah, dear ! that poor gentleman who wore an apple- 
green coat, and limped as he walked, and lisped in speak- 
ing, how ever is he going to get out of this difficulty ? " 

And you were quite surprised, after being bored to 
death for half a volume or a whole volume, sometimes 
even for a volume and a half, you were quite 
astonished to find yourself deeply interested in the 
gentleman who lisped in speaking, who limped as he 
walked, and who wore an apple-green coat. 

You may possibly observe, reader — 

" This method, sir, which I see you commend so 
highly, is the one you follow yourself, is it ? " 

In the first place, I do not commend it ; I only 
explain and describe and discuss it. Secondly, my 
own is precisely the opposite. 

" Ah ! so you have a method of your own ? " Mr, 
This or Mr. That will ask me, with a pretty air of 
polished sarcasm. 

" Certainly — and why not, my good friends ? " 

Well, then, here is viy method : I give it you for 
what it is worth. 

Only I am bound to begin by telling you I think it 
is a bad one, 

" But," you naturally object, " if your way is a bad 
one, why employ it ? " 

Because one is not always in a position to employ or 
not to employ a method at will ; and sometimes, I 
strongly suspect, it is the method uses us rather than 
we the method. 



THE DOG I OWN 5 

Men deem they have ideas ; I have a shrewd 
notion myself it is ideas often possess men. There is 
many an idea has used up two or three generations of 
mankind and, before working itself out, is going to use 
up three or four more. 

Anyhow, whether it is 1 own my method or my 
method me, here it is, such as it is : — 

To begin by being interesting, instead of beginning 
by being tiresome ; to begin with action, instead of 
beginning with preparation for action ; to describe the 
characters after having brought them on the stage, 
instead of bringing them on the stage after describing 
them. 

Well, you will likely enough say at the first go off — 

*' Really, I see nothing so very perilous about this way 
of going to work." 

All I can say to that is : you are mistaken. In 
reading a book or watching a play, — comedy, tragedy, 
theatrical piece of any sort — any Schauspiel, as they say 
in German, — we must always be bored more or less. 

There is no fire without smoke, no sunlight without 
shadow. Well, boredom, ennui, is the shadow, the 
smoke, in this case. 

Now experience has shown this much : it is better to 
be bored at the start than the finish. 

More than that : some of my fellow novelists and 
dramatists, uncertain which of the two plans to adopt, 
have chosen that of boring the reader all through the 
romance or the spectator all through the play. 

And they have been quite successful ; while I, I 
have found my method pretty nearly fatal to me, 
consisting as it does in being amusing at the start ! 

Consider my first acts, look at my first volumes ; 
the pains I have always taken to make them as 
amusing as possible have frequently been prejudicial to 



6 MY PETS 

the four others where a play has been concerned, the 
fifteen or twenty others where a novel has been in 
question. 

Witness the prologue of Caligula, which killed that 
tragedy, and the first act of Mademoiselle de Belle-Isle, 
which came near ruining that comedy. 

Once people are amused in the first act or the 
first volume, they expect to be amused all through 
— and it is hard, extremely hard, well-nigh impossible, 
to be always amusing. 

On the contrary, when ennui is the order of the 
day in the first act or first volume, a change becomes 
highly desirable — and then the reader or spectator, 
as the case may be, is endlessly grateful for whatever 
is done with a view to bringing that about. 

The prologue alone of Caligula contained stuff 
enough to ensure the success of half a dozen tragedies 
such as Clovis or Artaxerxes, such as Le Cid d'Anda- 
lousie, or Pertinax, or Julien dans les Gaules. 

But we should give only a little bit at a time, and 
above all not at the beginning ! 

A novel or a play is like a dinner. Your guests 
are hungry ; they want to eat, and don't much care 
what they eat so long as their appetite is satisfied. 

Give them a dish of good plain onion soup. Some 
will make a face, perhaps ; but all will take a plateful, 
never fear. Next, give them pork and pickled cab- 
bage — any coarse food you please ; provided there's 
plenty of it, they ask nothing better, and dine without 
a grumble, finally leaving table with the words, 
" Well, it wasn't very delicate fare, to be sure, but, 'pon 
my word, I've dined, anyway." 

That is why authors are often successful who are 
always tiresome, from the beginning of the novel or 
play to the end. 



THE DOG I OWN 7 

This method is the least usual and the most 
uncertain ; I do not advise its adoption. 

Now for the two other systems — and first Walter 
Scott's. 

You serve, as at the dinner just described, onion 
soup to begin with, pickled cabbage, and common 
coarse dishes. But next come game, partridges and 
pheasants, or perhaps poultry, say a goose, and lo ! 
everybody begins to applaud, and forget the unap- 
petising beginning of the meal, and declare they have 
dined like Lucullus. 

My own particular system is the worst of all — I 
said so before. 

I serve up my partridges and pheasants, my turbot 
and lobster at once, and even my pine-apples, which I 
do not reserve for dessert ; then later on you come to 
the jugged hare and Gruyere cheese, and make a wry 
face. Indeed, I am very lucky if you don't go and 
cry on the housetops that my kitchen is a thousand 
yards below the lowest suburban cook-shop and the 
level of the sea. 

However, I begin to see, reader mine, that I have 
wandered a long way from the dog I own and the 
fowls I once owned. 

I really think to-day I have been using Walter 
Scott's method. 

Well, we ought to try everything, you know. 



CHAPTER II 
ENUMERATION OF MY PETS 

WELL, then, we had better go on in the fashion 
of the Wizard of the North — that is to say, 
begin by introducing our characters. 

But, to make them adequately known, the reader 
must be so good as to hark back seven or eight 
years, at which date he will find me residing at Monte 
Cristo. 

Now, how did Monte Cristo come to be so called ? 
/ did not give it the name ; I could never have been 
so foolish and conceited. 

It was one day I was expecting M^lingue to dinner 
with his wife and two children. Monte Cristo was 
only just built, and as yet had no name. 

I had explained as well as I could the situation to 
my guests, but not so accurately as to enable the 
family to find their way there on foot. 

At Le Pecq they took a conveyance. 

" To M. Dumas'," Madame Melingue told the driver. 

" M. Dumas' — where's that ? " the man asked. 

" Why, on the Marly road." 

" There are two Marly roads — the lower road and 
the upper." 

" The deuce there are ! " 

" Well, which is it ? " 

" I don't know." 

8 



ENUMERATION OF MY PETS 9 

" But come, has not M. Dumas' house got a name? " 

" A name ? why, of course ; it's the Chateau de 
Monte Cristo." 

So off they started to look for the Chateau de 
Monte Cristo — and what's more, they found it. 

It was Madame Melingue told me the story. Ever 
after M. Dumas' house was known as the Chateau de 
Monte Cristo. 

It is only right that, when posterity inquires into 
the affair, it should hear the true account of the 
matter. 

Well, in those days I lived at Monte Cristo, and, 
barring the visitors who came to see me, I lived there 
alone, 

I love solitude. For those who can appreciate her 
charms, solitude is the most loving of mistresses. 

The first necessity to a man who works and works 
hard is solitude. Society is the distraction of the 
body ; love the occupation of the heart ; solitude the 
religion of the soul. 

At the same time I do not love a lonely solitude. 
I prefer the solitude of the terrestrial paradise — that 
is to say, a solitude peopled with animals. I adore 
all animals — except those of the human species. 

As a mere boy, I was the greatest birds'-nester, the 
most inveterate bird-catcher in all the broad forest of 
Villers-Cotterets, See my Memoirs passim^ and the 
life and adventures of Ange Pitou. 

The consequence was that, in my solitude at Monte 
Cristo, without boasting either the innocence or the 
costume of Adam, I possessed a Garden of Eden in 
miniature. 

I had — not all at once, but one after the other — 
five dogs : to wit — Pritchard, Phanos, Turk, Caro, 
and Tambo. I had a tame vulture — Diogenes. I had 



10 MY PETS 

three monkeys — one bearing the name of a celebrated 
translator, another that of an illustrious novelist, and 
the third — a lady ape— that of a successful actress. 

The reader will readily understand my motives for 
not mentioning these names, which had been mostly 
given in reference to some detail of the private life or 
some physical peculiarity of the original. 

Now, as a great novelist has said, — I would tell you 
which, but I really am not quite sure, — " private life 
must be held sacred." 

So we will, if you please, call the translator Potich ; 
the novelist, the Last of the Laidvianoirs ; and the she- 
monkey. Mademoiselle Desgarcins. 

I had, moreover, a big blue and red parakeet called 
Buvat, and a green and yellow one known as Papa 
Everard. 

I had a cat named Mysouff, a golden pheasant 
named Lucullus, and a cock named Ccssar. 

Such is an accurate enumeration, I think, of all the 
animals inhabiting Monte Cristo, 

Add a peacock and pea-hen, a dozen fowls, and a 
pair of guinea-fowl, creatures I only set down here for 
the sake of completeness, their individuality being nil 
or next to it. 

Needless to say also that I make no mention of the 
stray dogs which used to come in en passant as they 
went by on the Marly road, upper or lower, and make 
or renew acquaintance with Pritchard, Phanos, Turk, 
Caro, or Tambo. In strict accordance with the laws 
of Arab hospitality, — which, by the bye, the owner of 
Monte Cristo was often blamed for following too 
implicitly, — all these were entertained for longer or 
shorter periods, the length of their stay depending 
solely and entirely on the fancy, caprice, necessities, or 
engagements of these four-footed guests. 



ENUMERATION OF MY PETS 11 

And now, since the destiny of several of the creatures 
residing, about 1850, in the Eden of Monte Cristo is 
more or less closely connected with the fortunes of other 
pets at present occupying the courtyard and garden 
of the house I now occupy in the Rue d'Amsterdam, 
we will conclude this long list of dogs and monkeys 
and birds with a brief enumeration of my new 
favourites. 

A fighting-cock, by name Marlboj'ough. 

Two sea-gulls, known as M. and Madame Denis. 

A heron, named Charles the Fifth. 

A bitch, called Flora. 

A dog, originally called Catinat, but subsequently 
renamed Catiline. 

It is the latter beast to which I apply the character- 
istic phrase I am so proud of having invented — " The 
dog I own, and the fowls I once owned." 

However, before coming to this story, which I 
naturally enough keep for the last, as being the most 
thrilling and dramatic, we have a long talk before us, 
dear reader, our subject-matter being nothing more 
nor less than the detailed biographies of Pritchard, 
Phanos, Turk, Caro, Tambo, Diogenes, PoticJi, the Last 
of the Laidnianoirs, Mademoiselle Desgarcins, Mysouff, 
Buvat, Papa ^verard, Lucullus, and Ccesar. 

We will begin with Pritchard, whose noble qualities 
and high breeding well deserve this honour. 



CHAPTER III 

A SCOTCH POINTER 

PRITCHARD was a '^zotc\i pointer. 
You, all of you, dear readers of the sterner sex, 
know what in sporting language a pointer is ; but it 
may be some of my fair readers may be less familiar 
with canine nomenclature and may need informa- 
tion, and for their sakes we give the explanations that 
follow. 

A pointer is a dog which, as its name imports, points. 
Good pointers come from England, the very best from 
Scotland. 

This is the way the pointer goes to work. Instead 
of running almost under the gun, as most sporting dogs 
do, — brach-hounds,spaniels,or water-spaniels, — he takes 
a wide sweep and hunts at a hundred yards, or even 
two or three hundred on occasion, ahead of his master. 

But, the instant he comes upon game, a good pointer 
stops dead and stands as still as Cephalus' dog, till his 
master actually treads on his tail..'- 

For the benefit of any of our readers, male or female, 
who may not be well up in the Heathen Mythology, we 
will observe that Cephalus' dog was turned into stone 
while chasing a fox. Some people always want to 
know everything, so we will mention, further, that the 
dog's name was Lailaps. 

" But what was the fox's name ? " 

IS 



A SCOTCH POINTER 13 

Ah ! you think you have me there ! Not a bit of 
it ; the Greek word alopex means fox. Well, this fox 
was the {o^ par excellence, and just as Rome was called 
tJie tow7i, urbs, so this fox was called the fox. 

And truly he deserved his pre-eminence. Picture a 
giant fox, sent by Themis to punish the Thebans 
for their offences against her, to which they were 
bound to sacrifice every month a human victim — 
twelve a year, only two less than the Minotaur exacted. 
This would seem to imply a fox standing only four 
or five inches lower than a bull — a very fine height 
for a fox ! 

" But, if Lailaps was turned into stone, the fox got 
away from him ? " 

Never fear, fair readers ; the fox was turned into 
stone at the same moment as the dog. 

If you ever go to Thebes, they will show you both 
of them, trying their best, — they have Been trying for 
three thousand years or so now, — the fox to get away 
from the dog, the dog to catch the fox. 

Where were we ? Oh yes, we were talking about 
pointers, whose bounden duty it is, having made a 
point, to stop as still and steady as a granite dog. 

In England, an aristocratic country, where sport 
is pursued in parks of three or four thousand 
acres surrounded by walls or palings, swarming with 
red-legged partridges and pheasants, the surfaces 
picturesquely variegated with fields of clover, buck- 
wheat, colza, and lucerne, — which they are careful 
not to cut, so that the game may always have covert, 
— the pointers can stop where and when they please 
and stand as stock-still as stone dogs. The game 
will always keep covert. 

But in a democratic country like France, divided up 
among five or six million owners, where every peasant 



14 MY PETS 

has a double-barrelled gun hanging over the mantel- 
shelf, where harvesting operations, impatiently looked 
forward to by the grower, begin punctually to the 
moment and are often all over before the opening of 
the shooting season, a pointer is the very devil. 

Now Fritchard, as I have already said, was a 
pointer. 

But, knowing how disastrous the use of such a dog 
is in France, how in the world, you will naturally ask, 
did I come to have a pointer ? 

Ah ! good Lord ! and how does it come about a 
man has a bad wife, tell me that ; or a false friend 
who cheats him ; or a gun that bursts in your fingers 
— and this for all our being so knowing in women and 
men and guns ? Why, circumstances, circumstances, 
and the inevitable haphazards of life ! 

The fact is, I had gone to Ham to pay a visit to 
a prisoner in that historic fortress for whom I felt a 
sincere respect. Indeed, I always feel great respect for 
prisoners and exiles. Does not Sophocles tell us : 
" Honour calamity ; calamity comes from the gods " ? 

On his side, the prisoner in question was much 
attached to me. We quarrelled later, . . . but that 
is another story. 

Well, I spent some days at Ham, in the course of 
which I naturally saw something of the special Com- 
missary of the Government — a charming gentleman, 
by name M. Lerat. He showed me many flattering 
attentions, taking me on one occasion to the Fair of 
Chauny, where I bought a pair of horses, and on 
another to the Castle of Coucy, where I climbed to the 
top of the great donjon. 

Finally, on the last day of my stay, having heard me 
mention that I was in want of a sporting dog — 

" Ah ! " he informed me, " I am delighted to say 



A SCOTCH POINTER 15 

I can give you a real handsome present ! One of my 
friends, who lives in Scotland, has sent me a dog of 
royal breed ; I will giv^e him you." 

How refuse a gift offered so gracefully, even though 
the animal was a pointer ? 

" Bring Pritchard here," he went on, turning to his 
little girls, two charming children of ten or twelve. 

Pritchard was duly introduced. He was a dog with 
prick ears, or almost so, mustard-coloured eyes, a long 
greyish white coat, waving a magnificent feathery plume 
at the end of his tail. 

With the exception of this ornament, he was an ill- 
looking beast enough. But I have read in the Selectee 
e profanis scriptoribus that we should not judge 
people by appearances, and in Don Quixote that " the 
habit does not make the monk." So I asked myself 
why a rule applicable to men should not be equally so 
to dogs ? and trusting to Cervantes and Seneca, I 
received the present now made me with open arms. 

M. Lerat appeared even more pleased to give me 
his dog than I was to receive him ; it is the mark of 
kind hearts to care less to get than to give. 

" The children," he told me, with a laugh, " call him 
Pritchard. But if you don't like the name, you are at 
liberty to give him any other you choose." 

I had nothing to say against the name ; indeed, if 
anybody had an objection to make, it seemed to me it 
was the dog. But Pritchard said nothing, so Pritchard 
he remained. 

I returned to Saint-Germain, — I had not taken up my 
abode as yet at Rlonte Cristo at the time I speak of, — 
richer — or poorer, if you prefer it — by a dog and two 
horses than when I left home. 

Perhaps, under the circumstances, /i?^;-^;- is the better 
word, for one of my nags had the glanders and the 



16 MY PETS 

other strained himself badly. The consequence was I 
had to get rid of them both for a hundred and fifty- 
francs, and the vet. declared I was well out of the 
business. They had cost me two thousand francs. 

As for Pritchard, in whom you are mainly interested, 
we shall see what became of him. , 



CHAPTER IV 
"THEY'VE GOT THE JAY!" 

ACCORDING to the most likely calculations, 
Pritchard might be nine or ten months old — 
past the age when dogs begin their education. The 
great thing was to select a good teacher. 

I had an old friend in the forest of Le Vesinet. 
He was called Vatrin ; indeed I may say he r's called, 
for I hope and believe he is still in the land of the 
living. 

Our acquaintance dated from the early days of my 
boyhood ; his father had been keeper of the division of 
the forest of Villers-Cotterets over which my father 
had the right of shooting. Vatrin was a lad of twelve 
or fifteen then, and ever after he retained a heroically 
exaggerated mental picture of t/ie General — so he 
always spoke of my father. 

To give an instance. One day my father was 
thirsty, and stopped at Keeper Vatrin's door to ask for 
a glass of water. 

Vatrin senior gave the General a glass of wine 
instead, and when he had drunk it, the admiring fellow 
actually put the glass on a pedestal of black oak and 
covered it with a glass shade, as if it had been a sacred 
relic. 

When he died he left the glass by will to his son. 
To this day, most likely, it forms the chief ornament 



18 MY PETS 

of the old forest-keeper's mantelshelf. For the son in 
turn has grown old — though that in no way prevented 
his still being, the last time I saw him, one of the 
most active head keepers of the forest of Saint- 
Germain. 

Vatrin is perhaps fifteen or sixteen years my senior. 
When we were both of us young together, the differ- 
ence was more noticeable and important than it is 
nowadays. 

He was a tall, well-grown boy when I was still a 
little chap, and I used to follow his lead with all the 
simple admiration of childhood on bird-catching and 
bird-liming expeditions. 

The truth is, Vatrin was one of the cleverest snarers 
I have ever known. 

More than once, when I have been telling my 
Parisian friends, male or female, of this eminently 
picturesque form of sport known as liming, and after I 
had done my very best to make them understand how 
it is done, one of my auditors has ended by saying — 

" Well, I must say I should enjoy seeing the thing 
in action," 

Then I would ask the company to fix a day, and 
this settled, I would write a line to Vatrin — 

" My dear Vatrin, — Get a tree ready. We will 
sleep such and such a night at Collinet's, and next 
morning at five o'clock we will be at your service." 

You know, of course, who Collinet is — the landlord 
of the Pavilion Henri iv at Saint-Germain, one of the 
best cooks in creation. 

Whenever you go to Saint-Germain, ask him to give 
you cotelettes a la bearnaise. Use my name, and tell 
me afterwards how you liked them ! 

Well, in due course Vatrin would turn up at 



"THEY'VE GOT THE JAY!" 19 

ColHnet's, and with a wink that was peculiar to 
himself — 

" It's all right," he would say. 

" The tree is ready ? " 

" Rather." 

" And the jay ? " 

" We've got the jay." 

" Up and at 'em, then ! Hurrah ! " 

Then, turning to the company — 

" Ladies and gentlemen," I would observe oratoric- 
ally, " here's good news ! They've got the jay ! " 

Nine times out of ten nobody knew what I meant. 

Yet it was an all-important announcement ; it meant 
the certainty of good sport to-morrow. The moment 
they had the jay, a good morning's work was assured. 

A word of explanation to make the full importance 
of this apparent. 

La Fontaine, whom folks will call the ivorthy La 
Fontaine, just as they speak of Plutarch as the zvorthy 
Plutarch^ has written a fable about the jay, which he 
entitles, " The Jay that dressed in Peacock's feathers." 

Well, that's all pure calumny — nothing more nor 
less ! The jay, one of the most mischievous and ill- 
conditioned of birds, never conceived the notion, I'll 
swear, of doing anything so silly as La F'ontaine says. 
He never did such a thing, and it's a hundred to one 
never thought of such a thing. 

It would have been far better for him if he had, 
instead of doing what he does ; he would have brought 
far fewer enemies about his ears. 

What is it the jay does, then ? You know the myth 
of Saturn, who used to devour his children ? Well, the 
jay is a better father than Saturn ; he only eats other 
people's, or rather other birds', children. 

Now you can understand the virulent hatred vowed 



20 MY PETS 

against the jay by all the smaller members of the 
feathered tribe — tomtits, siskins, chaffinches, gold- 
finches, nightingales, warblers, linnets, bullfinches, and 
red-breasts, whose eggs or chicks the jay gobbles 
up. 

They all hate him like death ; but none of them is 
strong enough to tackle a jay. 

Only, let any misfortune, any accident, any disaster 
befall a jay, and all the birds of the countryside are in 
ecstasies. 

Well, it is a misfortune, an accident, a terrible 
disaster for a jay to fall into the hands of a bird-snarer, 
while at the same time it is a veritable stroke of luck 
for a bird-catcher to get hold of a jay. For when 
once the snarer has prepared his tree — that is to say, has 
thinned the leaves, made incisions in the boughs, and 
fixed limed twigs in these ; when beneath the tree he 
has built his hut, well covered up with broom and 
heather ; when, alone or with his companions, he has 
taken up his position inside it, instead of being obliged 
to imitate by means of a leaf of couch grass or a bit of 
silk, the song, or rather the cry, of the different birds, he 
has only, if he has a jay, to pull the bird out of his 
pocket and twitch out a feather from its tail. 

The jay gives a sharp cry, which rings through the 
forest. 

Instantly all the tomtits, chaffinches, siskins, bull- 
finches, warblers, red-breasts, nightingales, goldfinches, 
red and grey linnets, for miles round give a simultane- 
ous start and listen with all their ears. 

Then the operator twitches another feather from the 
jay's wing, and the bird gives another cry. 

Thereupon fierce rejoicing among all the feathered 
tribe ; it is plain some calamity has befallen the 
common enemy. 



" THEY'\ E GOT THE JAY I ' 21 

What can it be ? where is it ? which way ? We must 
hurry up to see ! 

The bird-catcher pulls a third feather from his 
captive's wing, and again the cry of pain is heard. 

" Ah ! there it is ! This way, this way ! " chorus 
the little birds, one and all — and they fly in flocks, in 
hosts, towards the tree from which those three shrill 
outcries have come. 

Now, as the tree is armed with limed twigs, every 
bird that lights on it is a bird caught. 

That's the reason why I would announce to my 
guests, as I introduced Vatrin : " Ladies and gentle- 
men, great news ! They've got the jay ! " 

You see, dear readers, everything is explained in my 
stories ; only you must give me time — especially when 
I am following Walter Scott's method. 
K Well, it was to this worthy fellow Vatrin's place — 
I have borrowed his name, by the bye, to bestow it on 
the hero of one of my romances, already published : 
Catherine Blum, to wit — that I now took Pritchard, 



CHAPTER V 
VATRIN AND HIS PIPE 

VATRIN looked the dog up and down with a 
depreciatory look. 

" H'm ! another Englishman ! " he growled. 

But, before we go further, you must make Vatrin's 
acquaintance. 

He is a man of five feet six, lean, bony, sharp- 
featured. There's never a bramble bush his legs, 
equipped with long leather gaiters, won't stride through, 
never a coppice of ten years' growth his elbows, as 
sharp as a carpenter's square, won't cleave. 

He is taciturn as a rule, as men are who are used 
to going the rounds at night. When dealing with 
his under-keepers, who look upon him as an infallible 
oracle, he limits himself to a wink or a wave of the 
hand — and they perfectly understand. 

One of the ornaments — I should rather say one of 
the features — of his face is his pipe. Whether it ever 
had a stem I cannot say, but I have never seen it 
under any other aspect than as a cutty. 

The reason is plain enough — Vatrin smokes incess- 
antly. Now, to make way through the tangled 
undergrowth, he must have a pipe of a special sort, a 
pipe that does not project beyond the tip of his nose, 
to the end pipe and nose may work together in concert 
to make a passage for the face. 

By dint of always pressing the pipe-stem, such as it 

88 



VATRIN AND HIS PIPE 23 

is, Vatrin's teeth — those that are so employed — have 
been worn into a half-circle above and below. Thus 
the stem is caught as it were in a vice, from which it 
cannot move, once it has been inserted. Vatrin's pipe 
never quits his mouth save to bend gracefully over the 
edge of his bacca pouch and be filled from the contents, 
like the Princess Nausicaa's amphora at the fountain 
or Rachel's water-jar at the well. 

Once stuffed full, Vatrin's pipe at once resumes its 
place in the vice. Then the old head keeper pulls from 
his pocket his flint, steel, and tinder ; for Vatrin does 
not hold with new-fangled ideas, and speaks contemptu- 
ously of chemical contrivances. Then he lights his 
pipe, and till it is finished to the very end, the smoke 
issues from his mouth as regularly and almost as 
abundantly as the steam from a steam-engine. 

" Vatrin," I told him one day, " when you can't 
walk any more, you will only have to get a couple of 
wheels fitted, and your head will serve as locomotive 
to your body." 

" I shall always be able to walk," Vatrin answered, 
in his simple way — and he spoke only the truth ; the 
Wandering Jew was not better provided in the way of 
walking capabilities. 

Needless to mention that Vatrin replies to a question 
without requiring to displace his pipe. His pipe is a 
sort of vegetable growth in his jaws, a black coral 
grafted on to his teeth. The only difference it makes 
is that he speaks with a sort of hissing articulation 
peculiar to himself, caused by the limited space his 
teeth allow the sound to issue by. 

Vatrin has three ways, three degrees, of paying his 
respects. 

For me, for instance, he contents himself with lifting 
his hat and replacing it on his head. 



24 MY PETS 

For a superior, he removes his hat and carries it in 
his hand. 

For a Prince, he removes his hat from his head and 
his pipe from his mouth. 

To take his pipe from his mouth is the highest mark 
of consideration Vatrin can pay. 

But when this is done, you must not suppose he 
relaxes his teeth by a single fraction of an inch. Just 
the opposite ; the two jaws, having nothing now to 
separate them, come together as if moved by a spring, 
and instead of the hissing sound diminishing, it is 
increased, the sound now having only the small opening 
due to the pipe-stem to come out at. 

Moreover, a fine sportsman, whether after fur or 
feathers, hardly ever missing his shot, and bringing 
down snipe as easily as you and I can a pheasant ; 
knowing every haunt and run and trace of game ; telling 
you at a glance all particulars of the wild-boar you have 
tracked down, whether a yearling, a " rogue," a solitary, 
or a four-year-old ; distinguishing the sow, and in- 
forming you, by the impress of the hoof, whether she 
is with pig and how many the litter will be ; in a word, 
everything a man can wish to know before attacking 
the quarry. 
^s Well, Vatrin looked at Pritchard, and said, " H'm ! 
another EnglisJiman, eh ? " 

Pritchard was weighed in the balance and found 
wanting. Vatrin was as little enamoured with modern 
progress in the matter of dogs as of the means of 
striking a light. The utmost concession he had been 
able to bring himself to make was to advance from the 
old-fashioned French brach-hound, the dear old grey 
and brown dog our fathers swore by, to the double- 
nosed English setter bitch, black and tan. 

But the pointer he could not abide at any price. 



VATRIN AND HIS PIPE 25 

So he raised all sorts of difficulties about undertaking 
Pritchard's education. 

He even went so far as to offer to give me a dog of 
his own, one of those faithful old servants a sportsman 
only parts with to his father or his son. 

I refused ; it was Pritchard I wanted, and not some 
other dog. 

Vatrin heaved a sigh, offered me a glass of wine in 
the General's glass, and agreed to keep Pritchard. 

This he did accordingly, but not so successfully as 
to prevent that animal being back at the Villa 
Medicis within two hours. 

I have mentioned the fact that at this date I had 
not yet settled at Monte Cristo, but I forgot to say I 
was then living at the Villa Medicis. 

Pritchard received a warm welcome — warm in one 
sense ; he got a good thrashing, and Michel, my 
gardener, gate-keeper, and general factotum, was ordered 
to take him back to Vatrin's. 

Michel did so, and asked particulars as to how he 
had escaped. Pritchard, it seems, had been penned in 
with the rest of the keeper's dogs, but had jumped over 
the palisade, and bolted back to the house of his pre- 
dilection. 

The railing in question was four feet high, and 
Vatrin had never known a dog leap so high. But then 
he had never owned a pointer. 

Next morning, when the front door was opened at 
the Villa Medicis, Pritchard was found squatted on the 
steps. 

He received a second thrashing, and once again 
Michel was ordered to take him back to the keeper's. 

The latter put an old collar round the dog's neck 
and chained him up, Michel returned, announcing this 
harsh but necessary precaution. Vatrin, for his part, 



26 MY PETS 

sent word I should see no more of Pritchard till his 
training was complete. 

Next day, as I sat working in a summer-house 
lying at the very end of the garden, I heard a noise of 
furious barking. 

It was Pritchard fighting a huge Pyrenean boar- 
hound, which a neighbour of mine, M. Challamel, had 
made me a present of. 

I quite forgot, by the bye, dear readers, to tell you 
about this animal — the Pyrenean hound. You must 
allow me to come back to him in a subsequent chapter. 
Possibly my forgetfulness was premeditated — a stroke 
of art, in fact ; for it will likely enough bring into 
prominence one of my pet virtues — my readiness to 
forgive injuries. 

Pritchard, after being rescued by Michel from 
Mouton's jaws (the Pyrenean hound was called Mouton 
(sheep), not because of any mildness of disposition — in 
that case the name would have been singularly in- 
appropriate — but on account of his white coat, which 
was as fine and fleecy as wool), Pritchard, I say, after 
being rescued by Michel from Mouton's tender mercies, 
got a third thrashing, and was reconducted for the 
third time to Vatrin's domicile. 

Pritchard had eaten his collar ! Vatrin often asked 
himself the question how the animal contrived to per- 
form this remarkable feat, but he could never arrive at 
a satisfactory answer. 

This time the dog was shut up in a sort of wood- 
house, whence he could not very well escape without 
eating either the wall or the door. 

He tried both these expedients, and presumably 
finding the latter less indigestible than the former, 
he ate the door, like the father of The Captive in 
M. d'Arlincourt's play — 



VATRIN AND HIS PIPE 27 

" Mon pere, en ma prison, seul k manger m'apporte 
(a mang^ ma porte)." 

The next day but one, at dinner-time, lo ! Pritchard 
marching into the eating-room, his magnificent tail 
waving in the wind, his yellow eyes crying with joy. 

It was too much : this time he was not beaten, and 
was not sent back again. 

Vatrin's arrival was awaited, to hold a council of 
war and adjudge Pritchard a deserter for the fourth 
time. 



CHAPTER VI 
PRITCHARD AND THE CUTLET 

NEXT morning Vatrin arrived with the first streak 
of dawn. 

" A blackguard ! Did you ever see such a black- 
guard ? " he began the instant he saw me. 

The man was so excited and angry he clean forgot 
to say good morning even. 

" Vatrin," I said, " I notice one thing — your cutty 
is shorter than it ever was before." 

" I should think so indeed ; that blackguard of a 
Pritchard puts me in such a rage I've broken off the 
stem three times over between my teeth, and my wife 
has been obliged to wind it round with thread. Else 
he would ruin me in pipe-stems, the good-for-nothing 
varmint ! " 

" Do you hear, Pritchard, what they're saying about 
you ? " I said to the dog, who was sitting on his tail 
in the middle of the floor. 

Pritchard heard me, but presumably he failed to 
understand the gravity of the charge, for he only 
looked at me with his most affectionate leer, sweeping 
the boards meantime with his tail. 

" Ah ! " went on Vatrin, " if the General had had a 
dog like him ! " 

" What would he have done, Vatrin ? " I asked. 
" We will do what he would have done." 

2S 



PRITCHARD AND THE CUTLET 29 

" He would," said Vatrin, " he would have " 

Then, stopping to think — 

" He would have done nothing," he resumed ; " for 
the General, look you, was the most good-tempered 
man God ever made." 

" Well, what shall we do, Vatrin ? " 

" Devil fly away with me if I know ! " said Vatrin. 
" If I persist in keeping the blackguard, he'll tear the 
house down ; if I give him back to you . . . But there, 
I don't mean to be bested by a dog ; that's a bit too 
humiliating, mind you." 

I saw he had reached the last stage of exasperation, 
and I thought it best to say something conciliatory. 

" Listen here, Vatrin," I told him. " I'm going to put 
on my shooting boots and leggings. We'll go down 
to Le Vesinet and take a turn round your preserves, 
and see, the two of us together, if it's worth while taking 
more trouble with the blackguard, as you call him." 

" I only call him as he deserves. He's a brigand, I 
say ; his name ought not to be Pritchard at all, but 
Cartouche or Mandrin, Poulailler or Artifaille ! " 

Vatrin named the four greatest robbers whose ex- 
ploits and adventures had beguiled his youthful leisure. 

" Pooh ! pooh ! " I told Vatrin. " Let us go on calling 
him Pritchard. Come, admit even Pritchard had his 
merits — indeed has them still." 

" Very good ! " muttered Vatrin. " I only said that 
because I never knew Pritchard in the past, and I do 
know the other dogs." 

I shouted for Michel. " Michel," I said, " tell them 
to bring me my shooting boots and leggings. W^e are 
going to Le Vesinet to see what Pritchard is good for." 

" Well, well," Michel replied, " Monsieur will find he 
won't have so much fault to find as he thinks." 

Michel had always shown a sneaking fondness for 



30 MY PETS 

the dog. The real fact is Michel is a bit of a poacher, 
and Pritchard, as we shall see later on, was a true 
poacher's dog. 

We went down to Le Vesinet, Michel holding 
Pritchard on a leash, Vatrin and myself devising, not, 
like Amadis of Gaul, doughty deeds of war and love, 
but deeds of sporting prowess. 

At the turn of the hill — 

" Look, look, Michel ! " I exclaimed. " There's a dog 
so like Pritchard." 

" Why, where ? " 

" Down yonder, on the bridge, five hundred yards 
ahead of us." 

" It's very true, 'pon my word," said Vatrin. 

The resemblance appeared so striking to Michel 
that he glanced behind him. 

Pritchard was gone ; not a trace of him to be seen. 
The animal had quietly severed the leash with his 
cutting teeth, and, making a detour, had got in front 
of the party. 

It was Pritchard swaggering there on the bridge of 
Le Pecq, looking out through the openings in the 
parapet to see the water flow by. 

" The skunk ! " cried Michel, for even he was dis- 
gusted. Astonishing, by the bye, what a number of 
strange names Pritchard had the faculty of calling to 
the lips of his two-legged friends. " I say, Vatrin," I 
observed, " if we don't know what else to make of 
Pritchard, we will make him a language master." 

" You'll make a rogue and vagabond of him," growled 
Vatrin, " and nothing else, I tell you. Do you see 
where he's going ? Look, look ! " 

" Vatrin, do not abuse poor Pritchard for his good 
qualities ; you will have quite enough to do, I assure 
you, if you attend to his bad ones only. I'll tell you 



 5 f t c c « c • o e o 



c . . t cc e coc c  

c, c c t • f ,c c "L ' 'c t ' 

C ' t < '' r ,' c 'c' C C , c < < . c' 







;.#5^'^ 



IN HIS lAWS HE HELD A CU lI.E 1' HE HAD JUST KILCHED KKOM THE GKIDIRON 



PRITCHARD AND THE CUTLET 31 

where he is going : he's going to bid good morning to 
my friend Correge and eat his breakfast for him, unless 
the maid keeps a sharp look-out." 

And so it turned out : another moment, and Pritchard 
darted out of the station of Le Pecq, hotly pursued by 
a woman armed with a broom. 

In his jaws he held a cutlet he had just filched 
from the gridiron. 

" Monsieur Dumas," the woman was shouting, 
" Monsieur Dumas, stop your dog ! " 

Accordingly we blocked Pritchard's way. 

" Stop him, stop him ! " vociferated the woman. 

Stop him indeed ! As well try to stop Boreas carry- 
ing off the nymph Orithyia. Pritchard shot between 
Michel and me like a flash of lightning. 

It seems the scoundrel likes his meat bleeding 



raw." 



" Mutton bleating, veal bleeding, pork rotten," quoted 
Vatrin sententiously, as he gazed after Pritchard, who 
disappeared round a bend in the hill. 

" Well," I remarked to the keeper, " you don't know 
yet whether he can retrieve, but at any rate he can 
deceive." 

By this time the woman had joined us, and wanted 
to go on with the pursuit of Pritchard. 

" But, my good woman," I expostulated, " you will 
only waste your time ; by the time you catch up with 
the dog, if ever you do, the cutlet will be far enough, 
I imagine." 

" You think so ? " said the woman, leaning on her 
broom to recover breath. 

" I don't think — I'm sure of it." 

" Then you can boast of feeding a fine thief." 

" This morning, my good woman, it's you are feed- 
ing him, not I." 



32 MY PETS 

"Yes, that's true, that's true ... at least M. 
Correge is. Well, now, what will M. Correge say, I 
wonder ? " 

" He will say what Michel said just now : ' It seems 
Pritchard likes his meat bleeding raw,' " 

" Yes, but he'll be anything but pleased, and I shall 
have to pay for it." 

" Listen here : I'm going to tell him to come and 
have breakfast at the Villa Medicis." 

" All the same, if he goes on as he has begun, he'll 
come to a bad end, your dog will. ... I say no more 
— he'll come to a bad end ! " — and the dame pointed 
her broom handle in the direction in which Pritchard 
had vanished. 

So nothing was wanting to add impressiveness to 
the witch's prophecy, not even the broomstick ! 



:?^ 



CHAPTER VII 
A GLASS OF WINE 

THUS we stood on the bridge of Le Pecq, Vatrin, 
Michel, and I, our eyes fixed on the particular 
point of the horizon where Pritchard had disappeared, 
while the woman held her broom pointing in the same 
direction in an attitude of malediction. . . 

If a painter had wished to draw the subject of 
a picture from the narrative I am telling you, this 
is precisely the point he would have chosen for 
illustration. 

In the foreground he would have placed a pictur- 
esquely grouped quartette ; in the middle distance, 
Pritchard in full flight, cutlet in mouth — he would be 
bound to show the dog, to make the scene intelligible ; 
in the background and closing the horizon, the pretty 
town of Saint-Germain, built semicircularly on the side 
of the hill, and showing conspicuously, as the first object 
to meet the traveller's eye, the famous Pavilion where 
Anne of Austria was brought to bed, and the window 
from which Louis XIII, beaming with pride and satis- 
faction, showed his son, Louis XIV, to the people. 
y> Vatrin was the first to recover the power of speech. 
I " Oh, the blackguard ! the blackguard ! " he groaned. 
" Well, my dear Vatrin," I told him, " I think our 
^ort is finished for the day." 

3 



34 MY PETS 

" Why so ? " asked Michel. 

" Why, because we were to take Pritchard with us, 

and we have lost Pritchard " 

" So Monsieur doesn't believe he'll come back 
again ? " 

" Egad, Michel ! I only judge by what I should do 
myself. I know, if I were he, I should take good care 
not to." 

" Monsieur does not know Pritchard. He's a dog 
devoid of shame." 

"Then you advise, Michel ?" 

" That we walk on quietly to M. Vatrin's. There 
we can eat a mouthful of bread and cheese and drink 
a glass of wine, and I shall be surprised if in ten 
minutes or so you don't feel Pritchard's tail tickling 
your legs." 

" So that's it, eh ? " Vatrin assented hospitably. 
" Well, as luck will have it, my wife had a bit of veal 
cooked yesterday, and Pve got a nice little Loiret 
wine — it's my wife's native district, you know — I 
think you'll like it ... I remember you're fond of 
veal." 

'* I was so young when you knew me first, dear old 
Vatrin, I could not hide any of my failings from you, 
if I wanted to. But about Correge ? " 

" We'll pick him up as we go by ; when there's 
enough for two, there's enough for three." 

" Yes, but we shall be four." 

" Well, and what of the fowls ? do you think they've 
left off laying ? We'll have an omelette." 

" Bravo, Vatrin ! I'm in for a good time, I can see. 
Hurrah for the Loiret ! hurrah for the veal and the 
omelette ! " 

" To say nothing of an excellent cup of coffee. 
Ah ! you shall see what good milk's like." 



A GLASS OF WINE 35 

" Good, Vatrin, good ; so come along." 

" Come along by all means. . . . But confound that 
blackguard of a dog ! " 

" Why, what's the matter ? " 

" The matter ! Why, I've let my pipe out. 
Another like him to train, and upon my word of 
honour they'd drive me stupid the two of them ! " 

Vatrin pulled out his flint and tinder, laid on with 
the steel, and relit his pipe. 

Then we set off again. We had not gone twenty 
yards when Michel nudged me with his elbow. I 
looked at him, and he signed to me to look behind 
me. 

Half Pritchard's body was visible poking round the 
corner of the wall he had disappeared behind. He 
was watching what we were after, and most likely 
trying hard to guess our thoughts. 

" Pretend not to see him," whispered Michel, " and 
he will come after us." 

And so it was ; I made as though I could see 
nothing, and Pritchard presently came out and fell 
in behind us. 

As we passed the station of Le Vesinet, I added 
Correge to our band, v , . 

Do you care, dear readers, to see a fine swimmer 
and make the acquaintance of an excellent fellow ? 
If so, take a ticket at Saint-Germain for the station 
of Le Vesinet, and on reaching that place ask for 
Correge. 

The excellent fellow will, I undertake to say, put 
himself at your service for anything you please. 

As a first-rate swimmer, he will follow the course 
of the Seine with you as far as Saint-Cloud, or, if you 
insist a bit, all the way to Paris. 
-A In due course we arrived at Vatrin's. Before going 



36 MY PETS 

into the house, I turned round and could see Pritchard, 
keeping away judiciously at a respectful distance — 
two hundred yards or so, in fact. 

I gave Michel a nod of comprehension and content- 
ment, and we all went in. 

" Wife," Vatrin called out, " breakfast ! " 
Madame Vatrin threw a look of consternation in 
our direction. 

" Oh, Lord preserve us ! " she exclaimed, in alarm. 
" Why, what then ? " Vatrin reassured her. " There 
are four of us ; well, four bottles of wine, an omelette 
with twelve eggs in it, the bit of veal, and a good cup 
of coffee each — that'll be all right enough." 

Madame Vatrin heaved a sigh — not that the excellent 
woman thought us too many, but only because she was 
afraid there would not be enough for us to eat. 

" Come, come, we'll do the sighing to-morrow," 
laughed Vatrin ; " quick's the word. We are in a hurry." 
In a jiffy the table was laid and the four bottles of 
Loiret ranged in line on the tablecloth. 

The butter could be heard beginning to sizzle already 
in the frying-pan. 

" Now, tell me what you think of my little country 
wine, eh ? " said Vatrin, pouring me out a full glass. 

" Vatrin, Vatrin," I protested, " what the deuce are 
you doing? "- • . 

" True, I forgot you were like the General ; he never 
drank anything but water. Sometimes, as a great 
dissipation, a glass of wine and water, though once my 
father made him drink a glass of neat wine — look, 
there's the very glass on the mantelshelf. You've 
never seen the glass, have you. Monsieur Correge ? 
Well, we call it the General's glass. Poor General ! " 
Then, turning to me — 
Ah ! if only he could see you writing the books 



A GLASS OF WINE 37 

you do, and shooting as you do, he'd be fine and 
proud." 

It was my turn now to heave a sigh. 

" There," said Vatrin, " I've no tact at all ! though 
I knew all the time you're like that when I talk about 
the General. But, hang it ! I can't help doing it. He 
was a man — by the Lord ! . . . There now, I've 
broken my pipe." 

The fact is, Vatrin, to give greater emphasis to his 
words, had wanted to clack his teeth together, and 
this time had snapped off his pipe-stem close to the 
bowl. 

The latter had tumbled on the floor and broken 
into a thousand pieces. 

" Oh Lord ! oh Lord ! " cried Vatrin. " Such a 
nobly coloured pipe as it was ! " 

" Well, well, Vatrin, you must colour another, that's 
all." 

" Anybody can see you're no smoker," growled 
Vatrin ; " if you were, you'd know it takes a pipe six 
months to acquire a bit of flavour. You smoke. 
Monsieur Correge ? " 

" I should think I do ! only I smoke cigars." 

" Ah ! " grunted Vatrin ; " then you don't know 
what a pipe is." 

The keeper opened a cupboard and selected a pipe 
almost as deeply coloured as the one he had just had 
the misfortune to smash. 

" Good ! " I observed. " I see you keep a reserve 
stock, my dear fellow." 

" Oh yes," he admitted, " I have ten or a dozen of 
them in different degrees of perfection ; but all the 
same, that chap was my favourite." 

" Pooh ! say no more about it, Vatrin ; there are some 
calamities are incurable, and it's best to forget them." 



38 MY PETS 

" Right you are. Now, taste that liquor, and just 
hold up a glass to the light ; it's as clear as a ruby. 
To your good health ! " 

" The same to you, Vatrin ! " and I drained off my 
glass to please him. 



CHAPTER VIII 
WORSE AND WORSE 

I HAD barely emptied the glass when we heard a 
terrible outcry. 

" Thief ! robber ! wretch ! " Madame Vatrin's voice 
was screaming in the kitchen. 

« Fire ! " cried Michel. 

The word was hardly out of his mouth before 
Vatrin's glass had been sent flying with all the force 
of my arm muscles. 

A yell of pain was heard. 

" Ah ha ! " laughed Michel. " Monsieur hasn't 
missed this time, anyway." 

" What is it now ? " asked Correge. 

" I wager it's that blackguard of a Pritchard again," 
growled Vatrin. 

" Wager away, Vatrin ; you'll win your bet," I told 
him, darting out into the yard as I spoke. 

"If only it isn't the veal ! " cried Vatrin, turning pale. 

" That's just what it is," announced Madame Vatrin, 
appearing in the doorway ; " I had just put it on the 
window-ledge, and that brute of a dog whipped it off." 

" Well," said I, coming in again with the veal in my 
hand, " I have recovered it for you." 

" So it was at Pritchard you threw the glass ? " 

" That's so," said Michel, " and the glass isn't broken ! 
Well, sir, I call that a fine bit of jugglery." 

39 



40 MY PETS 

The glass had caught the dog just in the bend 
of the shoulder, and dropped back on the grass 
unbroken. 

But the blow had been sharp enough to draw a 
yelp from Pritchard. To utter this, the dog had been 
obliged to unclose his jaws, and in doing so he had let 
go the joint of veal. 

It had fallen on the clean grass, and I had picked it 
up and carried it within doors. 

" Come, come," I said, " be comforted, Madame 
Vatrin. We shall breakfast all right " 

I was going to add, like Ajax, " in defiance of the 
gods ! " but thinking the expression a trifle high- 
falutin, " in defiance of Pritchard," I said instead. 

" What ! " cried Madame Vatrin, " you are going to 
eat that veal ? " 

" I should think so indeed ! " replied Michel. " It's 
only a question of cutting away the place where the 
teeth went in ; there's nothing more wholesome than 
a dog's mouth." 

" That's true enough ! " assented Vatrin. 

" True ! of course it's true. Why, if you get hurt, 
sir, by any chance, all you have to do is to let a dog 
lick your wound. There's never a plaster in the world 
so good as a dog's tongue." 

" Unless he's a mad dog." 

" Oh ! ah ! that's a different matter. But if ever 
Monsieur zvas bitten by a mad dog, he ought to take 
the hind leg of a frog, the liver of a rat, the tongue " 

" Good, Michel, good ! If ever I am bitten, I 
promise you I will use your recipe." . , 

" It's the same if Monsieur was ever stung by a 
viper. . . . Have you ever seen any, Vatrin, in the 
forest of Le V^sinet ? " 

" No, never." 



WORSE AND WORSE 41 

" So much the worse ; because, if ever you are stung 

by a viper, you have only " 

I broke in — 

" Only to rub the wound with alkali and drink five 
or six drops of the same mixed with water." 

" Yes ; and supposing Monsieur is three or four 
leagues from a town, where is he going to procure 
alkali ? " observed Michel. 

" Yes ! " said Correge, " where will you get any ? " 

" Quite true," I admitted, hanging my head, crushed 
beneath the weight of argument, " I don't know where 
I could get any." 

" Then what would Monsieur do ? " 

" I should do like the ancient PsylH of Libya, I 
should begin by sucking the place." 

" And supposing the place were somewhere 
Monsieur could not suck — on the elbow, for in- 
stance ? " 

I felt more crushed than ever. 

" Well, Monsieur would only have to catch the 
viper, break in its head, open its belly, take out its 
gall-bladder, and rub the place with it. In two hours 
he would be well." 

" You are sure of that, Michel ? " 

"Sure? I should think I was sure. It was M. 
Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire told me, the last time I 
went to the Jardin des Plantes for eggs. You won't 
tell me he's not an authority, I suppose ? " 

"Oh no, Michel, you need not fear; I shall never 
tell you anything of the sort." 

Michel has a whole host of recipes, each more effica- 
cious than the other, which he borrows from different 
sources. I ought to say that all these sources are not 
as trustworthy as the one he had just quoted. • .  

" There ! " said Correge at this moment, — which meant 



42 MY PETS 

the veal had been operated on according to his method, 
and displayed on every surface a pink and appetising 
flesh from which all trace of the dog's teeth had 
disappeared. 

After the veal came the omelette ; a thick omelette, 
of a fine deep orange, rather creamy. , , 

Yes, creamy ; that is the proper technical word, as 
my fair readers will be aware, if they happen to possess 
a cook who can make omelettes — which I very much 
doubt. It's not my word, and Bescherelle's Dictionary, 
which contains ten thousand words more than the 
Dictionnaire de I'Acad^mie, gives this and no other. 

Ah ! I see you are annoyed because I doubt your 
having a cook who can turn out an omelette. You 
say you have a cordon bleu ! Well, that only confirms 
me in my scepticism. An omelette is a housewife's 
dish, what a farmer's wife or peasant woman is the best 
hand at, not a professed cook ! An omelette and a 
chicken stew, those are the two things I set a new cook, 
male or female, to work upon when I want to test 
their capabilities. 

" But, after all, who ever eats omelettes ? " 

Oh ! but you make a huge mistake, my fair readers ! 
Open Brillat-Savarin at the word omelette, and read 
the paragraph headed Omelette d laitance de carpe 
(carp's roe omelette). 

An omelette ! Ask the accomplished gourmet what 
he thinks of an omelette. 

I would have taken my teacher of the violin ten 
leagues any day to eat a crayfish omelette and a bacon 
salad. 

" What ! you once kept a violin master ? " 

" What ! once kept a violin master ? . . . I should 
think I did — for three years; see my Memoirs /^.sj'm." 

" But I never heard say you played the violin." 



WORSE AND WORSE 43 

" No more I do ; but that does not prevent my 
having learnt to play. See my Memoirs again." 

" You should have stuck to it." 

" Oh, I am not a M. Ingres or a Raphael to show 
such desperate perseverance." 

However, to come back to Madame Vatrin's 
omelette — this was first-rate. (/We called in the ex- 
cellent woman to compliment her on her skill ; but 
she listened to us in an absent-minded way, peering 
about her all the time. 

" What are you looking for ? " Vatrin asked her. 

" What am I looking for ? Why, I'm looking for, 

for " stammered Madame Vatrin. " Well, there's 

no accounting for it ! " 

" Out with it ; what are you looking for ? " 

" I'm looking for — why, I saw it, I had it in my 
hand, not ten minutes ago." 

" Saw what ? had what in your hand ? Come, tell 
us." 

" Why, I had only just filled it with sugar." 

" Oh, it's your sugar-basin you have lost ? " 

" Yes, yes, my sugar-basin." 

" Well, well ! " said Correge ; " the mice are so plenty 
this year." 

" It's not good for them, all the same — for mice, I 
mean — to eat sugar," observed Michel. 

" Why, of course ; Monsieur is aware that if you 
feed a mouse on sugar, it goes blind." 

" Yes, Michel, I know that. But you cannot hold 
the mice to blame in this case ; supposing they have 
eaten the sugar, they could hardly have eaten the 
sugar-basin." 

" One never knows," said Correge sapiently. 

" What was the sugar-basin made of? " asked Michel. 

" Porcelain," Madame Vatrin informed him, 



44 MY PETS 

" porcelain ! a superb sugar-basin I won at the 
Foire des Loges at Saint-Germain." 

" When ? " 

" Only last year." 

" Look here, Madame Vatrin," said Correge : " I won 
another piece of crockery myself. Say the word, and 
I'll make you a present of it, to take the place of your 
sugar-basin. It's never been used." 

" That's all very well," said Madame Vatrin ; " but 
all the same, I wonder what can have become of my 
sugar-basin." 

" Where did you put it down ? " said Vatrin. 

" I put it on the window-shelf." 

" Ah ! " exclaimed Michel, as if struck by a sudden 
revelation — and he strode out of the room. 

Five minutes afterwards he returned, driving 
Pritchard in front of him ; the dog had the sugar-basin 
on his nose like a muzzle. 

" Here's a sinner whose sin has found him out ! " he 
observed scathingly. 

" What ! it was Pritchard went off with the sugar- 
basin ? " 

" You see it was ; hasn't he got it with him now ? 
Oh, he's not the dog to be satisfied with a lump of 
sugar, not he ; he must have the sugar-basin into the 
bargain." 

" You tied the thing on to his nose. I see, I see " 

" Not I ; it sticks on by itself." 

"By itself!" 

" Yes ; look, and you will see." 

" He has a magnet at the end of his snout, then, the 
villain ? " 

" No, no, nonsense ; this is the explanation : he 
poked his nose into the sugar-basin, which is wider at 
the bottom than the top, and then crammed his mouth 




THE DOG HAD THE SUCIAK-BASI.N (JN HIS NOSE LIKE A MfZZLE 



WORSE AND WORSE 45 

with sugar. I came up at that moment ; he tried to 
shut his jaws, but the lumps of sugar prevented him ; 
he tried to withdraw his nose, but found this impossible 
with the jaws wide open. M. Pritchard was caught in 
a trap ; and there he's got to stop till the sugar melts." 

" Well, well, however it happened, Monsieur Dumas, 
the fact remains you have a dreadful dog there, and 
whoever gave it you would have done better to keep 
the beast." 

" Let me just tell you one thing, Madame Vatrin," 
I replied, " and that is — I begin to think the same as 
you do ! " 

" Well, it's all most amazing," struck in Vatrin ; 
"and do you know, I'm getting to like the animal; I 
have a notion we shall make something of him yet." 

" And you're in the right, old man," said Correge ; 
" all great men have had great faults, and once they've 
left school, it's not prizes of virtue have made them 
famous." 

Meantime the sugar had melted, and, as Michel 
had foretold, Pritchard got rid of his muzzle without 
extraneous assistance. 

Only, to guard against further accidents, Michel 
now knotted one end of his handkerchief round the 
dog's neck and wound the other round his hand. 

" Well, well," said Vatrin, " here's more sugar ; let's 
drink our coffee, and be off to see what the scamp 
can do." 

So we finished our coffee, which was even better 
than Vatrin had led us to expect, and repeated after 
him, " Let's be off then, and see what the scamp 
can do ! " 



CHAPTER IX 
CUNNING BETTER THAN BRUTE FORCE 

BUT, before setting out, Vatrin took the precaution 
of substituting a spiked collar for Michel's 
handkerchief. 

Does the reader know precisely what a spiked 
collar implies ? My male readers do not, I feel sure, 
need information on the point ; it is to the fairer 
members of my audience I address my remarks. 

Have you ever noticed, ladies, a butcher's dog, some 
ill-conditioned, quarrelsome brute, wearing a collar 
provided with spikes sticking outwards, the object 
being to prevent any dog that attacks the animal so 
defended from getting a grip with its teeth in the 
skin of the neck ? 

Well, this is a defensive collar. To make a de- 
fensive collar into the sort of collar we are speaking 
of, you have only to turn it the other way about, so 
as to bring the pointed nails inside. 

To it the dog-breaker fastens a cord, and so keeps 
the animal always at a distance of twenty yards or 
so. This is what they call running under the guns. 

So long as the cord is slack, the points of the spikes 
merely tickle the dog's neck pleasantly. 

But, let the animal get out of control and make a 
bolt, then the cord is suddenly tautened, and the nails 
digging instantly into the flesh, the creature stops at 

46 



CUNNING BETTER THAN FORCE 47 

once, giving a more or less agonised yelp according 
as the points penetrate more or less deeply. 

When the animal has been thus pulled up a hundred 
times or so, it is very seldom he fails to gather that 
the discipline is intended to stop him from pointing. 

When this severe training is relaxed, it is done 
gradually, little by little. To begin with, the cord is 
allowed to trail behind with a stick, eight or ten inches 
long, tied to it crosswise. The stick, as it drags 
through the bushes, the clover, and lucerne, checks the 
dog's progress to a certain extent, and brings it home 
to his intelligence that he is doing wrong. 

Then the cord is left to drag alone, without any 
stick attached. This is the second stage ; the obstacle 
being less, the pain the animal feels is less intense. 

Next, the cord is removed, and only the collar left 
on. This just tickles the dog's neck pleasantly, as we 
said before, reminding him that the spikes are still 
there — that his Damocles' sword still hangs over 
him. 

Last of all, the collar is taken off altogether — 
though of course it may be put on again in great 
emergencies. The training is practically finished. 

This was the dreadful ordeal Pritchard was now to 
undergo. 

Think what a dire humiliation for a pointer, accus- 
tomed to beat up the game at three hundred yards 
away from his master, to be forced to run under the 
very guns ! 

I felt convinced in my inmost heart that Pritchard 
would never, never submit. 

Vatrin declared he had broken the most recalcitrant 
in before now. 

Michel contented himself with the judicious ob- 
servation, " Well, we shall see." 



48 MY PETS 

And we soon did see. At the first tree he came 
to, Pritchard galloped three times round the trunk, 
and was pulled up short. 

" Did you ever see such a brute ? " growled Vatrin, 
and making as many turns round the stem, in the 
reverse direction, as the dog had made, he released 
the captive. 

Then we set off again. At the second tree he came 
across Pritchard repeated the same performance, and 
once more found himself tied fast. 

Only, instead of taking his three turns to the right, 
the same as the first time, Pritchard had now gone 
round by the left. 

An instructor in the National Guard could not have 
got an order more exactly and accurately executed. 

" Double-dyed brute ! " cried Vatrin. 

And he too repeated his three turns round this 
second tree, of course going in the reverse direction, 
and again set the dog free. 

At the third tree he encountered, Pritchard followed 
the same procedure. 

" Trebly dyed brute ! " bellowed Vatrin. 

Michel burst out laughing. 

" Well, what now ? " asked Vatrin crossly. 

" Why, can't you see he's doing it on purpose ? " 
grinned Michel. 

I was beginning to share the latter's opinion. 

" What ! does it on purpose ? " — and Vatrin looked 
at me. 

" Upon my word," I said, " I am afraid it's so ! " 

" The cunning villain ! " shouted Vatrin. " Well, 
you shall see ! " — and he pulled his whip out of his 
pocket. 

Pritchard lay down in an attitude of resignation, like 
a Russian serf condemned to the knout. 



CUNNING BETTER THAN FORCE 49 

" What's to be done ? Thrash him to ribbons, the 
blackguard ? " 

" No, Vatrin, no ; it would be no good," I protested. 

"But there, there, there " grumbled Vatrin, 

thoroughly out of temper. 

" Why, then, we must just learn the animal to follow 
his instinct ; you will never give a pointer the qualities 
of a brach-dog." 

" Then you say, let him do as he likes ? " 

" Yes, that's what I advise, Vatrin." 

" Off with you ! tut, gallop, you scoundrel ! " cried 
Vatrin, removing the cord. 

No sooner did Pritchard feel himself free than, 
without troubling his head about any tree whatever, 
he disappeared in the undergrowth, nose down and 
bushy tail waving in the wind. 

" Well, he's gone now, the scamp, anyway," said I. 

" Better go look for him," said Michel cheerfully. 

" Look for him, well ! " grunted Vatrin, shaking his 
head with the air of a man who is far from convinced 
of the verity of the Biblical maxim, " Search and ye 
shall find ! " 

Nevertheless we set out on our search for the errant 
Pritchard. 



CHAPTER X 

A CAPACIOUS POCKET 

THERE was nothing better to be done indeed 
than to follow Michel's advice and go look for 
Master Pritchard. 

This we did, calling and whistling again and again 
after the vagabond, as the worthy keeper called him. 
The search lasted a good half-hour, Pritchard taking 
good care to make no sort of reply to our appeals. 

At last Michel, who was walking in the line thirty 
yards or so from me, stopped suddenly. 

" Sir ! " he called out, " sir ! " 

" Why, what's the matter, Michel ? " 

" Come and see, sir ; oh, do come and look ! " 

I was not bound, I suppose, by the same obligations 
as Pritchard to muteness and immobility, so I made no 
bones about answering Michel's cry and making in his 
direction. 

" Well," I asked, " what's wrong now ? " 

" Nothing ; only look, look ! " — and he pointed in 
front of him. 

I turned my eyes in the direction indicated, and 
beheld Pritchard standing as stock-still as the celebrated 
hound of Cephalus I had the honour to tell you about 
a little above. 

Head, back, and tail made a straight line, perfectly 
straight and perfectly rigid. 

50 



A CAPACIOUS POCKET 51 

" Vatrin," I said in my turn, " come here " — and on his 
reaching my side, I showed him Pritchard. 

" Good ! " said he. " I believe he's pointing." 

" Why, of course he is ! " said Michel. 

" What is he pointing at ? " I asked. 

" Come along, and let's see," was Vatrin's answer. 

We crept nearer, and Vatrin circled as many times 
round Pritchard as Pritchard had done about the trees. 
But the animal never stirred. 

" All the same," said Vatrin, " he can point." 

Then, waving me forward, " Come on, sir," he 
said. 

" Look there," he went on, when I was beside him. 
" Look there ... do you see ? " 

" No, I can't see anything." 

" What ! you don't see a rabbit in its form ? " 

" Why, yes, of course I do." 

" Lord ! " cried Vatrin ; " if I had my stick, I could 
knock the fellow over, and he'd make you a nice rabbit 
ragout." 

" Oh," said Michel, " don't let that stop you. Cut 
one ; cut yourself a stick." 

" Good ! And while I'm doing it, Pritchard will run 
in." 

" No fear of that ; I'll answer for him — unless the 
rabbit bolts in the meantime." 

" I'll go and cut one," declared Vatrin, " if only to 
see what'll happen ; " and he set to work. 

Pritchard never stirred an inch ; only from time to 
time he turned on us his yellow eye, which glittered 
like a topaz. 

"Patience, patience," Michel would tell him; "you 
can see for yourself M. Vatrin is cutting a stick." 

And Pritchard, cocking an eye at Vatrin, seemed 
quite to understand, and bringing back his head into 



52 MY PETS 

the straight line, he would fall back into complete 
immobility. 

Presently, when Vatrin had cut a stout stick — 

" Ah ! " said Michel, " you have time enough to trim 
it too " — and Vatrin proceeded to cut away the twigs 
and branches. 

Then, the stick being duly trimmed and smoothed, 
he crept up cautiously, measured the distance with his 
eye, and hit down hard into the tuft of grass in which 
the rabbit was crouching. 

Next instant the poor little creature's white belly 
could be seen, and its four paws beating the air. 

Pritchard wanted to pounce on the rabbit ; but 
Vatrin was there, and after a moment's scrimmage the 
law carried the day. 

" Put that chap in your pocket, Michel ; there's the 
ragout we were promised all right." 

" There's a fine long back for you," exclaimed Michel, 
as he pouched the rabbit between the lining and 
the cloth of his coat. God only knows how many of 
the same sort the same pocket had held at different 
times ! 

Vatrin looked round for Pritchard to give the dog 
a word of praise ; but lo ! Pritchard had vanished. 

" Where the devil is the dog now ? " snapped 
Vatrin. 

" Where is he ? " said Michel. " That's easy guessed : 
he's off after another." 

It was obviously true ; and we set out again in 
search of our friend. 

In ten minutes or so we came across him. 

"Stands like a rock, eh?" said Michel; "just look 
at him ! " 

In fact, Pritchard was again pointing in the same 
thoroughly conscientious way as before. 



A CAPACIOUS POCKET 53 

Vatrin crept up again, and — 

" Here's the bunny ! " he whispered. 

" Well, Vatrin, this time you've got your stick all 
ready cut." 

The stick rose in the air and, swinging down again 
almost instantaneously, whistled through a clump of 
bramble. 

Then Vatrin plunged his hand into the bush and 
pulled out a second rabbit by the ears. 

" There, Michel," he laughed ; " clap that in your other 
pocket." 

Michel did not require to be told twice; only he 
put it in the same pocket. 

" Well, well, Michel ; and why not in the other one, 
as Vatrin said ? " 

" Ah, but, sir," the fellow explained, " I can take 
five of 'em in each." 

" Michel, Michel, you must not say things like that 
before a public functionary." 

Then, turning to Vatrin — 

" Come, Vatrin, the number three is pleasing to the 
gods." 

" Maybe," said Vatrin, " but M. Guerin may not be 
equally well pleased." M. Guerin, we should explain, 
was the Head Inspector. 

" Besides, it's all no good ; you know Pritchard's 
little ways." 

"As well as if I'd made the dog myself," said 
Vatrin emphatically. 

" Well, what do you say of him ? " 

" I say this : if only he'd run under the guns, he'd 
be a first-rate sporting dog. However, he's a pointer, 
and point he can ! " 

" Where is he got to now ? " I said to Michel. 

" Oh, he'll have found a third rabbit by this time." 



54 MY PETS 

So we searched again, and, as he had supposed, we 
found Pritchard pointing as before. 

« Ton honour," said Vatrin thoughtfully, " I should 
like to know, as a matter of curiosity, how long he'll 
stay there " — and the keeper pulled out his watch. 

" Well, Vatrin," I told him, " you are here in the 
performance of your official duties, and can afford to 
satisfy your fancy ; but I am expecting company, so 
please excuse me if I make for home." 

" Very well, sir ; go by all means." 

So Michel and myself set off homewards for the 
Villa Medicis. 

Turning round for a last look, I saw Vatrin slipping 
a spiked collar round Pritchard's neck without the 
latter seeming so much as to notice what the keeper 
was about. 

An hour later Vatrin walked into my house. 

" Seven-and-twenty minutes," he called out the 
instant he caught sight of me, " and if the rabbit 
hadn't bolted, the dog would be there still." 

" So then, Vatrin, what do you say of him ? " 

" Egad, I say he points first-rate." 

" Yes, we know that ; but what is there left for you 
to teach him ? " 

" Only one thing, which you'll teach him as well as 
I can — a mere bagatelle — to retrieve. You can teach 
that as a game, without your needing me at all." 

" You hear that, Michel ? " 

" Oh, sir," said Michel, " it's done." 

" What do you mean by ' it's done ' ? " 

" Why, he retrieves like an angel." 

This did not give any very precise notion of the 
way Pritchard retrieved. But Michel threw the dog 
his handkerchief, and Pritchard duly brought it back 
to its owner. 



A CAPACIOUS POCKET 55 

Then Michel tossed him one of Vatrin's two rabbits, 
and Pritchard carried it back again. 

Finally, Michel went to the poultry-run, picked up 
an egg, and laid it on the ground. 

Pritchard retrieved the egg just as successfully as 
he had the rabbit and the handkerchief. 

" Why, the beast," Vatrin declared, " knows every- 
thing he can know ; all he wants now is practice." 

" Well, Vatrin, next 2nd of September I will let you 
have news of Pritchard." 

" And just think," sighed the keeper, " that if a 
ruffian like that would only consent to run under the 
guns, he'd be worth five hundred francs if he's worth 
a penny ! " 

" True for you, Vatrin," I told him ; " but you must 
just make up your mind to bear it. He never will 
consent." 

At that moment the guests I expected arrived, and 
as one of Vatrin's most conspicuous qualities is discre- 
tion, he withdrew, and so put an end to our conver- 
sation, interesting as it was. 



CHAPTER XI 

MOUTON 

WHO were these visitors whose arrival interrupted 
the weighty discussion Michel, Vatrin, and 
myself were holding with regard to Pritchard ? 

They included : Maquet, who had just added to 
the denizens of my monkey-house the Last of the Laid- 
manoirs^ and in collaboration with whom I was then 
at work on the Chevalier de Maison-Rouge ; 

Fiennes, one of the best-hearted fellows I know — 
when he does not think himself bound to uphold some 
opinion in literary matters ; 

Atala Beauchene, who played Anna Damby in 
Kean with so much grace, and who was presently 
to play Genevieve in Les Girondins with so much 
feeling ; 

And, to complete the party, my son. 

I welcomed my guests, and put the house at their 
disposition from cellar to garret — the stable with its 
four horses, the coach-house with its three carriages, 
the garden and its hen-run, monkey-house, aviary, 
conservatory, game of box-quoits, to say nothing of its 
flower-beds. 

All I kept for my exclusive use was a little summer- 
house with coloured-glass windows, against the wall of 
which 1 had fixed a table, and which in summer I 
made my writing-room. 

66 



MOUTON 57 

I informed my guests that the house contained a 
new inmate, by name Mouton (sheep), and warned 
them not to trust too implicitly to his name, as beyond 
that I knew nothing, and was entirely ignorant of his 
history and disposition. 

I showed them where he was squatted in one of the 
garden-paths, rolling his great head about like a Polar 
bear, while two gleaming eyes darted red fire like the 
reflection of a brace of carbuncles. 

However, always provided you did not interfere with 
him, Mouton had always shown himself perfectly in- 
ofifensive. 

I commissioned Alexandre to do the honours. For 
myself, I had no time for amusement ; I had my three 
feuilletons to attend to. 

I don't mean to say that writing my stories does 
not amuse me. Far from it ; but it is not the sort of 
amusement that appeals to ordinary mortals. 

The company dispersed about the garden, and each 
chose for himself what struck him as most attractive — 
monkey-house, aviary, conservatory, or poultry-run. 

I was dressed in my shooting rig, and ran up to my 
room to dress myself at once for company and work. 
You must know, reader, if you care to know, that 
winter and summer I work without coat and waistcoat, 
in pantalons a pieds, slippers, and shirt-sleeves. 

The only difference the changing seasons bring with 
them in my costume is to alter the material of which 
my trousers and shirt are made. 

In winter my trousers are of cloth ; in summer of 
dimity. In winter my shirt is of linen ; in summer of 
cambric. 

Accordingly I reappeared ten minutes later in cambric 
shirt and d\m\{.y pantai on a pieds. 

" Why ! what's that thing ? " asked Atala Beauchene. 



58 MY PETS 

" Oh, only a father I have vowed shall wear virgin 
white till he's of age ! " laughed Alexandre. 

I passed between a double row of applauding 
spectators, and reached the refuge of my working 
arbour. 

I was then at work on Le Batard de Mauleon, and 
as my neighbour Challamel had just made me a present 
of Mouton, at the very time I was starting on the 
book, I had the happy thought of describing the animal 
and making him play a part in my latest romance. 

Following Walter Scott's method again, I had 
begun by drawing Mouton's portrait, giving him the 
name of Allan, and making him the property of Don 
Frederigo, brother of Don Pedro. 

I copy Allan's description in the book, which will 
relieve me of any necessity of delineating Mouton more 
particularly :' — 

" Behind them raced a dog, bounding vigorously 
forward. 

" He was one of those sturdy yet slim hounds of the 
Sierra that have a muzzle as pointed as a bear, an eye 
as glittering as a lynx, limbs as sinewy and nervous as 
a stag. 

" His body was covered with a complete coat of 
long, silky hair that gleamed with silvery reflections in 
the sun. 

" Round his neck was a heavy gold collar set with 
rubies and carrying a little bell of the same precious 
metal. 

" Joy was expressed in his every bound, and these 
bounds were directed to two objects — one visible, one 
still hidden. The former was a snow-white charger, 
with heavy housings of purple and brocade, which 
replied to the dog's advances with a merry neigh ; the 
latter was no doubt some noble Knight still detained 



MOUTON 59 

under the vaulted entrance, into which the hound kept 
dashing impatiently, only to emerge again leaping and 
frolicking a few moments later. 

" Finally, the man for whom the horse neighed, and 
the dog leapt, and the people shouted Viva ! appeared 
himself, and one and the same cry was taken up by a 
thousand voices, ' Long live Don Frederigo ! ' " 

Well, if you want to know, dear readers, who Don 
Frederigo was, you must read the Bdtard de Mauleon. 
I have undertaken only to tell you this much here, who 
and what Mouton was, and I have told you. 

So let us pursue the history of this new character 
we have come across, without so much as knowing 
whither it will lead us. 

It is what, in railway parlance, is called a bmnch line, 
and in connection with a poem or romance an episode. 

Ariosto was the inventor of the episode. Who was 
the inventor of the branch line I should like to be able 
to inform you ; but unfortunately I don't know myself. 



CHAPTER XII 

A COMING CATASTROPHE CASTS ITS 
SHADOW BEFORE 

I TOLD you just above: "Now you know what 
Mouton was." But I was wrong : you do not 
know. 

You know his outward appearance, very true ; but 
that is a minor point, after all. It is character that is 
all-important in dogs as in men. 

If, in order to know people, it were enough to know 
their outward man, then, on Socrates telling his disciples, 
" The first precept of wisdom is to knozv thyself" his 
disciples would simply have looked at their reflection in 
a polished steel mirror ; they would have seen that 
they had red or brown hair, as the case might be, blue 
or black eyes, light or dark complexion, thin or plump 
cheeks, a slim or heavy figure ; and once they had 
verified these facts, they would have completed their 
knowledge of themselves ! 

But that was not what Socrates meant by his famous 
7i;w^t aeavrbv ; what he did mean was : " Dive into 
your deepest being, scrutinise your conscience, and 
discover what you are worth morally. The body is 
only the envelope of the soul, the sheath of the sword." 

Well, so far, you know only the envelope, the out- 
side, of Mouton, you only know the exterior sheath of 
this descendant of Allan. 

60 



A COMING CATASTROPHE 61 

And even this you know incorrectly. I have just 
shown you Allan wearing a gold collar set with rubies 
and a little bell of the same precious metal round his 
neck. Such magnificence, you will of course under- 
stand, was fitting enough for a dog belonging to a 
king's brother ; but a mere novelist's and play-writer's 
dog has no claim to any such distinctions. 

Mouton did not possess a gold collar set with rubies 
• — nor even an iron collar or a leather one. This 
detail set right, let us go on to Mouton's character and 
disposition. 

This is difficult to define exactly. At first sight 
Mouton appeared rather of the lymphatic than the 
bilious, the sanguine, or the nervous temperament ; he 
was deliberate in his movements, slow and solemn in 
his ways of doing things. I had tried to question 
Challamel as to his antecedents, but he had confined 
himself to telling me — 

" Endeavour, to begin with, to win his attachment, 
and you will then find out what he can do." 

This had made me somewhat suspicious about the 
dog's past history ; but unfortunately nothing is farther 
from my natural impulses than suspicion. My only 
care was to act in such a way as to win Mouton's love. 

Accordingly, at breakfast and dinner time, I used to 
put my bones aside for him, and after every meal carry 
them to him myself. 

Mouton would gnaw these dainties with an air of 
combined ferocity and gloom ; but all my attentions 
failed to win the smallest token of gratitude or friendli- 
ness on his side. 

Sometimes of an evening I would take a walk on 
the celebrated Terrace of Saint-Germain, and take 
Mouton with me in hopes of enlivening his spirits. 
But instead of running and leaping like other dogs, he 



62 MY PETS 

always dragged lugubriously behind, head and tail 
down, like a pauper's dog following his master's coffin 
to the grave. 

The only variety was when an acquaintance came 
up to speak to me. Then Mouton would give a low 
growl. 

" Oh ! oh ! " my friend would exclaim. " What's the 
matter with your dog ? " 

" Never mind him ; he is by way of getting used 
to me." 

" Yes ; but he does not seem much like getting used 
to other people." 

People knowing in reading character would add — 

" Have a care ! That chap has a nasty look in his 
eye." 

And so saying, if they added the merit of prudence 
to that of knowingness, they would beat a hasty 
retreat, asking me — 

" What's your animal's name, eh ? " 

" Mouton." 

" Well, good-bye, good-bye. . . . Keep a careful 
eye on Mouton ! " 

Then I would turn round and say — 

" Mouton, do you hear what they think of you ? " 
But Mouton never said a word. 

I remembered, by the bye, that during the whole 
week the animal had been a member of my household 
I had never once heard him bark. 

When, instead of a friend, it was a friend's dog 
that approached me, or rather Mouton, with the polite 
intention of bidding him good-day after the fashion of 
dogs, Mouton would growl just as he did for a man ; 
but now the growl was instantly followed by a dart and 
a bite, as rapidly delivered as a boxer's hit out from 
the shoulder. 



A COMING CATASTROPHE 63 

If the dog attacked was within Mouton's " reach," 
woe betide him ! he was a maimed dog for the rest of 
his days. 

If he were hicky enough, by a swift backward 
movement, by feint or flight, to escape the terrible jaws, 
and they only closed on emptiness, then you heard 
Mouton's teeth close with the same snap and rattle 
M. Martin's lions make when they are waiting im- 
patiently for feeding time. 

On the day following my third appearance with 
Mouton, I received an official communication from 
the Mayor of Saint-Germain, in which he invited me 
to buy a chain and put Mouton on it when I took 
my walks abroad in his company. 

I had the required article purchased at once, in order 
to obey like a good citizen the municipal recommenda- 
tion. But Michel persistently forgot to buy a collar. 

Now, the reader will see directly how Michel's for- 
getfulness probably saved my life. 



CHAPTER XIII 

HOW I WAS OVER-PERSUADED TO BUY A GREEN 
MONKEY AND A BLUE MACAW 

FROM what has been related in the preceding 
chapter, it is evident that Mouton's character 
was still, if not absolutely unknown, at any rate more 
or less a mystery to me, and that what the animal had 
so far revealed was not particularly attractive. 

Such was the general state of things about two 
o'clock one afternoon : Mouton amusing himself by 
digging up one of Michel's dahlias — as every good 
gardener should be, Michel was bent on producing a 
blue dahlia one of these days ; my son lying in a 
hammock smoking a cigarette ; Maquet, de Fiennes, 
and Atala teasing Mysouff, then undergoing a five 
years' term of imprisonment in the monkey-house for 
murder — under extenuating circumstances. 

We must ask our readers' indulgence for postponing 
the catastrophe we have led them to believe imminent : 
but we deem the moment arrived to say a few words 
anent Mademoiselle Desgarcins, Potich, the Last of 
the Laidmanoirs, and the felon Mysouff. 

Mademoiselle Desgarcins was a dog-faced monkey, 
and one of the tiniest of her species. Her birthplace 
was unknown ; but, if we are to trust to Cuvier's 
classification, she must have seen the light somewhere 
on the old continent. 

64 



I BUY A MONKEY AND MACAW 65 

The way I became her possessor was quite simple 
and ordinary. 

I had been to pay a visit to Havre. With what 
object ? Upon my word ! I can hardly say — perhaps 
it was to have a look at the sea. Once there, I had 
immediately been seized with the wish to be back in 
Paris. 

But it was out of the question to return quite 
empty handed. The only point to be decided 
was what I should take back with me from that 
seaport. 

I had a wide range of choice — ivory toys from 
China, fans from the Far East, weapons and trophies 
from the South Sea Islands, and a hundred other 
curios. But none of these articles quite took my 
fancy. 

I was strolling along the quay, as melancholy as 
the fantastic Dane of Shakespeare's immortal play, 
when I caught sight, at the door of a dealer in animals, 
of a green monkey and a blue macaw. 

The monkey had put her little hand out between 
the bars of her cage and caught hold of my coat- 
tail. 

The blue parrot was twisting its head about and 
gazing amorously at me out of its yellow eye, the pupil 
of which kept narrowing and dilating with the tenderest 
of tender expressions. 

I am very amenable to demonstrations of the 
kind, and those of my friends who know me best 
declare that, for my own good name and my 
family's, it is a very lucky thing I was not born a 
woman. 

I stopped therefore, pressing the monkey's paw in 
one hand, and gently scratching the macaw's head 
with the other, at the risk of meeting the same 
5 



66 MY PETS 

fate as Colonel Bro with his parrot. See my 
Memoirs. 

But nothing of the sort occurred. Instead, the little 
monkey drew my hand gently to her mouth, put out 
her tongue through the bars and licked my fingers 
lovingly. 

The parrot dropped its head right between its two feet, 
half shut its eye, with a look of supreme content, and 
gave a low murmur of pleasure that left no doubt 
about its agreeable feelings. 

Well, 'pon my word ! What a charming pair ! If 
I were not very much afraid their owner will demand 
Duguesclin's ransom for them, I would ask him how 
much. 

" Monsieur Dumas," said the dealer, suddenly 
appearing out of his shop, " can I oblige you with 
anything — this monkey here, and this parrot, for 
instance ? " 

Monsieur Dumas ! It was a third bit of delicate 
flattery, crowning the other two. 

One day I hope some wizard will reveal why it is 
that my face, one of the least widely reproduced in 
paintings, engravings, and lithography, is familiar at the 
very Antipodes, so that wherever I land, the first 
porter that comes up asks me instantly — 

" Monsieur Dumas, where am I to carry your 
trunk ? " 

True, in default of portrait or bust, I have been 
represented again and again by my good friends Cham 
and Nadar. So, I suppose, the two traitors were 
deceiving me all the while, and instead of drawing 
my caricature, they were giving the world my 
portrait ! . . . 

Besides the inconvenience of being precluded from 
travelling anywhere incognito, this widespread vogue 



I BUY A MONKEY AND MACAW 67 

of my features involves another disadvantage. Every 
shopkeeper in the world, having read in my biographies 
that I am accustomed to pitch my money out of the 
window, no sooner sees me walking up to his shop 
than he takes the virtuous resolution to sell whatever 
he has to sell three times more dear to M. Dumas than 
to the general run of his victims — and makes a point 
of acting accordingly. 

However, the mischief is done, and there is no help 
for it. 

Well, in this case the fellow addressed me in the 
unctuous tones of the tradesman who has quite 
made up his mind to sell, even though you may 
be firmly resolved not to buy : " Now, Monsieur 
Dumas, shall I oblige you with my monkey and 
parrot ? " 

It only needed the addition of three letters to give 
the word its real meaning, and make the sentence run as 
it should, — " Monsieur Dumas, shall I disobVigQ you 
with my monkey and parrot ? " 

" Oh yes," I grumbled ; " now you know my name, 
of course you are going to sell me your parrot and 
your monkey at just twice their value." 

" Oh, Monsieur Dumas, how can you say such a 
thing? I would never overcharge j/^z/ ! I shall ask 
you . . . ask you ..." 

The man pretended to search his memory to recall 
the exact price. 

" I shall ask you a hundred francs." 

I am bound to say I trembled with joy. I cannot 
lay claim to any very precise acquaintance with the 
current market-price of apes and parrots ; but a 
hundred francs, for two such creatures, struck me as 
an unheard-of bargain. 

" Only I feel obliged, as an honest man, to tell you 



68 MY PETS 

this," the dealer went on ; " the parrot will most likely 
never talk." 

This doubled his value in my eyes. I was going to 
have a bird that would not be forever dinning in my 
ears his inevitable, " Pretty Poll ! Pretty Poll ! " 

" Dear, dear," said I, " that's unfortunate." 

But I had hardly said the word ere I felt ashamed 
of my duplicity. I had prevaricated, — yes, prevaricated 
in hopes of getting a reduction in price, — while the 
dealer had told the truth at the risk of depreciating 
his own goods. 

So, under the influence of these remorseful 
feelings — 

" Look here," I cried, " I don't want to haggle with 
you ; I will give you eighty francs." 

" Done ! " said the fellow, without an instant's 
hesitation. 

" Yes, yes ; but let us understand each other," I 
added, seeing plainly I had been victimised. " Eighty 
francs including the monkey's cage and the parrot's 
stand." 

" H'm ! " grumbled the dealer, " that was not in our 
bargain ; but there, I can refuse you nothing. Yes, I 
have had some fine laughs, I can tell you, over your 
Capitaine Pamphile, if you care to know it. Well, 
well, there's no more to be said ; you understand 
animals, and I hope my little friends won't be 
unhappy with you. Yes, take the cage and the 
stand." 

So I took the cage and the stand, — the two 
together were worth perhaps two francs, — and walked 
back to the Hotel de rAniirauti, looking like a sort of 
amateur Robinson Crusoe. 

The same evening I set off for Paris, engaging the 
whole coup^ of the diligence for myself as far as 



I BUY A MONKEY AND MACAW 69 

Rouen. When I say for myself, I mean, of course, for 
myself, my monkey, and my parrot. 

From Rouen to Poissy I went by railway, and 
from Poissy to the Villa Medicis in a glass-coach 
which I hired in that town, once the capital of the 
Countship of Louis ix, our Sainted Sovereign. 



CHAPTER XIV 

HOW I ARRIVED AT THE INTERESTING INFORMA- 
TION THAT PARROTS BREED IN FRANCE 

I NEED not mention that Mademoiselle Desgarcins 
and Buvat were not yet christened, my custom 
being to bestow names, surnames, and nicknames on 
my proteges according to the merits or demerits, 
physical or moral, which I observe in them. So far 
they were simply known as the little monkey and the 
blue macaw. 

" Here, quick, Michel ! quick ! " I called out as I 
came in. " Here's something in your line," 

Michel ran up, and I handed him the monkey's 
cage and the parrot's box, from which its tail stuck 
out like a lance-head. I had superseded the perch, 
for which I got a franc, by a box that cost me three. 

" Ah," observed Michel, " yes, it is the long-haired 
monkey of Senegal — Cercopithecus sabcea" 

I looked at Michel in the deepest amazement. 

" What was that you said, Michel ? " 

" Cercopithecus sabcsa" 

" So you know Latin, Michel. Why, you must 
teach me in your spare time in that case." 

" No, I don't know Latin, but I do know my Diction- 
ary of Natural History^ 

" 'Pon my soul ! And the parrot, do you know it 
too ? " I asked, pulling the bird out of its box. 

70 



PARROTS BREED IN FRANCE 71 

" I should think I did ! " said Michel. " Why, it's 
the blue macaw, Macrocetrus arai'auna. Ah, sir, why 
did you not bring the female with you along with the 
male ? " 

" What for, Michel ? because parrots, you know, 
don't breed in France." 

" That is just where Monsieur is mistaken," said 
Michel imperturbably. 

" What ! the blue macaw breeds in France ? " 

" Yes, sir ; in France." 

" In the South, perhaps." 

" No, sir, it does not need to be in the South." 

" Where then ? " 

" At Caen, sir." 

" What ! at Caen ? " 

" Yes, at Caen, I tell you, sir, at Caen ! " 

" I was not aware that the latitude of Caen was 
such as to allow macaws to reproduce their species. 
Go and fetch my Bouillet^ Michel." 

Michel soon returned with the encyclopaedia in 
question. 

" Cacus — no, that's not it. . . . Cadet de Gassi- 
court — no, that's not it. . . . Caducee — that's not 
it . . . Caen at last " 

" Now you will see, Michel," and I read out — 

" ' Cadoinus, chief town of the Department of Cal- 
vados, on the Orne and Odon, 223 kilometres west of 
Paris, population 41,876. Court of Assize, Court 
of Primary Jurisdiction, and Tribunal de Com- 
merce ' " 

" You will see, sir," said Michel ; " the parrots are 
coming, never fear." 

" ' College, School of Law, Academy of 
Science ' " 

" You are getting warm, sir ! " 



72 MY PETS 

" ' Extensive trade in plaster, salt, timber, and 
deal. . . . Captured by the English in 1346 and 14 17. — 
Retaken by the French, etc, — Birthplace of Malherbe, 
T. Lefebvre, Choron, etc, — 9 cantons : Bourguebus, 
Villers-Bocage, etc., and Caen town, which counts as 
two; 205 communes, total population 140,435. — Caen 
was the capital of Lower Normandy.' — And that's all, 
Michel," 

" What, it does not say in your book that the ararauna, 
otherwise known as the blue macaw, breeds at Caen ? " 

" No, Michel, not a word about it." 

" Well, what a dictionary ! Wait a bit, and I'll 
fetch you a different sort, and then you'll see." 

Accordingly, in a few minutes more Michel returned 
with his Dictionary of Natural History. 

" Now you'll see, sir, now you'll see ! " he cried, 
opening /lis treasury of knowledge. " Peritoine — 
that's not it . , . P(frou — that's not it , . . Perroquet — 
there we are ! ' Parrots are monogamous birds,' " 

" You know Latin so well, Michel, you will know 
what inonogaDwus means, I feel sure." 

" It means they can sing on every note, I suppose." 

" No, Michel, no, not a bit of it ; it means they have 
only one wife." 

" Ah ! " cried Michel, " that's because they talk like 
human beings, most likely. However, here's what 
I want — ' It was long believed that parrots did not 
breed in Europe, but experiments have proved the 
contrary in the case of a pair of blue macaws at 
Caen. . . .' — At Caen, there you see, sir " 

" 'Pon my word, yes, I see." 

'" M. Lamouroux supplies details in connection 
with the results then obtained.' " 

" Well, let's hear M. Lamouroux' details, Michel ; " 
and Michel proceeded — 



PARROTS BREED IN FRANCE 73 

" * These macaws, between the month of March 
1818, and the month of August 1822, that is to say 
in a period of four years and a half, laid sixty-two 
eggs in nine broods ' " 

" Michel, I never said that macaws did not lay ; 
what I said was " 

'"Amongst the number,'" Michel went on reading, 
" ' twenty-five '^ggs were hatched out, and of the 
young ones only ten died. The rest lived and became 
perfectly acclimatised ' " 

" Michel, I have not a word to say " 

" ' The number of eggs varied, in some cases 
amounting to as many as six at once ' " 

" Michel, I surrender unconditionally," 

" Only," concluded Michel, closing his book, *' Mon- 
sieur knows he must never give them either bitter 
almonds or parsley ? " 

Michel, who had left a finger between the leaves, 
reopened his book. 

" ' Parsley and bitter almonds,' " he read out im- 
pressively, " ' are deadly poisons for parrots.' " 

" Good ! Michel, I won't forget." 

And I never did. In fact, some while after, when 
I was told that M. Persil (parsley) had died suddenly, 
I exclaimed — 

" Dear ! dear ! perhaps he had been eating parrot ! " 



CHAPTER XV 

A CABRIOLET DRIVER WHO WAS A GREAT 
GEOGRAPHER ASSURES ME I AM A NEGRO 

I WAS dumbfounded at Michel's scientific knowledge ; 
he knew the Dictionary of Natural History off 
by heart. 

To give another instance of the same sort of thing. 
One day I was driving about Paris with one of my 
friends in one of the old-fashioned cabriolets then in 
vogue, where the passengers sit side by side with the 
coachman. I forget why, but I had occasion to 
mention to my companion that I came from the 
Department of the Aisne. 

" Ah ! so you come from the Aisne, do you ? " the 
driver asked me. 

" I do. Is there anything in that you object 
to?" 

" Oh no, sir ! quite the contrary." 

The man's original question and his subsequent 
answer to mine were equally inexplicable to me. 
Why had the fellow exclaimed when he heard I 
came from that particular Department ? and why 
did he prefer — his qiiite the contrary led me to suppose 
he did prefer — my belonging to that Department 
rather than to any one of the eighty-five others ? 

I should certainly have asked him to explain these 
points if I had been alone with him ; but, my thoughts 

74 



1 AM A NEGRO 75 

being occupied with what I was saying to my friend, 
I let my curiosity gallop off ahead, and as our nag 
never got beyond a walk, it got so far away in front 
I never caught it up again 

A week afterwards I happened to hire a cabriolet 
at the same coach-stand. 

" Ah ha ! " cried my driver, " why, it's the gentle- 
man who comes from the Aisne." 

" Quite right ; and you are the coachman who 
drove me a week ago ? " 

" Myself and no one else. Where am I to take 
you to-day, sir ? " 

" To the Observatoire." 

" H'sh, sir ! not so loud, please." 

" But why ? " 

" Why, if my horse overheard you, you know. . . . 
Such a long way ! . . . Hup ! Bijou ! . . . Ah, sir ! 
there's a fellow, if ever he comes in for ten thousand 
a year, won't buy a cabriolet ! " 

I looked at the man curiously. 

" Tell me, why did you ask me if I came from the 
Department of the Aisne ? " 

" Because, if Monsieur had been by himself and 
inclined to talk, we could have had a chat about the 
Department." 

" So you know it ? " 

" Know it ! I should think so ! A noble Depart- 
ment ! The Department of General Foy, of M. 
Mechin, of M. Lherbette, and M. Demoustier, author of 
the Lettres h Ami/ie sur la Mythologie." 

As you see, dear reader, I was entirely forgotten 
in the enumeration of the famous men of the 
Department. 

This prejudiced me a good deal against the 
man. 



76 MY PETS 

" Well, what places do you know in the Department ? " 

" I know every place." 

" What, you ! Every one ? " 

*' Every one." 

" Do you know Laon ? " only I pronounced it 
Lan. 

" Laon, you mean, don't you ? " and /te called it 
La-on. 

" Laon or Lan, it's the same thing ; only, it's written 
Laon and pronounced Lan." 

" Lord, sir ! I say a word as it's written." 

" You are in favour of M. Marie's phonetic spelling, 
eh?" 

" I know nothing about M. Marie and his spelling ; 
but I know Laon right enough — the Bibrax of the 
Romans and the Laudanum of the Middle Ages. 
. . . Come now, why do you look at me like that ? " 

" I don't merely look at you ; I marvel at you, I 
admire you ! " 

" Oh ! poke fun as much as ever you please ; you 
won't hinder my knowing Laon and the whole Depart- 
ment of the Aisne, with its Prefecture and all. More 
by token, there's a tower there built by Louis 
d' Outre-Mer, and a vast trade in artichokes is carried 
on." 

" I have not a word to say to the contrary. You 
speak God's own truth, my good fellow. And 
Soissons ? do you know Soissons ? " 

" Soissons — Noviodunum, — do I know Noviodununt ? 
I should think I do ! " 

" I congratulate you ; I used to know Soissons 
myself, but I never knew Noviodunum." 

" But it's the same thing, six of one and half a 
dozen of the other. That's where the Cathedral is of 
the watery Saint — Saint M(fdard, you know. If it rains 



I AM A NEGRO 11 

on Saint M^dard's Day, why it rains forty days on end. 
He should be the patron of cab-drivers, for sure ! Do 
I know Soissons ? . . . Well, well, well, you ask me if I 
know Soissons — birthplace of Louis d'Hericourt, of 
Collot d'Herbois, of Quinette; where Clovis defeated 
Siagrius and Charles Martel vanquished Chilperic, where 
King Robert died ; chief town of its arrondissement ; 
six cantons — Braisne-sur-Vesle, Oulchy-le-Chateau, 
Soissons, Vailly-sur-Aisne, Vic-sur-Aisne, Villers- 
Cotterets " 

" Ah ! and Villers-Cotterets, do you know it ? " 
hoping to have him on toast when it came to my 
native place. 

" Villerii ad Cotiavi reti^. — Do I know it ? Villers- 
Cotterets, otherwise Coste de Retz, considerable 
village." 

" No, no ; small town," I protested. 

" Large village I say, and I stick to it." 

In fact he said it with so much assurance that I saw 
I should gain nothing by contradicting him. Besides, 
I had a sneaking suspicion I might be wrong. 

" Big village, so be it," I said, giving in. 

" Oh ! it's not a question of so be it, it's a fact. Do 
I know Villers-Cotterets! — forest of 25,000 acres; 
population 2692 ; old castle of the time of Francois I, 
now a poor-house ; birthplace of Charles Albert 
Demoustier, author of the Lettres a Emilie sur la 
Mythologie ..." 

" And of Alexandre Dumas," I added diffidently. 

" Alexandre Dumas, author of Monte-CristOy and 
The Three Musketeers ? " 

I nodded assent. 

" No," said the coachman decidedly. 

" No ? What do you mean ? " 

" I mean, no ! " 



78 MY PETS 

" You say Alexandre Dumas was not born at 
Villers-Cotterets ? " 

" I repeat he was not born there." 

" Come, come now, that's going a bit too far." 

" Oh, say what you please ; Alexandre Dumas 
does not come from Villers-Cotterets. Besides, he's a 
Negro." 

I confess I was dumbfounded. The man seemed 
so exceedingly well informed about the whole Depart- 
ment I began to fear I must be mistaken. Since he 
said so with such an air of certainty, and having the 
whole district at his finger-ends, it really seemed, after 
all, I might be a Nigger and have been born in the 
Congo or in Senegal." 

" But you were born there," I said ; " you were, in the 
Aisne ? " 

" No, I come from Nanterre." 

" But you have lived there, at any rate ? " 

" Not I." 

" But you have been there, surely ? " 

" Never once." 

" Then how the devil do you come to know the 
Department as you do ? " 

" Oh ! where's the puzzle ? Look there," and he 
offered me a tattered book. 

" What book is it ? " 

" It's my whole library, from garret to cellar." 

" The deuce ! you seem to consult it pretty 
often." 

" I've read nothing else for twenty years." 

" Yet you are a great reader, by what I can 
see. 

" What would you have a man do when he's on the 
stand ? And times are so hard one is half the day 
there." 



1 AM A NEGRO 79 

I opened the book, curious to know the name of a 
work which had enjoyed the privilege of serving for a 
man's amusement during twenty years. 

And I read : Statistical Compendium of the 
Department of the Aisne. 



CHAPTER XVI 

I BUY MADEMOISELLE DESGARCINS A HUSBAND 

MICHEL resembled my cabriolet driver. Only- 
he had chosen a sort of reading, if not more 
profitable, at least a trifle less insipid. 

" Michel," I said to him, " look here ; we must go to 
Laurent's and get them to make a perch for the 
Macrocercus ararauna, and to Trouille's to buy a cage 
for the Cercopithecus sabcua!' 

" Very good, sir, so far as the perch goes," Michel 
replied ; " but for the cage, there's no need." 

" What do you mean, — no need ? Why, the poor 
creature can never stay in that one ; it's a bullfinch's 
cage. The bird would die of cramp in a week." 

" While Monsieur was away, we had a bit of a 
disaster." 

" Ho, ho ! a disaster, eh ? And what was it ? " 

" A weasel killed the pheasant ; Monsieur is going 
to have it for his dinner." 

I uttered an exclamation that implied neither 
refusal nor consent. I am ready enough to eat game 
I have shot myself, but I don't feel so eager about 
what's been killed by any animal except a sporting- 
dog. 

" In that case," I said, " the cage is at liberty ? " 

" Yes, since this morning." 

" Then let's get our monkey into it. 

80 



MADEMOISELLE DESGARCINS 81 

We carried the small cage close up to the big one, 
and set the two doors wide open facing each other. 
The monkey sprang into her new abode, leapt excitedly 
from perch to perch, and ended by clinging to the bars, 
gnashing her teeth at me, uttering little plaintive cries 
and putting out her tongue at me. 

" Sir," said Michel, " what she wants is a male." 

" You think that's it, eh, Michel ? " 

" I'm sure it is." 

" So you hold that monkeys breed in this country, 
the same as parrots ? " 

" There are some in the Jardin des Plantes that 
were born there. Now, listen to me, sir ; there's a 
little Auvergnat lad comes here with his monkey to 
beg a trifle now and again. If I were Monsieur, I'd 
buy his monkey of him." 

" Why his rather than any other monkey ? " 

" Because he's as gentle as a lamb, and has had a 
first-rate education. He wears a cap with a feather, 
and makes a bow when you give him a nut or a bit of 
sugar." 

" Can he do any other tricks ? " 

" He fights a duel." 

" Is that the end of his accomplishments ? " 

" No ; he hunts for his master's fleas as well." 

" And you think, Michel, the young barbarian will 
sell a beast that is so useful to him ? " 

" Well, you know, sir, there's no harm in asking." 

" Then we will ask him, Michel ; and if he's not too 
unconscionable, we shall make two hearts happy." 

" Sir, sir ! " cried Michel at this juncture. 

" Well, what now ? " 

" Here he comes, in the nick of time." 

" Who ? " 

" The Auvergnat with the monkey." 
6 



82 MY PETS 

And so it was. Next moment the yard-door was 
pushed half open and a fat face, wearing a gentle, 
phlegmatic expression, peeped in. 

" Come in ! come in ! " cried Michel, imitating the 
uncouth Auvergnat accent with some skill. 

The lad did not wait to be asked twice, but stepped 
in, hat in hand. His ape, perched on a box the boy- 
carried on his back, felt bound to copy his master's 
politeness and took off his troubadour's cap. 

He was of the same species as my recent purchase, 
and, like her, of the smallest breed. So far as we could 
judge under his fancy costume, he had a charming 
little person of his own, as soft and sweet and dainty 
as any one could desire. 

" Oh ! " I said to Michel, " how like he is to . . ." 
and I pronounced the name of a celebrated translator. 

" Well and good," returned Michel, " then we've 
found a name for him without further searching." 

" Yes ; only we must use the anagram of it, you 
know, Michel." 

" What is an anagram, eh ? " 

" It means," I explained, " that using the same 
letters, we make him another name out of them. We 
must beware of an action for libel, Michel." 

Michel looked at me in wonder. 

" But surely Monsieur can call his ape what he likes." 

" I can call my ape what I like ? " 

" Yes, Monsieur has a perfect right to " 

" I think not, Michel." 

" I say Monsieur has." 

" Well, anyhow, if I am fortunate enough to become 
the possessor of the pretty creature, we will call him 
Potich. 

" Yes, let's call him Potich by all means." 

" But we have not got him yet, Michel." 



MADEMOISET.LE DESGARCTNS 83 

" Will Monsieur give me carte blanche ? " 

" Yes, you shall be armed with full powers, my man." 

" Up to what sum may I go ? " 

" Up to forty francs." 

" Leave me alone with the youngster, and I'll bring 
the thing off, never fear," said Michel confidently. 

So I left Michel alone with the Auvergnat, as he 
desired, and entered the Villa Medicis, having been 
absent from home four days. 



CHAPTER XVII 
THE FOUNDLING 

WHAT I find so delightful in travelling, whether 
for a long or short period, is that it involves 
two indubitable pleasures, — that of going away and 
that of coming back. I say nothing of the joys 
of the journey itself; for these are much more 
uncertain. 

I entered the house, therefore, with a radiant face, 
casting happy and benignant glances from one article 
of furniture to another. 

The furniture amid which one lives always holds 
something of one's own personality, some reflection of 
one's character and taste and inmost thoughts. 

Mahogany chairs and tables, if they could speak, 
would certainly not tell the same tale as carved wood 
pieces of furniture ; cabinets and sideboards of ebony 
the same anecdotes as similar articles of rosewood ; 
Boule dressing - tables and secretaires as the like 
conveniences of walnut wood. 

I was gazing then, as I have said, with a happy, 
benignant smile on my various household gods one 
after the other, when suddenly I caught sight, on a 
lounge by the fireside, of something that looked like a 
black-and-white muff, and which I did not recognise 
as a familiar object. 

I stepped nearer, the muff was purring in the most 

84 



THE FOUNDLING 85 

comfortable and contented fashion. It was a young 
tom-cat fast asleep. 

" Madame Lamarque ! " I shouted, " Madame 
Lamarque ! " — Madame Lamarque was the cook. 

" I knew very well Monsieur had come," she began, 
" and I should have paid my respects before, but the 
fact is I was making a white sauce at the moment, 
and Monsieur, who understands cooking himself, 
knows how quickly they burn." 

" Yes, I know they do, Madame Lamarque ; but 
what I don't understand is where this fresh arrival 
comes from," — and I pointed a denunciatory finger 
at the cat." 

" Oh, sir," sighed Madame Lamarque sentimentally, 
" 'tis an Antony." 

" What do you mean — an Antony, Madame 
Lamarque ? " 

" In other words, a foundling, sir." 

" Ah ! well, poor creature." 

" I felt sure Monsieur would be interested." 

" And where did you find him, Madame Lamarque ? " 

" In the cellar, sir." 

"In the cellar?" 

" Yes ; I heard something going ' Mew ! mew ! mew ! ' 
and I said to myself, ' That must be a cat.' " 

" What perspicacity 1 " 

" Yes ; and I went down, sir, and there, behind the 
firewood, I found the poor beast. Then I remembered 
how Monsieur had said once, ' Madame Lamarque, we 
ought to have a cat.' " 

" I said that, did I ? I think you are mistaken, 
Madame Lamarque." 

" Monsieur certainly said so. Then I said to myself, 
' As Monsieur wants to keep a cat, it's surely Providence 
sends us this one.' " 



86 MY PETS 

" You said that, did you, dear Madame Lamarque ? " 

" Yes ; and I adopted him on the spot, as Monsieur 
can see for himself." 

" Well, if you feel you must share your cup of coffee 
with a guest, you are quite at liberty, you know." 

" Only, what are we to call him, sir ? " 

" We will call him Mysouff, if you are agreeable." 

" If I am agreeable ! Monsieur is master." 

" Only, Madame Lamarque, you will see he does not 
eat my birds — my coral-beaks and Senegal wrynecks, 
my avadavats and Indian sparrows." 

" Oh ! if Monsieur fears that," struck in Michel, 
entering the room, " there's a way." 

" A way to do what, Michel ? " 

" To prevent cats from eating birds/' 

" Tell us what it is, my good man." 

" Very well, sir. You have a bird in a cage, you 
cover it up on three sides, you heat a wire red-hot, and 
fix it in the side of the cage that's not hidden ; then 
you leave the room, leaving the cat behind. The 
animal looks about, examines the ground, measures his 
distance, crouches, and with a sudden spring comes 
down all four paws and nose on the red-hot wire. The 
hotter the wire, the better the cure." 

" Thanks, Michel. . . . And about our troubadour ? " 

" True, true ; I was forgetting that was what I came 
about. Well, sir, it's all settled ; he'll sell Fotich for 
forty francs, but he insists on our giving him two 
white mice and a guinea-pig to clinch the bargain." 

" But, Michel, where the deuce do you suppose 
I am to get two white mice and a guinea - pig 
from ? " 

" If Monsieur will leave it to me, I know where 
they're to be got, I do." 

" What ! will I leave it to you, you say ? Why, of 



THE FOUNDLING 87 

course I will, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you 
to boot." 

" Then give me forty francs." 

" Here they are, Michel, here they are," — and that 
worthy man went off with his forty francs. 

"If it is not an indiscreet question," said Madame 
Lamarque, " I should like to ask Monsieur what is the 
meaning of Mysoiiffl " 

" Meaning ? Why, my dear Madame Lamarque, 
Mysouff means Mysouff; what else should it mean?" 

" It's just a cat's name then — Mysouff? " 

" Of course it is ; was not Mysouff called so ? " 

" What Mysouff? " 

" Mysouff I. Ah ! very true, Madame Lamarque, 
you never knew Mysouff." 

Thereupon I fell into so deep a fit of abstraction 
that Madame Lamarque showed her well-known tact 
and discretion in waiting for another time to find out 
who and what was Mysouff — first of the name. 



CHAPTER XVIII 

MYSOUFF— FIRST OF THE NAME 

DOUBTLESS, reader, you have often been in a 
bric-a-brac shop, where, after admiring a Dutch 
drawing, a Renaissance cabinet, an old Japanese vase, 
after examining a Venice goblet, a German beaker, after 
grinning at a Chinese Mandarin that wagged its head 
and put out its tongue, you suddenly stood rooted to 
the floor, your eyes fixed on some little painting hanging 
half hidden in a dusky corner. 

From the darkness gleamed the aureole of a 
Madonna holding the Infant Jesus on her knees. 
The gracious figure recalled some tender recollection 
of your childhood, and you felt your heart flooded 
with a tide of gentle melancholy. 

Then you looked back and back, farther and farther, 
into the past, forgetting your companions, the place 
where you were, and what you had come there for. The 
wings of memory bore you far away, you flew through 
space as if possessed of Mephistopheles' magic cloak, 
and you found yourself once more a child, full of hope 
and happy augury for the future, as you faced the 
dream of early days called up by the sight of the 
Blessed Madonna in the picture. 

Well, this was how it was with me at this moment. 
The name of Mysouff had carried me back fifteen 
years of my life. 

88 



MYSOUFF— FIRST OF THE NAME 89 

My mother was still alive. I still enjoyed in those 
days the felicity of being scolded from time to time 
by a loving mother's voice. 

My mother was alive, and I held a post in M. le 
Due d'Orleans service worth 1500 francs per annum. 
My duties occupied me from ten in the morning to 
five in the afternoon. 

We lived in the Rue de I'Ouest, and we had a cat 
called Mysouff. The animal had clearly missed its 
vocation ; it ought to have been born a dog. 

Every morning I used to set out at half-past nine, — 
it took me half an hour to go from the Rue de I'Ouest 
to my office in the Rue Saint-Honore, No. 216, — every 
morning I set out at half-past nine, to return at half- 
past five. 

Every morning Mysouff escorted me as far as the 
Rue de Vaugirard, and every evening waited for me 
at the same point. 

This was his limit, his ring of Popilius, which I 
never remember having seen him cross. 

And the curious thing was that, on such days as 
some chance circumstance or casual invitation tempted 
me to break my dutiful habits as a son and I was not 
going to come back to dine at home, Mysouff, though 
the door was opened for his exit as usual, positively 
refused to obey, and lay motionless on his cushion, in 
the posture of a serpent biting its own tail. 

It was quite different on days when I meant to 
return punctually. Then, if they forgot to open the 
door for him, Mysouff would scratch at it persistently 
with his claws till he got what he wanted. 

Naturally enough my mother adored the faithful 
beast ; she used to call him her barometer. 

" Mysouff marks my good and bad weather," she 
used to tell me, the dear, loving heart ; " the days 



90 MY PETS 

when you come, it is my ' set fair/ those when you 
stay away, my ' much rain.' " 

Poor, sweet woman ! And to think that it is only 
when we have lost these treasures of love that we 
discover how ill we appreciated them when we had them. 
It is only when we can see our dear ones no more that 
we remember we might have seen them oftener, and 
bitterly regret we neglected our opportunities now lost 
forever ! . . . 

Yes, I invariably found Mysouff on the look-out for 
me in the middle of the Rue de I'Ouest, where it 
emerges into the Rue de Vaugiraud, sitting up and 
gazing at the utmost horizon of the Rue d'Assas. 

The instant he caught sight of me, he began 
lashing the pavement with his tail ; then, as I came 
nearer and nearer, he would get to his feet, walk 
obliquely all along the line of junction with the Rue 
de rOuest, tail held high and back arched. 

The moment I set foot in the Rue de I'Ouest, he 
used to dance about my legs just like a dog ; then 
careering along in front, and turning back to rejoin 
me, he would start back for the house. 

Twenty yards from the door, he would come back 
for a last look and then dash in full gallop. Two 
seconds later I would see my mother appear on the 
threshold. 

Blessed vision, which has vanished forever from 
this earth ; but which, I hope and trust, waits to greet 
me on the threshold of another door. 

Yes, these were my thoughts, reader, these the 
memories the name of Mysouff called up in my 
mind. So, you see, it was excusable if I failed to give 
Madame Lamarque an answer. 



' ' • I • . > • •" 




MVSOUFF USED TO DANCK ABOUT MY LE(;.S LIKE A DOG 



CHAPTER XIX 

DORVAL'S BASKET OF FLOWERS 

ONCE christened, Mysouff ll enjoyed in the house 
all the privileges of Mysouff I. 

The following Sunday, were gathered in the 
garden, Giraud, Maquet, my son Alexandre, and 
two or three other habitues of the house, when 
a second Auvergnat with a second monkey was 
announced. 

" Show him in," I told Michel, and a few minutes 
afterwards the Auvergnat made his appearance. 

On his shoulder squatted a fantastic figure, 
all beribboned and wearing a cap of green satin 
cocked over one ear, and a shepherd's crook in one 
hand. 

" Iss it no here they puy moonkeys ? " the fellow 
asked. 

" Oh ! what ? " we cried in chorus. 

" He's asking if it isn't here they buy monkeys," 
explained Michel. 

" My good man," I said, " you have mistaken the 

house. You must take the first train back, make for 

the boulevard, follow it right away to the Colonne de la 

Bastille. There, turn to the right, or to the left, as 

you please, cross the Pont d'Austerlitz, and you will 

find yourself in front of the great gates of the Jardin 

des Plantes. Ask them for M. Thiers' new monkey- 
si 



92 MY PETS 

house, and here's a couple of francs to cover 
expenses." 

" Hech, sirs ! but ah haf seen twa apes in a cage 
here a'ready," the Auvergnat persisted in his uncouth 
patois, " and Jean-Pierre's lad tellt me she had solt 
her moonkey to ane Mossoo Doamass, Sae I tellt 
mysel' : * Aiblins Mossoo Doamass wad like my 
moonkey as weel ; ah wad let her haf the beastie, and 
nae dearer ava than Jean-Pierre's lad he sellt her 
nain." 

" My dear fellow, I am much obliged for your kind 
offer, and here's a franc in token of gratitude ; but 
I have plenty, two monkeys are enough. If I kept 
more, I should require another servant only to look 
after them." 

" Sir," put in Michel, " there's Soulouque, who won't 
do a thing ; Monsieur might put him in charge of 
the monkeys." 

This opened quite a new perspective as to 
Soulouque's possible future. 

Alexis, known as Soulouque, was a young Negro of 
thirteen or fourteen, of the finest ebony complexion, 
who must have originally come from Senegal or the 
Congo. He had been a denizen of my house for five 
or six years now. 

Dorval, one day she came to dine with me, had 
brought him with her in a big basket. 

" Look," she said, opening the lid, " here's something 
I have brought you as a present." 

After removing a mass of flowers, I caught sight of 
something black with two great white eyes, crouching 
at the bottom of the hamper. 

" Why ! " I exclaimed, " whatever is that, eh ? " 

" Don't be afraid, it doesn't bite." 

" But, tell me, do, what is it ? " 



DORVAL'S BASKET OF FLOWERS 93 

" A Negro ! " 

" A Negro ? " 

And diving my two hands into the basket, I seized 
the Nigger by the shoulders, hauled him out and stuck 
him on his legs. 

Thereupon he gave me a radiant smile with his two 
great, starry eyes and his thirty-two teeth as white as 
snow. 

" Where the deuce does he come from ? " I asked 
Dorval. 

" From the Antilles, my dear man ; one of my 
friends, on landing from there, gave him me. He has 
been at my house for a year now." 

" I have never seen him." 

" Very likely — because you never come. Why do 
we never see you nowadays ? Come and have break- 
fast one day, and dinner, will you ? " 

" Not I ; you are surrounded by a swarm of 
parasites who are eating you up alive." 

" You are perfectly right ; only it won't last much 
longer. At this moment, dear boy, they are licking the 
empty platters." 

" You poor dear, good creature, what a state of 
things ! " 

" So I said to myself, looking at Alexis : ' Well, 
well, my lad, I am going to take you somewhere where 
you won't get paid perhaps any more punctually than 
you are here, but where you will have something to eat 
every day, at any rate.' " 

" But what do you expect me to make of this fine 
fellow ? " 

" He is very intelligent, I do assure you, and here's 
a proof of it. On days when dinner is scanty and the 
joint is conspicuous by its absence, I do the same as 
Madame used, 1 relate stories. Well, sometimes I 



94 MY PETS 

look round his way, and I always see him laughing 
or crying, according as the tale is sad or merry. 
Then, I lengthen out my narrative ; they all think it's 
to please them ; but nothing of the kind, it's for Alexis. 
I tell myself: 'Poor boy, they are eating your dinner, 
they are ; but they cannot eat your story.' Isn't that 
so, Alexis ? " 

Alexis nodded his head in sign of affirmation. 

" You possess just the kindest heart I know, upon 
my word ! " 

" After you, my good fellow. Then you will take 
Alexis ? " 

« Yes, I will." 

Then I turned to my new protege. 

" So," I said, " you come from Havanna, it seems ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" And what language do they talk at Havanna, my 
lad ? " 

" They talk Creole." 

" So ? And how do you say ' Good-day, sir,' in 
Creole ? " 

" You say, ' Good-day^ sir! " 

" And, ' Good-day, Madam ' ? " 

" You say, ' Good-day, Madam! " 

" Ah ! then that's all right, we will talk Creole 
together. — Michel ! Michel ! " I called, and on his 
coming, " Look here, Michel," I said, " here's a fine 
fellow belongs to the house henceforth ; I entrust him 
to your care." 

Michel looked at him critically. 

" Who is it did the washing for you, my lad ? " he 
asked the Negro. 

" Beg pardon ? " stammered Alexis. 

" I ask you what's your washerwoman's name 
and address ; I mean to make her refund your money, 



DORVAi;S BASKET OF FLOWERS 95 

I do. She's just robbed you ! Well, come along 
Soulouque." 

So Michel carried off Alexis, — Alexis for everybody 
else, but for Michel Soulouque from that day forward 
forever. 



CHAPTER XX 
TOO GOOD A "CHARACTER"! 

FROM that time Alexis became a regular inmate 
of the household. 

I am strongly tempted to break my usual habit of 
digression and tell the rest of Alexis' history right 
away, and I now proceed to do so. 

The lad remained in my service till the Revolution 
of February. The next day after the proclamation of 1 
the Republic, he walked into my study and planted 
himself in front of my desk. 

When I got to the end of my page, 1 looked up, 
and saw his face wreathed in smiles. 

" Well, Alexis," I asked, " what is it now ? " 

We had always gone on, by the bye, in our conversa- 
tions speaking Creole. 

" Monsieur is aware there are no more servants now," 
Alexis began. 

" No, I did not know that." 

" Well, sir, I inform you of the fact." 

" Oh, Lord ! my poor lad, but this strikes me as a jj 
very bad bit of news for you ! " " 

" Oh no, sir ! just the opposite." 

" So much the better, then ! What do you propose to 
be instead ? " 

" Sir, I should like to be a sailor." 

" Ah ! but that falls out pat, to be sure ! You were 

96 



I 



TOO GOOD A "CHARACTER"! 97 

born under a lucky star, for certain. It so happens 
one of my friends is likely to have some influence at 
the Ministry of Marine." 

" M. Arago, you mean ? " 

" Hang it, my man, you do go the pace ! Will 
nothing content you but the Minister himself? True, 
he is a friend of mine too ; but I was not talking of 
him ; it's Allier I had in my mind." 

" Well, sir ? " 

" Well, I am going to give you a line for Allier ; he 
will enlist you, or get you enlisted, in the Navy." 

I took a sheet of notepaper and wrote — 

" My dear Allier, — I am sending you my 
servant, who has quite made up his mind to be an 
Admiral ; I have no doubt, under your auspices, he will 
presently reach this exalted rank. But as we must, of 
course, begin at the beginning, will you, to start with, get 
him a berth as cabin-boy ? — Yours ever, A. D." 

" Here," I said to Alexis, handing him the letter, 
" here's your recommendation." 

" Has Monsieur put the address on it ? " asked 
Alexis, who spoke Creole, but could not write or even 
read that language. 

" I have put the name, Alexis ; the address you 
must find out for yourself." 

" How does Monsieur suppose I can ever find 
it?" 

" There is a certain sentence in the Bible must be 
your guiding star — ' Search, and you shall find.' " 

"Very well, I will search, sir;" and Alexis left me 
to myself. 

Two hours later he returned, radiant ; his face looked 
like a sun seen through a smoked glass. 

7 



98 MY PETS 

"Well, and AlHer?" 
" Well, sir, I found him all right" 
" And did he receive you nicely ? " 
" Nothing could be nicer. ... He sent a lot of 
messages to you, sir." 

" You explained to him that you did not wish to be 
a servant any more, and that you were sacrificing to 
your country the thirty francs I pay you by the 
month? " 
" Yes, sir." 
" And he said ? " 

" He said : ' Bring me a " character " from Dumas 
stating that you were a good servant to him.' " 
« Oh ho ! " 
" And if Monsieur will give me this ' character,' well 

then " 

" Yes, then ? " 

" I think M. Allier will do something handsome 
for me." 

" Think, Alexis ; think twice." 
" Think what, sir ? " 
" You are giving up a good place." 
" But, sir, as there are no more servants now ? " 
" You can be an exception. ... It is always a good 
thing to be amongst the exceptions, you know." 
" Sir, I want to be a sailor." 

" If it is your vocation, Alexis, I will not stand in 
the way. Look, my lad, there's your month's money, 
— thirty francs — and your ' character.' I need not tell 
you, Alexis, I have lied like a Trojan, and said you 
are an admirable servant." 

" Thank you, sir " — and Alexis vanished like a 
conjuring trick. 

A fortnight later Alexis' successor in office an- 
nounced a sailor to see me. 



TOO GOOD A "CHARACTER"! 99 

" A sailor ! What does that mean ? I don't know 
any one in the Navy." 

" Sir, it's a black sailor." 

" Ah, it's Alexis ! Show him in, Joseph." 

Alexis walked in, in his cabin-boy's dress, his 
shiny leather cap in his hand. 

" So it's you, my lad ! It suits you capitally, let 
me tell you, your new costume." 

<' Yes, sir." 

" Well, so now your prayers are answered, your 
wishes realised, your desires accomplished, eh ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" You have the honour to serve the Republic." 

" Yes, sir." 

" Then why, why do you speak with such an air of 
melancholy ? A sailor's first duty is to be hearty." 

" The fact is I am not a sailor except now and then 
in my spare time, sir." 

" Why, how is that ? " 

" I only serve the Republic after I have done serving 
M. Allien" 

"You serve M. Allier?" 

"Alas! yes." 

" In what capacity, Alexis ? " 

" As his servant, sir." 

" But I thought there were no servants any more ? " 

"It appears there are, sir, after all." 

" But I thought you yourself were determined not 
to be a servant any longer ? " 

" Very true, that was my wish." 

" Well, then ? " 

" It is all Monsieur's fault if I am one still." 

" My fault ! How do you make that out ? " 

" Because Monsieur gave me too good a ' character.' " 

" Alexis, you are as dense as the Sphinx, my boy." 



100 MY PETS 

" M. Allier read the ' character ' you gave me." 

" Yes ; and then ? " 

" Then he said : ' Is it all true what your master 
says in your praise ? ' — ' Yes, sir,' I told him. — ' Well, 
in view of such an excellent " character," I will take 
you into my own service.' " 

" Oh, I see ! . . . so that now you are Allier's servant ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" And how much does he give you a month ? " 

" Nothing at all, sir." 

" But, anyhow, you get a kick behind now and 
then, or a box on the ear ? I know Allier ; he is not 
the man to neglect his duty in these little matters." 

" Ah ! there you're right, sir ; he never spares 
expenses, and the pay is first-rate." 

" Well, Alexis, I congratulate you." 

" Don't mention it, don't mention it, sir." 

" And here's a five-franc piece to drink Allier's 

health." 

" If it's all the same to Monsieur, I'd rather drink 

his health." 

" Drink to whose health you please, my lad ; and 
say all that's civil from me to Allier." 

" I will not fail, sir ; " and so saying, Alexis took 
his departure, less melancholy to the tune of five 
francs, but still very crestfallen. 

The poor lad was more of a servant than ever ; only 
he received no wages, — unless we are to reckon as an 
equivalent for the thirty francs I used to give him, 
the kicks behind and the boxes on the side of the 
head which Allier bestowed on him. 



CHAPTER XXI 
ALEXIS JOINS THE GARDE MOBILE 

YOU think, perhaps, that we have finished with 
Alexis ? Not a bit of it. 

A week after the June cmeutes I saw Alexis walk 
into my study once more. He had his cutlass by his 
side and his cap cocked over his ear. 

" Oh ho ! Alexis," I greeted him ; " so here you are 
agam ! 

" Yes, sir." 

" You look very cheerful, my lad," 

" Yes, sir," grinned Alexis, showing his thirty-two 
ivories. 

" There has been a change in your fortunes, eh ? " 

" Yes, sir ; a great change." 

" And what is it, my boy ? " 

" Sir, I have left M. Allier's service." 

" So ! But you are still serving the Republic ? " 

" Yes, sir ; but " 

" But what, Alexis ? " 

" Sir, I have altered my mind about being a sailor." 

" Oh, you have altered your mind, have you ? 
And what do you want to be now, you fickle 
fellow ? " 

" Sir, I should like to join the Garde Mobile." 

" The Garde Mobile, eh, Alexis ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

101 



102 MY PETS 

" You have some reason, I suppose ? " 

" Sir, in the Garde Mobile one gets a medal." 

" Yes, after fighting " 

'* Sir, I'm ready to fight, if needs be." 

" Well, but, deuce take it ! this is a complete change 
of front, my lad." 

" Does Monsieur know the Colonel of the Garde 
Mobile ? " 

" Of course I do ; it is Clary." 

" If Monsieur would give me a letter for him " 

" I am perfectly willing." 

" Only . . ." stammered Alexis, stopping and 
hesitating. 

" Only what ? " 

" No ' character,' if you please, sir." 

" Never fear." 

I gave him a letter for Clary, this time with the 
address duly inscribed. 

" And now," declared Alexis in the tone of the 
Centurion of Pharsalia saying to Caesar : " Now you 
will only see me dead or victorious ! " — " Now," said 
Alexis, " Monsieur will not see me again ; or, if he does, 
it will be in the uniform of the Garde ! " 

Six weeks afterwards I did see Alexis again — 
wearing the uniform in question. 

" Well, Alexis," I laughed, " you have not got your 
medal yet ? " 

" Ah, sir, what luck ! Since I have been in the 
force — as if they'd done it on purpose — never another 
imeute ! " 

" Yes, that's their spite, no doubt, my poor lad." 
" Then, worse still, they're going to disband the 
Garde Mobile and transfer us to the Regular Army," 

The announcement was followed by a deep sigh, 
and Alexis rolled his great appealing eyes at me. 



ALEXIS IN THE "GARDE MOBILE " 103 

These demonstrations plainly signified : " Oh, if 
only Monsieur would take me on again as domestic ! 
I would far rather serve him than M. Allier, or even 
the Republic." 

I pretended to notice nothing, whether sighs or 
appealing looks. 

" Well, now," 1 suggested, " if you want to go back 
to the Navy " 

" No, thank you, sir," said Alexis. " Just think, 
the vessel on which I was to have embarked, if 
I had not joined the Mobiles, was shipwrecked, and 
lost with all hands." 

" What would you have, my fine fellow ? Why, ship- 
wreck's all in the way of business for a sailor." 

" Oh, Lord ! and I can't swim a stroke. I'd prefer 
to join the land forces. But all the same, if Monsieur 
happened to know of a place, even though it shouldn't 
be such a good one as yours, sir, well, I'd make it do." 

" Ah, my poor lad, a week after the Revolution of 
February you came and told me : ' There are no 
more servants now,' and you found yourself mistaken. 
Well, it's thirty months now since the establishment 
of the Republic, and I tell you : ' There are no more 
masters now,' and I think I am not mistaken." 

" In that case, sir, your advice is to stick to my 
soldiering ? " 

" That is my advice ; and what's more, I don't see 
what else you can do." 

Alexis heaved a sigh twice as despondent as the first. 

" I see I must just resign myself to circumstances," 
he said. 

" Yes, I really think, my boy, that is the best thing 
you can do." 

" Well, I suppose I must," he groaned, and left the 
room with anything but an air of resignation. 



104 MY PETS 

Three months afterwards I received a letter bearing 
the postmark of Ajaccio. As I did not know a living 
soul there, I could not think who my correspondent 
could be writing from Napoleon's birthplace. 

The best way to satisfy my curiosity was obviously 
to open the letter, which I accordingly did. Glancing 
at the end, I read the signature — Alexis ! 

How came it that Alexis, whom I had parted from 
in Paris unable to write, was now inditing an epistle 
to me from Ajaccio ? This I should probably find 
out from the letter itself; so I proceeded to read it — 

" Sir, — I am writing to you, my former master and 
kind protector, by the hand of our quartermaster- 
sergeant, to tell you that I am in a hole of a country 
where there's nothing for a fellow to do, — except the 
girls, who are pretty enough ; but you can't say a 
word to them, because everybody is a relation of 
everybody else in the place, and if you don't marry 
the wench afterwards, they're sure to murder you. 
This they call the vendetta. 

" So, sir, if you could get me home from this hole 
of a place, where it's as much as your life's worth to 
go near a bush, and you're just eaten up with vermin, 
you would be doing a fine service to your poor Alexis, 
who asks you the favour in good, kind Madame 
Dorval's name. She was so fond of you, and I see 
by the papers we have had the misfortune to lose her. 

" I don't think this would be very difficult, if you 
would see to it a bit ; not being a highly efficient 
soldier, I believe my officers would not be very un- 
willing to let me off. In that case, you would have 
to apply to my Colonel, whose address you will find 
below. 

" There will be no trouble about knowing me from 



ALEXIS IN THE "GARDE MOBILE" 105 

your description, as I am the only Negro in the 
Regiment. 

" As for getting back to Paris, never fear, sir. Once 
I have my discharge, they'll give mc a free passage 
to Toulon or Marseilles. Once landed in France, 1 
can make my way to Paris cum pedibus et janibibus — 
which the quartermaster-sergeant tells me means on 
my own ten toes. 

" Now, sir, if I were lucky enough to be taken back 
again into your house, I give you my solemn promise 
I will serve you for nothing, if necessary — and serve 
you better, I make bold to say, than when you paid 
me thirty francs a month. 

" But if, in your anxiety to see me sooner, you 
would care to send me a trifle of money, so as not to 
have to take leave of my comrades like a sneak and 
a skunk, why, it would be very welcome, to drink to 
your good health, sir, and to make the journey a bit 
easier to manage. 

" I am and shall always be, my good and kind 
master, your obedient and devoted servant, 

" Alexis " 

Here followed the Colonel's address. 



CHAPTER XXII 

THE PRODIGAL RETURNS 

YOU have guessed, reader, what I did, have you 
not? 

I went to the Ministry of War and asked to see 
my dear, good friend Charras ; I begged him to back 
up my request to the Colonel, to whom I wrote then 
and there, using the official notepaper of the Ministry. 
I enclosed with it an order for fifty francs, to be spent 
partly in drinking my health, partly in " making the 
journey a bit easier." 

This done, I waited developments with the calm 
satisfaction of a man conscious of having done a good 
action. 

Six weeks later, I beheld Alexis once more on the 
threshold of my study. 

" Well," I greeted him as usual, " so here you are 
again ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Your mind is made up to enter my service for 
board, lodging, and clothing only ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" And you will never ask me for a penny ? " 

" No, sir." 

" Well, I will take you back on these conditions." 

" Ah ! I knew Monsieur would," cried Alexis, beam- 
ing with delight. 

106 



THE PRODIGAL RETURNS 107 

" One moment, my boy ; don't imagine I am taking 
you back because I cannot do without you. You would 
be mightily mistaken if you did, Alexis." 

" I am quite aware Monsieur does this out of pure 
goodness of heart, and nothing else." 

" Bravo ! Now, what have you learnt in foreign 
parts ? " 

" To make cartridge grease, to pipeclay buff-belts 
and keep the muskets clean. If Monsieur will give 
me charge of his guns, he'll see what I can do." 

" I will do better than that, Alexis, I will give you 
charge of myself." 

" What ! I'm to come back as Monsieur's valet ? " 

" Yes, Alexis ; for valets are still in existence, it 
seems ; though I keep none myself any longer. Go 
and hunt up your old livery, and get to work." 

" But where can my old livery have got to, sir ? " 

" Oh, / don't know ! Search, my lad, search. It's 
like Allier's address, there's only the Bible precept 
can give you any hope of finding." 

Alexis left the room to start his search. He soon 
came back in triumph, carrying the livery in his hand. 

" Monsieur," he began, " to begin with, it's all moth- 
eaten ; and in the second place, I can't get into it any 
more." 

" The deuce, Alexis ! What's to be done ? " 

" Doesn't Monsieur still employ the same tailor ? " 
Alexis asked. 

" No, he is dead, and I have not yet appointed a 
successor." 

" The deuce ! as Monsieur says, what's to be done ? " 

" Go and ask my son to give you the address of 
his tailor, and look in my wardrobe for something to 
suit you." 

" Thank you, sir." 



108 MY PETS 

" Meantime, keep on your uniform, my lad. Only 
get rid of that sort of tin quiver you wear over your 
shoulder, or at any rate empty the arrows out of it ; 
else folks will take you for Cupid." 

" It's not arrows in it, sir; it's my discharge." 

" Ah, well, empty it anyway." 

Three or four days later there walked into my room 
a gentleman of fashion in a pair of light green trousers 
with a grey check, a black frock-coat, a waistcoat of 
white pique and a cambric cravat. On top of all 
appeared Alexis' black face. 

I hardly knew him. 

" Why, what's that thing I see ? " I asked. 

" It's only me, sir." 

" Why, has a Russian Princess fallen in love with 
you, then ? " 

" No, sir." 

" Then where did you get all those fine clothes, eh ? " 

" Why, Monsieur told me — ' Go and look in my ward- 
robe for something to suit you.' " 

" And you looked ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" And you found ? " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Well, come here, closer." 

" Here I am, sir." 

" But, God forgive me ! it's my new trousers, 
Alexis ! " 

" Yes, sir." 

" But, the devil take me ! it's my new coat, Alexis ! " 

" Yes, sir." 

" Well, really, you are the deuce of a fellow ! " 

" Why do you say that, sir ? " 

" Why ? Why, you go and take my very best 
clothes ? Well, really ! . . . and what about me ? " 



-t' 



c et.c.ooeotcc c c ' « 

cc e e •« ^ « « ' ,c c c cc ' 




I IMAC;iNF.I) MONSIEUR WOL'I.I) LIKK ME TO RE HANDSOMELV DRESSED 



THE PRODIGAL RETURNS 109 

" Why, I thought, as Monsieur sits at work all day 



long " 

" Yes ? " 

" I thought, as Monsieur never leaves the house " 

" Well ? " 

" I thought Monsieur would not mind about being 
finely dressed." 

" Upon my word ! " 

" While for me, who go out so much " 

"So?" 

" Who run on all the errands " 

" What next ? " 

" Who is fond of the ladies " 

" Coxcomb ! " 

" I imagined Monsieur would like me to be 
handsomely dressed," 

" Oh ! you imagined that, did you ? " 

" Give him your decorations into the bargain, sir," 
grinned Michel, who came in at that moment. 
" Then they'll all take him for heir-apparent of 
His Majesty King Faustin I — and the thing will be 
complete ! " 

" But meantime I have neither coats nor trousers 
to wear myself" 

" Oh yes, you have, sir ! there are the old ones." 

After all, Alexis was more reasonable than many 
of his betters. I have known so many people in the 
course of my life who have appropriated my new duds, 
and have not so much as left me the old ! 



CHAPTER XXIIl 

ALEXIS FINDS SCOPE FOR HIS MILITARY 
PROCLIVITIES AT LAST 

ANYWAY, my new coat and trousers being no 
longer available, I had a twofold motive for 
staying at home, and my work was naturally benefited. 

Thereupon I told myself: "This poor lad Alexis 
thinks he is serving me for nothing; well, it is only 
fair his self-respect should be consulted, as his 
pecuniary interests are being jeopardised." 

I have underlined the word thinks ; for I trust you 
know me too well, dear readers, to suppose for an 
instant that he was really giving his services gratis. 

I wanted to see what difference there was between 
Alexis receiving thirty francs a month and Alexis 
acting as my servant unpaid. I am bound to say 
in common justice to him that there was none 
whatever. 

However, I proposed, at a given time, to make 
Alexis a refund, as they say in the Government 
offices. 

Now you know, or possibly you do not know, that 
on December 7, 1852, I left Paris for Brussels, Alexis 
accompanied me, and I took up my quarters at the 
H6tel de I'Europe. 

There I had all the hotel waiters to do anything 

I wanted — and this proved Alexis' undoing. 

110 



ALEXIS FINDS SCOPE 111 

I knew Brussels from of old, and felt no curiosity 
to explore the city again. So I set to work without 
a moment's delay directly I arrived. 

But Alexis had never been in the Belgian capital 
before, and had a strong desire to see its beauties. 
The result was that, having nothing else to do, he 
undertook a series of linguistic studies by way of 
comparing the French, Belgian, and Creole tongues. 

He was still engaged in these studies when it 
occurred to me to give up living at an hotel and 
rent and furnish a small house instead. I did this 
accordingly ; but by the time I entered into possession 
of my new quarters, Alexis had become so enamoured 
of his new pursuits that he invariably left the house at 
eight o'clock in the morning, came back at eleven for de- 
jeuner^ went out again at noon, returning at six, and out 
again at seven and finally home and to bed at midnight. 

Finally, one day I confronted him when he came in 
at one of these times, and told him — 

" Alexis, I am going to give you a piece of news 
you will be glad to hear. My lad, I have just 
engaged a servant to attend to us. Only don't take 
him away with you when you go out." 

Alexis looked at me with his great, soft eyes, in 
which there was not the faintest gleam of ill-nature. 

" I quite understand," he said ; " Monsieur discharges 
me. 

" Please observe, Alexis, I have not said one word 
about dismissal," 

*' Oh ! I'm ready to admit one thing " 

" What is that, Alexis ? " 

" I can see for myself I don't suit Monsieur." 

" If you say so yourself, Alexis, I am too good a 
master to contradict you." 

" Then my mind is made up," 



112 MY PETS 

" It is always something gained to have made up 
one's mind." 

" There's no doubt about it, sir, my vocation is to 
be a soldier." 

" I will say to you what Louis Philippe did to M. 
Dupin : ' I always thought as you do, my dear sir ; 
but I never durst tell you so." 

" When does Monsieur wish me to go ? " 

" Fix your own time, Alexis." 

*' As soon as ever Monsieur has given me something 
to pay my journey with." 

" Here's fifty francs." 

" How much is the ticket to Paris, sir ? " 

" Twenty-five francs, Alexis ; for I presume you 
don't intend to travel first-class." 

" Oh no, sir, no ! — So I shall have twenty-five 
francs over." 

" You will have more than that left, Alexis." 

" Why, how much shall I have left ? " 

" You will have four hundred and fifty francs plus 
twenty-five francs, — total, four hundred and seventy-five 
francs." 

" I don't understand, sir." 

" You have been in my service for fifteen months ; 
very well, fifteen months at thirty francs a month 
makes exactly four hundred and fifty francs." 

" But," stammered Alexis, blushing through his 
black skin, " I thought I was serving Monsieur for 
nothing ? " 

" Well, then, you were mistaken, Alexis. It was only 
a way of making you save up a trifle in spite of 
yourself. If you choose to travel on foot, and buy 
yourself an annuity with the four hundred and seventy- 
five francs you own, you will have twenty-three francs 
seventy-five centimes a year." 



ALEXIS FINDS SCOPE 113 

" And Monsieur is really going to give me four 
hundred and seventy-five francs ? " 

" Certainly I am." 

" But it can't be." 

" What ! can't be ? — what do you mean, Alexis ? " 

" No, sir. Why, sir, you owed me nothing, even if I 
had been a good servant to you ; so you can't possibly 
owe me four hundred and seventy-five francs for being 
a bad one." 

" But it is so, all the same. And let me tell you, 
Alexis, the Belgian laws are very strict, and if you 
refuse to take your wages I can force you to." 

" I should not like to bring an action against 
Monsieur, that's certain ; I know Monsieur hates 
going to law." 

" Then be reasonable, Alexis ; take your four hundred 
and seventy-five francs." 

" I will propose a compromise — if Monsieur will 
allow me." 

" Very well ; I want nothing better than to come to 
some agreement, Alexis." 

"If Monsieur gives me the whole sum at once, I 
shall spend it right away." 

" That's extremely likely." 

" Whereas, if Monsieur would be so kind as to give 
me an order to receive fifty francs a month on M. 
Cadot, his publisher " 

" An excellent plan, Alexis." 

" I shall have money for eight months to live like a 
prince on ; presently, when the ninth month comes, I 
will take a place, and still have the seventy-five francs 
to draw upon." 

" By the Lord, Alexis, I did not know you were 
such a financier ! " 

So I handed Alexis twenty-five francs in ready 
8 



114 MY PETS 

money to pay for his ticket, and an order on Cadot 
as desired. 

Tliis arranged, he begged me for my blessing, and 
set out for Paris. 

In the next eight months Alexis was to be seen at 
all hours on the Boulevards, where he was known by 
the sobriquet of the Black Prmce. 

Finally, in the ninth month, he sought and found 
employment as he had proposed. 

Let us add at once that this time Alexis had 
discovered his true vocation, as is shown by the 
following letter, which I received from him two years 
after his departure — 

" Sir, — The present communication is to inquire, 
first of all, after my dear master's health, and secondly, 
to inform you that I am as happy and prosperous as 
can be. I have made great progress with the foils, 
and have just been admitted as Assistant in a Fencing 
School. Monsieur probably does not know that, in 
reaching this preferment, it is customary to treat one's 
comrades. 

" I know Monsieur too well to suppose I need tell 
him this twice — it is the custom to treat the other 
fellows. 

" Believe me, sir, I am eternally grateful for past 
favours. — Your devoted Alexis " 

Alexis duly treated " the other fellows " at my 
expense. I don't mean to say he gave them a 
Trimalchio's feast or a dinner of Monte-Cristo, but he 
entertained them adequately. 

To-day Alexis enjoys his comrades' goodwill and 
the respect of his superiors, to whom I recommend 
him as one of the best and truest hearts I know. 



ALEXIS FINDS SCOPE 115 

Unfortunately there is one thing will always prove 
an obstacle to his advancement — the fact that he 
cannot either read or write. 

In former days the Emperor created a rank 
especially for gallant fellows in his position, where book 
learning was not required. He made them ensign- 
bearers ; that was their marshal's baton. 

Such, dear readers, is Alexis' story. Now we 
must hark back to the second Auvergnat and his 
moonkey number two. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

MAQUET BUYS A SECOND HUSBAND FOR 
MADEMOISELLE DESGARCINS 

YOU will remember, reader, how the Auvergnat 
lad urged me eagerly to buy his ape, and how I 
objected, telling him that, if I made the purchase, I should 
want a special servant merely to look after the monkeys. 

It was then that Michel, always a man of resource, 
proposed I should appoint Soulouque superintendent of 
the monkey-house ; and this name of Soulouque led 
me to give the information about Alexis which you 
have just perused. 

His story completed, I now resume the thread of 
my general narrative. 

" And how much do you want for your monkey ? " I 
asked the Auvergnat. 

" The shentleman knows hersel' what price she haf 
paid for the other moonkey." 

" I gave forty francs for the other one, a guinea-pig, 
and two white mice." 

" Come now, buy the pretty little beast ! " urged 
Giraud. 

" Yes, do buy the wretched ape ! " said Alexandre. 

" Listen to them, just listen to them ! the dear 
creatures ! I tell you, forty francs is forty francs. And 
as for the guinea-pig and two white mice, they are not 
to be found in the first field neither ! " 

U6 



A SECOND HUSBAND 117 



t< 



"Gentlemen," struck in Alexandre, "there's one 
thing I mean to prove one day — that my father is the 
most avaricious of mankind ! " 

Everybody protested violently ; but my son persisted : 
" Yes, I shall prove it one day." 

" There, what a pity not to buy," persisted Giraud ; 
" see what a little love it is ! " — and he held out his 
arms to the monkey, which threw itself into them and 
gripped him tight round the neck. 

" More by token," observed Michel, " he's as like as two 
drops of water to your neighbour, sir, and you know " 

" 'Pon honour, but it's true ! " exclaimed the 
company in chorus. 

" Capital ! " Giraud began again ; " what could be 
better ? Why, I have a portrait to paint of him for 
Versailles. . . . Upon my word ! you might buy him, 
and he could pose for the head ; that would help me on 
with my work enormously." 

" Come, buy, buy ! " chorused all my friends. 

" Well, are my father's niggardly habits proved, or 
are they not ? " grinned Alexandre. 

" My dear Dumas," said Maquet, " without meaning 
to say I agree with your son, may I be allowed to offer 
you the ' Last of the Laidmanoirs ' as a present ? " 

" Bravo, Maquet ! bravo, sir ! " shouted everybody ; 
" give the skinflint a lesson." 

I bowed, and, " My dear, good Maquet," I said, 
" you know whatever comes from you is welcome here." 

" He accepts ! " sneered Alexandre, " there, you see, 
gentlemen." 

" Accept ! of course I accept. — Now, my young 
Auvergnat friend, kiss your moonkey for the last time, 
and if you have a tear to shed, now's the time," 

" And ma forty francs, ma guinea-pig, and ma 
white mice ? " 



118 MY PETS 

" The whole company guarantees your payment." 

" Come, gif me back ma moonkey" said the 
Auvergnat, holding out his arms to Giraud. 

" There," laughed Alexandre, " there you see the 
fine trustfulness of youth ! " 

Maquet drew two gold coins from his pocket. 

" Look," he said, "there's the main item, to begin with." 

" And the guinea-pig and the white mice ? " persisted 
the suspicious Auvergnat. 

" Oh, as for them," said Maquet, " I can only offer 
you their value in money. How much do you reckon 
a guinea-pig and two white mice at ? " 

" I think they mak ten francs." 

" Hold your tongue, you young humbug ! " cried 
Michel. " A franc the guinea-pig and a franc and a 
quarter apiece the white mice, that makes three francs 
and a half altogether. Give the fellow five francs. 
Monsieur Maquet ; and if he's not satisfied, I'll settle 
accounts with him myself." 

" Ach ! but ye' re a hard man, gardener ! " 

" There, take your five francs," said Maquet, 
handing him the money. 

" Now," added Michel, " rub your two noses 
together and let that be the end ! " 

The Auvergnat stepped up to Giraud, his arms 
open ; but instead of springing into his late master's 
arms, the " Last of the Laidmanoirs " clung on to 
Giraud's beard, uttering little yells of terror and 
making faces at the Auvergnat. 

" Good ! " said Alexandre, " that is the last straw of 
all ; so monkeys are ungrateful too. Pay him quick, 
Maquet, quick ; else he'll be wanting to charge as if 
for a man." 

Maquet handed over the balance of five francs, and 
the Auvergnat made for the door. 



A SECOND HUSBAND 119 

As the latter disappeared the " Last of the Laid- 
maiioirs " gave more and more manifest tokens of 
satisfaction. When he had vanished altogether, the 
monkey indulged in a sort of war-dance indicative of 
triumph and delight. 

" Look, look ! " cried Giraud, " look there ! " 
" Well, we are looking with all our eyes." 
" No, no, not there ! Look in the cage ; see what 
Mademoiselle Desgarcins is after." 

The latter, not in the least intimidated by the 
shepherd's costume worn by the new-comer, was 
enthusiastically dancing back at him with might 
and main. 

" Let us not delay any longer the bliss of these two 
interesting and fascinating creatures," said Maquet. 



CHAPTER XXV 

MADEMOISELLE DESGARCINS AND THE 
SODA-WATER BOTTLE 

I CAN honestly say there never was anything 
more grotesque in this world than the nuptials of 
Mademoiselle Desgarcins, all in the sweet simplicity of 
her naked monkeyhood, with the " Last of the Laid- 
manoirs," in shepherd costume, the ceremony presided 
over by Potich dressed as troubadour. 

Potich, we should add, appeared greatly chagrined 
at the event. In fact, if he had still worn the famous 
sword which he was flourishing in the face of his 
master the day I first made his acquaintance, it is 
likely enough that, taking advantage of Article 324 of 
the Penal Code, he might, as an injured husband 
wronged within the walls of the conjugal domicile, 
have washed out the affront in the blood of the " Last 
of the Laidmanoirs." 

But fortunately Potich was unarmed, and the 
hostile demonstration he did make being answered by 
a terrific volley of blows from the " Last of the 
Laidmanoirs," things took their course. 

Not that Potich was one of those accommodating 

husbands who wink at what goes on under their 

eyes. Far from it ; indeed the grief and chagrin 

Potich endured in his internal economy brought about 

his death eighteen months later. 

120 



THE SODA-WATER BOTTLE 121 

At this stage of affairs Alexis appeared on the 
scene, bringing in a tray with three or four glasses, a 
bottle of Chablis, and a bottle of soda-water." 

" Look here," cried Alexandre, " I have an idea." 

" Yes ? " 

" To make Mademoiselle Desgarcins uncork the 
soda-water." 

Then, without so much as waiting for the company 
to approve his notion, he took the soda-water bottle 
and laid it on the floor of the cage in the position of a 
gun on its gun-carriage. 

The saying goes — " As inquisitive as a monkey," 
and as a matter of fact Alexandre had hardly with- 
drawn his hand and arm from the cage before the 
three droll creatures, the lady included, were squatted 
round the strange object, scrutinising it curiously. 

Mademoiselle was the first to realise that the 
moving mechanism, whatever it was, was centred in 
the four crossed strings that held the cork in place. 

Accordingly she attacked the string with her 
fingers ; but these, strong and clever as they were, 
could make nothing of it. 

Then she had recourse to her teeth. This time it 
was a different matter ; after a few seconds of tugging 
and tearing the string gave way, still leaving three 
intact, however. 

Mademoiselle instantly set to work again and 
attacked the second. 

Meantime her two companions, squatting on their 
rumps to right and left of her, looked on with ever- 
growing curiosity. 

The second string gave way ; but the remaining two 
were underneath towards the ground. 

P.otich and the " Last of the Laidmanoirs," their 
differences made up for the moment apparently, took 



122 MY PETS 

hold of the bottle with the utmost adroitness and 
turned it over, so that the two last strings were 
upwards. 

Without a moment's loss of time, Mademoiselle fell 
to on the third string. Then, the third having given 
way, she went on to the fourth. 

The nearer the operation approached completion, the 
more intense grew the attention of all ; the spectators, 
needless to say, being as keenly interested as the 
actors. Animals and human beings held their breath 
with one accord. 

Suddenly a terrible explosion was heard. Made- 
moiselle Desgarcins was pitched head over heels by 
the cork and smothered with soda-water, while Potich 
and the " Last of the Laidmanoirs " sprang to the roof 
of their cage, uttering piercing screams. 

In all these apish antics, so curiously mimicking 
human emotions, there was a vis comica that is 
altogether indescribable, 

" Oh ! " laughed Alexandre, " I'll give up my share of 
soda-water to see Mademoiselle Desgarcins uncork a 
second bottle." 

Meanwhile Mademoiselle Desgarcins had picked 
herself up, shaken herself, and gone to join her two 
friends at the top of the cage, where they still hung 
head downwards by their tails, giving vent to a 
succession of apish yells. 

" And to think young Dumas imagines she will let 
herself be fooled a second time ! " 

" Upon my word ! " said Maquet, " I should not be 
a bit surprised ; I think curiosity is stronger even than 
fear," 

" Pooh ! so long as you'll go on giving them soda- 
water bottles, so long they'll go on uncorking them ; 
they are just as obstinate as mules, are monkeys ! " 



. ; , • • • . • • ♦• 
















MADEMOISELLE DESCiARCIfS OPENS THE SODA WATER BOTTLE 



THE SODA-WATER BOTTF.E 123 

" You think so, Michel ? " 

" Monsieur knows how they catch them in their own 
country ? " 

" No, Michel, I do not." 

" What ! Monsieur doesn't know that ? " exclaimed 
Michel in the tone of one filled with compassion at the 
thought of my ignorance. 

" Tell us about it, Michel." 

" Monsieur is aware that monkeys are extremely 
fond of Indian corn ? " 

" Yes." 

" Well, sir, they put some Indian corn in a bottle, 
the neck of which is just wide enough to admit the 
monkey's paw." 

" Good, Michel ! and then ? " 

" They can see the Indian corn through the sides of 
the bottle." 

" Yes, Michel ? Go on." 

" They dive their paw down the neck and pick up a 
fistful of the grain. At that moment the layer of the 
trap shows himself. They are so obstinate — the 
monkeys " 

" Yes, I understand." 

" They are so obstinate, they'll never let go any- 
thing they've once grasped ; but as the paw, that went 
in all right when the fingers were open, refuses to be 
drawn out again with the fist closed, they're caught 
like that, sir, in the act." 

" Well and good, Michel ; so, if ever our monkeys 
run away, you know how to catch them again." 

" Oh, Monsieur need not be the least afraid, that's 
exactly what I shall do." 

Then, " Alexis," Michel called to my Negro servant, 
" bring another bottle of soda-water." 

We are bound to add, in the interests of truth, that 



124 MY PETS 

the experiment was repeated a second time, and even 
a third, under exactly the same conditions and circum- 
stances — to the glorification of Michel's perspicacity. 

Alexandre was for going on ; but I pointed out 
that poor Mademoiselle Desgarcins' nose was all 
swelled up, her gums bleeding, and her eyes starting 
out of her head. 

" Bah ! it isn't that," sneered Alexandre, " but 
because you want to save your soda-water. I told 
you so, gentlemen ; my father, while posing as a 
spendthrift, is really at heart the most niggardly of 
men." 



CHAPTER XXVI 

INFAMOUS CONDUCT OF POTICH, THE "LAST 
OF THE LAIDMANOIRS," MADEMOISELLE 
DESGARCINS, AND MYSOUFF II 

THE reader must forgive this long digression. We 
now come at last to Mysoufif II. 

One morning, after having worked till three o'clock 
a.m., I was still in bed at eight, when I heard my door 
open softly. 

I have mentioned before that no matter how gently 
my door is opened and how soundly I am asleep, I 
awake without fail the instant it begins to turn on 
its hinges. 

I opened my eyes, therefore, almost before the latch 
was raised, and as it was broad daylight, I could catch 
a glimpse of Michel's face between door and doorpost. 
He was evidently in trouble. 

" Well, sir," he began, " here's a calamity ! " 

" Why, what's wrong, Michel ? " 

" Wrong indeed ! Why, those wretched monkeys — 
I can't think how ever they did it — have managed to 
untwist a mesh of the wire, and then another and 
another, till they made a hole big enough to squeeze 
through, and they are clean gone ! " 

" Well 1 but, Michel, you know the accident has 
been provided against. We have only to get three 
bottles and buy some Indian corn." 

126 



126 MY PETS 

" Yes, yes, Monsieur will have his joke ; but he'll 
find it's no joke directly." 

" Why, good lord, Michel ! what else has happened, 
eh?" 

" What else ! Why, they've opened the aviary." 

" And the birds have flown ? Well, so much the 
worse for us, Michel, but so much the better for 
them." 

" Ah, sir ! your six pairs of ring-doves, your fourteen 
quails, and your little, rare birds — Indian sparrows, 
wrynecks, coralbeaks, widow-birds, and all the rest are 
gobbled up." 

" But, Michel, the monkeys cannot have eaten my 
birds ? " 

" No, sir ; but they've been and fetched a gentleman 
who did the job for them — M. Mysoufif, to wit." 

" Oh, the devil ! We must look into this." 

" Oh, it's a pretty sight truly — a regular field of 
carnage ! " 

I sprang out of bed, slipped on my pantalon a pieds, 
and was ready to sally forth. 

"Wait a bit," said Michel, "let's just see where 
they've got to, the villains." 

I went to the window, which gave on the garden, 
and looked out. 

Potich was swinging gracefully to and fro, hanging 
by the tail to the branch of a maple. 

Mademoiselle Desgarcins was still inside the aviary, 
and was leaping merrily from east to west and north 
to south. 

As for the " Last of the Laidmanoirs," that noble 
animal was doing gymnastics on the conservatory door. 

" Well, Michel, the question now is to catch them 
all again. I will undertake the 'Last of the Laidmanoirs,' 
if you will see to Mademoiselle Desgarcins. As for 



INFAMOUS CONDUCT OF POTICH 127 

little Potich, when he finds he is the only one left he'll 
come back of his own accord." 

" Oh, sir, don't you trust him ! He's a vile hypocrite. 
Why, he's made it up with the other fellow." 

" What ! with Mademoiselle Desgarcins' lover ? " 

" Yes, yes, indeed ! " 

" Tut, tut ! it makes me despair of the simian race ; 
I thought such baseness was only done amongst 
human beings," 

" We mustn't look upon these as mere monkeys," 
said Michel ; " you see, they've enjoyed the benefits of 
intercourse with men." 

" Oh, but it's sad to think they should be so 
depraved ; and sadder still, Michel, to reflect that 
perhaps it's our plays and romances, Victor Hugo's 
and mine, that have done the mischief! However, 
be this as it may, our first business is to catch them." 

" Very true, sir, very true." 

" To work then, Michel ! " I cried — and to work we 
went. 

Certain preliminary measures were necessary before 
we could reach the delinquents, and these precautions 
we proceeded to take, taking up the best strategical 
positions like true sportsmen. By the time the simple- 
minded Potich, who appeared to have been placed as 
sentinel by his two accomplices, gave the alarm, it was 
too late. I was master of the door of the conservatory 
and Michel of that of the aviary. I marched into the 
conservatory, and shut to the door behind me. 

Seeing the door blocked, the " Last of the 
Laidmanoirs" did not even attempt to fly, but made 
ready to defend himself. 

He retreated into a corner so as to have his flanks 
and rear protected, and began to grind his teeth in a 
threatening manner. 



128 MY PETS 

I considered myself too well practised in the three 
great arts of fencing, boxing, and the savate to be greatly 
alarmed at the thought of a duel with a monkey. 

I walked straight up to the animal, which, as I came 
nearer and nearer, redoubled his hostile demonstrations. 

Potich had run up from the end of the garden and 
was hopping up and down, peeping through the glass 
to see what was going to occur between me and the 
" Last of the Laidmanoirs," all the while making 
strange little throat-cries by way of encouraging the 
latter. On the other hand he treated me, his master, 
to a succession of hideous grimaces, pretending to spit 
in my face through the panes. 

At this moment the she-monkey gave vent to a 
series of piercing screams, of which Michel was the 
inciting cause; he had just clapped his hands on 
her. 

Her outcries seemed to exasperate the " Last of the 
Laidmanoirs." He gathered himself together, and then 
flew straight at my face like a bolt from a cross-bow. 

Instinctively I parried in carte; my fist met the 
creature's body full in the chest, and knocked him flat 
against the wall. 

The shock was so violent that the " Last of the 
Laidmanoirs " lay for a moment half stunned. 

I took advantage of the respite to grip him by the 
skin of his neck. The creature's features, red and 
congested a moment before, were now as pale as a 
death-mask. 

" Have you secured Mademoiselle Desgarcins ? " I 
shouted to Michel. 

" Have you got the ' Last of the Laidmanoirs,' sir ? " 
Michel shouted back to me. 

" Yes." 

" Yes." 



INFAMOUS CONDUCT OF POTICH 129 

" Bravo, then ! " — and we marched out, each holding 
our prisoner in hand, while Potich scuttled off to the 
top of the only tree the garden boasted, uttering 
pitiful cries, only comparable to the lamentations of 
Electra. 



CHAPTER XXVIl 
A WAGER 

IN the meantime a smith had been sent for, who 
proceeded to repair the broken wires of the 
monkey-house. Then Mademoiselle Desgarcins and 
the " Last of the Laidmanoirs " were put back again 
after being soundly whipped. 

The sight of their punishment brought Potich's 
lamentations to the highest pitch of agony. At last, 
unlikely as it may seem, and proving the natural 
aptitude of monkeys — who are men's caricatures in 
this as in so many points — for slavery, once the two 
culprits were safe in confinement again, Potich came 
down from his tree of his own accord, sidled timidly 
up to Michel, and asked with little plaintive whimpers 
and hands clasped in pitiful appeal, to be reimprisoned 
along with his comrades. 

" There, do you see that ? " cried Michel. " Oh, the 
hypocrite ! " 

But was it hypocrisy or devotion ? I was inclined 
to think the latter ; Michel held out for the former. 

In very truth, what better had Regulus done, when he 
went back to Carthage to keep his plighted word ; or 
King Jean, surrendering himself again to the English, 
to rejoin the Countess of Salisbury ? 

Potich was forgiven in consideration of his repent- 
ance. Michel picked the little beast up by the scruff 

130 



A WAGER 131 

of his neck and tossed him into the cage, without the 
" Last of the Laidmanoirs " or Mademoiselle Desgarcins 
deigning to pay the slightest attention to his arrival. 
When a she-monkey is not in love, she seems to be 
every whit as cruel as a woman. 

Mysouff remained to be attended to. So far he had 
been overlooked, and still inside the aviary, he was still 
chewing the bones of his unhappy victims with the 
callous indifference of a hardened criminal. 

He had enjoyed, like the Vicomte de V , a 

breakfast costing five hundred francs. 

" A breakfast costing five hundred francs ! " the 
reader will exclaim. " Why, what ever do you mean ; 
we fail to grasp the allusion." 

Well, to explain : the Vicomte de V , brother to 

Comte Horace de V , and one of the most finished 

gourmets in France, — and not only in France, but in 
Europe, not only in Europe, but in all the world, — one 
day ventured to propound at a gathering, half artistic, 
half society, the startling statement — 

" One man by himself can eat a dinner costing five 
hundred frances." 

A universal shout of incredulity greeted the remark. 
" Impossible ! " was heard on all sides. 

" It is understood, of course," added the Vicomte, 
" that the word eat is taken to include the word 
drmk as well." 

" Why, of course." 

" Well, then, I maintain that a man, — and when I 
say a man, I do not mean a common yokel, you know, 
but a gourmet, a disciple of Montrond or Courchamp, — 
well, I say that a man, a gourmet of the sort I mean, 
is capable of eating a dinner costing five hundred 
francs." 

" You could do it yourself, for instance ? " 



132 MY PETS 

" Certainly I could." 

" Will you wager you could ? " 

" By all means." 

" I will hold the stakes," said one of the bystanders. 

" Yes, and I will eat them," declared the Vicomte. 

" Come, then, let us settle the details." 

" It is all as simple as can be. ... I will dine at the 
Cafe de Paris, arrange my menu as I please, and con- 
sume five hundred francs' worth of dinner." 

" Without leaving anything over in the dishes or on 
your plate ? " 

" Excuse me, I shall leave the bones." 

" That is only fair." 

" And when is the wager to be decided ? " 

" To-morrow, if you like." 

" Then, you won't eat any breakfast ? " 

" I shall breakfast just as usual." 

" Well and good ; for to-morrow, then, at seven 
o'clock, at the Caf6 de Paris." 

The same evening, the Vicomte de V went to 

dine as usual at the fashionable restaurant. Then, after 
the meal, so as not to be biased by any pangs of 
hunger, he set to work to draw up his menu for the 
following day. 

The maitre d'hotel was summoned. It was mid- 
winter. The Vicomte ordered several kinds of fruit 
and spring vegetables, as well as game, which was out 
of season. 

The maitre d'hotel demanded a week's delay to 
obtain these delicacies ; and the dinner was accordingly 
postponed for that time. 

To right and left of the Vicomte's table the judges 
of the wager were to sit and dine. He was allowed 
two hours for the meal — from seven to nine. He 
might talk, or not, just as he pleased. 



A WAGER 133 

At the appointed hour the Vicomte walked in, 
bowed to the umpires, and took his seat. 

The menu had been kept secret ; the Vicomte's 
opponents were to be given the gratification of the 
unexpected. 

When he was duly installed, twelve dozen Ostend 
oysters were set on the table, together with a half 
bottle of Johannisberg. 

The Vicomte was in form ; he called for a second 
gross of oysters and another half bottle of the same 
vintage. 

Next came a tureen of swallows'-nest soup, which 
the Vicomte poured into a bowl and drank off, 

" Upon my word ! gentlemen," he said, " I have a 
fine appetite to-day, and I feel greatly tempted to 
indulge a fancy." 

" By all means ! you are at liberty to do exactly as 
you like," 

" I adore beefsteak and potatoes. — Here, waiter, a 
beefsteak and potatoes," 

The man looked at the Vicomte in wonder. 

" Well," added the latter, " don't you understand 
what I say ? " 

" Yes, sir, yes ! but I thought M. le Vicomte had 
settled his menu." 

" True, true ; but this is an extra, I will pay for it 
separately." 

The umpires looked at one another. The dish was 
brought, and the Vicomte devoured it to the last scrap. 

" Good ! . , . and now the fish " — and the fish was 
set on the table. 

" Gentlemen," observed the Vicomte, " it is a ferra 
from the Lake of Geneva, a fish only to be found there. 
Still it can be procured. I was shown it this morning 
as I sat at breakfast ; it was then alive. It had been 



134 MY PETS 

conveyed from Geneva to Paris swimming in Lake 
water. I can recommend the dish ; it is excellent." 

Five minutes more and only the fish bones remained 
on the Vicomte's plate. 

" The pheasant, waiter ! " cried the Vicomte — and a 
truffled pheasant was duly served. 

" Another bottle of bordeaux, same vintage " — and 
the second bottle was produced. 

The bird was disposed of in ten minutes. 

" Monsieur," remarked the waiter at this point, 
" surely you have made a mistake in asking for the 
truffled pheasant before the stewed ortolans." 

" Egad ! but that's so. Luckily, it is not stipulated 
in what order the courses are to come ; else I should 
have lost my bet. Now for the ortolans, waiter ! " 

There were ten, and the Vicomte made just ten 
mouthfuls of them. 

" Gentlemen," said the Vicomte, " my menu is a very 
plain one now, — asparagus, green peas, a pineapple, and 
a dish of strawberries. For wine — a half bottle of 
constantia, a half bottle of sherry, East Indian, you 
know. Then, of course, to finish up with, the usual 
coffee and liqueurs." 

Each item appeared in due course — fruits and 
vegetables, all was eaten conscientiously, wines and 
liqueurs, all was drunk to the last drop. 

The Vicomte had taken an hour and fourteen 
minutes over his dinner. 

" Now, gentlemen," he said, turning to the umpires, 
" has everything been done honestly and above- 
board ? " 

The judges answered unanimously in the affirmative. 

" Waiter, the bill ! " 

Observe, people did not use the word addition in 
those days, as they do now. 



A WAGER 



135 



The Vicomte glanced at the total, and handed in 

the document to the judges. 

It read as follows : — 

Frs. 
Ostend oysters, 24 dozen .... 30 



Swallows'-nest soup . 






150 


Beefsteak and potatoes 






2 


Truffled pheasant 






40 


Stewed ortolans 






SO 


Asparagus 






15 


Green peas . 






12 


Pineapple 






24 


Strawberries . 






20 


Wines and Liqueurs 




Johannisberg, one bottle 


24 


Bordeaux, best quality, two bottles . 




5° 


Constantia, half bottle 




40 


Sherry (East Indian), half bottle 




so 


Cofi'ee and liqueurs 




1.50 






Total 


508 frs. 50 



This total was duly verified and found correct. 

The account was carried to the Vicomte's adversary, 
who was dining in a private room. In five minutes' 
time he appeared, bowed to the Vicomte, drew from 
his pocket six bank-notes of a thousand francs, and 
handed them to him. This was the amount of the bet. 

" Oh, sir," said the Vicomte, " there was no hurry 
about it ; besides, you would perhaps have liked to 
have your revenge." 

" Should you feel inclined to give it me, sir ? " 

" By all means." 

" When ? " 

"Why," replied the Vicomte, with sublime simplicity, 
" now, at once, sir, if you wish." 

The loser pondered deeply for a few seconds. 

" Ah, no, upon my word ! " he said at last ; " after 
what I have seen, I think you are capable of anything." 



CHAPTER XXVIII 
TRIAL AND CONDEMNATION OF MYSOUFF 

WE left Mysouff gloating over the mangled re- 
mains of his feathered victims, and his capture 
presented little difficulty. By merely shutting the 
door of the aviary we had the culprit at the disposition 
of justice. 

The only question was to decide his fate. Michel 
voted to shoot him straight away. I opposed such a 
step, which seemed too violent altogether. 

I proposed to wait for the coming Sunday and have 
Mysouff brought to trial before the friends who always 
visited me on that day. 

In addition to the regular weekly habitues of the 
house, we could invite others specially for the occasion. 
This was accordingly done, and judgment postponed 
till the fateful Sunday. 

Meantime Mysouff remained a prisoner on the very 
scene of his crime. Michel removed the last vestiges 
of the dead birds on which he was feeding without 
a touch of compunction. He was put on a diet of 
bread and water, Michel constituting himself his 
gaoler. 

When Sunday came, both the ordinary weekly 
habitues and the specially invited guests having turned 
up in force, the necessary quorum for a jury was more 
than provided. 

136 



TRIAL OF MYSOUFF 137 

Michel was nominated Procureur-G^n^ral, and 
Nogent Saint - Laurent official Counsel for the 
Defence. 

I am bound to say the minds of the jury were 
manifestly predisposed against the prisoner, and that 
after the Public Prosecutor's speech, a sentence of death 
seemed a practical certainty, 

But the clever advocate to whom poor MysoufTs 
defence had been entrusted, taking the accusation in 
the most serious way and calling all his eloquence into 
play, insisted on the animal's innocent intentions con- 
trasted with the mischievousness of the monkeys, on 
the absence of initiation on the part of the four-footed 
as compared with two - handed vertebrates. He 
demonstrated how, closely approximating to men as 
they did, the latter were bound to be full of criminal 
promptings. He showed Mysouff incapable by him- 
self of meditating such a crime. He showed him 
sleeping the sleep of the just ; then suddenly awakened 
from his harmless slumbers by the odious apes that 
had long been watching the aviary intent on com- 
mitting murder. He described Mysouff, still only half 
awake, stretching his paws, purring softly the while, 
opening his little pink mouth and showing his 
pretty tongue ; listening, then shaking his ears, — a 
plain sign that he rejected the odious proposal his 
tempters dared to make ; at first refusing all participa- 
tion in the foul deed (the speaker asserted positively 
that his client had begun by refusing) ; then, young 
and easily led astray, demoralised moreover by the 
cook, who instead of giving him his innocent bread 
and milk and bowl of broth according to orders, had 
excited his carnivorous appetite by feeding him on 
scraps of meat, the remains of bullocks' hearts and 
mutton bones ; gradually degenerating more from 



138 MY PETS 

weakness of character and feebleness to resist tempta- 
tion than from actual greediness and cruelty ; following, 
even now only part awake, with half-shut eyes and 
staggering steps, the wretched apes, the true instigators 
of the crime. Then he took the accused in his arms, 
displayed his paws, drew attention to their shape and 
form, appealed to the anatomists, calling upon them to 
say if, with such paws, an animal could open a locked 
aviary. Finally he borrowed from Michel himself his 
famous Dictionary of Natural History ; he opened it 
at the article " Cat, " — domestic cat, brindled cat \ he 
demonstrated that Mysouff, albeit not of the brindled 
sort, was not a whit less interesting for having a white 
coat — the token of his innocence. Then, to wind up, 
he struck a resounding blow on the book. 

" Cat ! " he exclaimed vehemently, " cat ! . . . yes, I 
will read you what Buffon, the great Buffon, who 
always wrote in lace ruffles, what he wrote on the 
knees of Mother Nature, concerning the cat — 

" The cat," M. de Buffon tells us, " is but a faithless 
domestic pet, one we only keep out of necessity, to 
keep down other household enemies even more 
annoying, and which we cannot otherwise get rid 
of . . . ; true," continues the illustrious Naturalist, 
" true, the cat, and still more the kitten, has pretty 
ways, it has at the same time an inborn love of 
mischief, a treacherous disposition, a natural perversity, 
which age only increases and training only succeeds in 
partially concealing." 

" Well," pursued the orator, after concluding this 
description of his client, " what need I say more ? . . . 
Did Mysouff, I ask you, did poor Mysouff present 
himself here with a false certificate of character signed, 
it may be, by Lac6pcde or Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, to 
weigh in the balance against Buffon's indictment? — 



TRIAL OF MYSOUFF 139 

No, he scorned to do so. — It was the cook herself who 
went and fetched him from M. Acoyer's, who hunted 
him out from behind a heap of firewood where he had 
taken refuse, who then invented a fictitious tale to enlist 
her master's sympathies of how she had found the 
creature mewing piteously in the cellar. Was any 
attempt made to give him an idea of the wickedness 
he was guilty of in killing these unfortunate birds, these 
poor little creatures, — greatly to be pitied, of course, 
yet which, when all is said and done, — the quails in 
particular, — were liable to be sacrificed at any moment 
to satisfy man's hunger, and now find themselves 
happily delivered from the agonies of terror they must 
daily have experienced every time they saw the cook 
come near their cage ? . . , . In a word, gentlemen, I 
appeal to your sense of fairness ; we have invented a 
new word to excuse crime among ourselves, as feather- 
less bipeds, endowed with free will, to wit monomania', 
when, thanks to the word, we have saved the lives of 
the greatest criminals, shall we not admit that the un- 
fortunate and interesting Mysouff yielded not merely to 
his natural instincts but also to extraneous suggestions ? 
... I have done, gentlemen. I claim for my client 
the benefit of extenuating circumstances." 

Shouts of enthusiasm greeted this flight of eloquence, 
which was purely extempore. The jury gave their 
verdict whilst still under the impression of the great 
advocate's address, and Mysouff was declared guilty 
of complicity in the assassination of the doves 
and quails, also of the wrynecks, widow-birds, Indian 
sparrows, and other rare birds, but with extenuating 
circumstances. He was merely condemned to five 
years of incarceration with the apes. 

It was this sentence he was serving, shut up in 
the same cage with the monkeys, on the day when 



140 MY PETS 

Maquet, Atala Beauchene, Matharel and my son 
Alexandre could be seen watching and listening 
outside the bars with the varied and sometimes 
contradictory emotions we experience in visiting a 
convict prison. 



CHAPTER XXIX 

DON RUSCONI 

BUT, alas ! I see I have inadvertently and in- 
judiciously, as my way is, dragged in, without 
a word of warning, a new character, to trespass on my 
narrative. 

The personage in question, whose name I now intro- 
duce for the first time, is Don Rusconi, as he is 
universally called in my house and among my 
friends. 

Don Rusconi was born at Mantua, like Virgil and 
Sordello. 

Do not imagine, please, that I am going to give 
you a biography of Rusconi ; it would call for several 
volumes to do so adequately, and the limits of our 
book forbid such lengthy digressions. 

Rusconi's life shows three culminating points. He 
drank, in the Island of Elba, a cup of coffee with the 
Emperor; he conspired, in 1822, at Colmar, with 
Carrel ; lastly, he received, at Nantes, from the hands 
of M. de Menars, the famous hat, which to this day, I 
am assured, remains in the family of Her Highness's 
equerry, as a precious memorial of the Duchesse de Berry. 

How came Rusconi, after having taken coffee with 

Napoleon at Elba, after having conspired with Carrel 

at Colmar, after having captured the Duchesse de 

Berry at Nantes, to be showman and exhibitor of my 

111 



142 MY PETS 

monkeys at the Villa Medicis ? The story is at once 
an Odyssey and an Iliad. 

Rusconi, who had made the campaign of 1 8 1 2 with 
the Italian Division of General FontanelH, had at the 
time of the disasters of 1 8 1 4 retired to Milan. There 
he learnt how his Emperor, after giving away so many 
thrones, had just been presented with one himself. 
True, the Holy Alliance had not exactly ruined itself by 
the gift, for the throne in question was that of Elba ! 

From that moment Rusconi conceived the idea of 
consecrating his services to his Emperor. 

By the good offices of Vantini, Procureur Imperial in 
the island, he obtained the post of special Commissary 
of Police at Porto-Ferrajo. 

One day a disturbance occurred between some 
soldiers of the guard and a body of townsmen. The 
commissary of the town drew up his report of the 
circumstances in Italian. 

The document was delivered to Cambronne. The 
latter, who did not know a word of the language and 
did not expect to remain long enough on the island to 
make it worth his while to learn it, sent for Rusconi to 
translate his colleague's report to him. 

Rusconi had hardly reached the second line when 
General Drouot sent for the report. Knowing just as 
much, or rather as little Italian as Cambronne, he 
asked for an interpreter to be furnished at the same 
time as the report. So General Cambronne sent in 
the report and Rusconi with it, one carrying the other, 
to General Drouot. 

Now General Drouot was just sitting down to 
breakfast. He invited Rusconi to share the meal ; 
he could translate the report over their dessert. 

But it was written above that the said report should 
never get translated. The two were just beginning 



DON RUSCONI 143 

their after - breakfast coffee when in walked the 
Emperor. He had come to ask for the report. 

" But, sire," Drouot told him, " it is in Italian." 

'• Well, but," said the Emperor, " am I not a 
Corsican, eh ? " 

He took the report and proceeded to read it ; but 
as he went on — 

" Your coffee smells very good," he said after a 
bit to Drouot. 

" If I might venture to offer your Majesty a cup," 
said the General. 

" Do so by all means, Drouot ; but I like it piping 
hot, I warn you." 

Rusconi seized the silver coffee-pot, clapped it on 
the glowing charcoal, and Napoleon, on finishing his 
perusal of the report, had the satisfaction of drinking 
a boiling hot cup of coffee. 

Then he invited Drouot and Rusconi to take theirs. 
They drank it cold, hit in Napoleon's company ; and 
this was the way the portentous event came about 
which left so deep an impression on Rusconi's 
memory. 

Rusconi returned to France with the Emperor ; 
but after Waterloo, it was a case of beginning life over 
again for him. 

He withdrew to Colmar, where, thanks to his studies 
in land-surveying, he made a livelihood by plotting 
out the territory of France — such of it as the allies 
had left us. 

But France, such as the allies had left it us, was 
the France he longed to see. The result was that 
Rusconi having made the acquaintance of Carrel, who 
was busy conspiring, took up the same trade too. 

It was General Dermoncourt, a former aide-de- 
camp of my father's, who was the ringleader of the 



144 MY PETS 

conspiracy. The blow was to be struck on ist 
January 1822; the plot was discovered on 28th 
December 1821 ! 

Rusconi was playing dominoes in his usual cafe 
when they came to warn him that a warrant of arrest 
was out against Carrel, General Dermoncourt, and himself. 

He could not well disbelieve the information, seeing 
it was brought him by the Clerk of the Court, who 
had himself signed the papers. 

Rusconi ran home instantly. He was treasurer of 
the association ; he put in his pocket the five hundred 
louis which formed the total funds for the moment, 
and hurried off to Carrel's house. 

But Carrel was not at home. So Rusconi, being 
on the run, dashed out again to warn General 
Dermoncourt. But neither was the General to be 
found. 

Rusconi had no time to wait for them, having his 
own precious person to look after. He left a word 
for each of his confederates, and then away to hide in 
a wood behind the Colmar road. 

It was along this road the conspirators were bound 
to pass in their flight. First came Carrel ; it was 
six o'clock in the morning or thereabouts. Rusconi 
hailed him and made himself known. Carrel had 
been warned and was escaping. 

" Are you in want of money ? " Rusconi asked 
him. 

" Have you any, by any chance ? " asked Carrel in 
great surprise. 

" I have five hundred louis from the general fund," 
Rusconi told him. 

" Give me fifty of them," said Carrel. 

Rusconi gave him the fifty louis, and Carrel dis- 
appeared at a hand-gallop. 



DON RUSCONI 145 

Scarcely had the sound of Carrel's gallop died 
away in the distance before another horse could be 
heard coming up at the same rapid pace. It was 
Dermoncourt taking Jiis turn at flight. 

Rusconi introduced himself — and his four hundred 
and fifty louis. Such a sum is always convenient 
to come across — more particularly when a man is 
compromised in a plot and is leaving France hurriedly 
without any definite idea when he may return. 

Dermoncourt without more ado mounted treasure 
and treasurer behind him. 

This done, instead of making for the bridge of Alt 
Brisach, which in all probability was already guarded 
by this time, they headed for the residence of a relation 
of General Dermoncourt's. 

The day following the arrival of the General and 
Rusconi at the house in question, nothing was talked 
about but a shooting-party which it was proposed to 
hold for the destruction of the water-fowl in the 
islands in midstream. Fifty sportsmen, chosen from 
the neighbouring gentry known to hold the most 
revolutionary opinions, were invited to share the sport. 
The number was ample to show a good face to all the 
gendarmerie of the district, supposing the latter should 
take it into their heads to ask the gunners for their 
licences. Moreover, to make security doubly secure, 
instead of loading with ordinary snipe shot, they 
used, according to individual fancy, some ball and 
some slugs. 

In due course a start was made. There were 
twenty boats in all — a regular flotilla. One of these 
got out of her course, carried away presumably by 
the current, and landed two of the party on the 
opposite bank of the Rhine, in other words in foreign 
territory. 

lO 



146 MY PETS 

The two sportsmen in question were General 
Dermoncourt and his trusty henchman Rusconi. 

The former secured his re-admission to France on 
a judgment of the Court that no sufficient grounds 
for a prosecution were to be found. Things went 
somewhat hard for Rusconi, an Italian and a foreigner ; 
but eventually he was able to return, and set to work 
again on the survey of the country. 

After some years the Revolution of 1830 broke 
out ; Dermoncourt was once more in activity and 
took Rusconi for his secretary. 

In 1832, the General was appointed commander 
in charge of the Department of the Loire Inferieure, and 
Rusconi accompanied him to Nantes. 

On 7th November of the same year, at nine o'clock 
one morning, Rusconi found himself in the garret of 
a house belonging to the Demoiselles du Guigny, 
chatting calmly with a couple of gendarmes, who were 
warming their feet at a blaze they had made of old 
newspapers in the fireplace, when a voice coming they 
knew not whence, cried — 

" Take out the back of the fireplace ; we are stifling ! " 

The gendarmes leapt in their seats, and Rusconi 
jumped back three steps. 

At the same time a loud rapping could be heard on 
the fireplace back. 

" Quick ! quick ! we are choking," came the same 
voice again. 

Now they knew where the mysterious voice came 
from, and who it was were choking. 

The gendarmes dashed forward and succeeded with 
difficulty in lifting out the iron back of the fireplace, 
which was red-hot by this time. Then they pro- 
ceeded to sweep out the burning paper from the fire- 
place to afford the prisoners a practicable exit. 



DON RUSCONI 147 

The latter then stepped out in the following order : 

First and foremost, Her Royal Highness the 
Duchesse de Berry — taking her proper precedence of 
course, you say. Not at all ; there was no question of 
rank or precedence about it ; Madame was the nearest 
to the grate-back, and so she came out first, that was 
all ! Rusconi, as a practical squire of dames, offered 
her his hand with graceful politeness. 

Next came Mademoiselle de Kersabiec. In her 
case it was not so easy a matter ; she was so fat she 
could not get through the opening. Finally, all gave 
a hand and pulled together, and she was presently 
landed safely beside the Duchesse. 

Next came M. de M^nars, who slipped out unaided ; 
tall and thin as he was, all but his great nose, he could 
have crept through a mouse-hole, if need be. 

Now how had Rusconi, after fulfilling these high 
destinies, come down to the humble position he adorned 
about my household ? This we may now explain in 
as few words as possible. 

For having conversed with the Duchesse de Berry, 
hat in hand, while M. le Prefet Maurice Duval had kept 
his on his head, General Dermoncourt was super- 
seded. 

Having to retire into inglorious inactivity, Dermon- 
court no longer required a secretary, and this being 
the case, he parted with Rusconi. 

But in dismissing him, he handed him a letter to 
give to me. In this he begged me to create some 
sinecure about my person in the employment of which 
poor old Rusconi might spend the remainder of his 
years in peace. 

I did as I was asked ; Rusconi joined my household 
about 1832, I think, and he is still there as I write. 

For three-and-twenty years therefore, except when 



148 MY PETS 

on my journeys abroad, I have enjoyed the felicity of 
seeing Rusconi every day. 

" What does he do in the house ? " 

Well, it would be hard to say — he does everything, 
and nothing. I have invented a word for it, which 
perfectly explains what I mean — to ruscojiise. 

All the obliging services in fact which a man can 
perform for his fellow are included in the boundless 
expanse covered by this comprehensive verb to rusconise. 



CHAPTER XXX 

IN WHICH MOUTON BETRAYS HIS ODIOUS 
CHARACTER 

RUSCONI, you see, lived with me in order to 
make himself useful. At the present moment 
he was fulfilling his function by expounding the 
manners and customs of my monkeys for the benefit 
of my guests. Needless to say, Rusconi, who was one 
of the most modest of men, glossed over certain things 
all he could. 

Meantime I was in my little summer-house with 
the coloured glass windows, dressed in my dimity 
pantalon a pieds and my muslin shirt, working, as I 
have mentioned before, on the Bdtard de Maule'on. 
As I sat at my work, I was watching, as I have also 
mentioned before, Mouton, who was busy digging up 
one of Michel's dahlias — not one of my dahlias, for 
I have never looked upon the dahlia as one of my 
flowers ; indeed, I am not very sure that I regard it 
as a flower at all, flowers that have no scent hardly 
seeming to me to come under that category. 

Well, as I write, I kept watching Mouton, who was 
digging up one of Michel's dahlias, and saying to 
myself, " Never mind, my fine fellow ; when I have 
finished off my fight, I shall have a word to say to 
you ! " 

The fight I was engaged in describing was that 



150 MY PETS 

between a dog and a Moor ; and for the dog's portrait, 
as above said, Mouton had posed. 

Anyway, here ts> word for word what I was writing — 

"... But scarcely had they taken fifty steps ere 
a white, motionless figure grew visible in the dusk. 
The Grand Master, not knowing what it could be, 
advanced straight upon the spectral-looking being. 
It was a second sentinel wrapped in a burnoose, who 
now levelled his lance, saying in Spanish, though with 
the guttural intonation of the Arabs — 

" * You cannot pass ! ' 

" * And who, pray, is this fellow ? ' Don Frederigo 
demanded of Fernando. 

" ' I do not know him,' replied the latter. 

" ' It is not you then who stationed him here ? ' 

" ' No ; you see he is a Moor ! ' 

" * Let us go by,' said Don Frederigo in Arabic. 

" The Moor only shook his head and continued to 
hold the broad, keen point of his halberd at the Grand 
Master's bosom. 

" ' What does this mean ? ' cried Don Frederigo. 
'Am I a prisoner, then, I the Grand Master, I the 
Prince ? Hola, then, my guards, help ! ' 

" For his part Fernando drew a golden whistle 
from his pocket and blew it. , . . " 

It was while I was in the act of writing this dialogue 
that Mouton was busily engaged, with ever-growing 
activity, in digging up his dahlia, and that I said to 
myself, " Never mind, my fine fellow ; when I have 
finished off my fight, I shall have a word to say to 
you ! " 

Then, with a gesture that promised little good to 
Mouton, I proceeded — 

" But before the guards, before even the Spanish 
sentinel stationed fifty yards behind the two companions. 




MOUTON WAS MANc;LI.\c; MV HAM) 



MOUTON'S CHARACTER 151 

appeared, bounding swiftly forward, Don Frederigo's 
dog. Recognising his master's voice, and gathering 
that he was calling for help, the animal darted up, 
his coat bristling with anger, and with one spring, like 
a tiger, hurled himself at the Moor, seizing him so 
savagely by the throat through the folds of his 
burnoose that the soldier fell to the ground with a 
sudden cry of alarm." 

" Ah ! " I exclaimed, laying down my pen, " here is 
my fight and my paragraph completed ; " look out for 
yourself, Motiton ! " 

So saying, I sallied out, without a word to anybody, 
and crept softly up to Mouton, preparing to give him 
the hardest kick I possibly could with the light 
slipper I wore in the part of his anatomy exposed to 
me. 

Now the part in question was the animal's rear. 
Taking the best aim I could, I let fly the promised 
kick, which proved eminently satisfactory and plainly 
hurt him shrewdly. 

The dog gave a low growl, wheeled round, fixing 
his bloodshot eyes on me, stepped back two or three 
paces, then sprang straight at my throat. 

Fortunately I realised instantly what he would be 
at, and found time to put myself in an attitude of 
defence. At the same moment he leapt upon me, I 
struck out at him with both hands. 

One hand, the right, struck his open jaws, while the 
other encountered his throat. 

Thereupon I felt a pain which I can only com- 
pare to that of a tooth being pulled out. Only the 
agony of a tooth being extracted lasts but a moment, 
whereas the pain I experienced went on for five 
minutes. 

It was Moutott mangling my hand. 



152 MY PETS 

Meantime I had him by the throat and was throttling 
him. I clearly realised one fact, that gripping him as 
I did, my only chance was to go on choking him, more 
and more fiercely, till the beast's breath failed him. 

So that is what I did. Luckily I have a small, but 
strong hand ; whatever it once seizes, it never lets go 
of — barring money. 

It held firm and squeezed Mouton's neck to such 
purpose that a rattle soon began in the animal's throat. 
So far so good ; I squeezed harder still, and the rattle 
grew more pronounced. Finally, gathering all my 
strength for a supreme effort, I had the satisfaction 
of feeling Motitons teeth begin to unfasten ; another 
moment, and his jaws opened, his eyes rolled, and he 
fell back inanimate, without my having ever let go his 
throat. But my right hand was torn to pieces. 

I put my knee on the dog's head, and shouted for 
Alexandre, who came running up, to find me streaming 
with blood. 

Besides my mangled hand, the creature had torn 
my chest with a blow of his claws, and the blood was 
flowing freely from the wounds. 

At first sight, Alexandre thought the struggle was 
still going on, and dashing into the salon returned 
armed with an Arab poniard. 

But I stopped his onslaught. " No, no," I told 
him ; " I think it highly important to see him eat and 
drink, to make sure he is not mad. Let them put 
him on his muzzle and take him to the stables." 

Michel was summoned, and he slipped on Mouton's 
muzzle ; then, and not till then, did I let go his throat. 

The animal had lost consciousness. They took him 
up by the four paws and carried him off to the stables. 

As for me, I made straight for the salon. I felt the 
time was come to sit down in a chair and be ill myself. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

THE GREATEST AUTOGRAPH-HUNTER IN PARIS 

WHEN I came to myself, I was surrounded by 
my guests. 

The first thing I looked at was my injured hand. 
The palm was torn open to the bone, the metacarpal 
bone was bitten through in two places, and the first 
joint of the little finger was all but torn away. 

You will perhaps suppose, dear readers, that on 
regaining consciousness, it was of myself I thought. 
Not so, it was of Mouton. 

" Has Mouton come to yet ? " I asked. 

They ran to the stable to find out. Yes, Mouton 
had come to all right ; but he was like me, he could 
not stand on his legs. 

" Good," I said. " And now go and fetch the 
Regimental surgeon." 

" Why the Regimental surgeon ? " Alexandre de- 
manded. 

" I have my reasons." 

It was no time to go against my wishes ; so they 
went for the Regimental surgeon. 

In ten minutes he was standing beside my chair. 

" We shall first have to cauterise this," he 
began. 

" Not so," I answered. 

'* What do you mean by not so ? " 

153 



154 MY PETS 

" I mean I have no fear of rabies ; I am only 
afraid of tetanus supervening." 

" You are certain the dog is not mad ? " 

" Yes, quite certain ; the animal attacked me 
because I gave him provocation. I am to blame." 

My confession made, it only remained to adopt a 
mode of treatment. 

" My mind is made up on that point too " I 
informed the doctor. " You will treat me with iced- 
water, according to the method of Baudens and 
Ambroise Pare." 

" But then, why did you send for me," the doctor 
asked, " if you know as well as I do what is to be 
done ? " 

"Why, dear doctor, I have sent for you to stitch 
the flesh together, and put the bones of my hand 
straight ; they are dislocated a bit, I imagine." 

The doctor took my hand, straightened out the 
forefinger, middle and ring fingers, which were bent 
over, secured the last joint of my little finger with a 
bandage, plugged the palm with lint, tied in the thumb 
with a ligature, and this duly completed, asked where 
I proposed to establish my hydraulic apparatus. 

I had a charming foimtain of Rouen ware with 
silver-gilt taps ; I fitted a straw to the cock, filled the 
reservoir with ice and fastened it against the wall. 

Then I had a camp bed made up underneath and 
a support fixed for my wounded hand ; after which 
I lay down on the improvised bed and turned the 
tap. 

For three days and nights I lay there, only getting 
up to go and see if Mouton had begun to take his 
food and water. 

The first day I paid no very great attention to the 
matter. On the second day, I began to get anxious. 



THE AUTOGRAPH-HUNTER 155 

By the third day, I was more than anxious, I was 
getting terrified. 

Yet they had made the fellow a tasty soup out of 
all the meat scraps available in the kitchen, and 
provided him with a bucketful of clean water. 

At last, about the middle of the third day, when I 
had left my tap for a moment to pay one of my 
visits to Mouton — visits which grew more and more 
frequent as the time drew on, I had the satisfaction of 
seeing Mouton with his nose crammed into the soup- 
bowl. 

Then, like a well-brought-up dog, that knows it is 
wholesome to drink after eating, I saw our friend, 
after polishing off his soup, make for his bucket of water. 
I did not leave him time so much as to dip the tip 
of his tongue in it before I called, " Michel ! Michel 1 " 
and that worthy appeared. 
" Did Monsieur call me ? " 

" Yes, my dear man, you can take Mouton back to 
Challamel's, now I have seen what I wanted to see." 

Michel put out his head at the stable door I had 
left open on withdrawing, and, — " What was it 
Monsieur wanted to see ? " he called after me, 

" I wanted to see if Mouton was going to eat and 
drink ; he has eaten and drunk, and I am satisfied." 

" So ! " said Michel, " was Monsieur afraid of going 
mad ? " 

" Why, Michel, what ? " 

" Oh, but, if Monsieur was afraid, I have a 
sovereign remedy for rabies. First you take some 
fowls' dung and you mix it with milk which you 

leave to go sour ; then you add " 

" Beg pardon, Michel, but is your remedy internal 
or external ? " 

" I beg yours, sir ; I don't understand." 



156 MY PETS 

" Is it to be rubbed in, I mean, or to be swallowed ? " 

" Oh ! swallowed, sir ; but I have not told Monsieur 
half the ingredients yet." 

" I know quite enough, thank you, Michel ; now I am 
not afraid any more of going mad, I won't trouble 
your nostrum." 

" Oh, but, sir, to make quite sure ! " 

" Michel, you go and take Mouton back." 

" Come on, then, scamp ! " cried Michel, as he led 
the dog off, which never once dropped his nonchalant 
air. The animal had only once done so in all our 
acquaintance, and that was when he flew at my 
throat. 

A quarter of an hour afterwards Michel returned. 

" You have taken plenty of time about it, Michel ! " 
I observed. 

" I should think so," replied the man ; " M. 
Challamel would not have him back." 

"■ And why would he not take him back ? " 

" It seems his master got rid of him because he 
bit." 

"Very well, Michel, next time you see Challamel, 
you will thank twice instead of once, mind that ! " 

I don't know whether Michel thanked Challamel 
once or twice ; but I do know this, — Challamel has 
never forgiven me for sending Mouton back to him. 

For the first three days I had felt no great degree of 
boredom ; the dread of going mad had kept ennui 
victoriously at bay ; but the instant this haunting 
preoccupation was banished, my head was full of my 
interrupted romance, the Bdtard de Mauleon. 

Alas ! it was no easy thing to write with a hand 
entirely deprived of the power of movement and 
swathed in bandages ; but I did not despair. I called 
to my aid all the mechanical notions I possessed, and 



THE AUTOGRAPH-HUNTER 157 

hit on the following device. I inserted the penholder 
into a sort of pincers which I contrived between the 
fore, middle and ring fingers ; and thanks to a motion 
of the forearm which I substituted for that of the 
fingers and wrist, I took up my story again just where 
I had dropped it in order to administer to Mouton the 
unfortunate kick that had precipitated the whole 
disaster. But, as may be supposed, this novel method 
of execution made a great difference in my hand- 
writing. 

Such was the state of affairs when Gudin, who was 
a near neighbour, came over to see me. I noticed he 
entered the room with a certain caution. The fact is, 
the report was already going about that I had been 
bitten by a mad dog, and had had a first fit of madness 
by this time. 

I reassured Gudin, and showed him my contrivance, 
which he praised warmly. 

Then, by way of conversation — 

" Do you know," he said, " though I am the greatest 
collector of autographs in Paris, I have not a single 
specimen of your handwriting." 

" Really ! " I exclaimed. 

" No, not a single one." 

" And you thought it was time to see about getting 
one, eh ? " 

" Oh, my dear sir ! " 

" Well, Gudin," I told him, " I am going to give you 
one — and a mighty curious one too, that nobody can 
boast of having the match to." 

" How do you mean ? " 

" I am going to give you the first volume of the 
BAtard de Maulhn, written in two different hand- 
writings — that of the good hand and that of the 
ill. You can tell the reason of the alteration, and it 



158 MY PETS 

will be at one and the same time an autograph and a 
good story." 

" Oh, but," protested Gudin, " I am really ashamed 
to take it ! " 

" No need, dear boy, no need ! you can give me a 
drawing, and we shall be quits." 

" Done, it's a bargain ! " 

" Very well ; you must send to ask news of me 
every day, and the day the volume is finished I will 
hand it over to your servant-man." 

" Oh no, but I will come myself!" 

Gudin was as good as his word, and came to 
inquire every day. The third day he carried away the 
volume with him. 

/ am waiting for a dog to bite Gudin's hand so that 
I can go and tell him, " Dear Gudin, do you know I 
have not a single drawing of yours ? " 



CHAPTER XXXII 
MY FIRST HARE 

THE opening day of the season came at last. 
The day had been impatiently expected by 
Vatrin, Michel, and myself. This ist September was 
to see a definitive judgment pronounced on Pritchard. 

Ever since I was a boy, I had fired my first shot 
of the season in the same locality — at a worthy 
farmer's named M. Mocquet, at Brassoire. It was 
there that, in company with my brother-in-law and 
M. Deviolaine, I had killed my first hare. 

It is a fine thing killing one's first hare ; I don't 
think I felt so much elated at my first literary 
triumph ! 

Every year I went to Brassoire for the opening 
day. I used to revisit the memorable spot, and if I 
had any one with me, I would tell the said some one 
in solemn tones — 

" This is the place where I killed my first hare." 

Shall I tell you how a fellow kills his first hare? 
It will make me feel forty years younger. All the 
more so as, following my good friend Dr. Demarquay's 
advice, I have at this moment one leg extended on a 
foot-rest with a swelling of the synovial tissue in the 
knee — which means I may very possibly have killed 
my last hare last year. 

I was thirteen, and possessed of a pretty single- 

159 



160 MY PETS 

barrelled gun with a velvet pad on the butt, showing 
it had been a lady's gun before being a child's. 

My brother-in-law and M. Deviolaine had got my 
poor mother's permission for me to join their shooting 
party at Brassoire. 

I was the rawest of recruits ; my exploits hitherto 
had included seven larks and a partridge. All through 
dinner, — and everybody knows how long a farmhouse 
dinner lasts, — I had been the butt of the company's 
wit. But as we rose from table, M. Mocquet whispered 
in my ear — 

" Never you mind, I'll put you in the good places, 
and it won't be my fault if, by to-morrow evening, 
it's not you having the laugh of them." 

How long the night seemed ! I heard and counted 
every hour as it struck. At six I was up, dressed 
and downstairs. I hung about the yard waiting; it 
was still dark night, and everybody else was fast 
asleep. 

At seven the windows began to open ; by eight 
the sportsmen were assembled, and thirty or so 
peasants from the neighbourhood were standing in 
line at the main gate of the farm. These were the 
beaters. 

The sport began directly this main gate was passed. 
M. Mocquet placed me, at a hundred yards from the 
farm, in a sandy ravine. The youngsters in their 
play had excavated a great pit in the sand. M. 
Mocquet showed me this, and told me to bury myself 
in it, declaring, if only I kept still, the hares would 
come tumbling about my feet. 

It was not exactly luxurious ; the morning was 
bitterly cold and the air biting. Soon the sport began. 
At the first cries of the beaters, two or three hares 
sprang out, and after a moment's consultation as to 



MY FIRST HARE 161 

the route to be followed, they started off, spaced at 
intervals like the three Curiatii, whose story I had 
been translating only the day before in the De viris 
illustribus, and made straight for my ravine. 

I could not believe my eyes at first. Were they 
really hares ? they looked to me as big as donkeys. 

But when there could be no more doubt about their 
identity, when I saw them come towards me as straight 
as if they had made an appointment to meet at my 
hole, a mist passed over my sight, and I thought I 
was going to faint. I believe I actually shut my eyes. 

But I soon opened them again, to see my hares 
still following the same bee-line. The nearer they 
came, the more furiously did my heart beat ; the 
thermometer registered some degrees below zero, yet 
the moisture was pouring down my face. Finally, the 
one who led the advance seemed definitely to make 
up his mind to charge, and came straight at me. From 
the moment he first started, I had my aim on him ; 
I could have let him come within twenty paces, or ten, 
or five for the matter of that, and swept him out of 
existence with my shot, as if with a thunderbolt. 
But I could not hold myself in ; at thirty yards I fired 
straight at his face. 

Instantly the hare turned head over heels in a 
way that showed plainly he was hit, and then began 
a series of the most fantastic capers. 

I leapt from my lair like a tiger, shouting — 

" Ha, ha ! have I got you, have I got you, eh ? 
Here, dogs ! Beaters, beaters, here ! . . . Ah ! you 
scamp, you villain, wait a bit, wait a bit ! " 

But instead of waiting a bit to receive the punish- 
ment I was keeping for him for being so set on 
escaping, the hare, no doubt hearing my voice, only 
began a set of even more frantic twists and turns. 
II 



162 MY PETS 

As for his two companions, one, scared by all this 
commotion and his friend's mad antics, turned tail 
and broke back through the line of beaters. The 
other chose a bolder course, and ran close past me — 
so close that, having nothing in my gun, I threw the 
gun itself at him. 

But this was only a side issue after all, which did 
not for a moment distract me from the main attack. 

I dashed in pursuit of my hare, which continued to 
indulge in the maddest dance ever seen, not going 
ten steps in a straight line, springing first to one side, 
then to the other, leaping forwards, leaping backwards, 
upsetting all my calculations, escaping me at the very 
instant I thought I held him, scudding ten yards ahead 
of me as nimbly as if he had not a scratch, then 
suddenly wheeling right round and darting between 
my legs. You might have thought he was doing it 
for a wager. I was furious, and my shouts changed 
to howls of rage. I picked up stones and hurled them 
at the creature; when I thought I had him within 
reach, I threw myself flat on my face, hoping to trap 
him between my body and the ground. Through 
the sweat that half blinded me, I could make out in 
the distance, as if through a fog, the rest of the party, 
— some cracking with laughter, some swearing with 
annoyance. The former were vastly amused at the 
frantic efforts I was making, the latter vexed at the 
rumpus I was kicking up, which was bound to frighten 
the game for a quarter of a mile round. 

At last, after unheard-of efforts, which neither pen 
nor pencil can ever reproduce, I caught my victim by 
one paw, then by two, finally by the middle of the 
body. Now rdles were reversed ; it was I who kept 
a grim silence, while the poor beast uttered despairing 
cries. I gripped him against my chest, as Hercules 



» 9 
' » J 3 



1 ) » » 

• •. t • • » 



• :.' : • 




I CAUtiHT MV VICTIM BV ONE TAW 



MY FIRST HARE 163 

did Antseus, and got back to my hole, not forgetting, 
as I went by, to piclc up my gun, which lay on the 
ground where I had thrown it. 

Back in my lair, I could examine my hare properly, 
and I saw the explanation of the whole thing. 

I had destroyed both the wretched creature's eyes, 
without doing him any other injury. 

I gave the animal the knock on the back of the 
neck so well known to sportsmen, by which they put 
hares and rabbits out of their pain. Then I reloaded 
my gun, with a beating heart and a trembling hand. . . . 

Perhaps I ought to end my narrative here, seeing 
my first hare is duly killed ; but I think, for my part, 
this would be leaving the story incomplete. 

Well, I reloaded my gun, as I say, with a beating 
heart and a trembling hand. The charge struck me 
as somewhat heavy ; but I could trust the barrel, and 
this excess of four or five lines gave me all the better 
chance of killing at long range. 

Hardly was I back in position before I saw another 
hare coming straight for me. 

I had had enough of firing head on ; and indeed 
this one looked like passing me full sideways at 
twenty-five yards. 

He did exactly as I hoped ; and taking aim with 
more steadiness than might have been expected, and 
more than I had supposed myself capable of, I fired, 
in the full persuasion I had secured my brace of hares. 

The priming fired, but the gun refused to go off! 

I pricked out the touch-hole, reprimed, and waited 
further developments. M, Mocquet knew his ground, 
and had not exaggerated a bit in promising me fine 
sport. 

A third hare came along in the track of his pre- 
decessors. Like the last, he gave me a full sideways 



164 MY PETS 

shot, at twenty yards. As before, I aimed carefully ; 
and as before only the priming went off. 

I could have cried with vexation — the more so 
as a fourth hare came trotting up. 

The same thing exactly was repeated. He did 
everything he could to oblige me, and my gun was 
as pig-headed as ever. The creature passed within 
fifteen yards of me, and for the third time my weapon 
missed fire. 

Evidently the hares had passed the word, and the 
first one that got past safe and sound had signalled 
to the others there was no danger. 

This time the tears actually came. A good shot, 
posted where I was, would have killed his four hares. 

The shooting was over, and M. Mocquet came to 
see how I had fared. 

" It has missed fire three times over, M. Mocquet," 
I cried in a lamentable voice ; " three times over at 
three different hares ! " — and I showed him my gun. 

" Priming not caught, or gun missed fire ? " asked 
M. Mocquet. 

" Missed fire ! What the devil can be wrong in the 
chamber ? " 

M. Mocquet shook his head, took out of his game- 
bae a wad-extractor and screwed it on to the end of 
his ramrod. Then he extracted first the top wad, 
then the shot, then the second wad, then the powder, 
then, after the powder, half an inch of soil, which had 
lodged in the muzzle when I pitched my gun at the 
hare, and which I had forced right down the barrel 
with the first wad I pushed home on top of the charge 
of powder. 

I might have shot at a hundred hares; my gun 
would have missed fire every time ! 

Vanity of human wishes ! but for this half inch of 



MY FIRST HARE 165 

soil I should have had two or three hares in my bag, 
and been the king of the day's shoot. 

Well, it was to this same spot, so full of youthful 
memories, that I used to return as a man, still a 
passionate lover of sport, still a broken sleeper on the 
night before the opening day of the shooting season. 



CHAPTER XXXIII 

ALFRED AND MfiDOR 

ON this occasion I was visiting the old spot as 
leader of the company, which included my son, 
Maquet, and my nephew. 

Both my son and Maquet are known to the reader, 
but not so my nephew. The latter, at this date, was 
a big, or rather a tall youth of nearly six feet, who, 
more favoured than the camel of the Scriptures, might 
very well have passed through the eye of a needle. 

Everybody has his fellow in the animal kingdom, 
and my nephew belonged to the genus of long-legged 
waders. 

His baptismal name was Alfred, and he was in- 
variably accompanied on shooting days by a dog 
called M^dor. 

Oh, M^dor ! Medor was worth his weight in gold. 
And how exactly Mddor suited Alfred, and Alfred 
Medor. Since he has lost Medor, Alfred is the old 
Alfred no more. 

He (Alfred) was what they call a pretty shot, killing 
three times out of four. But Medor ! . . . never a 
mistake, never a fault, never a false point at a lark ! 

At five in the morning, or as soon after as might be, 
the sport began on opening days, and Alfred would 
range up with the other guns. 

But this was a mere concession to public discipline. 

16« 



ALFRED AND MEDOR 167 

At the first coppice, the first warren, the first rising 
ground, Alfred would discreetly vanish. He would slip 
away, with M^dor nosing twenty yards ahead of him. 

At noon, during the halt for lunch, you would see 
Alfred reappear, always marching along with the same 
regular strides, like a pair of compasses measuring out 
the ground. 

By this time M^dor's enthusiasm had calmed down, 
and he kept soberly side by side with his master. 

We would beckon to Alfred to come and join the 
rest ; but he would never condescend. He would 
point to a hunch of bread and a little flask of brandy 
he held in his hand, and shake his head to signify that 
he looked upon our lunch as a piece of Sybaritism 
unworthy of a true sportsman. Then he would once 
more disappear. 

At five in the evening all returned. Numbers were 
counted, and everybody was found to be present except 
Alfred. 

" At seven, on leaving table, the company strolled out 
to the door of the farm to enjoy the fresh air and listen 
to the partridges calling in the stubbles. 

Then the man with the best eyes gave a sudden cry. 
On the horizon-line, relieved against the red of the 
sunset, Alfred could be made out still keeping his 
regulation yard-long stride. Only Medor, who in the 
morning had been twenty paces ahead of his master, 
and at noon had been side by side with him, now at 
eventide was plodding weariedly twenty yards behind 
his heels. 

As night closed in, sportsman and dog always turned 
up as regularly as clockwork, invariably bringing in 
their three dozen partridges, their half-dozen quails, 
their three or four rabbits, two or three hares, and very 
often a brace of woodcock into the bargain. 



168 MY PETS 

All this Alfred carried in his game-bag, without a 
sign either of conceit or affected humility. There was 
enough to fill three game-bags, yet his seemed half 
empty. The fact is he was a most admirable packer. 

He would pull out each bird or beast separately, 
look it over, smooth down feathers or fur, as the case 
might be, and deposit it on the table, beginning with 
the small and ending with the big. 

The operation lasted a good quarter of an hour, and 
then, on counting, the bag was frequently found to 
include fifty or sixty head of game. 

On the conclusion of the enumeration, Alfred's 
remark was invariably the same — 

" Well, now it's time to go and titivate a bit." 

And, before touching food, Alfred would march up 
to his room to put on striped socks, patent-leather 
shoes, a waistcoat and trousers of drill, tie round his 
neck a very broad cravat of the lightest blue, and pass 
— as a matter of hygiene presumably — through his 
scanty locks a comb that had more bristles than his 
skull had hairs. 

Meantime we would be examining Alfred's bag, to 
find it included a good quarter that bore no mark of 
shot whatever. 

This portion was Medor's contribution. Never was 
there such a dog for catching, or letting his master 
catch, a rabbit in its form or a quail sitting. 

Next day the company, men and dogs, would start 
out afresh with somewhat diminished ardour — but 
Alfred and Medor with unabated zeal. 

This time it was a trial of prowess between M^dor, 
in the decline of life, and Pritchard, in the heyday 
of youth, who stood up to one another like two rival 
athletes. 

If it had been solely a matter of speed, Pritchard 



ALFRED AND M£dOR 169 

would have been an easy victor. Hardly out of the 
farm gates, Pritchard leapt on to the top of a dike, 
studied the lie of the country with his mustard- 
coloured optics, lashing the air the while with his 
tufted tail. Then in a moment dashed off in the 
direction of a patch of clover. 

Shouts and whistles were equally unavailing. Deaf 
as a dead dog, Pritchard blocked his ears and let us 
yell. 

A third of the way across the field, he stopped 
dead. 

"Look!" said Alfred, who had watched him away 
with a look of profound contempt, " you would really 
think he was pointing ! " 

" And why shouldn't he point ? " I asked. 

"H'm! h'm!" 

Alexandre was rolling a cigarette at the moment ; 
he made as if to put it away so as to get up in 
time. 

" Oh," I told him, " you need not hurry ; light your 
cigarette by all means." So my son finishing his 
rolling, licked the paper and duly lit up. 

Pritchard stood as firm as a rock. 

" Well, well, let's go and see what's what, anyway," 
suggested Alfred. 

So we set off for the clover. A space of four 
hundred yards or so divided us from Pritchard. 

We soon came close up behind the dog, but he 
never budged. 

" Go on in front of him," I told Alexandre, and 
Alexandre did as he was bid ; but still not a move- 
ment. 

" Oh ho ! " laughed Alexandre, " your dog is 
squinting ! " 

" What do you mean — squinting ? " 



170 MY PETS 

" Yes, he is staring towards Morienval to see if 
Pierrefonds is on fire." 

" Well, you look down at your own feet, and see 
what will happen." 

I had hardly spoken when a leveret broke covert. 

Alexandre let fly at the animal, which rolled over 
dead. 

But still Pritchard never stirred. Only he had 
stopped squinting. The eye that was looking Morien- 
val way to see Pierrefonds was now directed in the 
same axis as the other, 

" Idiot ! " cried Alfred, giving him a kick under 
the tail ; " can't you see it's dead and done for ? " 

Pritchard looked round with an air that said " You're 
another ! " as plain as words — and went on pointing, 
as steady as ever. 

" There, look at the creature ! " sneered Alfred. 

" Why, don't you see ? " said I, " he has marked 
down two leverets at once. One has bolted under 
my son's nose, and the other is going to follow suit 
under Maquet's." 

I had not finished speaking when the second leveret, 
as if he had only been waiting my instructions, broke 
covert too. 

Maquet missed him with his first barrel, and knocked 
him over with his second. 

" Come, Medor, come along ! " said Alfred ; and he 
started off for Morienval. 

" Good ! " I said to Alexandre, " here's Alfred taking 
his line ; we shall not see him again till this evening." 

" Let's console ourselves for his loss with the hope 
he will never come back," observed Alexandre. 

So saying, he picked up his hare and clapped it 
in his bag, while Maquet did the same with his. 

" All the same, four of us, with two dogs, — things 



ALFRED AND MjfeDOR 171 

were going finely, while with only three and one 
dog . . ." 

" I think Pritchard, by himself, is as good as two," 
observed Maquet sententiously. 

" Where is the dog, by the bye ? " asked Alexandre. 

We peered about in every direction ; not a sign 
of Pritchard ! 

At that moment our attention was attracted by a 
shot fired by Alfred, who had just disappeared behind 
the crest of a bit of shrubbery. The explosion was 
followed by shouts of, " Hi ! Medor, go fetch, go 
fetch ! " 

" Well," remarked Alexandre, " there's Alfred begin- 
ning his day's shooting." 

While Alexandre and Maquet were reloading their 
guns, not only did Alfred's vociferations continue, but 
they increased in volume and intensity. 

" Look, look I " I urged Alexandre ; " do look 
there ! " 

Alexandre turned his eyes in the direction in which 
I pointed. 

" Ah 1 good," he said, " so Pritchard has caught a 
partridge, I see." 

" Caught it, no ; stolen it rather." 

" Stolen it I Who from ? " 

" Why, from Alfred, to be sure ! It is the bird he 
is telling Medor to go fetch." 

At that moment a second shot rang out, .still in 
Alfred's direction. 

" Look, look what Pritchard is after ! " I shouted to 
Alexandre. 

" Come, come," he laughed, " you should have told 
me we were going to the play and not to a shooting 
party ; then I could have brought my opera-glasses 
instead of a gun." 



172 MY PETS 

The fact is Pritchard had just dropped into a furrow 
the partridge he was carrying, and had started off 
again at full speed in the direction of the shot. 

Ten seconds more, and he reappeared with a second 
partridge. 

Alfred was still shouting at the top of his voice — 

" Go fetch, Medor, go fetch ! " 

" Will you kindly explain what's happening ? " asked 
Maquet. 

" Oh, it is quite simple," I told him. " There is a 
coppice on the hillside yonder ; just outside its limits 
a partridge got up in front of Alfred, and Alfred 
killed it ; only the bird fell inside, among the trees. 
Alfred thought it was all right, and shouted, as he 
reloaded his gun, ' Fetch, Medor, go fetch ! ' Alfred 
knew his dog, and had no fear of the result. But he 
did not know Pritchard, who is a thief, a pirate, a 
bandit ! He was in the coppice, and picked up Alfred's 
bird before Medor had so much as jumped the bound- 
ary ditch, and set off to bring it in to me without 
troubling his head whether it was I had shot it or no. 
Alfred, bothered at not seeing either Medor or his 
partridge again, made his way into the coppice to help 
his dog. A second partridge got up, which he killed, 
as he had the first. From where he was Pritchard 
could see the direction in which the bird had fallen. 
He dropped his first prize and darted after the second. 
. . . And, look, there he comes with the second, as 
he was doing with the first ; or rather, here he comes 
with them both ! " 

" Well, upon my word ! " 

" Not a doubt about it ; he has come back by way 
of the furrow where he deposited his first partridge. 
Presently, when he got there, thinking his jaws were 
capacious enough to carry the pair of them, he per- 



ALFRED AND M^DOR 173 

formed the feat you see, or rather which you do not 
see. . . . Look, Alexandre, do ! Look, Maquet ! " 

" What's he after ? " 

" He is marking down a quail, with a brace of 
partridges in his jaws." 

" How does he manage to scent the quail ? " 

" He does not scent it, he sees it. Catch hold of my 
gun." 

" Why, what are you going to shoot it with ? " 

" I am not going to shoot it ; I am going to catch 
it in my hat." 

I walked up to Pritchard, and, following the direction 
of his eyes, I saw the quail. 

A second later the bird was under my hat. 

" Well, well," grumbled Alexandre, " possibly it's 
more diverting than using our guns, but it's not sport." 

At that moment we saw M^dor appear, following 
in Pritchard's tracks, and Alfred following in Mddor's. 

"Why, what's the matter?" I asked Alfred. 

" The matter ! What's the matter ? . . . I like your 
fun ! I fire at two birds, I kill them both, and I can't 
find one ! A fine beginning truly ! " 

" Ah, well," I told him, " I am luckier than you ; 
I have not fired a shot yet, and I have bagged a 
brace of partridges and a quail." 

So saying, I showed him in one hand the two dead 
partridges, and in the other the quail, still alive and 
kicking. 

The whole thing was explained by reference to 
Pritchard's exploits, and Alfred cursed the dog 
soundly. 

But the dog was not there to hear his maledictions. 
He had vanished again, and was hunting on his own 
account. As it was getting too fatiguing to keep 
with him, we made up our minds to shoot on our 



L 



174 MY PETS 

own hook, and only use Pritchard as opportunity 
might offer. We spread out in line and fell to 
without a dog. 

Alexandre, who has first-rate sight, had just caught 
sight of Pritchard a quarter of a league away, on 
the opposite side of the valley. 

It was not our shooting there — a detail that did 
not trouble Pritchard in the slightest, but was highly 
important to us. 

A partridge got up in front of me, and I fired — 
my first shot that day. Wounded, but not killed, 
the bird flew straight ahead, and seemed likely to 
drop somewhere near a lad gleaning in a field. 

I had no Pritchard with me to tell him to go fetch ; 
so I resolved to follow up my bird and retrieve it 
myself. 

On the way I put up a leveret and shot it. This 
rather distracted my attention from my partridge, 
the result being that by the time I had picked up 
the leveret and put it in my game-bag I had rather 
lost my bearings. 

Fortunately the gleaner gave me a point to make 
for. He was now sitting down eating. 

I walked up to him. 

" Ho ! my good fellow," I accosted him, " have you 
seen a partridge ? " 

" A partridge, eh ? " 

" Yes, a partridge." 

" I've seen many a one, sir." 

"Yes, but a single one? " 

" I've seen single ones too." 

" A wounded one." 

" Wounded ? " 

" Yes." 

" Oh ! I know naught of that." 



ALFRED AND M^DOR 175 

" Come, don't play the confounded idiot, my lad ! 
I ask you a plain question ; when I fired just now, 
did not you see a partridge drop ? " 

" Oh, it was you who fired ? " 

" Yes, it was." 

" Ah, well, I saw naught drop." 

I gave a wry look at the young fellow and fell to 
hunting about for my bird, Alexandre helping me. 

Suddenly — " Look!" he exclaimed; " here's Pritchard 
come back." 

" Why, where is he ? " 

'* There, by your gleaner, looking very much as if 
he wanted to prig the fellow's breakfast." 

" Dry bread, eh ? You don't know Pritchard." 

" Well, but just watch him a moment." 

I did so, and saw the whole thing in a flash. 

" Oh ho ! " I laughed, " this is the finest game 
of all ! " 

" He's pointing at your gleaner ! " cried Alexandre. 

" Not he ; he is pointing at my partridge, which is 
not dead and is in that fellow's pocket." 

" Hosannah ! " cried Alexandre ; " if that's so, I call 
the dog a miracle." 

" Take half a franc, step up to that fine young 
labourer, who looks to me to be a good bit embarrassed 
by the dog's attentions, and tell him this : ' My 
father's partridge and half a franc, or my father's 
partridge and a kick behind . . ." 

The fellow had got up by this time and was trying 
to make off. 

But Pritchard, who saw the game running away on 
two human legs, kept persistently on the track of the 
rascally lad, his nose at the height of the fellow's 
pocket. ' • 

" Call off your dog, sir, call off your dog," whimpered 



176 MY PETS 

the young scamp ; " he's going to bite me " — and he 
started running. 

" Bring him in, Pritchard, bring him in ! " I shouted. 

The dog gave a spring and seized the lad by the 
pocket of his jacket. 

" There, now ! " I said to Alexandre, " it's all plain 
sailing for you." 

Alexandre hurried up, dived his hand into the 
thief's pocket and drew out the missing partridge. 

As this was the only attraction drawing Pritchard 
to this new acquaintance, hardly was the bird out of 
the lad's pocket before Pritchard let go his jacket. 

No need to proceed further with the tale of Pritchard's 
deeds of prowess. 

After a long day, during which the extraordinary 
animal had indulged in the most frantic and altogether 
unexpected eccentricities, I returned to the farm with 
twenty-five brace or so of game to my credit. 

Alfred the Great with the redoubtable Medor had 
not done better. 

Only, the net result of my observations on Pritchard 
and his little ways was this: that the sportsman 
who had the happiness to own him had better go 
shooting utterly and absolutely alone. A Trappist 
monk was the only individual capable of really 
appreciating his merits. 



• • • . * 1 •. ' • • i • 




THE DOG GAVE A Sl'RINti AND SEIZED IHE LAD liV THE I'OCKEI l)l-' HIS JALKtr 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

HOW ALFRED WAS OBLIGED TO RETURN TO 
COMPIEGNE IN HIGHLAND COSTUME 

THE following day, thanks to Pritchard, who 
started us a covey of partridges in a clover 
field belonging to one of M. Mocquet's neighbours, 
M. Dumont of Morienval, we had an argument with 
the aforesaid M. Dumont. 

We thought we gathered that, seduced by feelings 
of neighbourliness, and I believe even of relationship, 
M. Mocquet was not backing us properly. 

We called a council therefore, and resolved, instead 
of going back to his house, to give up the shooting 
and return to Compiegne. 

We had hired in the Sous-prefecture of the Oise 
a little open cart, which had been entrusted, along 
with the horse, to our care and guidance. 

Our guidance was indeed called for whenever the 
microscopic quadruped in question was under way. 
Though claiming the name of horse, by the bye, he 
was barely as big as a good-sized donkey. 

But it would seem that little horses, like little 
men, are naturally quarrelsome. Ours, from the first 
moment we had commanded his services, had never 
ceased to wrangle with us. 

Accordingly I was entrusted with the task of reason- 
ing with him, and as my arguments had been a stiff 

12 



178 MY PETS 

bit and an active whip, he had ended, not indeed in 
owning himself in the wrong, but by acting as if I had 
proved myself right. 

Thanks to my good management, I had brought 
myself and three companions safe and sound to the 
farm in the first instance. Now that we had deter- 
mined definitely to leave for Compiegne without going 
back to M. Mocquet's at all, we despatched an under- 
keeper to Brassoire, with orders to put Devorant to the 
cart and drive out to join us somewhere on the line 
of the Compiegne road. Our Bucephalus was called 
Devorant because of his capabilities in the way of 
devouring space. 

Alfred alone had raised some objections to these 
arrangements. The fact is he would be obliged to 
return to Compiegne without the possibility of " titi- 
vating a bit," — a circumstance that must prejudice him 
in the eyes of the fair ladies of the Sous-prefecture of 
the Oise. But his regrets and expostulations were 
ignored in deference to our offended dignity. 

Accordingly, about noon we saw Devormit appear 
on the horizon, together with cart and keeper. The 
nag, which had eaten at the farm the allowance of oats 
of an ordinary-sized horse, was neighing and tossing 
his head and moving his ears like the arms of an 
aerial telegraph. All this promised us as animated 
an argument on the return journey as we had enjoyed 
before. 

At the moment Devorant appeared the shooting 
was going famously ; we resolved, therefore, to let the 
cart follow on after us till the time came for getting 
into it. 

Besides, we thought, it was a good way to calm 
the animal's over-high spirits to make him, as a 
preliminary to his journey to Compiegne, do his 



ALFRED IN HIGHLAND COSTUME 179 

three or four leagues over ploughed fields and 
stubble. 

Then there was yet another advantage ; as each shot 
told, the game was carried to the cart at once. On the 
morrow of the opening day of the season not only are 
legs a bit tired, but shoulders are apt to be lazy. 

Unfortunately our expectations with regard to 
D^vorant were imperfectly realised. True, the ploughed 
land and the stubbles exerted a calming effect, but the 
firing exasperated his nerves the more. Every time a 
gun went off, man and horse had a desperate struggle. 

At two o'clock we called the roster. This time 
Alfred was present ; he knew that if he did not show 
up at this supreme moment he would have four long 
leagues to cover on foot ; and though perfectly content 
to do his four, or, at a pinch, eight leagues, across 
country, he had no sort of desire to tramp the same 
distance along a high-road. 

The cart was waiting for us at the edge of the 
forest. We took our places in the following order : 
Maquet and Alfred on the back seat, Alexandre and 
myself on the front. 

Medor, as a dog of a certain age and one having 
every right to consideration, slipped unobtrusively and 
noiselessly between our legs. Obviously his only wish 
was to escape notice. He was seen all the same, but 
the only result was that his modesty received a warm 
eulogium. 

Pritchard, on the contrary, crushed under Alfred's 
jeers and gibes, sneered at as a performing dog, told 
he ought to turn out next season with a Zany's coat 
of many colours, — Pritchard never seemed to conceive 
the idea of sharing the comforts of our conveyance, 
but set off sturdily along the road, his nose pointing 
for Compiegne, his tail waving in the wind, without 



180 MY PETS 

apparently giving so much as a thought to the two 
hundred leagues he must, at the lowest computation, 
have galloped since the day before. 

I offered to take the reins ; but Alexandre pointed 
out that, being nearer Hippolytus' age than I was, 
it was his office to drive. I was only half convinced ; 
however, with my usual easiness of temper, I let him 
have his way. 

Besides, being the youngest of us all, he was the 
most interested in not killing himself; this sounds 
specious, but it is a poor argument nevertheless. But 
I am so often satisfied with fallacious arguments, that 
I yielded to this, which was only half fallacious. 

We set off in due course. The calculation we had 
relied on as to Devorant in connection with the ploughed 
lands and stubbles proved utterly and entirely wrong. 
Obstacles, instead of daunting that intrepid little 
animal, only irritated him. So no sooner did he feel 
a good hard road under his hoofs than he started off 
like the wind. 

" Good ! away you go ! . . ." cried Alexandre, 
slackening the reins. 

The road was uphill for some distance. After a 
hundred yards or so, Devorant saw he was acting 
foolishly and dropped into a more sober gait. 

We thought it was fatigue ; it was really hypocrisy. 
Devorant was looking for his opportunity to score a 
startling revenge on us — and he was not long in 
finding it. 

We jogged on, talking sporting talk, till we came 
to a very steep descent. On our left we had the 
forest falling away in a sort of amphitheatre ; on our 
right a ravine fifty feet or so deep. 

The highway authorities, always full of fond care for 
travellers' safety, had been kind and considerate enough 



ALFRED IN HIGHLAND COSTUME 181 

to plant stone posts every ten yards to serve as a 
parapet along the edge of the road bordering the 
ravine. But in the intervals between these posts there 
was nothing whatever to prevent carriages, horses, or 
pedestrians from pitching over. 

On the opposite side of the road broken flints were 
piled in long heaps every ten yards. 

D^vorant cast a look to the left, a look to the right, 
a look ahead. Ahead he had the descending hill ; to 
left the heaps of flints, to right the ravine. 

The spot struck him as well adapted for his purpose, 
and the circumstances as propitious. 

Without the smallest warning he broke from a trot 
into a gallop. Alexandre tugged hard at the reins, 
but Devorants pace only grew more and more furious. 

There was no mistaking his intentions, especially for 
any one occupying, as I did, the front seat. 

The following brief dialogue was exchanged under 
our breaths between my son and myself: — 

" What now ? " 

" Eh ? " 

" D^vorant is bolting, I think." 

" To be sure he is." 

" Hold him in." 

" I can't." 

" Can't ! Why not ? " 

" He's taken the bit between his teeth." 

" Well, well ! " 

We were now travelling five-and-twenty leagues an 
hour. 

"What's the matter?" asked Alfred and Maquet 
in the same breath. 

" Nothing, nothing ! " I told them ; " only Devorant 
is a bit fresh." 

As I spoke, with a rapid, and at the same time 



182 MY PETS 

vigorous motion, I wound the off rein round my wrist, 
and hauled violently to the left. 

The bit slipped from between the animal's teeth, and 
the latter swerved violently to the left and dashed 
into one of the heaps of flints above mentioned. 

Seeing himself turned aside, and feeling the slipping 
stones yield under his feet, Devorant fell into a perfect 
fury. 

Losing all hope of breaking our necks by upsetting 
the cart, he was determined to have some satisfaction 
instead. So he set to work to kick out and break our 
limbs ; and he kicked so frantically that one leg got 
over the shaft. 

In this unaccustomed predicament Devorant^ it seems 
to me, completely lost his head. Suicide seemed a 
pleasant thing, if only he could kill us at the same 
time. 

Accordingly, with a violence and an unexpectedness 
there was no gainsaying, he made a half-turn to the 
right, and sweeping diagonally across the roadway, 
dashed towards the ravine. 

This time the dialogue was briefer still between 
Alexandre and myself. 

" We are done for ! " 

" Yes, father ! " 

I do not know what the others did ; for my own 
part I shut my eyes and waited developments. 

Suddenly I felt a terrific jar, and was pitched out 
of the cart on to the high-road. The shock was 
appalling. 

Alexandre had fallen full length on top of me, so 
that he was guaranteed from injury from head to heel. 

In a second he was on his feet ; and in another 
second I was on mine. 

" Are you hurt ? " I asked him. 



ALFRED IN HIGHLAND COSTUME 183 

" Not a scrap. And you ? " 

" Not a scrap either," I assured him. 

" Well, then, the dynasty of Dumas being safe and 
sound, let us see what has become of the others," — 
and we cast an inquiring look about us. 

Alfred had disappeared, Maquet was lying almost 
unconscious. 

Alexandre ran to him and raised his head. 

" What is wrong, my dear old fellow ? " 

" I am in for a broken arm anyway — if not a broken 
back," groaned Maquet. 

'• The deuce ! " exclaimed Alexandre, " that's bad 
hearing what you say." 

Maquet turned deadly pale, and fainted away again. 
Alexandre dragged him on to the slope of the ditch on 
the left side of the road. 

Meantime I was examining the upper part of my 
thigh. I had been a bit premature when I said I was 
not a scrap hurt. 1 had fallen on top of my gun- 
barrel, which I had flattened out by the force of my 
fall and the weight of my body, doubled by those of 
Alexandre atop of me. 

The result was, not a fracture of the bone, — thank 
goodness the stuff my thigh-bone was made of had 
proved too much for the metal, — but a most terrible 
bruise. My thigh had turned a brilliant violet that 
strongly resembled the tints decorating the door-posts 
of a pork-butcher's. 

At that moment I caught sight of Alfred, who was 
coming up to join the rest of the party ; slim as an 
arrow, light as a rush, and having encountered no 
obstacle, he had been tossed thirty yards away. 
Medor was following him at ten paces behind. 

" Look," I said to Alexandre, " we were just looking 
for Alfred ; there he is coming back from Compicgne." 



184 MY PETS 

I hailed him. " What news ? " I asked. 

" I have torn my trousers from top to bottom." 

" And yourself? " 

" All right, all right ! " declared Alfred. 

" Too bony to come to much harm, eh ? " laughed 
Alexandre. " Ah ! there's Maquet coming to again." 

It was so ; he was opening his eyes and looking 
about him. A flask still held a little brandy, and we 
made him swallow a few drops. 

He got on to his feet, staggering at first ; then 
presently, little by little, he regained his centre of 
gravity. 

We now had time to turn our attention to 
D^vorant and the cart, and think how the accident had 
happened. 

By a providential miracle, just as we were on the 
point of being pitched over the edge, the wheel had 
struck a post, mounted it, and emptied us out into the 
roadway. 

The horse hung suspended over the precipice, the 
weight of the vehicle alone preventing his falling. 
The animal was literally swimming in empty space. 

We stepped up and looked over the edge. It was 
enough to make you giddy ! Picture a ravine fifty or 
sixty feet deep, nicely carpeted with jagged rocks, 
brambles, and nettles. 

If the wheel had not encountered the post, horse, 
cart, and ourselves must all have been dashed to 
pieces ! 

We made several attempts to draw Divoi'ant back 
into the road ; but our efforts were quite unavailing. 

" My word ! " said Alexandre at last, " the beast 
chose the place himself; let him stay there. Let's 
attend to ourselves first. What do you want, Maquet ? " 

" To rest a while." 




THE HOKSK HLNG SUSl'ENDED OVER THE I'KECII'ICE 



ALFRED IN HIGHLAND COSTUME 185 

"Well, there's the ditch-side to welcome you with 
open arms. — And you, father ? " 

« What's left of the brandy." 

" What ! the brandy ? Why, to think of your 
drinking brandy ! " 

" All right, my boy ; it's for my thigh." 

" Well and good, here's the stuff you ask for. And 
you, Alfred ? " 

" I think," said Alfred, seizing the opportunity, " that 
it's about time to titivate a bit." 

Then, drawing a small comb from his pocket, he 
began arranging his hair, as systematically as if he had 
been in his room at M. Mocquet's farm. 

" There ! " he said, when he had finished, " I think 
now, I can, without being wasteful, offer my trousers as 
a gift to the nymphs of the wood." 

And pulling off his tattered breeches, after displaying 
the garment for a moment to the company to see if 
any one put in a claim, and no tongue having spoken, 
he tossed the trousers into the ravine. 

No one had said a word, in the first place because 
the trousers did not seem in the least worth claiming, 
and secondly because all eyes were fixed on Alfred's 
legs, which till that moment we none of us had ever 
had occasion to see except encased in more or less 
voluminous garments. 

" Alfred," said Alexandre solemnly, " do you know 
what M. de Talleyrand said to the Mayor of Ferrette, 
who had legs of your sort ? " 

" No ; what did he say ? " 

" He said : ' Mister Mayor, you are the bravest man in 
France.' — ' Why so, Monseigneur ? ' — ' Because you are 
the only living soul bold enough to walk on such a pair 
of legs ! ' Well, I think you are even braver than the 
Mayor of Ferrette." 



186 MY PETS 

" Oh, what a pretty wit ! " 

" I take no credit for the joke," said Alexandre ; " it's 
not mine." 

" Ah ! thunder ! " suddenly cried Alfred, with a 
despairing gesture. 

" Why, what now ? " 

" Fool that I am ! " 

" Don't say things like that, Alfred ; they might 
believe you, you know." 

" Just think, the key of my dressing-bag is in my 
trousers pocket." 

" In the trousers that are in your carpet-bag ? " 

" No, no ; in the pair I have just offered up to the 
nymphs of the wood." 

" Never mind, never mind ! Why, man, you're 
showing yourself to them with every advantage ; they 
will take you for Narcissus, lucky beggar ! " 

" Yes, but the brambles and thorns ! " 

" After all, who risks nothing wins nothing." i| 

All this while the peasant men and women who 
were passing along the road — it was market-day at 
Cr^py — gazed at us with curious looks, carefully 
refraining, of course, from affording us any assistance. 

It is very true things may have worn a suspicious 
aspect to them. They understood very well what 
Maquet was doing, sitting pale and haggard at 
the edge of the forest ; they understood very well 
what Alexandre was doing, loosening his cravat and 
rubbing his temples with a handkerchief soaked in 
the cool water of a neighbouring rivulet ; they 
understood very well what I was doing, bathing 
my bruised leg with brandy. But they failed to 
comprehend what this Scotsman-looking fellow, with 
bare legs, what he was doing, pacing up and down 
above the ravine, into which he darted savage looks, 



ALFRED IN HIGHLAND COSTUME 187 

accompanied by growls and howls and threatening 
gestures. 

Suddenly he gave vent to a cry of joy — 

" I am saved ! I am saved ! " — and pointing to the 
ravine : " Go search, Medor," he cried, " go search ! " 

Medor hurried down into the depths of the ravine. 
Five minutes afterwards he reappeared with his 
master's trousers. 

But, alas ! a fresh calamity. During the journey 
the key of the carpet-bag had slipped out of the 
pocket, which was found to be perfectly empty. 

You can imagine how much prospect there was of 
finding it in such a dense mass of undergrowth. 

Thus Alfred was necessarily compelled to return in 
Highland garb into the Sous-prefecture of the Depart- 
ment of the Oise. 

Happily, it was already dark by the time we 
reached the first houses of the little town. 

We despatched the carriage proprietor to look for 
the cart and Devorant. He found them both precisely 
where we had left them. 



I 



CHAPTER XXXV 

HOW I BROUGHT BACK FROM CONSTANTINE A 
VULTURE WHICH COST ME FORTY THOU- 
SAND FRANCS— AND THE GOVERNMENT TEN 
THOUSAND 

WHILE we were performing, on the high-road 
from Cr(fpy to Compiegne, the upset I have 
had the honour of telling you about in the preceding 
chapter, two men, escorted by a couple of Spahis and 
several servants, native and European, were following, 
on their return from a long expedition they had just 
concluded, the road from Blidah to Algiers. 

" It is a strange thing," one of the two travellers 
was observing to the other, " a very strange thing that 
the magnificent country we have lately been traversing 
should be so little known. Can you think of any way 
of popularising it ? " 

The individual addressed seemed to ponder the 
question a moment or two ; then suddenly — 

" Do you know what / should do, Monsieur le 
Ministre, if I had the honour to be in your place ? I 
should so arrange it that Dumas should make the same 
journey we have just terminated and then write two 
or three volumes about Algeria. Dumas is all the 
fashion at the moment; people will read his book, 
even though it is a book of travel, and out of the 
three million readers he will have, perhaps he will 

1S8 



A VULTURE FROM CONSTANTINE 189 

inoculate fifty or sixty thousand with a taste for 
Algeria." 

" A good idea," said the Minister ; " I will think it 
over." 

The two who paid me the compliment of calling my 
name to mind on the road from Blidah to Algiers were, 
one M. de Salvandy, Minister of Public Instruction, 
the other our famous traveller and my own very good 
friend, Xavier Marmier. 

Well, M. de Salvandy, on reflection, thought so well 
of the suggestion that one fine morning in September 
I received an invitation to dine with him at the 
Ministry. Thither accordingly I betook myself, not a 
little surprised at the honour done me. My only 
acquaintance with him was in consequence of his 
having been instructed by the Due d'Orleans to bestow 
on us, Victor Hugo and myself, on Hugo the Officer's 
Cross of the Legion of Honour and on me the Chevalier's 
of the same noble Order. 

At that period, to prevent our nomination giving 
rise to too excessive a scandal, he had deemed it 
judicious to complete the group by the addition of 
a worthy nonentity by name Grille de Bruzelin. As 
there was no conceivable reason for giving the decora- 
tion to this latter individual, M. de Salvandy had 
deemed he would by himself constitute an adequate 
counterpoise for Hugo and myself. 

M. de Salvandy had likewise written, in his salad 
days, a sort of a romance entitled Alonzo, or Spain 
in the, I don't quite remember which, Century ; still, 
this hardly constituted him a literary confrere to a 
sufficient degree to suggest his going out of his way 
to cultivate my acquaintance. 

Then what could M. de Salvandy want with me? 
It was certainly not to raise me to the rank of Officer 



190 MY PETS 

of the Legion of Honour; ideas of that sort never 
occur spontaneously to Ministers — least of all in 
connection with men who deserve the distinction ! 

Accordingly I set out for M. de Salvandy's dinner, 
not exactly anxious, I don't mean that, but with many 
thoughts running through my head. 

The Minister received me with his most affable mien 
and blandest smile, and after our coffee, drawing me 
aside in the garden of the Ministry — 

" My dear poet," he began, " you must do us all a 
favour." 

" What, a poet do a Minister a favour ! Nothing 
I should like better — if only because of the rarity of 
the thing. What is it ? " 

" Have you made your arrangements for the winter ? " 

" Arrangements, I ! Now, do I ever make arrange- 
ments? I live like the birds, on a bough. If there's 
no wind, I stay where I am ; if it blows, I spread my 
wings and away where the wind takes me." 

" And would you have any objection to the wind 
taking you to Algeria ? " 

" None whatever ; on the contrary, I have always 
had the strongest wish to visit Africa. I was ready 
to start for that continent on July 26, 1830, at five 
in the evening, when at five o'clock on the preceding 
morning the Moniteur published the famous Royal 
' ordonnances' The result was that, when evening came, 
instead of taking the mail-coach, I took my gun, and 
three days later, instead of arriving at Marseilles, I 
was fighting my way into the Louvre," 

" Well, if your wishes still point the same way, I 
can offer to help you to pay travelling expenses." 

" Oh ! as for that," I answered, " times are changed 
since then ! Sixteen years ago I was a young man, 
a sort of roving student of Salamanca, tramping the 



A VULTURE FROM CONSTANTINE 191 

high-roads afoot, knapsack on back and iron-shod 
staff in hand. But nowadays I drag a whole string of 
followers after me. I can do nothing unaccompanied 
in these days ; the journey you propose is a tremendous 
business." 

" And that is why," the Minister said impressively, 
" I have set aside ten thousand francs to defray the 
cost." 

" Now, look here, are you very much set on my 
going to Algeria ? " 

" Why, of course ; else I should not have asked you." 

" It will really gratify you ? " 

" It will, very much indeed." 

" Well, then, I will add another forty thousand 
francs, out of my own pocket, to the ten thousand you 
offer me — and I will go." 

M. de Salvandy looked at me in utter amazement. 

" Egad, sir ! that's how it is," I told him ; " you 
don't suppose I am going to travel like a vagabond 
herb-doctor. I propose to invite three or four friends 
to go with me ; as you are sending me to represent 
France, I wish to do my country honour." 

At first M. de Salvandy had imagined I was 
joking ; but he now came to see I was speaking with 
perfect seriousness. 

" Then, that is not all," I went on. " If I am to go 
to Algeria, I wish to go with all the travelling 
facilities the Government can put at my disposal." 

" Well, you ai'e a hard man to please ! " objected 
the Minister. 

" As a man will naturally be when he can go per- 
fectly well without you ; so, going to please you, he 
lays down certain conditions, and no wonder. Don't 
you like my tone ? Well, then, I will make the journey 
on my own account and as I please." 



192 MY PETS 

" But I gather you will make it ? " 

" 'Pon my word, yes ! You have given me the 
notion, and now I am dead set on going." 

" But that is not the way I want you to go ; I want 
you to go with a special commission from Government. 
Come now, what was it you were going to ask for 
when I interrupted you ? Do you want us to make 
you Officer of the Legion of Honour?" 

" No, thank you ; I have no ambition in that Hne. 
I was made Chevalier by the poor dear Due d'Orleans, 
whom I was devoted to with all my heart. If he 
were there to make me Officer, I would very likely 
agree ; but he is not, to my deep regret, and I prefer 
to remain what he made me rather than become 
something else." 

" Well, what is it you want, then ? " 

" I want a Government vessel to be put at my 
service and that of my travelling companions, to 
coast along the shores of Algeria at my own sweet 
will, and not as your officials may see fit to direct." 

" Why, man, you are asking us to do what is only 
done for princes ! " 

" Exactly so. If you do no more for me than 
you are ready to do for Tom, Dick, and Harry, why 
trouble me at all ? I have only to drop a Hne to the 
Head Offices of the Messageries, and I can secure on 
board their liners not merely a passage for Algeria, 
but for any part of the Mediterranean." 

" Ah, well, so be it, then. You shall have your 
man-of-war. But if you imagine it will be any saving 
to you, you are very much mistaken ! " 

" Saving ! any saving ? Do you suppose / was 
thinking of saving ? For a Minister of Public 
Instruction you are, let me tell you, very ill 
instructed." 



A VULTURE FROM CONSTANTINE 193 

" Now, when do you wish to start ? " 

" Whenever you please. I have two or three novels 
to finish, but that's a matter of a fortnight ; I have 
some railway stocks to sell, but that's a question of an 
hour or two." 

" In a fortnight, then, you will be ready ? " 

" Certainly." 

"And your Thedtre-Historiquel" 

" They will finish building it while I am abroad." 

I made my adieus to the Minister, and we parted 
the best of friends. 

Next day I had the honour to dine at Vincennes 
with the Due de Montpensier. I told him about the 
strange notion that had occurred to the Minister of 
Public Instruction — sending me on a journey to Africa 
by way of popularising our colony of Algeria. 

" Well," the Duke declared, " it is a very capital 
idea — especially if you take Spain on your way." 

" And why, pray, should I take Spain on my 
way ? " 

" Why, to attend my wedding ; you know I am to 
be married on the i ith or 12th October." 

" I thank you cordially, Monseigneur ; you pay me 
the greatest compliment. But what will the King say 
to it ? Your Highness is aware he does not altogether 
share the goodwill you are good enough to bear 



me. 



"The King will know nothing about it till after- 
wards ; then, finding you eligible to go to Algeria, 
why, he will think you good enough to go to Madrid. 
In one word, set your mind at rest ; it is / am getting 
married, and I invite you to my wedding." 

" I accept, Monseigneur, gratefully." 

We were then between the 20th and 25 th 
September, and the Duke's marriage was fixed for the 
13 



194 MY PETS 

iith or 1 2th October. There was not a moment, 
therefore, to be lost, if I meant to be at Madrid two 
or three days before the happy event. 

I began by realising the money needful for the 
journey. I held 50,000 or so francs' worth of stock 
in the Lyons railway. The moment was favourable 
for selling, and the shares could be disposed of at 
a comparatively small loss — say 20 per cent. I 
instructed my broker, who duly disposed of my 
50,000 francs of scrip for 40,000 francs in ready 
money. 

As for the 10,000 francs contributed by Govern- 
ment, as this sum was for Algerian expenses, I would 
only touch the money in Algeria, and sent my letter 
of credit to Marshal Bugeaud to hold for me. These 
two precautions taken, the main thing was done ; all 
that was left was to see about my travelling 
companions. 

I wrote to my son and to Louis Boulanger — 

" I am starting to-morrow evening for Spain and 
Algeria ; will you come with me ? 

" If you say yes, you have only to think of packing 
your trunk. Only, pick out the smallest, — Yours ever, 

"Alex. Dumas" 

I wrote practically the same letter to Maquet, only 
making the wording a trifle more formal. 

All three wrote back to say they accepted. 

It only remained to find the model servant-man 
who was needed to take charge of the luggage and 
arrange, so far as possible, that the four travellers 
should not die of hunger. 

I say fi7id advisedly, because not one of the 
domestics I had at that period was the man required. 



A VULTURE FROM CONSTANTINE 195 

Alexis was too young ; the coachman too limited in 
his functions ; as for Michel, I never for one moment 
regarded him, during all the dozen years he spent 
under my roof, as being really in my service. Michel 
was simply and solely in his own service. Only, as 
he dearly loved animals, he made me believe it was 
I who loved them, and, for his own increased satisfac- 
tion, multiplied the numbers of bipeds, quadrupeds, 
and quadrumanes. Thus it was I came to possess, 
by Michel's count, twelve or fifteen fowls of unknown 
antecedents, five or six cocks of rare breeds, two dogs, 
one of which, as we saw just now, tried to devour me, 
three monkeys and a tom-cat that made the marauding 
expedition on my humming-birds, Indian sparrows, and 
quails which the reader will probably recall. 

Michel, therefore, was to stay behind with his animals, 
because, if I took Michel with me, I should have to 
take his menagerie as well. 

At this crisis chance came to my assistance. Mind, 
I am not so conceited as to say Providence; I leave 
that to crowned heads. 

Chevet, to whom I owed a bill of 113 francs, 
having heard say I was starting for a voyage round 
the world, thought he would like to see the amount 
of his little account paid up before I left Saint- 
Germain. 

He appeared, therefore, one morning in person, his 
bill in his hand. This settled, I asked if by any chance 
he knew of a good servant who would be willing to 
accompany me to Spain and Algeria. 

" Why, sir," he exclaimed, " how aptly that falls 
out ; I have a perfect pearl to offer you — a negro." 

" A black pearl, it seems." 

" Yes, sir, but a true pearl nevertheless." 

" The deuce, Chevet ! I have a negro already, a 



196 MY PETS 

ten years' old one, who is, off his own bat, as lazy 
as two negroes of twenty — if they grow to twenty." 

" That is just his age, sir." 

" He will be as lazy as two negroes of forty then." 

" Sir, he is not a true negro." 

" What, he is dyed ! " 
" No, no, sir ; he is an Arab." 

" Ah, the deuce ! but that is a find for any one 
going to Algeria — unless indeed he talks Arabic the 
same way Alexis talked Creole." 

" I don't know, sir, how Alexis talked Creole ; but 
I do know an officer of Spahis came to the house 
the other day, and they jabbered away together, 
Paul and he." 

" He is called Paul ? " 

" Yes, he is called Paul for us, that's his French 
name ; but for his compatriots, he has another name, 
an Arab name that means Benzoin- Water." 

" You will be answerable for him ? " 

" As I would for myself, sir." 

" Very well, then, send me your Benzoin-Water." 

" Ah, sir, you will soon see what a treasure you 
have got ! A va/et de chambre as elegant as a man 
could wish, of a fine olive tint, speaking four languages, 
not counting his own, a good walker and a good rider. 
He has only one fault ; he invariably loses whatever 
you trust to his care. But then, you understand, 
one never trusts him with anything " 

" Good, Chevet, good ; thank you, thank you ! " 

By the four o'clock train I duly saw Benzoin-Water 
arrive. Chevet had not deceived me ; the man showed 
no sign whatever of the low brow, flat nose, and thick 
lips of the natives of the Congo or Mozambique. 

He was an Abyssinian Arab, with all the elegant 
shape and limbs of his race. As Chevet had told me, 



A V^ULTURE FROM CONSTANTINE 197 

his complexion was of the very tint to have delighted 
Delacroix. Being anxious to test his boasted linguistic 
talents, I spoke a few words to him in Italian, English, 
and Spanish. He answered me quite correctly, and 
as he also spoke French very fluently, I came to the 
same conclusion as Chevet, that he knew four 
languages besides his own. 

Now how this drop of fragrance named Benzoin- 
Water had come into existence on the slopes of the 
Samen Mountains, between the shores of Lake Ambra 
and the sources of the Blue Nile, is a matter on which 
Benzoin-Water could never afford me any information, 
and so I cannot tell you. All that one could make 
out amid the obscurity of his earliest years was that 
an English gentleman, a globe-trotter, returning from 
India by way of the Gulf of Aden, had chosen to 
ascend the River to Naso and pass by Emfras and 
Gondar, had halted at the latter town, had there seen 
the little Benzoin-Water, a lad of five or six, and, taking 
a fancy to his looks, had bought him of his father in 
exchange for a bottle of rum. 

The boy followed his new master, crying bitterly 
for three or four days after his lost parents. Then, 
under the influence, so powerful with all and especially 
with children, of change of scene and surroundings, he 
grew pretty nearly reconciled in the course of a week, 
by which time the caravan reached the sources of the 
river Rahad. The English traveller descended that 
river to the point where it discharges its waters into 
the Blue Nile ; then he follow'ed down the latter stream 
to where it joins the White Nile ; he halted a fortnight 
at Khartoum, then resumed his journey, and two 
months later arrived at Grand Cairo. 

For six years Benzoin-Water remained with his 
English master. During that time he went all over 



198 MY PETS 

Italy, and learnt a little Italian ; Spain, and learnt a 
little Spanish ; England, and learnt a little English. 
Finally he settled down in France, and acquired a 
really sound knowledge of French. 

The child from Lake Ambra took very kindly to 
this nomad life, which recalled that of his ancestors the 
Shepherd Kings — for Benzoin-Water had so proud a 
carriage, so aristocratic an air, that I have always 
maintained, and do so still, that he must have been 
descended from those conquerors of Egypt. If it had 
depended on him, he would never, despite the ancient 
saw of good King Dagobert, have left his English 
master ; but, alas ! his English master left him. He 
was a great traveller, this Englishman ; he had seen 
everything — Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and even 
Oceania. He had seen all this world, and determined 
to visit the next. Every morning at seven o'clock he 
was in the habit of ringing for Benzoin-Water. One 
morning he did not ring. At eight o'clock Benzoin- 
Water went into his room, to find his master hanging 
from the ceiling, the bell-rope round his neck — which 
sufficiently explained why he had not rung. 

The Englishman was generous ; he had even taken 
the precaution, before hanging himself, to leave a 
rouleau of guineas to Benzoin-Water. But the poor 
lad was not of a saving disposition ; like a true child 
of the tropics, he loved everything that glittered in 
the sun ; provided it glittered, what matter to him 
whether it were copper or gold, green glass or emerald, 
tinsel or ruby, paste or diamond. So he spent his 
guineas in buying whatever glittered, purchasing now 
and again by way of variety sundry drinks of rum, for 
the fellow was very fond of rum — a fact, by the bye, 
which Chevet had omitted to tell me, no doubt because 
I was sure to find it out very soon for myself. 



A VULTURE FROM CONSTANTINE 199 

When Benzoin-Water had, I won't say eaten up — 
he was but a small eater, the poor lad — but scattered 
to the winds his last guinea, he realised the time was 
come to look out for another place. 

As he was good-looking, pleasant, and obliging in 
all his ways, with a clear eye, an open smile, and flash- 
ing white teeth, he was not long in finding a new 
master. This was a French colonel, who took him 
with him to Algeria, where Paul found himself as it 
were e7i famille. It was his native language the 
Algerians spoke, or, to be strictly accurate, he spoke 
the mother-tongue of the Algerians with far more 
purity and elegance than they did themselves, for his 
Arabic is borrowed from the primitive source of that 
beautiful speech. He stayed five years in Algeria, in 
the course of which time, the grace of the Lord having 
touched him, he had himself baptized under the name 
of Pierre, doubtless to safeguard himself the right, like 
his patron saint, of thrice denying God. 

Unfortunately he had forgotten, when he chose the 
name, that it was his master's too. The end was that 
the Colonel, not wishing to have a servant called the 
same as himself, unbaptized Benzoin-Water and changed 
his name from Peter to Paul, deeming it would not fail 
to please him to exchange the patronage of the Apostle 
who holds the keys for that of the one who holds the 
sword. 

At the end of these five years Paul's Colonel was 
retired. He came back to France to appeal against 
the order, but to no purpose. So the Colonel being 
reduced to half-pay, had to inform Paul that to his 
great regret he was forced to part with him. 

There was one disagreeable difference between the 
Colonel and the Englishman, to wit that the former 
being still alive and needing his money to end his 



200 MY PETS 

days with, gave Paul just what was due to him for 
wages and no more. The amount came to thirty-three 
francs and a half, which promptly vanished between 
Paul's brown fingers. 

However, in the Colonel's service, that officer being 
very fond of good living, Paul had made one very useful 
acquaintance, Chevet's namely. We have seen how the 
latter had recommended him to my notice, telling me he 
was a capital servant, with one great fault, however, that 
he always lost whatever was entrusted to his keeping. 

I stated a little above somewhere that Chevet had 
omitted to warn me that Paul had another fault, a 
decided predilection for rum ; I added that this was prob- 
ably because Chevet felt sure I should soon find out 
this fact for myself. 

Well, Chevet had formed too exalted an opinion of my 
powers of observation. True, I saw Paul from time to 
time getting to his feet as I went by to salute me, and 
rolling big eyes which had turned from white to yellow ; 
I noticed that he held his little finger desperately to 
the seam of his trousers, a pleasing military posture he 
had learnt in the Colonel's establishment ; I heard how 
he mixed up confusedly English, French, Spanish, and 
Italian. But, buried in my work, I paid small heed to 
these superficial changes, and continued to be very well 
satisfied with his behaviour. Only, in accordance with 
Chevet's advice, I never trusted anything to Paul's 
charge — except the key of the cellar, which, contrary 
to his general custom, he never lost. 

Thus I remained in blissful ignorance of this fatal 
failing of Paul's until one day an unexpected incident 
revealed it to me. After starting for a shooting party, 
intending to remain away a week, I came back next 
day unexpectedly, and as I usually did on returning 
home, called lor Paul. 



A VULTURE FROM CONSTANTINE 201 

But there was no answer. Then I called Michel ; 
but Michel was in the garden. So 1 called Michel's 
wife, Augustine ; but she was out marketing. I made 
up my mind to go upstairs without more ado to 
Paul's bedroom, fearing he might have hanged 
himself like his former master the Englishman. 

A single glance reassured me on this head. For 
the moment Taul had entirely forsaken the vertical 
posture for the horizontal ; fully dressed in complete 
livery, the fellow was lying on his bed, as stiff and 
still as if he were embalmed ; I did not think he was 
this, but I own I thought he was pretty near gone to 
another world. I called him by name, but could get 
no answer. I shook him, but he never stirred ; I lifted 
him by the shoulders, just as Pierrot lifts Harlequin ; 
not a joint gave. I set him up on his legs, and seeing 
a point of support was absolutely necessary to enable 
him to stay there, I planted him against the wall. 

During this latter operation Paul had at last vouch- 
safed some tokens of life. He had tried to speak, 
opened his eyes very wide, showing only the whites. 
At last his lips managed to articulate some almost 
unintelligible sounds, and he asked peevishly — 

" Why are they disturbing me ? " 

At that moment I heard a noise at the bedroom 
door. It came from Michel, who had heard me 
calling from the bottom of the garden, and had come 
at last. 

" Halloa ! " I asked him, " is Paul mad ? " 

" No, sir," he answered me, " but Paul is drunk." 

" What ! Paul drunk ? " 

" Alas ! yes, sir. The instant Monsieur's back is 
turned, Paul has a bottle neck between his teeth." 

" Why, Michel, you mean to say you knew this, 
and you never told me ! " 



202 MY PETS 

" I am here to be Monsieur's gardener, not to play 
the informer." 

" True, Michel ; you are in the right. Well, and 
now, what are we to do with the fellow ? I cannot 
spend all the day holding him up against the wall." 

" Oh, if Monsieur wants to sober Paul, it's easily 
done." 

It will be remembered that Michel possessed a recipe 
to meet all embarrassing circumstances whatsoever. 

" What must we do to sober Paul, eh, Michel ? " 

" Heavens and earth, man ! try to keep upright 
against the wall, do ! " (this parenthetically to Paul). 

" Monsieur has only to take a glass of water, drop 
into it eight or ten drops of alkali, and force Paul to 
drink it off. He'll give a great sneeze and be sober 
in an instant." 

" Have you any alkali, Michel ? " 

" No ; but I have a supply of ammonia." 

" That comes to exactly the same thing. Put some 
ammonia into a glass — not too much — and bring it 
me here." 

Five minutes later Michel came back with the 
required mixture. We unclenched Paul's teeth with 
a paper-knife ; then we slipped in the edge of the glass 
and tilted it gently. The contents followed two main 
directions — down Paul's throat and down his neck- 
tie. Though the latter certainly got the lion's share, 
still the patient imbibed some, and as Michel had 
foretold, presently gave so terrific a sneeze that I fled, 
leaving him unsupported. He staggered for a moment, 
sneezed a second time, opened great staring eyes and 
looked about him, uttering only a single word the while, 
though that seemed to express his thoughts quite 
adequately — " Faugh ! " 

" Well, now, Paul," 1 said to him, " now that you 



A VULTURE FROM CONSTANTINE 203 

are sober again, lie down, my fine fellow, and go to 
sleep, and directly you wake, bring me your account ; 
I do not like drunkards." 

But, whether it was that Paul was of an exceptional 
nervous susceptibility, or that his brain was over- 
stimulated by the ammonia, instead of dropping off to 
sleep, as I advised him, or presenting me with his 
claim for wages, as he was entitled to, he fell to 
throwing his head back, writhing his arms and making 
the faces of a demoniac. Paul had a violent nervous 
seizure, and amidst, or rather in the intervals between, 
his wild contortions, he kept crying out — 

" No, I don't want to go away ; I am happy here, 
and I want to stay ! I only left my first master 
because he hanged himself; I only left my second 
because he was put on half-pay. M. Dumas has 
neither been retired nor hanged himself — and I want 
to stay on with M. Dumas." 

This affection toward myself personally touched me. 
I made Paul give me a promise, not that he would 
leave off drinking, he was too honest to give any 
such, but that he would indulge as little as possible. 
I also compelled him to give me back the key of the 
cellar — an act of restitution for which I felt the more 
grateful as it evidently cost him a severe pang, and so 
everything resumed its everyday course. 

What made me something more indulgent to the 
offender than I should otherwise have been was the 
fact that a few days before that fixed for my departure 
to Spain, my friend De Saulcy had come to ask me 
to dinner, and had talked Arabic with Paul, inform- 
ing me after the conversation that Paul spoke that 
language as well as Boabdil or IMalek-Adel. 

Accordingly, on the appointed day we duly set out, 
Alexandre, Maquet, Boulanger, and myself, attended 



204 MY PETS 

by a black shadow that was none other than our 
friend Paul. 

I have no intention in this place of relating my 
famous Spanish journey, which I was supposed to 
have undertaken in the capacity of historiographer of 
the marriage of the Due de Montpensier, nor yet my 
still more famous African expedition, which, thanks to 
M. Leon de Malleville, and M. Lacrosse, raised such 
a startling echo in the Chamber of Deputies. 

No, my intention is simply and solely to come to 
the story of a new inmate which the aforesaid African 
journey was to add to my menagerie of pets. 

I was at Constantine, where, gun in hand, I was 
watching a number of vultures wheeling round and 
round above a charnel-house. I had already sent two 
or three shots amongst them, which had produced no 
sort of effect, when I heard a voice behind me saying — 

" Ah, sir, if you want one, a live one, I can find 
you one for sale, I can — and very cheap." 

I turned round and recognised a little ragamuffin of 
pure French breed, from the most populous European 
quarter of the town, a Beni-Mouffetard, as he called 
himself, who had on two or three occasions served me 
as guide, and who had had good reason to approve of 
my generosity each time. 

" A fine bird ? " 

" Magnificent." 

" How old ? " 

" Still got its milk teeth." 

" But exactly ? " 

" Oh ! eighteen months at the outside. You know 
they live to a hundred and fifty, vultures do? " 

" I don't insist on his living to that advanced age, 
my lad. Well, how much will they sell your vulture 
for, eh ? " 



A VULTURE FROM CONSTANTINE 205 

" Oh, ten balls, and you shall have him." 

Needless to inform my readers that in street slang 
ten balls means ten francs. 

" Very well, Beni-Mouffetard," I told the lad ; " fix 
up the thing for a dozen, and there will be a couple of 
francs for yourself." 

" Only," added the young scamp, as if seized with a 
touch of remorse, " I ought to warn you of one 
thing." 

" Yes ? " 

" He's as dangerous as the pest, that damned vulture 
is. There's not a living soul but the man who caught 
him as a nestling and feeds him dare come near the 
creature." 

" Very good ! " I said ; " if he is so dangerous as all 
that we will put a muzzle on him." 

" Yes ; but when you do it you'll have to look out 
for your fingers. Day before yesterday he bit off a 
Kabyle's thumb, and only yesterday a dog's tail." 

" We will take care, never fear ! " 

By next day I was owner of a superb vulture, a bird 
without a fault — except, as the Beni-Mouffetard had 
warned me, having the look of wanting to eat up every 
one and everything that came near. 

He was christened at once with the name of his 
fellow-countryman Jugurtha. Jugurtha, for greater 
security, was handed over to me in a large cage made 
out of bits of board, and, poor feathered prisoner, he 
had a chain two or three feet long attached to one leg, 
which to prevent chafing was wrapped round with a 
rag. 

The hour of departure having come, we set out on 
our way back by the same vehicle that had brought 
us, to wit the ordinary diligence that runs regularly 
between Philippeville and Constantine. 



206 MY PETS 

This mode of conveyance possessed one advantage at 
any rate ; the coach travelled so slowly, and made so 
many detours, that lovers of sport could indulge their 
taste all along the road. 

Jugurtha would fain have indulged his sporting 
instincts too. From the top of the imperiale, where he 
travelled, he could see whole flocks of birds that he 
looked upon as his predestined victims, and which, 
as tyrant of the air, he evidently felt aggrieved at not 
being allowed to devour, flesh, bones, and feathers. 
He paid off a portion of his resentment on the finger of 
an outside passenger who had tried to get on friendly 
terms with him. 

Philippeville was reached without further accident. 
There more difficulties arose ; there was a league still 
to cover to arrive at the port of embarkation, Stora, 
and the diligence did not go on to that place. 

True, the road from Philippeville to Stora affords a 
charming walk, running beside the shores of the bay as 
it does, with the sea on one side and fine hills and 
pretty woods on the other, and my companions had 
resolved to cover the intervening miles on foot. 

But how was Jugurtha to get over the distance ? 

It was out of the question to put his cage on a 
porter's back ; he would have devoured the man alive 
through the interstices between the bars. To hang 
him from a pole and have him carried as in a litter on 
the shoulders of two bearers would have cost a matter 
of fifty francs, and after buying a vulture for twelve 
francs, commission included, one does not feel disposed 
to pay fifty for transport. I thought of another method ; 
this was to lengthen his chain to eight or ten feet by 
means of a rope, and drive him on foot in front of me 
with the help of a long switch — the same way turkey 
tenders drive their charges to market. 



A VULTURE FROM CONSTANTINE 207 

The first thing was to force our friend Jugurtha to 
leave his cage. To tear away the planks by hand was 
not to be thought of; Jugurtha would have torn the 
worker's hands all to pieces long before the planks 
gave way. 

I began by fastening the rope to the end of the 
chain ; then I stationed two men, armed with picks, 
one on each side of the cage. Each man stuck the 
point of his pick between the bars ; then each pulled 
violently in opposite directions. 

Two opposing and equal forces, in mechanics, 
neutralise each other when they are applied to the 
same object ; but if this object has solutions of 
continuity, it is bound to give way and go in the 
direction of the one that pulls the stronger. 

The final result was that a plank yielded, then two, 
then three, and presently the whole of one side of 
the cage was open and exposed. As Jugurtha had not 
been docked of a single feather of his wings, his first 
movement was to dart out, spread his wings, and 
fly away. But he only flew as far as the length of his 
rope ; cockchafer or vulture, if you have a string to 
your leg, you are bound to break the string or remain 
a prisoner. 

So Jugurtha was forced to come down again. But 
Jugurtha was a very intelligent creature, and saw 
plainly enough where the obstacle came from, and that 
I was the enemy to be attacked. Accordingly he 
dashed at me, in the vain hope of either putting me to 
flight or eating me up if I refused to fly. 

But Jugurtha had to do with a creature every bit as 
intelligent as himself Foreseeing the attack, I had 
given Paul orders to cut me a nice, springy, dog-wood 
stick, as thick as my forefinger and eight or ten feet 
long. 



208 MY PETS 

I let fly with my switch full tilt at Jugurtha, who 
seemed surprised, but continued to advance ; I gave a 
second taste of the same, which stopped him ; finally, I 
administered a third dose, which started him off in the 
reverse direction, that is on the road to Stora. Once 
on the way, I had only to manage my switch cleverly, 
and Jugurtha made his four or five kilometres just as 
fast as we did, to the huge admiration of my travel- 
ling companions and of everybody we met en route. 

Arrived at Stora, Jugurtha made no difficulty about 
getting into the boat, and from the boat on board the 
Veloce, took up a position on the bowsprit, and calmly 
waited, tied to the base of the foremast, till a new cage 
could be built for him. When this was ready, he 
walked into it of his own accord, allowed the bars to 
be nailed into position without an attempt to bite the 
men's fingers, and received with evident gratitude the 
scraps of meat which the ship's cook gave him with 
kindly regularity. Three days after his coming aboard, 
he would offer me his head to be scratched like any 
tame parrot, though on his arriving eventually at Saint- 
Germain, Michel tried quite fruitlessly to teach him to 
say the regulation : " Pretty Poll, scratch pretty Polly's 
head ! " 

So you have the story of how I imported from 
Algeria a vulture that cost me forty thousand francs 
and only cost the French Government a trifle of ten 
thousand. 
















I LEI l-I.Y WITH MV SWIICH FILL TILT AT JLCLKTHA 



CHAPTER XXXVI 

HOW PRITCHARD BEGAN TO RESEMBLE THE 
MARfiCHAL DE SAXE, TO WHOM MARS HAD 
LEFT NOTHING BUT A LOVING HEART 

ON my return to France, I found my house which 
I was building on the Marly road pretty nearly 
finished. In a few weeks' time I had the papering 
and woodwork of the whole of one floor completed, so 
that I was able to satisfy the wishes of my landlord at 
the Villa IMedicis, who, finding I had spent between 
seven and eight thousand francs on his property, had 
conceived the very natural desire of going back to it 
himself and so profiting by all the improvements I had 
made. 

I left Saint-Germain, therefore, to go and live at the 
Porte- Marly, in the much-discussed house which was 
subsequently christened Monte Cristo by Madame 
Melingue, and which later on made such a noise in 
the world. 

Michel had long before this made all his arrange- 
ments for the accommodation of my animals. I am 
bound to say he paid far less attention to my comfort, 
or, for the matter of that, to his own. 

I do not know what is the condition of Monte 

Cristo nowadays ; but I do know that, in the time of 

my occupancy, there was neither wall nor ditch nor 

hedge nor enclosure of any sort about the place. 

14 



210 MY PETS 

Consequently men as well as animals could enter at 
their own sweet will, walk about where they pleased, 
pluck the flowers and gather the fruits, without any fear 
of being charged with trespass or burglary. As for 
the animals, — and it is to the dogs I would specially 
refer, — Pritchard, who was naturally of a very 
hospitable disposition, did the honours of the house 
with an agreeable and disinterested freedom from 
formality quite Highland in its character. 

This hospitality was practised by Pritchard in the 
most simple and antique fashion. He would squat 
well in the middle of the Marly road, go up to 
every dog that passed with that low growling that is 
half a threat and half a friendly greeting, and is the 
canine manner of saying " How d'ye do ? " — smell the 
new-comer in the orthodox way, and submit to the 
same ceremony himself. 

Then, as soon as a proper understanding had been 
reached by dint of these little familiarities, conversation 
would begin on something like the following lines — 

" Have you a good master ? " the strange dog would 
ask. 

" Oh, not bad," Pritchard would say. 

" And are you well fed at your place ? " 

" Why, we have pie twice a day, bones for breakfast 
and dinner, and all through the day anything we can 
prig from the kitchen." 

The strange dog would lick his chops at the mere 
thought. 

" Plague on't ! " he would say, " you've nothing to 
complain of ! " 

" Pm not complaining," Pritchard would declare. 

Then, seeing the strange dog looking pensive — 

" Would you like to dine with me ? " Pritchard 
would invite him. 



POOR PRITCHARD 211 

Dogs never have the silly habit men are prone to of 
waiting to be pressed. 

The guest always accepted eagerly, and at dinner- 
time I was greatly surprised to see an animal I knew 
nothing about walk in under Pritchard's escort, sit 
down on my right, if Pritchard took the left, and paw 
my knee coaxingly in a fashion that told me plainly 
what flattering accounts he had received of my kindly 
and Christian disposition. 

No doubt invited by his host to spend the evening 
with him, as he had spent the day, the dog stayed on, 
and presently, finding it was too late for him to get 
home, found a comfortable place for himself somewhere 
about the premises, and there slept off his heavy 
meal. 

Next morning, when the time came to go, the dog 
would stroll once or twice in the direction of the outer 
gate, then, thinking better of it, would remark to 
Pritchard — 

" Would it be making very bold if I stayed on in 
the house ? " 

To which Pritchard would reply — 

" With a little care and ingenuity you can very 
easily make them think you are the dog from next- 
door. Then in a day or two nobody will think any 
more about you, and you will be one of the household, 
every bit the same as those lazy apes that do nothing 
whatever all day long, and that greedy vulture that 
does nothing but gobble guts, and that squalling 
macaw that shouts all the time without ever knowing 
what it's talking about." 

So the dog would stay where it was, hiding itself a 
bit the first day, wagging its tail at me the second, 
gambolling at my heels the third, and there would be 
an inmate the more of my establishment. 



212 MY PETS 

This sort of thing went on. Michel asked me one 

day — 

" Does Monsieur know how many dogs we have on 

the premises ? " 

" No, Michel, I don't." 

" Sir, there are thirteen of them." 

" It is an unlucky number, Michel, and we must 
take care they don't all sit down to table together; 
there would infallibly be one that would die first." 

" But that's not the point, sir," insisted Michel. 

" Well, what is it, then ? " 

" Why, these fine chaps would eat up an ox a day, 
horns and all." 

" Do you really think they would eat the horns, 
Michel ? I cannot believe it myself." 

" Oh ! if Monsieur takes it like that, I've no more 

to say." 

" You are wrong, Michel ; speak out, and I will take 
it exactly as you prefer," 

" Well, sir, if you give me a free hand, I'll just take 
a good whip and I'll turn the whole crew out of doors 
this very morning." 

" Come, Michel, let us be reasonable. All these 
dogs, after all, are paying a compliment to the house 
by staying here. Give them a grand dinner to-day 
and tell them it's a farewell feast ; then at dessert you 
will put them all out at the door." 

" How does Monsieur think I am going to put them 
out at the door? There is no door." 

" Michel," I replied gravely, " we must put up with 
certain conditions of locality and social position and 
inherited disposition, such as we have unfortunately 
been endowed with by fate. The dogs are in the 
house, and, by the Lord ! they must just stay there, 
i don't suppose, anyhow, it's the dogs will ever ruin 



POOR PRITCHARD 213 

me, Michel. Only, for their own welfare, see to it they 
are not thirteen for the future." 

" Well, sir, I'll drive one away, and make them a 
dozen." 

" No, Michel, let another one come in, so as to make 
fourteen." 

Michel heaved a sigh. 

" If it were a pack, that would be something," he 
muttered. 

Well, it was a pack — and a very strange pack at that. 
There was a wolf-dog, a poodle, a water-spaniel, a 
mastiff, a basset-hound with twisty legs, a mongrel 
terrier, a mongrel King Charles, — there was even a 
Turkey dog with never a hair on his body except a 
tuft on the top of the head and a plume at tip of his tail. 

Well, all this crew lived together on the very best 
of terms, and might have given an example of brotherly 
love to a philanstery or a community of Moravian 
brethren. True, at meal times there would be a snap 
now and then to right or left ; there would be some 
love quarrels between rivals, in which, as always, the 
weaker would go to the wall ; but the most touching 
harmony would be instantly restored the moment I 
appeared in the garden. Not an animal, no matter 
how lazily stretched in the sun, no matter how 
luxuriously curled up on the soft turf, no matter how 
amorously engaged in conversation with a canine 
mistress, but would break off his sleep or love-making 
to sidle up to me with affectionate eye and waving tail. 
All did their best to manifest their gratitude, each 
in his own way, — some by slipping familiarly between 
my legs, others by getting up on their hind paws and 
begging, others again by jumping over the stick I held 
for them, whether for the Czar of Russia or the Queen 
of Spain, but positively refusing to leap for the poor 



214 MY PETS 

King of Prussia, the humblest and most hackneyed of 
all monarchs, not only at home but among the canine 
population of all Europe. 

We recruited a little spaniel bitch named Lisette, 
and the number of our pack was duly raised to 
fourteen. 

Well, these fourteen dogs, when all was said and 
done, cost me say fifty or sixty francs a month. A 
single dinner to five or six of my literary brethren 
would have demanded three times the sum, and then 
they would have left my house, saying, it may be, my 
wine was decent stuff, but there was no doubt my 
books were rubbish. 

Among all the pack Pritchard had chosen out a 
comrade and Michel a favourite. This was a basset- 
hound with twisty legs, a short, thickset animal, that 
seemed to walk on his stomach, and at utmost speed 
might perhaps have covered a league in an hour and 
a half, but, as Michel was never tired of saying, the 
finest organ in all the department of the Seine-et-Oise. 

It was quite true ; Portugo — that was the basset's 
name — had one of the finest bass voices ever uttered 
by dog in pursuit of rabbit, hare, or roebuck. Some- 
times at night, as I sat at work, these majestic tones 
would make themselves heard about the neighbourhood, 
and it was a sound to rejoice the heart of St. Hubert 
in his grave. Now, what was Portugo after at this hour 
of the night, and why was he up and about when the 
rest of the pack were sleeping.? The mystery was 
resolved one morning. 

" Would Monsieur like," Michel asked me, " would 
Monsieur like to have a nice dish of stewed rabbit for 
his breakfast ? " 

" Very good," I said ; " has Vatrin sent us some 
rabbits, then ? " 



POOR PRITCHARD 215 

" Oh, M. Vatrin ! why it's over a year since I've set 
eyes on him." 

" Well, where did they come from, then ? " 

" Monsieur doesn't need to know where the rabbit 
came from, provided the stew is all right." 

" Take care, Michel, take care ; you will get yourself 
caught one of these days." 

"Why, what do you mean, sir? I have not so much 
as touched my gun since the end of the shooting 
season." 

I could see that Michel had made up his mind to 
tell me nothing that time ; but I knew him well enough 
to be quite sure he would open his lips one day or 
another. 

" Why, yes, Michel," I told him, answering his 
original question, " I should be very glad to eat a 
good dish of stewed rabbit." 

" Does Monsieur prefer to cook it himself or to let 
Augustine see to it ? " 

" Let Augustine attend to it, Michel ; I have work 
to do this morning." 

It was Michel waited at breakfast that morning 
instead of Paul ; he wished to see how much I liked 
his stew. 

The much-talked-of dish appeared in due course, and 
I finished it to the last scrap. 

" So Monsieur liked it ? " Michel asked, beaming 
with satisfaction. 

" Excellent, excellent ! " 

" Well, Monsieur can have one like that every 
morning, if he so pleases." 

"What, Michel, every morning? It seems to me 
you are going ahead pretty fast, my friend." 

" I know what I'm talking about." 

" Well, Michel, we shall see. Stewed rabbit is very 



216 MY PETS 

good ; but there is a certain tale entitled Eel-pie, the 

moral of which is we must never abuse a good thing 

— not even stewed rabbit. Besides, before consuming 

such a lot of rabbits, I should like to know where 

they come from ? " 

" Sir, you shall know this very night, if you will 

condescend to come with me." 

" Did not I say you were a poacher, Michel ? " 

" Oh no, sir ! I'm as innocent as a new-born babe. 

As I said before, if only Monsieur will come with me 

to-night . . ." 

" Is it far, Michel ? " 

" Only a hundred yards from this spot, sir." 

" What time ? " 

" When Monsieur hears Portugo's first bark." 

" Well, so be it, Michel ; if you see a light in my 

room when Portugo first gives cry, I am your man." 
I had almost forgotten I had pledged my word to 

Michel, and was working away as usual, when about 

eleven o'clock of a magnificent moonlight night Michel 

walked into my room. 

" Well," said I, " I don't think Portugo has given 

voice, has he ? " 

" No," he told me ; " but it struck me that, if 

Monsieur waited till then, he would miss the most 

curious part of all." 

" Why, what should I miss, Michel ? " 

" Monsieur would not see the Council of War." 

" Council of War ! What Council of War ? " 

" The Council of War between Pritchard and 

Portugo." 

" You are quite right ; it must be a curious sight." 
" If Monsieur will come down now, he can see it." 
I followed Michel, and presently, as he had led me 

to expect, I saw in the midst of the encampment of 



POOR PRITCHARD 217 

the fourteen dogs, lying each as he found most com- 
fortable, Portugo and Pritchard sitting up solemnly 
on their tails and apparently debating some question 
of the last importance. 

This point decided, the pair separated. Portugo 
darted out of the gate, struck into the upper Marly 
road, which bounded the property on that side, and 
disappeared. 

As for Pritchard, he showed every sign of having 
time to spare, and started off at a leisurely pace to 
follow the by-path that, after passing alongside the 
island in the river, mounted the hill behind the 
quarry. 

We in turn set off after Pritchard, who appeared 
to pay no attention to us, though he had evidently 
scented our presence. 

The dog climbed to the top of the quarry, which 
was planted with vines extending as far as the Marly 
road above. There he examined the ground with the 
utmost care, keeping to the line of the quarry, lighted 
on a scent, sniffed and found it fresh, advanced a few 
yards along a furrow formed by a double line of vine- 
sticks, crouched flat on his belly and waited. 

Almost at the same moment Portugo's first bark 
could be heard five hundred yards away. The plan 
of campaign was now clear. At nightfall the rabbits 
always quitted the quarry and scattered to feed. 
Pritchard would then nose out the scent of one of 
them, while Portugo, making a wide detour, chased 
the rabbit. Now rabbits and hares invariably hark 
back on their own track, and Pritchard, enscreened 
treacherously in ambush, awaited the creature's return. 

And so it was ; the nearer Portugo's barks ap- 
proached, the more brilliantly we saw Pritchard's yellow 
eyes gleam. Then suddenly, using all four paws as 



218 MY PETS 

a sort of quadruple spring, he gave a leap, and we 
heard a little scream of surprise and distress from the 
victim. 

** The trick's done ! " exclaimed Michel, and going 
up to Pritchard, he took a very fine rabbit out of his 
jaws, and finished it with a sharp blow on the back of the 
neck. He disembowelled it there and then, dividing 
the entrails between the two dogs, who shared them 
amicably, feeling presumably only one regret, that 
Michel's interference, backed by my authority, robbed 
them of the whole to leave them only a part. As 
Michel said, I might, if I had so desired, have had 
every morning for breakfast a nice dish of stewed 
rabbit. 

But at that very time things were happening at 
Paris that made a longer stay in the country impossible. 

The Theatre-Historique was on the point of opening. 
Now, seeing this is neither a history, nor a novel, nor 
a primer of literature, but just a friendly talk, dear 
reader, between you and me, let me tell you in plain 
words the legend of this unfortunate Theatre-Histor- 
ique, which was for a short time, you will remember, 
the terror of the Theatre Fran^ais and an example to 
all the other theatres of the capital. 

If it had had disasters, it would have been supported 
by those great abettors of failure known as the 
Directors of the Beaux Arts ; but it had nothing but 
successes, and the Beaux Arts abandoned it to its fate. 

This is how the thing happened. In 1845 or 1846, 
I cannot now recall exactly which, I was giving, at the 
Ambigu, the first representations of my Mousquetaires. 

The Due de Montpensier was present at the first 
night. One of my good friends, Dr. Pasquier, was 
his surgeon in ordinary. After the fifth or sixth scene, 
the Duke sent Pasquier to congratulate me, At the 



• ••'.*;»• 










SL'UDENLV I'KITCHAKD (;AVE A LKAl- 



POOR PRITCHARD 219 

end of the piece, which had only finished at two in the 
morning, Pasquier came back to tell me the Duke 
was expecting me in his box, whither I proceeded. 

I had seen little of the Due de Montpensier 
hitherto; when his brother died, in July 1842, he 
was still hardly more than a boy, being seventeen or 
eighteen at the time, but as a matter of family 
tradition he was aware that his brother had entertained 
a great affection for me. 

I entered the Duke's box not without emotion ; each 
of these four young Princes has in him certain traits of 
the elder brother, and at this period I could not help 
a sharp pang of grief on finding myself in the presence 
of one of them. 

The Duke had sent for me to repeat the congratula- 
tions he had conveyed to me before through Pasquier. 
The young Prince, I was already aware, was an 
enthusiastic admirer of the series of historical romances 
I was then publishing, and especially of that epic of 
chivalry known under the title of The Three 
Musketeers. 

" But I am bound," he said on this occasion, " to 
find fault with you for one thing ; why do you have 
your work produced at a minor theatre ? " 

" Monseigneur," I told him, " when a man has not 
a theatre of his own, he gets his pieces played where 
he can." 

" And why have you not a theatre of your own ? " 
he asked me. 

" Why, Monseigneur, for the very simple reason that 
the Government would not give me the needful 
' privilege.' " 

" You think so ? " 

" I am sure of it." 

" But, if 1 intervened ? " 



220 MY PETS 

" Oh, Monseigneur, that might quite hkely alter the 
look of things ; but Monseigneur will never take that 
much trouble." 

" Why not ? " 

" Because I have no claim on Monseigneur's good 
graces." 

" Pooh ! who said so ? Now, on whom does the 
granting of a ' privilege ' depend ? " 

" On the Minister of the Interior, Monseigneur." 

" Duchatel, in fact ? " 

" Precisely so, and I am bound to tell your Highness 
I don't think he is particularly fond of me." 

" At the very next Court ball I will dance with his 
wife, and arrange the matter before I take her back to 
her seat." 

I do not know whether there was actually a Court 
ball, or whether the Due de Montpensier danced with 
Madame Duchatel or no ; what I do know is that one 
day Pasquier came to see me and tell me the Duke 
was expecting me at the Tuileries. 

I and Pasquier took a conveyance and drove to the 
Palace. 

" Well," he accosted me the moment he saw me, 
" your ' privilege ' is granted ; it only remains for me 
to ask you the name of the lessee." 

" M. Hostein," I told him. 

The Duke took down M. Hostein's name in his 
pocket-book ; then he asked me where the house was 
to be built, what piece we should begin with, what 
special line I proposed it should follow. I informed 
him the site was already chosen, namely, the former 
Hotel Foulon ; that the play I should open with would 
probably be the Queen M argot \ that with regard to 
the line I meant to adopt, this was to constitute the 
stage of my new theatre a great book in which, every 



POOR PIIITCHARD 221 

night, the public might read a page of our national 
history. 

The " privilege " was duly signed in M, Hostein's 
name ; the Hotel Foulon was purchased ; the Theatre- 
Historique was built, and it opened, if I remember 
right, a month after my return from Spain and Africa, 
with Queen Margot, precisely as I had told the Due de 
Montpensier it should. 

The opening of my theatre, rehearsals, performances, 
results, endless affairs, in a word, detained me nearly 
two months in Paris. 

The day before that on which I was to return to 
Saint-Germain, I wrote to tell Michel, and found my 
factotum waiting for me at the bottom of the hill 
of Marly. 

" Sir," he shouted directly I was within hail, " two 
great events have happened in the house." 

" What are they, Michel ? " 

"To begin with, Pritchard caught his hind paw in 
a trarp, and going mad with rage and pain, instead of 
staying caught as any other dog would have done, he 
gnawed off his foot with his teeth, sir, and came back 
home on three pins." 

" But the poor beast died, I suppose, after it all ? " 

" Died ! why should he die, sir ? Wasn't / there ? " 

" And how did you treat him, Michel ? " 

" I amputated the paw neatly at the joint, with a 
pruning-knife ; I sewed up the skin over the place, and 
there's no sign of a wound. Look ! the scoundrel, he's 
scented you and here he comes ! " 

Yes, there was Pritchard, dashing up on three legs, 
and at such a pace that, as Michel said, he really looked 
as if he had never lost the fourth. 

The greetings between Pritchard and his master 
were very tender, as you may suppose, on both sides. 



222 MY PETS 

I commiserated the poor fellow very much on his 
mutilation. 

" Pooh, sir," said Michel, " it only means that out 
shooting he won't be so fond of pointing now." 

" And your second piece of news, Michel ? You 
told me you had two things to tell me." 

" Oh ! the other is that Jugurtha is no longer called 
Jugurtha." 
" Why so ? " 

" Because he's called Diogenes now." 
" And the reason ? " 
" Look for yourself, sir." 

We had reached the avenue of ash-trees leading to 
the main door of the villa. On the left side of the 
way the vulture was taking its ease in a huge tub, 
made out of a cask, one end of which Michel had 
knocked out. 

"Ah, yes, I understand," I told the latter; 

" directly he has a tub " 

"That's it," chorused Michel, "directly he has a 
tub, he can't be called Jugurtha any more, his name is 
bound to be Diogenes." 

I was lost in admiration of Michel's historical and 
surgical attainments, just as, a year earlier, I had 
been dumbfounded at his profound acquaintance with 
Natural History. 



CHAPTER XXXVIl 

WHICH DEALS WITH MY DEBUT AS AN ORATOR 
IN THE DEPARTMENT OF THE YONNE, AND 
PRITCHARD'S D^BUT IN THE SAME DEPART- 
MENT AS A POACHER 

A YEAR passed, during which were successively 
produced at the Theatre- Historique the Queen 
Ma7'got, already alluded to, Intrigue et Amour, Les 
Girondins, and Monte-O'isto in two nights' performances. 
The reader will recall, no doubt, the famous song of the 
Girondists — Mourir pour la patrie; the day it was 
rehearsed for the first time, I observed to the leader of 
the orchestra — 

" And to think, my dear Varney, that the next 
Revolution will be made to that tune ! " 

As a matter of fact the Revolution of 1848 was 
made to the air I had foretold. 

While rejoiced to see the principles I have upheld 
all my life triumphing, while taking a personal part in 
the Revolution of 1848 almost as active as I had in 
that of 1830, I was yet sore and grieved at heart. 

The political cataclysm, while bringing in new men 
who were my friends, yet removed others who likewise 
held a place in my affections. I had a brief and 
momentary hope that a Regency might be thrown as 
a connecting bridge between the Monarchy and the 
Republic. But the revolutionary avalanche was 

223 



224 MY PETS 

precipitated with irresistible violence ; it swept away 
with it, not only the old King, not only the four 
Princes, his stay and support, but even the mourning 
mother and the weakly child, who knew neither what 
this tempestuous blast was, nor whence it came, nor 
whither it was carrying him. 

There came a moment in the history of France when 
nothing stood where once it had, when the place where 
for seven centuries had risen the throne of the Capets, 
the Valois, the Bourbons, was mowed as smooth as in 
September is the plain where a week before the harvest 
was still waving. 

Then France gave a great cry, half of amazement, 
half of distress ; she knew no longer where she was, 
searching vainly with startled eyes for what she was 
used to see. She called to her help the most intel- 
ligent of her sons, and told them : " See what my people 
have done in a fit of passion ; perhaps they have gone 
too far, but at any rate what is done is done. In this 
empty place, which terrifies me by its emptiness, build 
me up something on which may rest the foundations of 
society, public wealth, morality, and religion." 

I had been one of the first to hear this appeal of my 
Country, and I held I had a right to count myself 
in the number of the men of intelligence she was 
summoning to her aid. 

It only remained to decide to what Department I 
should go and offer myself for election. 

It seemed simple enough to address myself to my 
native Department, that of the Aisne. But I had 
ceased to reside in it in 1823. I had scarcely ever 
returned there since, while one of the few occasions I 
had done so was to carry out that famous expedition of 
Soissons which the reader knows of, if he has ever read 
my Memoirs, in which I came very near being shot. 



MY DfiBUT AS AN ORATOR 225 

But, although it was for the same cause 1 was 
fighting, whether in 1830 or in 1848, I feared I might 
be looked upon as too ardent a Republican for the 
Republic such as the majority of the electors wished to 
see it, and I gave up all thoughts of standing for the 
Department of the Aisne. 

Then right before my eyes was the Department of 
the Seine-et-Oise, where I had been living for the last 
four or five years. I had even held in it the eminent 
position of Chief of Batta'ion of the National Guard of 
Saint-Germain. But, inasmuch as, during the three 
days of the Revolution of 1848, I had had the drums 
beaten and an appeal made to the seven hundred and 
thirty men of my command to follow me to Paris and 
intervene forcibly in the struggle, the wives, children, 
fathers, and mothers of my seven hundred and thirty 
National Guards, making a grand total of perhaps 
three thousand individuals, had all protested with one 
voice against the recklessness with which I was for 
endangering the lives of my men. So at the mere 
suspicion that I might possibly offer myself for election 
in their town, the good folk of Saint-Germain had 
uttered a universal cry of alarm and indignation. 
More than that, they had assembled in general com- 
mittee and resolved that I should be invited to give in 
my resignation as Commander of the National Guard 
for having compromised myself so unjustifiably during 
the three days of revolutionary disturbance. 

You see they understood the question of national 
representation and the oath of fidelity to the Republic 
in pretty much the same sense in the Department of 
the Seine-et-Oise as in that of the Aisne. 

Things were in this state when a young man, to 
whose family I had rendered some services and who 
had connections, he told me, in Lower Burgundy, 

15 



226 MY PETS 

assured me that, were I to offer myself in the Depart- 
ment of the "Vonne, I could not fail to be elected. 
Now I am bursting with a genial simplicity which ill- 
natured people call self-conceit. Call it simplicity or 
self-conceit, whichever you please, the result was the 
same. I imagined myself well enough known even 
in the Department of the Yonne to out-distance any 
competitors that might be set up against me. Poor 
simpleton that I was ! I quite forgot the fact that every 
Department makes a point of having local men to 
represent it, and, alas ! my locality was the Department 
of the Aisne. Accordingly, hardly had I set foot in 
the Department of the Yonne before the journals of 
all the localities rose up in arms against me. What 
business had I in the Department of the Yonne ? 
Was I a Burgundian ? Was I in the wine trade ? 
Had I any vineyards ? Had I ever studied the 
question of vine-growing ? Was I a member of the 
Society Ginophile ? So I had no Department, it 
seemed, of my own ; I was a sort of political bastard. 
Or rather no, I was none of these things ; I was an 
agent of the Orleanists, and was offering myself, 
simultaneously with M. Gaillardet, my collaborator 
on the Tour de Nesle, as a candidate of the Regency 
party. 

Needless to say the men who had invented and 
disseminated this fine story did not believe one single 
word of it themselves. 

True, I had been injudicious enough, it must be 
owned, to give some excuse for these statements on 
the occasion of the Orleans Princes leaving the 
country. Instead of abusing, insulting, and black- 
guarding them like the men who, a week before, were 
dancing attendance in their anterooms, /, on March 
4, I 848, — that is to say, seven days after the revolution 



MY DfiBUT AS AN ORATOR 227 

of February, in the midst of the popular excitement 
which filled the streets of Paris with noise and clamour, 
— I had written the following letter in the columns of 
La Presse, one of the most generally read newspapers 
of that day : — 

" To Monseigneur le Due de Montpensier 

"Prince, — If 1 knew where to find your Highness, 
it would be with my own lips, it would be face to face, 
that I should offer you the expression of my sorrow at 
the catastrophe that overwhelms you as well as others. 

" I can never forget how, for three years, in defiance 
of all political ties, and contrary to the King's wishes, 
who was aware of the opinions I held, you were 
pleased to receive me and treat me almost as a 
personal friend. 

"This title oi friend, Monseigneur, when you lived 
at the Tuileries, I was proud of; to-day, when you 
have left the country, I claim it still. 

" However, Monseigneur, your Highness, I am 
convinced, had no need of this letter of mine to be 
assured that my heart was of those that are his for 
all time. 

" God forbid I should fail to preserve in all its 
purity the religion of the tomb and the worship and 
respect of fallen greatness. 

" I have the honour to be, with deep respect, your Royal 
Highness's most obedient and most humble servant, 

" Alex. Dumas " 

Nor was this all ; indeed, I must surely have been 
bitten by that devil of contradiction which lives in me, 
is even more powerful than that other devil of pride. 
The celebrated Colonel Desmoulins, Commandant of 
the Louvre, having deemed it proper to throw down 



228 MY PETS 

the equestrian statue of the Due d'Orleans which stood 
in the courtyard of the Louvre, I returned home in 
a furious passion, and wrote to M. de Girardin the 
letter given below. The individual for whom it was 
really intended was plain enough, and it could hardly 
fail — at least, so I firmly believed — to procure me the 
pleasure of cutting throats with the Colonel first thing 
next morning. It ran as follows : — 

" My dear Girardin, — Yesterday, as I crossed the 
courtyard of the Louvre, I saw with astonishment that 
the statue of the Due d'Orleans was no longer on its 
pedestal. 

" I asked if it was the people of Paris that had 
thrown it down ; I was informed it was the Governor 
of the Louvre who had ordered its removal. 

" Why is this ? Whence this proscription that 
violates the tombs of the dead ? 

" When the Duke was alive, whatever constituted 
in France the advanced section of the Nation had 
based its hopes on him. 

" And it was but justice ; for, as every one knows, the 
Due d'Orleans was in constant opposition to the King, 
and he was the victim of a veritable disgrace in con- 
sequence of his pronouncement in open council : ' Sire, 
I had rather be slain on the banks of the Rhine than 
in a gutter of the Rue Saint-Denis ! ' 

" The people, the French people, that is always 
just and intelligent, knew and understood this as well 
as we. Go to the Tuileries and see for yourself which 
are the only apartments respected by the people : they 
are those once occupied by the Due d'Orleans. Why, 
then, be more severe than the people has been towards 
this poor Prince, who has the good fortune to belong 
henceforth only to History ? 



MY DEHUT AS AN ORATOR 229 

" The future — the future is the block of marble 
that events may hew at their pleasure and caprice ; 
the past is the statue of bronze cast into the mould 
of eternity. 

" You cannot annihilate the past. You cannot 
abolish the fact that the Due d'Orleans, at the head 
of the French columns, carried the Col de Mouzaia. 
You cannot abolish the fact that for ten years he 
has given the third part of his civil list to the poor. 
You cannot abolish the fact that he has repeatedly 
asked mercy for men condemned to death, and by 
dint of urgent prayers has won their pardon in several 
instances. If we can to-day clasp the hand of Barbes, 
to whom do we owe that bliss ? To the Due d'Orleans ! 

" Ask the artists who followed his coffin to the 
grave; summon the chiefest among them — Ingres, 
Delacroix, Scheffer, Gudin, Barye, Marochetti, Cala- 
matta, Boulanger. 

" Call to witness the poets and historians : Hugo, 
Thierry, Lamartine, de Vigny, Michelet, myself, any 
others you please — ask them, ask us, if we deem it 
well his statue should be replaced where once it stood. 
And with one voice we shall tell you : ' Yes ; for it 
was raised at once to a Prince, a soldier, an artist, 
to the great and enlightened soul that has gone to 
the skies, to the noble and kindly heart that has been 
laid in the earth.' 

"The Republic of 1848 is strong enough, believe 
me, to consecrate this sublime anomaly of a Prince 
left standing on his pedestal, in face of a Royalty 
falling from his throne. Alex. Dumas " 

The journals which accused me of being a Regentist 
candidate may well have done so in all good faith, for 
I had indeed done all I could to make the exiled 



230 MY PETS 

family, now that it was in power no longer, believe 
I was a Regentist, as I had done, when it was in 
power, whatever I could to persuade its members I 
was a Republican. 

Let me try to explain the contradiction to any 
who will waste their time in reading what I write. 

Compounded of two elements, aristocratic and 
popular, — the former on my father's side, the latter 
on my mother's, — no one unites to a higher degree 
than myself in a single heart at once a respectful 
admiration of all that is great and noble and a tender 
and profound sympathy with all that is unfortunate. 
I have never spoken so much of the Napoleon family 
as under the younger branch of the Royal Family ; I 
have never spoken so much of the Prince of the 
younger branch as under the Republic and the 
Empire. I am a faithful worshipper of those whom 
I have known and loved in adversity, and I only 
forget them if they become powerful and prosperous. 
So no fallen greatness passes before me but I salute 
it, no merit stretches forth its hand to me but I clasp 
it. It is when all the rest of the world seems to 
have forgotten those who are no more in place and 
power that, like an obstinate echo of the past, I pro- 
claim their name aloud. Why? I cannot say. It is 
the voice of my heart that awakes suddenly and 
impulsively, apart altogether from my mind and will. 
I have written a thousand volumes, composed sixty 
plays. Open them at random, — at the first page, in 
the middle, at the end, — you will see I have always 
advocated clemency, whether peoples were the slaves 
of kings or whether kings were the prisoners of 
peoples. 

Thus it is a noble and a lowly family I have gathered 
round me, such as no one has but myself. The moment 



MY D]£BUT as an orator 231 

a man falls, I go to him, I hold out my hand to him, let 
him be called the Comte de Chambord or the Prince de 
Joinville, Louis Napoleon or Louis l^lanc. Through 
whom did I learn the death of the Due d'Orlt^^ans ? 
Through Prince Jerome Napoleon. Instead of paying 
my court at the Tuileries to those in power, I was at 
Florence offering my sympathy to the exile. True, 
I instantly left the exile to seek the dead, and started 
on a journey of five hundred leagues, to meet, in spite 
of my very sincere tears of mourning, a Royal rebuff 
at Dreux — fit pendant to that which av/aited me at 
Claremont, when, after having followed out of affection 
the funeral of the son, I thought propriety demanded 
I should attend the father to the grave. 

On the eve of July 1 3 I was the declared enemy 
of M. Ledru-Rollin, whom I was in the habit of 
attacking daily in my journal Le Mois; on July 14 
M. Ledru-Rollin sent me word to have no further 
anxiety — that he was in safety. 

This is why I am more often a visitor to prisons 
than to palaces ; this is why I have been thrice to 
Ham, once only to the Elysee, never to the Tuileries. 

Naturally, I had not vouchsafed all these explanations 
to the electors of the Yonne ; so, when I entered the 
great hall of the Club, where three thousand persons 
awaited me, I was received with sounds that betokened 
anything but friendliness. 

At that critical moment a coarse insult was launched 
at me. Unluckily for the individual who took this 
liberty, he was within reach of my hand. The gesture 
with which I answered him was striking enough to 
leave no one present in doubt as to its nature. Groans 
changed to yells, and it was amid a perfect hurricane 
of protest I mounted the tribune to speak. 

The first question asked me was a demand for 



232 MY PETS 

explanations of my fanatical attitude with regard to 
the Due d'Orleans. This was taking the bull by the 
horns indeed. But for once the bull proved the 
stronger. I made them all feel shame — some for their 
forgetfulness, the rest for their ingratitude. I reminded 
them of the cry of universal sorrow that rose, on July 
13, 1842, from the heart of thirty million French- 
men, and brought me, jBve hundred leagues away, the 
fatal news. I pictured the poor Prince, young, hand- 
some, gallant, graceful, artistic, a Frenchman to the 
finger-tips, a patriot if ever there was one. I spoke 
of Antwerp, the Col de Mouzaia, the Portes-de-Fer, 
the respite of Bruyant the huzzar, granted at my 
instance, the pardon of Barbes, accorded to Victor 
Hugo's prayers. I repeated some of his sayings, so 
full of wit they might have fallen from the lips of 
Henri IV ; others so replete with genial kindliness they 
could only have come from his own heart. The end 
was that in a quarter of an hour half my audience 
were in tears — and I with them ; in twenty minutes, 
the whole room was clapping hands ; and from that 
evening forth I possessed not merely three thousand 
votes but three thousand friends. 

What has become of these three thousand friends 
whose names I never knew ? God knows ! They are 
scattered, each carrying away in his heart the precious 
bit of gold we call a kindly memory. Two or three 
only have survived from this great shipwreck of time, 
which will end by engulfing these likewise, and me with 
them ; but these not only have remained friends, but 
have become brothers — brothers in friendship, brothers 
in St. Hubert's mysteries. 

There, you see we have made a wide digression, 
but we have come back, nevertheless, at last to the 
point from which we set out — Pritchard, to wit. 



MY DJfiBUT AS AN ORATOR 233 

I had been invited to attend the forthcoming 
opening of the shooting season in the vineyards of 
Lower Burgundy. 

As every sportsman knows, every wine-growing 
country has two opening days instead of one : that 
when the wheat-crops are cleared, and the other when 
the vintage is complete — in other words, every wine 
district has two false opening days and no true one 
at all. 

It will easily be understood that in those after- 
dinner stories that amuse a company of gunners Prit- 
chard and his exploits had not been forgotten. I had 
done my best by word of voice to tell the same tales 
which I have narrated with pen and ink to the reader. 
Consequently, Pritchard had been invited no less than 
his master, and his coming was awaited with equal 
impatience. 

We feared only one thing — that Michel's amputa- 
tion of one of the poor animal's hind paws would ruin 
the speed of those evolutions of which I have tried to 
convey some idea, and which formed Pritchard's dis- 
tinctive character and originality. 

I thought myself justified in declaring beforehand 
this would not be the case, and that Pritchard was 
strong enough and clever enough to give a leg to the 
best dog in Burgundy, even though the missing one 
were a hind leg. 

On October 14, the eve of the opening day in 
the vineyards, I arrived at the house of my good 
friend Charpillon, notary at Saint-Bris, advising his 
cook by telegraph to let nothing interfere with her 
preparations for dinner. 

Within an hour of my reaching my destination 
there were already three several complaints lodged 
against Pritchard, any one of which, if the dog had 



234 . MY PETS 

been a man, would have brought him to a convict 
prison. There was theft, theft with premeditation, and 
theft and burglary. 

We emptied a hen-house, shoved Pritchard in, and 
shut to the door on him. A quarter of an hour later 
I saw his tufted tail waving gaily in the wind. 

" Why, who let Pritchard go ? " I shouted to Michel. 

" Pritchard ? — he's not loose." 

" Yes, he is ; go and look in the hen-house." 

Pritchard had effected his escape in the same way 
as Casanova, by making a hole in the roof. 

" Go and fetch the dog," I told Michel, " and put 
him on the chain." 

Michel asked no better. He had fits of anger 
sometimes in which he would scream, as some parents 
do at their children — 

" Ah ! you scamp, you villain ! I'll kill you, I 
will ! " 

He darted off on Pritchard's tracks eagerly enough. 
But he searched the three or four streets that make 
up Saint-Bris in vain ; Pritchard had vanished, after 
giving a final flirt of his tail in the way one friend 
parting from another waves his handkerchief in farewell. 

"Ah!" cried Michel, as he came back panting, 
"this caps all!" 

" What caps all, Michel ? " — I had quite forgotten 
Pritchard for the moment. 

" The scoundrel is gone off on his own account." 

" Gone where ? " 

" Why, after game, to be sure." 

" Oh ! you are talking of Pritchard." 

" Of course I am. Clean impossible to lay hands 
on him, and the curious part of it is, he has debauched 
Rocador into the bargain." 

" What ! debauched Rocador, do you say ? " 



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5-V — 1'-^'**>.  



I'KITCHARO WALKED IN l-ROUDLV, MOLDING IN HIS JAWS A MAGNIFICENT GREAT HARE 



MY DfiBUT AS AN ORATOR 235 

" Impossible ! " protested Pierre. Pierre was M. Char- 
pillon's Michel. 

" Impossible, and pray why ? " 

" Rocador was on the chain." 

" Oh, if Rocador was really on the chain " I 

put in. 

" Let him tell his story," urged Michel. 

" Yes, an iron chain as thick as my little finger," 
resumed Pierre, taking advantage of the permission. 

" And at the end of the chain what was there ? " 
asked Michel. 

Then, winking one eye at me, " Listen," he said. 

" Lord ! at the end of the chain, what was there 
at the end of the chain ? Why, a ring fixed into the 
wall." 

" I'm not asking you about that end," snapped 
Michel ; " I want to know about the other end." 

" Oh ! at the other end there was Rocador's collar." 

" Made of what ? " 

" Why, leather, to be sure ! " 

" Well, he has done the friendly thing by him ; 
he has bitten through the collar with his teeth. Go 
and look at it, and you'll find it cut clean through as 
if with a knife," We went to examine the collar, 
and saw that Michel had not exaggerated one whit. 

There was no further news of Pritchard till ten that 
night ; at ten we heard a scratching at the main door. 
Michel, who was on the look-out, went and opened. 

Then I knew by Michel's loud exclamations that 
something altogether unexpected was toward. A 
moment more, the cries of astonishment coming nearer 
and nearer, the door of the salon opened, and Pritchard 
walked in proudly, holding in his jaws a magnificent 
great hare, entirely uninjured except for having been 
throttled. 



236 MY PETS 

Rocador had halted when he came to his kennel, 
into which he had slipped quietly. Both dogs, like 
a pair of bandits, were drenched with blood. 

Others who did not know Pritchard could not 
reconcile the uninjured condition of the hare with 
these bloody stains that denounced the two ac- 
complices. 

But Michel and myself understood, and exchanged 
a knowing wink. 

" Come, Michel," I said. " I can see you are dying 
to tell the company how the deed was done. Now, 
Michel, tell your story." 

Michel caught the ball on the hop. 

" Why, look you," he began at once, " the dog's that 
artful. He went to Rocador and said, ' Would you 
like to go hunting with me, eh ? ' Rocador answered, 
' You can see for yourself, I can't ; I'm on the chain.' 
'Idiot,' returned Pritchard; 'just you wait a bit' — 
and he proceeded to free him from his collar. Then 
the pair set out together. Soon they discovered 
where a hare had gone by ; Pritchard lay down and 
watched the line, sending Rocador on to turn the hare. 
The instant the animal came back on his tracks after 
his first break away, Pritchard pounced on him and 
throttled him. Then, as two good comrades should, 
they shared their first hare for their dinner." 

Pritchard listened with the deepest attention to 
what Michel was saying ; his own name, recurring 
as it did every other minute, showed him we were 
talking about him. 

" Isn't that the way it happened, eh, Pritchard ? " 
Michel asked him. 

Pritchard gave a short, sharp bark that was 
evidently, in dog language, the equivalent of the 
adverb precisely. 



MY DJEBUT AS AN ORATOR 237 

" Yes, but the other hare ? " asked one of the by- 
standers ; " the one there . . . ? " — and he pointed to 
the dead hare lying on the floor. 

" All right, we're coming to that ! " Michel replied 
imperturbably. " The first hare eaten, Rocador said, 
' 'Pon my word, Pritchard, I'm quite satisfied. I've 
dined deuced well. I vote the best thing we can do 
now is just to trot back home.' But Pritchard, who 
is a finished scamp, said, ' What ! home . . . ? ' ' Yes, 
home, home, to be sure,' repeated Rocador. ' And 
what shall we find waiting for us at home, eh ? ' asked 
Pritchard. ' Oh ! the devil ! ' groaned Rocador, * what ? ' 
' Why ! a sound thrashing ; I know Michel,' said 
Pritchard. ' Yes, and I know Pierre,' agreed Rocador. 
' Well, then,' went on that artful Pritchard, ' we must 
disarm 'em.' ' But how ? ' ' Let's look out for an- 
other scent, catch another hare, and take this one 
back to our masters.' Rocador made a wry face ; his 
belly was full, and he had no mind to go hunting. 
But Pritchard said roundly, ' It's no use pulling long 
faces, my fine friend ; you've got to hunt, and quick's 
the word too, or you'll have news of me ! ' — and he 
showed his teeth to Rocador, as if he were grinning. 
Rocador saw who was master, and set off again 
obediently. Presently they caught a second hare. 
Pritchard broke his back with a quick bite, and brought 
him in, like the cunning beast he is. — Isn't that it, 
Pritchard ? " 

The audience looked at me for confirmation. 

" Gentlemen," I told them gravely, " if Pritchard 
could speak, he would tell you precisely the same tale 
as Michel has — not a word more or a word less 1 " 

" Pierre," said the master of the house, " take that 
hare to the larder. Well, at any rate, we are sure of 
to-morrow's dinner." 



CHAPTER XXXVIII 

AN IMPECCABLE MAGISTRATE 

THUS we have seen Pritchard triumphing by dint 
of the very sin he had committed, and forgiven 
his escapade for the sake of the dish he had provided 
for next day. You can see indeed how greatly his 
training had improved him since the days of his 
sojourn with Vatrin. Then he used to carry off the 
day's dinner ; now he supplied it ! 

But it is time, without deserting Pritchard, to say 
something of the fowls — one of the main subjects 
of our fascinating book. 

M. Charpillon loves his profession and is passion- 
ately fond of sport, but above all else he is a fanatical 
poultry fancier. 

No fowl, for ten leagues round, can be compared 
to the meanest bird belonging to M. Charpillon ; 
this was proved at the last show at Auxerre, where 
Charpillon's fowls carried off a first medal. It is 
brahmas and cochin-chinas he particularly favours. 

Needless to add our friend is not one of those heart- 
less breeders who are inhuman enough to eat what 
they rear. Once elected an inmate of Charpillon's hen- 
yard, once adjudged worthy of his feathery harem, a fowl 
has neither spit nor stew-pan to fear. It is assured 
of a happy life to the final term of a fowl's existence. 

Charpillon has even gone so far as to have the 

238 



AN IMPECCABLE MAGISTRATE 239 

inside of his hen-house painted green, so that, albeit 
shut indoors, his fowls may think themselves in a 
meadow. For the first few days after the paint was 
applied to the walls, the illusion was so great that 
the birds actually refused to come into the hen-house 
at evening, for fear of catching a chill. But they were 
forced to go in, and shut inside, so that before long, 
small as is a fowl's capacity for learning a new fact, 
the stupidest understood that she had the good fortune 
to belong to a master who knew his Horace and had 
successfully solved the problem of " combining the 
useful with the agreeable." 

Once convinced, thanks to the green hue of their 
surroundings, that they were laying in the grass, 
Charpillon's fowls laid with greater confidence and 
therefore more abundantly. What with other hens is 
a pain which they manifest by a cry, which in our 
ignorance we take for a song of triumph, became for 
them a mere diversion, in which they indulged with 
unfailing regularity night and morning. 

Thus their fame, now at its apogee, began to spread 
abroad throughout the Department. 

Whenever they ventured forth into one or other of 
the three streets of Saint- Bris, if any stranger, unaware 
of the marvel sheltered by that Burgundian village, 
exclaimed, " Oh, what beautiful fowls ! " a better-in- 
formed voice would instantly reply, " Why, I should 
think so ; those are M. Charpillon's birds ! " 

Then, supposing the owner of the voice endowed 
with an envious temper, he would never fail to add, 
in a peevish tone — 

"I should think so indeed! — fowls who have every 
mortal thing they can wish ! " 

M. Charpillon's fowls, to say nothing of the prizes 
they had won at the last show, had, in fact, reached 



240 MY PETS 

the highest degree of fame and popular renown to 
which any hens, be they as cochin-chinese as they 
may, can ever reasonably hope to attain. 

But this renown, precluding any possibility of in- 
cognito, sometimes involved its inconveniences. 

One day the Garde-Champetre came with a look of 
great embarrassment to see Charpillon. 

" Monsieur Charpillon," he said, " I have just caught 
your fowls among the vines." 

" My fowls ! Are you sure, Coquelet ? " 

" Good Lord, sir ! they are easy enough to know, 
your fowls — the finest birds in all the Department ! " 

" Well, and what did you do ? " 

" Nothing ; I have come to inform you of the facts." 

" You are in the wrong ; you ought to have drawn 
up 3. proces verbal." 

" But . . . but. Monsieur Charpillon, I thought, as 
you are deputy-mayor " 

" All the more reason ; as a magistrate, I am bound 
to give a good example." 

" Oh, for such a trifle ; it's only once in a way the 
poor creatures have gone astray ! " 

" They are doubly to blame. They lack for nothing 
here ; so, if they go marauding among the vines, it 
can only be because they have the bump of thieving. 
We must not give their evil instincts time to develop. 
Come, a good proch verbal, Coquelet ! a good proces 
verbal's the thing ! " 

" But, Monsieur Charpillon " 

" Coquelet, as deputy-mayor, I give you my express 
order." 

" Yes, but who am I to deliver my report to, sir ? " 

" To the mayor, man alive ! " 

" You know quite well that M. Gaignez is in Paris." 

" Well, then, you must give it in to me." 



AN IMPECCABLE MAGISTRATE 241 

" To you ? " 

" Certainly." 

" And you will sanction a report drawn up against 
your own fowls ? " 

" Why not ? " 

" Ah ! in that case, it's a different matter. , . . But 
you know, Monsieur Charpillon ? " 

" Yes, Coquelet ? " 

" I am not very good at drawing up reports." 

" Why, it's not a very difficult affair drawing up 
a proccs verbal^ 

" There arc reports and reports, Monsieur Char- 
pillon." 

" Come now, look here : ' I, the undersigned, Garde- 
Champetre, hereby declare myself to have recognised 
and seized sundry fowls, the property of M. Charpillon, 
notary and deputy-mayor of the commune of Saint- 
Bris, trespassing among the vines of Monsieur So-and- 
so or of Madame Such-and-such ' There's your report 
for you ! " 

" It was among M. Raoul's vines, as a matter of fact." 

" Very well ; put ' among M. Raoul's vines,' and sign 
your name, ' Coquelet,' at the bottom." 

" My signature, yes, I can manage that. Monsieur 
Charpillon ; I have taken pains about that. But for 
the writing " 

" Ah, yes, I see. Your hand is a bit given to 
zigzags, eh ? " 

" Oh, if that were all ! . . . Why, I saw the other 
day a printed piece of music that was all zigzags." 

" Who writes your reports usually, then ? " 

" The schoolmaster." 

" Well, then, go and fetch the schoolmaster." 

" He won't be at home to-day ; it's a wliole holiday." 

" Go to-morrow, then." 
i6 



242 MY PETS 

" He won't be there to-morrow either ; it's a half- 
holiday." 

" Coquelet," said Charpillon, frowning sternly, " you're 
inventing excuses to avoid reporting against me ! " 

" Why, yes, Monsieur Charpillon. You see, I draw 
up a report against you to-day, and you're as pleased 
as Punch ! But later on you might not like it so well, 
and I should not like to get into hot water with the 
deputy-mayor, you know." 

" Very well, Coquelet," said Charpillon, " I will take 
the responsibility off your shoulders " — and taking a 
sheet of official paper out of the drawer of his desk, 
Charpillon drew out a full and formal proces verbal, 
that only needed Coquelet's signature to be complete. 
This Coquelet did not hesitate to append, seeing his 
responsibility in a way covered by the fact of his 
superior having written the document. 

The report was duly sent in, and a fortnight later 
Charpillon had to appear before the court at Auxerre. 

There he defended himself — or rather accused 
himself. He admitted the offence, made himself 
responsible for his fowls' depredations, and rebutted 
the extenuating circumstances which the Procureur 
de la Rdpublique insisted on. 

Accordingly, Charpillon was condemned to the 
maximum penalty : to wit, fifteen francs' fine and costs. 

But a great and noble example was given to the com- 
mune of Saint-Bris and all the neighbouring villages. 
And surely a noble example is cheap at fifteen francs ! 

All the same, Charpillon's fowls had some excuse for 
their unseemly conduct. The heavy diet on which 
their master fed them, bringing them little by little 
to the condition of fatted pullets, was proving detrimental 
to their regular laying. What the proces verbal spoke of 
as sheer greediness was really and truly a hygienic pre- 



AN IMPECCABLE MAGISTRATE 243 

caution suggested by Nature herself to the poor birds, Hke 
that which sets dogs eating a particular laxative grass. 

One of our friends, a doctor, and a good doctor too, 
Dr. Drouin, condescended to offer this explanation to 
our modern Aristides — an account of the matter that 
told altogether in favour of the feathered sinners. 

The fact is, the hens were really laying with ever- 
decreasing frequency. Charpillon accordingly gathered 
grapes from the vines, and giving them to his fowls, re- 
established the equilibrium which had been temporarily 
disturbed. 

Not only did the fowls resume their regular laying 
during the grape harvest, but more than that, thanks to 
the lettuce and chicory leaves supplied in lieu of the miss- 
ing grapes, they went on laying in those months when, as 
a rule, the process slackens off or even ceases altogether. 

Charpillon therefore, when inviting me to his shoot- 
ing party, knowing my predilection for fresh eggs, had 
not feared to write — 

"If only you will come, dear Dumas, you shall eat 
eggs such as you have never tasted in all your life." 

Accordingly, I had come to Saint-Bris, not only in 
the hope of seeing a friend I love like a brother, not 
only in the hope of killing hares and partridges galore 
on M. Gaignez's and M. Raoul's lands, but also in the 
expectation of eating such eggs as I had never tasted 
in all my life. 

On the day of my arrival, I am bound to say, my 
fondest hopes, and even Charpillon's own, were more 
than fulfilled : at breakfast appeared the finest possible 
eggs, of the finest possible colour — eggs whose superior 
quality I had ardently appreciated as only an accom- 
plished gourmet can. 

But, alas ! the succeeding days showed a lamentable 
falling off. 



CHAPTER XXXIX 

DISCUSSING THE ERUDITE QUESTION: WAS IT 
THE TOADS TAUGHT THE DOCTORS TO BE 
ACCOUCHEURS, OR THE DOCTORS TAUGHT 
THE TOADS? 

NEXT day, in fact, the daily supply of eggs was 
reduced from eight to three, and even these 
three were found in the highest nests of all. The same 
evening even there, in the most inaccessible laying 
places, nothing at all was to be found. 

Never before had such a thing been known, not 
even at the period when the brahmas and cochin- 
chinese had felt the sorest need of grapes or green 

stuff. 

We did not know whom to suspect ; but it is only 
fair to Charpillon to say this much, that he suspected 
all and sundry before he could believe it was his 
beloved fowls' fault. A certain vague distrust was 
even beginning to penetrate his mind in connection 
with his lad - of - all - work, whom he had hitherto 
implicitly trusted. But at this juncture I saw Michel 
hovering uncertainly about us, 

I knew Michel's little ways, and saw at once he 
wanted to speak to me. I asked him if this was the 
case, and he replied — 

" Yes, sir, I sJwuld just like to say a word or two 
to you." 



244 



AN ERUDITE QUESTION 245 

"In private ? " 

" It would be better certainly, for the sake of 
Pritchard's reputation." 

" Oh ho ! has the scamp been at some of his tricks 
again ? " 

" Does Monsieur remember what his avocat said to 
him one day, when I was there ? " 

" What he said to me, Michel ? Nay, my avocat is 
a man of infinite wit and infinite good sense ; he says 
so many witty and wise things whenever we have a 
talk together that, for all my wishes to remember them 
all, I always end by forgetting some." 

" Well, he told you this : ' Find who profits by the 
crime, and you will find the criminal.' " 

" Yes, I recall that axiom perfectly, Michel. But 
what then ? " 

" Well, sir, who can profit by the stolen eggs if not 
that scoundrel of a Pritchard ? " 

" Pritchard ! So you think it is Pritchard steals the 
eggs ? Come, come ! Pritchard, who will retrieve an 
6gg without breaking the shell ! " 

" Monsieur should say, ' Who used to retrieve . . .' " 

" How so, Michel ? " 

" Pritchard is a beast full of evil instincts, sir ; if he 
doesn't come to a bad end, well, I shall be surprised." 

" So, Michel, Pritchard is fond of eggs ? " 

" As far as that goes. Monsieur is partly to blame." 

" What ! I am to blame because Pritchard is fond 
of eggs ? I am to blame, eh ? " 

" Yes, Monsieur is partly to blame." 

" Well, well, Michel, this is a bit too strong ! It is 
not enough that I am told my writings are perverting 
all my generation, but you must join my detractors 
and tell me my example is ruining Pritchard ! " 

" Does Monsieur remember one day at the Villa 



246 MY PETS 

Medicis when he was eating a boiled egg, and M. 
Rusconi, who was at table, said something so supremely 
silly that Monsieur dropped his egg on the ground ? " 
" Why, had I no egg-cup, then, Michel ? " 
" No, Monsieur ; Alexis had broken them all." 
" So I dropped my egg ? " 
" Yes, sir ; dropped it on the polished floor." 
" Yes, I remember the incident quite well, Michel." 
" And does Monsieur remember calling up Pritchard, 
who was busy tearing up a bed of fuchsias in the 
garden, and making him lick up the remains of the 

egg ? " 

" I do not remember about his tearing up a fuchsia 
bed, Michel, but I do recall having made him lick up 
my egg." 

** Well, sir, that was his undoing — that and nothing 
else." 

" Whose undoing ? " 

" Why, Pritchard's. Oh, he's the sort doesn't want 
showing twice how to go wrong ! " 

" Michel, you really are so long-winded ! " 

" It's no fault of mine ; Monsieur will always inter- 
rupt me." 

" You are right, Michel, and I am wrong. Come 
now, tell me, how did I show Pritchard the way to 
go wrong ? " 

" By making him eat an egg. You understand, the 
creature was as innocent as the new-born babe ; he 
didn't so much as know what an egg was ; he thought 
it was a badly shaped billiard ball ! But then you 
made him eat one ; good ! Now he knows what an 
egg is ! . . . Three days after that, M. Alexandre 
comes to the house, and complains of his dog's being 
heavy-jawed. ' Ah ! Pritchard's the dog,' I tell him, 
' for a tender mouth ! You shall see how he retrieves an 



AN ERUDITE QUESTION 247 

egg without breaking it.' Thereupon I go and fetch 
an egg from the kitchen. I put it down on the grass 
and say to Fritchard, * Go fetch, Pritchard ! ' Prit- 
chard doesn't need to be told twice, but do you know 
what he does then, the cunning beast ? . . . A few 
days before that, M. Chose, you know, who has a 
nervous tic, a sort of spasm, you remember, of the 
jaws " 

" Yes." 

" You remember he came to see you ? " 

" Yes, quite well." 

" Pritchard pretended all the while he noticed 
nothing particular ; but mind you, with his yellow 
eyes, nothing ever escapes him ! Suddenly he pretends 
he's got the same trick as M. Chose, and snap ! there's 
the egg broken. Pritchard, as if ashamed of his 
awkwardness, makes all haste to gulp down the lot — 
white, yolk, and shell. I imagine it's just an accident, 
and go off for another egg ; but he had hardly gone 
three steps with the egg in his jaws when the same 
spasm took him again. Crack ! and the second egg 
was smashed. I begin to suspect something ! Never- 
theless, I go and fetch a third ... if I had gone on, 
sir, I might have cleared the kitchen ! The end was 
that M. Alexandre, who's a fine hand at chaffing, said 
to me, ' I say, Michel, you may possibly train Prit- 
chard to be a good musician or a fine astronomer, but 
you'll never make him anything but a bad broody 
hen ! ' " 

" But how is it you never said a word about this, 
Michel ? " 

" Because I felt humiliated, sir." 

" Oh, come, Michel ! you must not identify your- 
self so much as all that with Pritchard ! " 

" But that's not all." 



248 ]MY PETS 

« What ! not all ? " 

" No ; the scoundrel has grown a perfect fanatic 
after eggs." 

" Pooh, pooh ! " 

" I tell you he was going to devour all M. Acoyer's 
eggs, only M. Acoyer came and informed me about 
it. Where do you suppose he got his foot cut off? " 

" You told me yourself — in some park, where he 
forgot to read the notice to trespassers." 

" Monsieur need not joke ; I believe, for my part, 
the scoundrel knows how to read." 

" Oh, Michel, Michel ! , . . Pritchard has crimes 
enough laid to his charge without being accused of 
that. . . . But to come back to Pritchard's mutilated 
paw. Where do you think the accident happened him, 
Michel ? " 

" Why, in some hen-house, sir." 

" But it was in the night the thing occurred, Michel, 
and at night-time hen-houses are locked up." 

" What difference does that make ? " 

" Come, you are not going to have me believe he 
can get through a hole only big enough for a fowl ! " 

" But, sir, he has no need to get into the hen-houses 
to eat the eggs." 

" Why, how does he manage, then ? " 

" He charms the hens. Look you, sir, Pritchard is 
what they call a ' charmer.' " 

" Why, Michel, you surprise me more and more 
every word you say ! " 

" Yes, sir ! yes, sir ! it's quite true. At the Villa 
Medicis he used to charm the hens ... I thought 
M. Charpillon's hens, which I had heard tell of as quite 
extraordinary and exceptional fowls, would not be so 
foolish as the Villa Medicis ones ; but I see now hens 
are just the same everywhere." 



AN ERUDITE QUESTION 249 

"And you think Pritchard ?" 

" Yes, he charms M. Charpillon's hens ; that's why 
they don't lay — or rather, why they don't lay any 
more except for Pritchard." 

" By the Lord, Michel, I should very much like 
to know how he sets about charming M. Charpillon's 
fowls ! " 

" Doesn't Monsieur know about the manners and 
customs of the batrachians ? " 

I have already mentioned that Michel was a con- 
stant source of admiration to me by reason of his 
acquirements in the domain of Natural History. 

" Good ! " I said. " So now we are getting to the 
toads ! What the deuce has Pritchard to do with 
toads ? " 

" Monsieur is aware that it is the toads who gave 
the doctors lessons in the art and practice of accouche- 
ment, just as it is the frogs taught men to swim ? " 

" Neither one nor the other of these facts is proved 
to my mind, Michel." 

" Still we have the toad acting as accoucheur, there's 
no doubt about that. Does Monsieur suppose it was 
the doctors taught him the trick ? " 

" No, no ; I am quite sure of that much." 

" But it must either have been the toads," retorted 
Michel, " that taught the doctors the art, or the doctors 
that taught the toads. Now, seeing there were toads 
before there were doctors, it is probable it was the 
doctors who learnt the lesson from the toads." 

" Well, after all is said and done, that may be so, 
Michel." 

" Oh, it is so, sir ! I am certain of it." 

" Well, and what then ? Tell me now, what 
possible resemblance is there between Pritchard and 
the accoucheur toad ? " 



250 MY PETS 

" This resemblance, sir — that just as the toad serves 
as accoucheur to the female toad, Pritchard does the 
same to the hens," 

" Bravo, Michel ! you do let your fancy run away 
with you. What a fantastic idea, my man ! " 

" No, sir, no ; not a bit of it ! Get up early to- 
morrow morning ; your window looks out on to the 
hen-house. Peep out through your blind, and you'll 
see . . . well, you'll see something you have never 
seen before, there ! " 

" Why, Michel, to see something I have never seen 
before — I who have seen so many different things, and 
amongst others sixteen changes of Government — not 
only will I gladly get up at any hour you please, but 
I won't go to bed at all, if necessary." 

" There's no need for that, sir ; if Monsieur wishes, ^ 
I'll wake him." 

" Do so, Michel — all the more as we are starting 
for the shooting at six o'clock in the morning, so that 
you won't be robbing me of much sleep after all." 

" Is that agreed ? " 

"Yes, Michel, that's settled. But every night," I 
further objected, ashamed to seem to assent to a thing 
I believed to be a mere hallucination on Michel's part, 
" every night they shut the gate in the trellis separating 
the smaller yard from the main yard ; so how can 
Pritchard get in ? Does he jump over the trellis ? " 

" Monsieur will see, Monsieur will see all in good 
time." 

" What shall I see ? " 

" The truth of the old proverb : ' Tell me how you 
get in, and I'll tell you who you are.' " Michel, it will 
be recollected, was in the habit of introducing sundry 
variations into the generally accepted orthography of 
certain words, and the same holds good of his quotation 



AN ERUDITE QUESTION 251 

of certain proverbs. He had just given me a fresh 
proof of this peculiarity. 

Next morning at daybreak Michel came to wake me. 

"If Monsieur will take up his post of observation," 
he said, " it's time now." 

" Here I am, Michel, here I am ! " I cried, springing 
out of bed. 

" Wait a bit, wait a bit ! ... let me open the 
window softly. If the scoundrel had the smallest 
inkling he was being watched, he wouldn't stir from 
his kennel. Monsieur has no idea how cunning the 
villain is." 

Michel opened the window with all possible pre- 
cautions. Looking between the slats of the blinds, 
one could see perfectly well both the smaller court 
where the hen-house was and Pritchard's kennel. 

The scoundrel, as Michel called him, was lying in 
his kennel, his nose reposing innocently on his two 
paws. 

In spite of all Michel's care in opening the window, 
Pritchard half unclosed one yellow eye, and cast a look 
in the direction from which the sound came. But as 
the noise was slight and momentary, Pritchard con- 
cluded there was no call to take any great notice of it. 

Ten minutes afterwards we heard the hens clucking. 
At the first cluck Pritchard opened not one eye but 
both, stretched himself like a dog waking up, looked 
all round about him, and seeing the yard was entirely 
deserted, slipped into a sort of wood-house, and next 
moment poked his head out at a skylight. 

The yard was as solitary as ever. Then Pritchard 
stepped from the skylight on to the roof. The roof 
sloped very gently, and the dog had no difficulty in 
reaching the part that overhung the smaller yard on 
one side. 



252 MY PETS 

To reach the level of the yard only needed a jump 
of half a dozen feet, and this a downward leap. This 
offered no obstacle to Pritchard ; in the days when he 
had all four paws, he could easily have managed it 
from below upwards. 

Once in the poultry-yard, he lay down flat on his 
belly, his fore- paws wide apart, his nose pointing 
towards the hen-house, and uttered a little friendly cry 
of greeting. 

In a few seconds' time the egg was laid. But we 
had barely time to see it ; it was swallowed before ever 
it touched the ground. 

The bird, once safely delivered, got up on its legs, 
shook its crest, and fell to scratching merrily in the 
dunghill, making way for another, which instantly 
came forward to take its place. 

In this way Pritchard gobbled up four eggs one 
after the other — just as Saturn devoured, under similar 
circumstances, the offspring of Rhea. 

True, Pritchard had the advantage of Saturn on the 
point of morality. It was not his own children he 
was devouring, but creatures of different species from 
his own, and over which he possibly believed he had 
the same rights as mankind, 

" Well," Michel asked me, " Monsieur will cease to 
wonder now that Pritchard has so fine and clear a 
note . . . for Monsieur is aware that singers are in the 
habit of swallowing every morning two eggs just that 
very moment laid to improve their voices ? " 

" Yes ; but what I do not know, Michel, is how 
Pritchard is going to get out of the poultry-yard." 

" You think he's in a fix ? Why, look at him, I 
say " 

" But, Michel " 



" There, do you see what he's after, the scoundrel ? " 



AN ERUDITE QUESTION 253 

The fact is, Pritchard, seeing his morning's harvest 
was gathered in, and possibly because he heard some 
one stirring in the house, got up on his hind leg, and 
passing one of his front paws through the trellis, lifted 
the latch, and so made his exit. 

" And when you think," said Michel, " that if we 
were to ask him why the door of the poultry-yard is 
open, he would declare it's because Pierre forgot to 
shut it yesterday evening ! " 

" You really think he would be base enough to say 
that, Michel ? " 

" Perhaps not to-day, perhaps not to-morrow, 
because, you see, he's not yet full grown, — dogs, you 
know, continue to grow till four years old, — but one 
day, one day, don't you be surprised to hear him 
speak. . , . Ah ! the scoundrel ; it's not Pritchard we 
should call him, but brigand, bandit ! " 



CHAPTER XL 

IN WHICH PRITCHARD HAS THE CALAMITY TO 
ENCOUNTER A CANON FULBERT WITHOUT 
HAVING MET A H^LOiSE 

THIS achievement, of which our host was informed 
just as we were starting for the day's shooting, 
stirred him more to wonder and admiration than to 
sympathy with Pritchard. It was agreed that, directly 
we got back, the dog should be put in the stable, and 
the door bolted and padlocked. 

Pritchard, without the least suspicion of what was 
plotting against him, was running on ahead along the 
high-road, lashing the air with his tail. 

The sportsmen had meantime taken up their 
positions. 

" You know," Charpillon said to me, " that neither 
men nor dogs must trespass among the vines. Gaignez 
as Mayor and myself as Deputy are bound to give a 
good example. So keep an eye on Pritchard." 

" Very good," said I ; " we will look after him." 

But Michel, coming up to me — 

" If I might advise Monsieur," he said, " while we 
are still only a short way from the house, you would 
give me leave to take Pritchard home. I have a notion 
he'll get us into some scrape about the vines." 

" Make your mind easy, Michel ; I have thought of a 
way." 

2bi 



POOR PRITCHARD AGAIN 255 

Michel took off his straw hat and made me a 
bow. 

" I knew Monsieur was clever, very clever ; but I 
didn't know he was so clever as all that," he said. 

" You will see." 

" In that case," insisted Michel, " Monsieur must 
make haste ; there's Pritchard in mischief already." 

It was so ; Pritchard had just dashed in among 
some vines. Next instant a covey of partridges rose. 

" Hold your dog in ! " shouted Gaignez. 

" Certainly, Monsieur le Maire," I called back — and 
I called to Pritchard to come to heel. 

But Pritchard knew very well what he had to expect 
when he had been indulging in pranks of this sort, and 
he pretended to be deaf as a post. 

" Catch him," I ordered Michel ; and away he went 
in pursuit of the dog. Ten minutes after he returned 
holding Pritchard in a leash. 

Meanwhile I had picked out a vine-prop that was as 
much longer than the general run of vine-props as the 
middle pin is taller than the others in a set of ninepins. 
It was perhaps five feet long — a short stature for a 
man, but a great length for a vine-prop. This I tied 
on to the animal's neck crosswise, and let him go thus 
ornamented. 

But Pritchard did not give me the satisfaction I had 
expected in the way of enjoying his embarrassment ; 
he realised at once that with such an arrangement it 
was out of the question for him to go amongst the 
vines. He kept along the outside just far enough away 
from the vines for his vine-prop not to knock against 
them, dashing forward all the more swiftly as he had 
open ground to run on. 

From that moment it was one oft-repeated cry all 
along the line — 



256 MY PETS 

" Call in your dog Pritchard ; call him in, I say ! He 
has just put up a covey of partridges a hundred yards 
ahead of me ! " 

" Great God ! mind your confounded dog ! He has 
just started a hare for me clean out of range," 

" I say, would you very much object if I put a 
charge of shot into your damned animal ? There's no 
getting any shooting with that brute about." 

" Michel," I ordered, " catch Pritchard again," 

" Didn't I tell you so, sir ? Fortunately, we are still 
pretty near the house, so that I can easily take him 
home again," 

" No, no ; I have another happy thought," 

" To stop his running ? " 

" Well, I had one, anyway, to prevent his going 
among the vines ! " 

" Yes, I must say you were successful there ; but for 
the other — unless Monsieur puts hobbles on him as 
they do with a horse at grass " 

" You are warm, Michel, decidedly warm ! . . . only 
catch Pritchard for me." 

" Well and good ! " said Michel, " 'pon my word ! 
what we are doing is as good sport as shooting " — 
and he started off, yelling " Pritchard ! Pritchard ! " 

Before long I saw him coming back dragging the 
dog along by his vine-prop. The animal was sidling 
along, a partridge in his jaws, 

" There, look at the thief ! You see he's beginning 
his tricks again," cried Michel. 

" That must be the bird Cabasson has just shot ; I 
can see him searching for it," 

** Yes, and Pritchard has collared it. I wanted to 
bring the scoundrel to you red-handed." 

" Well, put Cabasson's partridge in your game-bag ; 
we will give him a pleasant surprise." 



POOR rRITCHARD AGAIN 257 

" Ah ! but what vexes me," observed Michel, " is the 
opinion the scamp has of you." 

"What, Michel, so you think Pritchard has a bad 
opinion of me ? " 

" Why, yes, sir, a very low opinion." 
" And what makes you think that ? " 
" His actions." 
" Explain, Michel." 

" Look here, sir ; do you suppose Pritchard does not 
know, in his soul and conscience, that, when he brings 
you a bird killed by another gun, it's a theft he's 
committing? " 

" Why, yes, I think he has some suspicion to that 
effect, Michel." 

" Very well, sir, once he knows he is a thief, he 
takes you for a receiver of stolen goods, eh ? Now, 
sir, remember what the Code says : Receivers are on 
the same footing as thieves and deserve the same 
penalties." 

" Michel, you open up a whole horizon of new 
terrors ! But there, we are going to try to cure him 
of running, and when that is accomplished he will be 
cured of thieving." 

" Never, sir ; you will never cure that scoundrel of 
his vices." 

" But in that case, Michel, we shall have to kill him." 
" Oh, I don't say that, sir ! for indeed at bottom I 
am fond of the beggar ! But we might ask M. Isidore 
Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, who spends his life among the 
most noxious animals, if he cannot think of some 
remedy." 

" Look here, Michel, I think / have got hold of one." 

As I spoke, I passed Pritchard's right front paw 

through his collar; in this way, the right front leg 

being closely attached to the dog's neck, while the 

17 



258 MY PETS 

left hind leg was, as we know, cut off at the joint, 
Pritchard had only two legs left — the left fore leg 
and the right hind leg. 

" Well ! " exclaimed Michel, " if he can get along 
now, he must have the devil inside him, that's all ! " 

" Let him go, Michel." 

Michel released the dog accordingly. The animal 
stood still a moment in uncertainty and surprise, as if 
trying to get his balance. 

This secured, he began to walk away, then to trot ; 
very soon, getting more and more confident of his 
equilibrium, he started off at a gallop, running faster, 
not a doubt of it, on his two legs than another dog 
would have done with four. 

" Well, what do you think of that, sir ? " asked Michel. 

" It is his confounded vine-prop that serves him as 
a balancing-pole," I replied, in a tone of considerable 
disappointment. 

" There's a fortune to be made out of that scamp," 
said Michel ; " it's only a matter of teaching him to 
dance on the tight-rope, and taking him about from 
fair to fair." 

"If you really think so, Michel, you shall put up a 
rope across the lawn and train him as an acrobat. The 
worthy Madame Saqui is a friend of mine, and I will 
ask her to let us enter Pritchard as her pupil. She 
will not refuse me a little favour like that." 

" Oh yes, joke away, sir. But, hark ! do you hear 
that ? " 

The most awful imprecations sounded from all 
quarters against Pritchard — and these curses, loud and 
deep, were presently followed by the noise of a shot, 
and then by an agonised yelp. 

" That's Pritchard's voice, I know," said Michel. 
" Good ! it's only what the brute deserved." 



POOR PRITCHARD AGAIN 259 

Next moment Pritchard reappeared, carrying a 
hare in his mouth. 

" Why, you said you recognised Pritchard's voice, 
Michel ? " 

" Yes, I would take my oath I did." 

" But how could he give tongue, holding a hare in 
his mouth, eh ? " 

Michel scratched his ear. 

" All the same it zaas Pritchard gave voice," he 
declared. " And more by token — look ! he has hardly 
strength left to bring in the hare." 

" Go and see what's wrong, Michel," — and the man 
ran off to do as he was told. 

" Oh, sir ! " he cried, " I knew I was right. The 
sportsman whose hare he appropriated has sent a 
charge of shot after the poor beast. His hind quarters 
are streaming with blood ! " 

" So much the worse for him ! this will cure him 
perhaps. But, all the same, I should like to know how 
he contrived to give tongue while he held the hare in 
his mouth." 

" Better ask M. Charpillon. Look ! there he comes, 
running after his hare." 

" You know I have just let him have it hot behind, 
your precious Pritchard ? " Charpillon shouted out to 
me the moment he saw me. 

" Never mind ; I say you have done quite right." 

" He was marching off with my hare ! " 

" I tell you," put in Michel, " there's no way of 
curinrf the thief. He's worse than Cartouche ! " 

" But if he was marching off with your hare, as you 
say, he had it in his mouth, I suppose ? " 

" Why ! where would you have him hold it ? " 

" But how, if he held your hare in his mouth, could 
he give tongue ? Tell me that ! " 



260 MY PETS 

" He put it down on the ground to give voice, and 
then picked it up again." 

" Well, well," said Michel, " isn't he a cunning brute, 
now, isn't he ? " 

By this time Pritchard had come up to me with his 
hare ; but once there, he had collapsed on the ground. 

" Deuce take it ! " said Charpillon, " can I have 
hurt him more seriously than I intended ? I fired at 
more than a hundred yards," 

Then, without giving another thought to his hare, 
Charpillon began to examine what injury he might 
have brought about in Pritchard's rearward arrange- 
ments. 

The damage turned out to be serious. The dog 
had received five or six pellets of shot in the posterior 
portion of his person. 

" Oh, poor beast, poor beast ! " exclaimed Charpillon, 
" I would not, for all the hares on earth, have fired 
that shot if I had known " 

" Pooh ! " said Michel, " something worse happened 
to Abelard — and he didn't die of it." 

The end was that, three weeks later, which he 
spent under the care of the Veterinary at Saint- 
Germain, Pritchard returned to Monte Cristo, perfectly 
cured and his tail waving in the wind as of old. 

" Well ? " I asked Michel. 

" Well, sir," he replied oracularly, " all I can say is : 
half a loaf is better than none at all ! " 

" So far, so good ! " — and I made all haste to send 
the good news to Charpillon. 



1 •».*'• • » ■' 







I'KITCHAKU HAD COLLAl'SEU ON THE GROUND 



CHAPTER XLI 

A SCENE IN THE CHAMBER 

ABOUT the same time at which the calamitous 
accident I have just related befell Pritchard, 
a dreadful storm broke out in the Chamber of Deputies. 

" Against whom ? " you ask. 

Against me — and nobody else. 

The National Representatives, who had certainly 
never been intended for any such purpose, were so 
extremely kind as to busy their heads with poor me. 

" About what ? " will be your second question. 

About that famous journey to Spain and Africa, 
the cost of which we shared together, the Government 
and myself, the former contributing ten thousand 
francs and I forty thousand. 

Every day of the year men were sent on official 
missions, and every day war-vessels lent for their 
conveyance ; but these were unknown, obscure indi- 
viduals. So there was nothing to be said. 

But for me — that was a very different matter ! 
The fact is, at that date these parliamentary gentlemen 
were furiously angry with us, — and not without good 
reason, you must allow. 

Eugene Sue was issuing the Mysteres de Paris, 

Souli^ the Mimoires du Diable, Balzac his Cousin Pons, 

I was bringing out Monte-Cristo ; the result was that 

the public paid scant attention to prominent politicians, 

2(a 



262 MY PETS 

hardly any at all to the discussions in the Chamber, 
reserving all their interest for the current feuilletons. 

The further result was that the worthies of the 
Chamber were bitterly jealous of ihe, feuilletonists^ and 
cried out in scandalised protest against the supposed 
immorality of these productions as loudly as they 
were accustomed to shout against breaches of order 
in the House — and Heaven knows that is loud enough ! 

So great was the danger to morals, according to 
them, that they ended by clapping a tax on the 
feuilletons which they had refused to put on dogs. 
This, by the bye, was a fortunate thing for me, seeing 
I had at that particular time only three or four 
feuilletons running at once on any one day, whereas, 
thanks to Pritchard's generous invitations, I had some- 
times as many as thirteen or fourteen dogs to 
dinner. 

Once the feuilletons were duly stamped, they had 
no more objections to raise ; the tax had made them 
perfectly moral in a moment. 

But still our excellent Representatives were furious 
at heart. The feuilleton still continued its triumphant 
course. It now carried a black or red ear-mark ; it 
cost the newspaper in which it appeared two or three 
hundred francs more, — in other words, it brought in to 
the Government twice as much as it gave the author, 
which is a highly moral arrangement ; but neither 
readers nor journals could dispense \v\\h feuilletons. 

There were even certain papers whose readers took 
them in solely for the sake of the feuilletons, the 
result of which was that the said journals were even 
more furiously angry than the gentlemen of the 
Chamber. 

This was the reason why, whenever I produced a 
drama or a comedy, I was even more savagely cut 



A SCENE IN THE CHAMBER 263 

up in those journals which I supplied with, feuilleions 
than in those in which my stones did not appear. I 
may mention the Steele^ to which I contributed 
successively: the Corricolo, the Chevalier d'Harmentaly 
the Trois Mousqiietaires, Vingt Ans Apres, and the 
Vico))ite dc Bragelonne. 

Yet all the while the Sikle had found in the 
insertion of the books 1 have named no small com- 
pensation to make up for the obnoxious tax ; for the 
two or three years my stories had run in this paper, 
it had been enabled to maintain the smaller size of 
sheet without loss of clientele. 

I had a fine reward for all my trouble when 
Bragelonne was finished. The authorities of the Steele 
put a blank agreement before my fellow-author Scribe. 
They thought they had done with me, that I was 
written out, and so they applied to some one else. 

I had been so ambitious as to ask for rayfeuilletons, 
and the five years' copyright that was to follow, five 
thousand francs a volume, and they had thought this 
a very high price. 

Scribe for his part modestly demanded seven 
thousand, and they held this was not enough seem- 
ingly ; for they made him a present, to clench the 
bargain, of a silver-gilt inkstand and gold pen. 

From this silver-gilt inkstand and this gold pen 
came Piquillo Alliaga ! 

I consoled myself by proceeding to contribute Queen 
Margot, the Dame de Monsoreau, and the Chevalier de 
Maison-Roiige to La Presse, Le Constitiitionnel, and La 
Democratie Pacifiqiie respectively. 

A strange fate that of the Chevalier de Maison-Rouge, 
which, originally contributed to a Republican paper, was 
to be so helpful to the Republic that, under the Republic, 
the Director of the Beaux Arts forbade its publication. 



264 MY PETS 

for fear it might, after assisting to create the Republican 
Government, further help to keep it in existence ! 

However, to come back to the virtuous rage of the 
Chamber of Deputies. One morning the storm broke, 
and the lightning descended, not on a lightning-rod or 
an oak of the forest, but on me, a poor, feeble reed. 

One fine day a vexatious attack was made on M. de 
Salvandy as to the ten thousand francs which he had 
added to my forty thousand, and a similar storm 
raised against the King about the twelve thousand 
francs' worth of coal he had burnt for me, and an 
accusation levelled against him of undue partiality for 
men of letters. 

Poor Louis Philippe ! he had been very often 
accused, and very unjustly, but never more unjustly 
than on this count ! 

Nor was this all. A Deputy, a very serious man — 
so serious, indeed, he could actually look at himself 
in the glass without laughing — declared solemnly that 
the French flag had been degraded by giving us the 
protection of its shadow. 

Two other Deputies chimed in ; and the whole 
opposition applauded. 

The same evening the three orators received each of 
them a communication — 

M. *, a letter signed by me ; 

M. * *, a letter signed by Maquet ; 

M. * * *, a letter signed by Desbarrolles. 

Not trusting the post, and determined these letters 
should be duly delivered, we sent each of them by the 
hands of two friends, with injunctions to hand them 
severally to the several recipients. My two friends 
were Frederic Soulic and Guyet-Desfontaines. 

I had chosen M. Guyet-Desfontaines for two reasons : 
because he was my country neighbour at Marly, and 



A SCENE IN THE CHAMBER 265 

also because his seat was next to M. *'s at the 
Palais Bourbon. Thus I could be certain of M. * 
receiving my letter. 

This epistle was in the simplest words ; there was no 
possibility of misunderstanding it. It ran as follows : — 

" Sir, — Parliament has its privileges, the Tribune its 
rights ; but to every privilege and every right there are 
limits. 

" These limits you have overstepped with regard to me. 

" I have the honour to demand satisfaction. 

"Alex. Dumas" 

If I have made any minor error, M. * can set me 
right, as he is still living. 

The other two letters were conceived in almost 
identical terms. The style of all these was laconic, 
but perfectly plain. 

The three replies were equally plain, and even more 
laconic — 

" We make our appeal to the inviolability of the 
Tribune." 

There was no more to be said. 

True, each of us had eight or ten friends on the 
Press, each armed with a pen, the point of which we 
could feel from time to time like the sting of a wasp. 
But not one of them stirred a finger. 

But I had a friend of the opposite sex. 

A piece of advice, dear readers ; directly you put 
pen to paper to write anything more than your 
domestic accounts, have friends of the gentler sex, 
never of the sterner. 

Yes, I had a friend, — a good friend indeed. Her 
name was Madame Emile de Girardin. 

It is not so long the adorable being has been in the 



266 MY PETS 

grave ; you cannot have forgotten her yet. Oh no ! 
all must remember that charming personality, that 
mind of almost masculine vigour, that intellect that 
covered the triple octave of grace and wit and power. 

Well, woman as she was, she did what no man had 
dared, or rather, had chosen, to do. 

Throughout all the parliamentary discussion, where- 
of I had been, if not the hero, at any rate the object, 
not once had my name been mentioned. I had been 
referred to, not even as M. *, M. * *, or M. * * *, 
as I have named the three Deputies who had more 
specially devoted their attention to me at that 
memorable sitting, — but monsieur shortly and simply, 
or sometimes, by way of variety, le monsieur or ce 
monsieur. 

The moment the inviolability of the Tribune was 
called in force, they might call me what they pleased. 

Well, Madame de Girardin took by the collar the 
most aggressive of my three assailants, and with her 
pretty hand, plump and white and rosy-nailed, she 
shook him, — how she shook him. . . . But there, 
why should I not give you the gratification of showing 
you how she did shake the poor wretch ? 

It is a woman's writing ; but Madame de Girardin and 
Madame Sand have accustomed us to these miracles — 

"... But at the same time we must be just, 
and we are bound to recognise that, for all his 
mistakes, M. Dumas has more than one good and 
adequate excuse. He has, to begin with, the fiery 
ardour of his imagination, the fever of his ancestral 
African blood ; and, furthermore, he has an excuse 
everybody cannot plead — the intoxication of glory. 
Yes, we should greatly like to see you, you sober, 
reasonable people, involved in the whirlpool that carries 
him along ; we should like to see what sort of a 



A SCENE IN THE CHAMBER 267 

figure you would cut if they came to you suddenly to 
offer you three francs a line for your tiresome scrawls. 
Oh ! how uplifted you would be ! what magnificent 
airs you would assume ! how your heads would be 
turned ! how frantic would be your delight ! So be 
more indulgent for errors of taste, for outpourings of 
proud conceit such as you know nothing of and are 
incapable of understanding ! 

" But if we can find excuses for Alexandre Dumas' 
hotheadedness, we can find none for the wanton attack 
made on him in the Chamber of Deputies by M. 
* * *. In this case neither the ardour of imagina- 
tion, nor the fever of African blood, nor the 
intoxication of glory, can explain this strange 
forgetfulness of what is seemly and becoming in 
a man so well born, so well brought up, who belongs 
to the most distinguished section of Parisian society. 

" Contractor for feuilletons ! Yes, the vulgar herd 
may call him that, it is very possible ; but then the 
vulgar herd thinks that necessarily the man who 
writes much writes ill ; the vulgar herd, to which 
everything is difficult, has a horror of all talent that 
finds difficulties easy. It holds that, if an author's 
works are numerous, they must be trumpery ; having 
no time to read all the new romances Alexandre 
Dumas finds time to publish, it supposes those it has 
read are the only meritorious and delightful ones, 
while all the rest are detestable, and explains his 
marvellous fecundity of output by an assumed 
mediocrity of talent. That the common herd should 
fail to comprehend the wondrous possibilities of genius 
is simple enough, is only what might be expected ; 
but that a young Deputy, one who is reputed a man 
of wit and intelligence, should thoughtlessly take the 
side of the vulgar crowd and go out of his way to 



268 MY PETS 

make an uncalled-for and useless attack on a man 
of incontestable ability, of European celebrity, without 
ever having weighed his merits, or examined the 
nature of his talents, or reflected whether he really 
and truly deserved the cruel description it pleased 
him, in his irony, to bestow on him, this is an instance 
of reckless injustice that amazes — or should we rather 
say, shocks and disgusts us. 

" Since when has it been usual to reproach talent 
with the facility of its exercise as with a crime, if this 
facility in no way militates against the perfection of 
the result ? What cultivator of the soil ever alleged 
its fertility as a fault against the rich land of Egypt ? 
Who ever blamed its harvests for their precocious 
maturity, and refused to reap its superb crops under 
pretext that they had budded, germinated, grown, 
and ripened in an incredibly short space of time ? 
Just as there are favoured soils, so there are specially 
privileged individuals. A man is not blameworthy 
because he is unduly endowed by nature ; the crime 
is not in possessing these precious gifts, but in abusing 
them. Moreover, for true artists who consider Alex- 
andre Dumas and who have studied his astonishing 
talent with the interest every skilled physiologist is 
bound to take in every exceptional phenomenon, this 
amazing facility of production ceases to be an in- 
explicable mystery. 

" This rapidity of composition is like the speed of 
locomotion attained on railways. Both have the 
same principles, the same causes, — an extreme facility 
won by vanquishing immense difficulties. You travel 
sixty leagues in three hours ; it seems nothing, and 
you laugh at having performed so swift a journey. 
But think, to what do you owe this rapidity of travel, 
this facility of transport ? To years of formidable 



A SCENE IN THE CHAMBER 269 

efforts, to millions spent like water, expended in 
profusion all along the levelled track, to thousands 
of arms employed during thousands of days in clearing 
a way for your passage. You fly past so swiftly as 
to be almost invisible ; but to enable you to go so 
fast one day, how many men have worked and watched, 
plied pickaxe and spade ! how many plans have been 
made and abandoned ! how much arduous thought, how 
much wearing anxiety, expended on making the way 
easy which you traverse in a few short minutes with- 
out the smallest pains or trouble ! . . . Well, so it is 
with the talent of Alexandre Dumas. Each volume he 
writes represents immense preliminary labours, endless 
studies, a world-wide knowledge. Dumas did not 
possess this facility twenty years ago, because he did 
not then know what he knows now. But since then 
he has learnt everything, forgotten nothing ; his 
memory is appalling, his outlook infallible ; he 
possesses, to guess right, instinct, experience, recol- 
lection ; he sees true, compares swiftly, understands 
intuitively. He knows by heart all he has read, he 
has kept in his brain all the pictures his retina has 
reflected. The most grave matters of history, the 
most insignificant of the oldest memoirs, he remembers 
them all ; he speaks familiarly of the manners and 
customs of all ages and all countries ; he knows the 
names of all weapons, all dresses, all forms of furniture 
in use since the creation of the world, of all the dishes 
ever eaten, from the rude Spartan broth to the last 
dainties concocted by Careme. If he has to describe 
a hunt, he is acquainted with every word in the 
Dictionnaire des Chasseurs better than a Grand Hunts- 
man ; if a duel, he is better instructed than Grisier ; 
if a carriage accident, he will tell you all the technical 
terms as well as Binder or Baptiste. 



270 MY PETS 

" When other authors write, they are stopped every 
other instant by a question to be resolved, a piece of 
information to be looked up, a doubt to be settled, 
something forgotten, some obstacle or other. But he 
is delayed by nothing ; besides which, the habit of 
writing for the stage gives him the greatest agility 
of composition. He draws a scene as quickly as 
Scribe scribbles off a piece for the theatre. Add to 
all this a brilliant wit, a gaiety and verve that are 
inexhaustible, and you will perfectly understand how, 
with such resources, a man can attain in his work an 
almost incredible rapidity, without ever sacrificing the 
appropriateness of his diction, without even spoiling 
the quality and sterling merits of his production. 

" And it is a man of this kind they call un monsieur ! 
Why ! that implies some one unknown, a man who has 
never written a good book, who has never performed 
a good action or said a noble word, a man France 
knows nothing of, whose name Europe has never heard. 
No doubt, M. Dumas is much less a marquis than 
]y[^ # # # . |3u|- M. "^ * * is much more tm monsieur 
than Alexandre Dumas ! " 

There, did I not tell you, dear readers, that in 
literature it was far better to have friends of the 
gentler than of the sterner sex ! 



CHAPTER XLIl 

DEALS WITH THE REVOLUTION OF FEBRUARY, 
AND THE INFLUENCE EXERTED BY THAT 
EVENT ON ANIMALS AND MEN 



AFTER the political digression we have indulged 
in a propos of my African journey, let us come 
back now to my animals, which meantime, thank God ! 
were thinking of anything rather than the Chambers 
of Parliament, of which, honest beasts ! they had never 
so much as heard. 

Fortunately neither did the Chambers ever think 
of my pets ; else, after doing me the honour of 
interfering in my affairs, they would certainly have 
done the same with them. 

Heaven preserve me from speaking ill of a fallen 
leader or a form of government that exists no more ; 
but it was a strange machine, that contrivance with three 
driving-wheels, whereof one was called Mole, the other 
Guizot, and the third Thiers, — an engine that could only 
work by the help of one of these wheels, which, directly 
it was started, found itself blocked by the two others. 

The reader will remember the famous tavern score 
which the Prince of Wales finds in the pocket of the 
tipsy Falstaff- — 

"A turkey .... Three shillings. 



A goose 
Ham 
Beer 
Bread 



Two shillings. 
One shilling. 
Six shillings. 
One penny." 



271 



272 MY PETS 

Well, for eighteen years our constitutional politics 
are not unlike Falstaff's score, thus — 

Mole and his concerns . Six years. 

Guizot and his concerns . Six years. 

Thiers and his concerns . Five years, nine months, and three weeks. 

France and her concerns . One week. 

From which we must deduct the three days of Feb- 
ruary, during which France looked after her concerns 
herself. 

One day I will tell the story of the Revolution 
of February, as I have told that of the Revolution 
of July ; for, from the very fact of my having taken 
a less active part in the former, I perhaps enjoyed 
a better view of what was going on. 

But for the time being, as 1 said, I have to do with 
innocent creatures that have neither fall of Ministry 
nor overthrow of Throne to reproach themselves with ; 
I have to speak of poor Pritchard, who had only three 
legs left, and who had just lost an eye in this Revolu- 
tion of February. 

How came Pritchard, of whom there has never been 
any question whatever in the two volumes of Lamartine 
or in the Revue Retrospective of M. Taschereau, to have 
lost an eye in the Revolution of February ? Was it 
on the Boulevard des Capucines ? or was it at the 
attack on the Pont Tournant ? 

Pritchard lost an eye because, curiosity having 
drawn me to Paris to see what was going on there, 
and having called Michel for the same reason to 
Saint-Germain, no one had remembered to give him 
his daily feed and regular supply of bones. The 
consequence was that he had made a raid on the 
vulture's pittance, and the bird which, like Prometheus' 
vulture, had no tolerance for any trifling with his heart, 



THE REVOLUTION OF FEBRUARY 273 

liver and lights, had given Pritchard a well-directed 
blow with his beak that had neatly knocked out 
an eye. 

The dog was henceforth — unless one was ready 
to bear endless chaff from fellow-sportsmen — out 
of the question for shooting purposes. 

Fortunately for Pritchard I did not share the 
opinion of Cato Major, — for whose views or morals 
I must confess I feel only a moderate degree of 
admiration, — who says : " Sell your horse when he is 
old, and your slave when he is infirm ; the longer you 
delay, the more you will lose on each of the pair." 

Nor could I have found a purchaser if 1 Jiad wished 
to sell the animal, nor any one obliging enough to take 
him, if I had wanted to give him away. Thus there 
was only one thing left me to do, — viz. to con- 
stitute this old servant, bad servant though I con- 
sidered him to have been, an inmate of the house, 
a retired veteran, in a word a friend. 

Doubtless some will tell me, as I was within a few 
yards of the river, it would have been the simplest 
plan just to tie a stone round his neck and chuck 
him in. 

This is what Cato would most likely have done. 
But there, I am not an ancient Roman ; and the 
Plutarch who will write my biography in days to come, 
will not fail to say, in modern phraseology, that I was 
indeed a bottomless basket, of course forgetting to add 
the qualification that it was not always myself who had 
knocked the bottom out. 

Further, you will tell me there was nothing easier 
than to replace Pritchard, that I had merely to descend 
the slope of the hill, cross the bridge of Le Pecq, make 
for the Forest of Le Vesinet, march into Vatrin's house 
and buy of him a good, honest, French pointer, such as 
i8 



274 MY PETS 

we are in the habit of using in our own country, instead 
of an EngHsh dog. 

But I have my answer — as I always have — that 
albeit not so poor as to drown poor Pritchard, I was 
not rich enough to afford to buy another dog. 

Needless to say that, at the noise made by journals 
bearing such names as the Pere Duchesne, the Guillotine, 
the Republique Rouge, literature of a purely historical 
and picturesque scope had fallen to the lowest possible 
figure. 

So, instead of pursuing literature, I had founded a 
paper called Le Mais, and collaborated in the production 
of another entitled La Libejie. 

All this brought in thirty-one francs a day. But 
then the Theatre-Historique was still on my hands, 
and this absorbed anything from a hundred to five 
hundred of the same coins. 

True, I had one chance left ; waging as I did, in 
my two journals, a war to the knife with MM. Barbes, 
Blanqui, and Ledru-Rollin, I had a fair chance of being 
knocked on the head, one day or another, by the 
partisans of those gentlemen. 

It was plainly a question of instituting a great 
reform in my household expenses. I sold my three 
horses and my two carriages for a quarter of what I 
had given for them. I made a present to the Jardin 
des Plantes of the " Last of the Laidmanoirs," of Potich, 
and Mademoiselle Desgarcins. I was likely to be 
turned out of house and home, but anyway my 
monkeys were to be transferred to a palace. After 
revolutions, it happens sometimes that apes are lodged 
like princes, and princes like apes. Unless, indeed, the 
princes have terrified Europe, — in which case they are 
honoured by being caged like lions. 

So from henceforth, dear readers, you must bid 



THE REV OLUTION OF FEBRUARY 275 

good-bye to the bursts of passion of the " Last of the 
Laidmanoirs," the fits of melancholy of Potich, and the 
outbreaks of caprice of Mademoiselle Desgarcins, to 
whom I had now no more bottles of soda-water to 
give, happy if only I had clear water left to drink, 
at a time when so many folks who had won instead 
of lost by the last change of government were forced 
to drink very muddy stuff. 

As for Mysouff, he was treated as a political 
prisoner ; though as a matter of fact his confinement, 
it will be remembered, had a much less honourable 
origin, he regained his liberty by reason of present 
events. 

There still remained Diogenes. This, the reader 
may recollect, was the name given by Michel to the 
vulture, in virtue of the tub in which it had taken 
up its residence. Well, he was despatched to the 
Restaurant Henri IV as a present to my friend and 
neighbour Collinet, my rival in the culinary art, and 
the populariser, if not the inventor, of cotelettes a la 
bearnaise. Go and order breakfast there, wash down 
the aforesaid cutlets with champagne, and see what a 
famous meal you will have ! 

To say nothing of the fact that, on entering and 
leaving the house, you may have the opportunity of 
seeing Diogenes — no longer in his tub, but mounted 
on a perch. 

At Collinet's, Diogenes was in a veritable land 
of plenty. The bird prospered hugely in health and 
good looks, and by way of testifying proper gratitude, 
it lays him an ^g'g every year — a thing the creature 
had never dreamt of doing when an inmate of my 
establishment. 

That year all thoughts of sport had to be given up. 
Houses, lands, coaches, horses, all had fallen to zero ; 



276 MY PETS 

but shooting licences had remained at exactly the same 
price, to wit five-and-tvventy francs. 

If I had treated myself to a gun licence in the year 
of grace 1848, I should have had left over that day only 
six francs, which would not have sufficed for the needs 
of such people and such animals as were still remaining 
in the house. 

So Pritchard was requested to discontinue those 
invitations to dinner which in happier days he had 
been in the habit of issuing on the road from Saint- 
Germain to Marly. 

Not that the order was in the least necessary ; 
Pritchard's guests, once they had tasted the black broth 
of his present menu, never came back a second time ! 



CHAPTER XLIII 
MY BEST PLAY AND MY BEST FRIEND 

IT was in the course of this same year that I visited 
the Department of the Yonne and made the 
acquaintance of my two excellent shooting comrades, 
Gaignez and Charpillon. But for this particular year, 
as I have said before, there was no use thinking of 
sport. 

No, I am wrong ; on the contrary, I enjoyed some 
of the roughest sport I had ever known — hunting for 
votes ! 

I have already related how, nine hundred individuals 
having been found in France more intelligent than 
myself, I had come back having mulled my shot, as we 
say in sporting language. 

Yet in offering myself to the electors, I was making 
a genuine sacrifice for my country. As Deputy, I 
should only receive twenty-five francs a day, while as 
Journalist, I could go on making one-and-thirty. 

This state of things lasted a year, — I am speaking 
of my own financial position, not of the general state 
of the country. During this year I saw the accom- 
plishment of the fifteenth change of government at 
which I have been present since the day of my 
birth. 

About August 25, 1849, I found I had to face 
the world with a sum of three hundred francs. As 

277 



278 MY PETS 

this may seem incredible in these days of scarcity and 
distress, let me explain at once I had neither borrowed 
nor stolen the money. 

No, I had written a play called Le Comte Hermann. 

So many impossible fables that everybody pretends 
to believe grow up about each drama of mine that sees 
the light that I am not sorry to have the opportunity 
of describing in some detail the genesis of this par- 
ticular production. 

One day, one of my fellow-workers, Lefebvre by 
name, came to me bringing me a comedy that had 
been accepted at the Vaudeville and bearing as title : 
Ufie Vieille Jeunesse. 

In spite of all protests, he read it to me, begging 
me to recast the piece and become his collaborator. I 
have always had a horror of collaboration, and yet 
so yielding is my temper I have again and again 
allowed myself to be over-persuaded. 

This time I held out, and though I could glimpse 
as through a fog the five Acts of a fine, impressive 
play that would bear no sort of resemblance to the 
petty comedy in three acts that Lefebvre was reading 
out to me, I told him point-blank — 

" I will not work on your play. Bring it out, as it 
has been accepted ; make all the money you can out 
of it, and when the management has done with it, 
/ will give you a thousand francs for your plot." 

Lefebvre seemed dimly to see a way of extracting 
more money from his piece after it was dead than he 
ever hoped to get from it when alive. So he made 
me repeat my offer, which he could not make head 
or tail of. I did so ; then he understood and instantly 
accepted. 

Six months afterwards, the piece had had its little 
run and was fallen dead ; the author brought me the 



BEST PLAY AND BEST FRIEND 279 

corpse. The play had not even attained the honour 
of print. 

As I always do, I let the thing lie by me till the 
inspiration seized me. Then one fine morning the 
Comte Hermann found itself finished and complete in 
my head. A week later, it was down on paper ; a 
month more and it was walking the boards of the 
Th^atre-Historique in the person of Melingue, sup- 
ported by Madame Person and Laferriere. It was 
one of my best plays, and proved one of my most 
conspicuous successes. 

To make a long story short, thanks to this triumph, 
I found myself, as I said, about August 25, the 
proud possessor of a sum of three hundred francs. 

Just then I heard tell of a certain M. Bertram as 
having a shooting to let in the neighbourhood of 
Melun. I hurried off to find him ; he occupied a 
fourth-floor apartment in the Rue des Marais-Saint- 
Germain. 

The shooting did not belong to him, it appeared, 
but to M. de Montesquieu. His price was eight 
hundred francs. We discussed the terms for a bit, 
and finally he let me the shooting at six hundred 
francs, but on one condition. 

I was to set out next day, with a line from him, 
go round the property accompanied by the game- 
keeper, to whom the note was addressed, assure myself 
of the head of game on the ground, and if satisfied, we 
would then sign at the price mentioned. 

Accordingly, next morning I took Fritchard with 
me, shouldered my gun, put a dozen cartridges in my 
pocket, and took the train for Melun. 

Arrived there, I inquired for the place where my 
shooting was situated, and for five francs engaged a 
conveyance to take me there and bring me back. 



280 MY PETS 

The harvest had been exceptionally early that year, 
so that in the Department of the Seine, and the neigh- 
bouring parts, the shooting season had opened on 
August 25. 

I soon found the keeper ; he read M. Bertram's 
note, who authorised me to take the opportunity of 
firing a few shots as well. As the man's most ardent 
desire was for the shooting to be let, — which had not 
been arranged the year before, — he set out immediately 
to show me the way, after first casting a scornful look 
at Pritchard. 

On leaving his house, we were right on the scene of 
action. Pritchard instantly dashed up on to a hillock 
and saw a field of beetroot waving green in the 
distance. He made straight for this, galloping over 
a ploughed field that lay between. I let him do as he 
pleased with a look of perfect indifference. 

" Sir," the keeper addressed me, " I would point out 
that your shooting only covers five hundred acres ; 
that on these five hundred acres there are eight or ten 
coveys of partridges, and three or four hundred hares. 
If you don't keep your dog to heel, he'll spoil the best 
field we have, and start five or six hares and two or 
three coveys before we've got there at all." 

" Don't you trouble about Pritchard," I told the 
man. " He has his own way of managing, and it's 
a way I am used to. Leave him alone in his beet- 
roots, and let us see what is to be found in this 
ploughed field that separates us from it." 

" There ought to be two or three hares, sir. Hi ! 
look, look ! . . . there goes one, right in front of us." 

Before the fellow had ceased speaking, the hare 
was dead. 

Pritchard paid no attention to the shot, but dashed 
round this field so as to get up the wind. 



BEST PLAV AND BEST FRIEND 281 

Meantime a second hare bolted, and I let him have 
my second barrel. He was so hard hit that after 
a hundred yards he was obliged to stop, and toppled 
over ; he was as dead as the first. 

Pritchard, who was now pointing, paid no heed 
either to the shot or the hare which had fallen dead 
within twenty paces of where he was. 

The keeper picked up the two hares, remarking that 
M. Bertram's note no doubt authorised me to fire 
a few shots, but that he thought it his duty to beg me 
not to shoot any more hares, but merely go after 
the birds. 

"In that case," I told him, "let us make a detour 
and get up the wind, the same as Pritchard has 
done." 

" Oh, sir, your dog will never wait for you ! " 

" Never fear," I told him. " You are going to see 
him at work. But meantime, if you have anything to 
do, your pipe to light for instance, now's your time." 

" No, thank you, I've just put it back in my pocket." 

" Well, at any rate," I said, pulling a flask from my 
pocket, " have a sip of brandy ; it's the best cognac." 

" Ah ! a drop of brandy, sir, there's no refusing 
that," said the keeper. " But your dog ? " 

" Oh ! as for my dog — I told you we had plenty of 
time ; so don't let us hurry." 

" Do you know he has been pointing a good five 
minutes already ? " 

" How long will it take us to come up with him ? " 

" Oh 1 five minutes, or thereabouts." 

" And another five to have a rest. So by the time 
we reach him it will be a quarter of an hour." 

" Well, he's a first-class dog, all the same ! " 
declared the keeper. " It's a pity he has lost an eye 
and a leg." 



282 MY PETS 

In another five minutes we reached the spot where 
Pritchard was. 

" In five minutes more," I said to the keeper, " we 
are going to have a try to kill a brace of birds right in 
front of his nose ; and if we succeed, you will see he 
won't budge an inch till I have had time to reload 
my gun." 

" Well, if he does that," replied the man, " he's a 
dog that's worth five hundred francs if he's worth 
a farthing." 

" Yes," I agreed, " for the first week, yes — that is to 
say as long as the game holds out. Now," I went on, 
" we are going to try an experiment. Judging by the 
direction of Pritchard's eye, I think he is pointing at 
a covey ten yards or so in front of him. Well, I am 
going to step back fifteen paces ; then I shall fire my 
shot at the point his eye is fixed on — most likely 
bang into the middle of a covey of partridges. If 
I don't kill, and the birds don't rise, Pritchard will not 
stir ; if I kill one or two out of the lot, and the rest 
still don't take wing, again Pritchard won't budge ; if 
the whole covey makes off, and amongst the lot there's 
one wounded bird, Pritchard will follow that one till 
it falls." 

The keeper shrugged his shoulders and wagged his 
head in a way that said plainly : " By the Lord ! if he 
does so, I've no more to say." 

I stepped back my fifteen paces, knelt down, and 
aiming straight over Pritchard's nose, fired, 

A brace of birds rose and tumbled head over heels 
in the air, showing their white under feathers, while 
four yards from them a hare bolted, scurrying away as 
if my shot had been fired specially for him. 

Pritchard never stirred. 

" Well ? " I said, turning to the keeper. 



BEST PLAY AND BEST FRIEND 283 

"Oh!" he said, "let's finish the thing; it's too 
curious altogether." 

I reloaded, and walked up to the dog. Pritchard 
looked up at me, as if to ask if I was ready, and on 
my nodding permission, dashed forward. 

A covey of fifteen or sixteen birds got up. I killed 
one with my first barrel, while with the second I hit 
another in the back, and, as birds so wounded always 
do, it rose right up almost vertically in the air. 

What I had foretold happened ; Pritchard gave his 
sole attention to the wounded bird, keeping his eye on 
it and following its flight, so that when it fell heavily 
to the ground, it almost lighted in the dog's jaws. 

There was no need to indulge in more slaughter. I 
knew what I wanted to know ; the land was well 
stocked with game. I returned to Paris, and hurrying 
at once to see my friend d'Orsay, told him of my good 
luck. 

I found him busy on a bust of Lamartine. 

Now d'Orsay, the Count d'Orsay, brother of the 
beautiful Madame de Grammont, is one of those men 
whose name I love to find from time to time under my 
pen. I have always something new to say of him, — 
and, what is more, something good. 

Well, d'Orsay was making a bust of Lamartine. 
For, besides being a great nobleman, d'Orsay was a 
great artist ; both his drawings and sculptures were 
marked with a consummate elegance. Possibly the 
technical qualities of his work might be open to criticism ; 
but no one had a better grasp than he of the ideal. 

The only portrait left us of Byron, the one the poet 
demanded should be prefixed to his works, was by 
d'Orsay. 

This perfection of taste coloured all he did. Of 
only moderate fortune, and compelled towards the end 



284 MY PETS 

of his life to look carefully after his expenditure after 
having long reigned as the leader of fashion in France 
and England, he had rented in some minor street, the 
name of which I have forgotten, a sort of garret, which 
he had transformed into the most elegantly appointed 
studio in all Paris. 

For ten years he had dictated the mode to France 
and England. His tailor, whose fortune he made, was 
renowned for the extraordinary skill he displayed in 
dressing his customers according to the class of life 
they belonged to, marking distinctions with an almost 
magical subtlety. 

One day a country squire, a friend of d'Orsay's, was 
going to spend a month in London. He pays a visit 
to the Count, and thus addresses him — 

" Look here, you are my friend. I am come to 
town, and I mean to spend some time there. I don't 
want to look ridiculous ; I am neither a dandy nor a 
City merchant, I am a country gentleman. Take a 
good look at me, and tell your tailor how he ought to 
dress me." 

D'Orsay looks him over, goes to his collection of 
walking sticks — d'Orsay possessed fifty or sixty of all 
sorts — picks out one the handle of which was a 
curved stag's foot shod with silver. 

" There," he told his friend, " go and see Blindem, 
and tell him to dress you for that stick." 

And Blindem dressed the gentleman for that stick, 
and with nothing else to guide him ; and never, he 
owned it himself, was he better dressed. 

D'Orsay's drawings were marvels. I remember one 
night at Masnefs, a young Russian and a friend of mine, 
where he spent the evening in making lead-pencil 
sketches of us all. I have never seen a more curious 
and interesting collection than these drawings formed. 



BEST PLAY AND BEST FRIEND 285 

among which was the portrait of a young girl, a 
charming figure beyond all question, but whom he had 
made — an uncommon achievement — I will not say 
prettier, but more angelic than she really was. What 
has become, I wonder, of this portrait, to which he had 
only to add wings for it to pass as the work of Fra 
Angelico ? 

D'Orsay was not only elegant, but supremely 
handsome too ; not only supremely handsome, but 
charmingly witty into the bargain. And these 
qualities he retained to the end of his life. 

Well, I went to his rooms to propose our taking 
the shooting between us. He readily agreed, but on 
condition we asked his nephew, the Due de Guiche, now 
Due de Grammont and Envoy at Venice, to join us. I 
could wish for nothing better ; I was as deeply attached 
to de Guiche as I was to d'Orsay. 

Accordingly we took the shooting between the three 
of us. As there was no time to lose, we resolved to 
make the next day but one our opening day. 

We went that very day to sign the agreement at 
Maitre Bertram's, who insisted on one small restriction : 
paying six hundred francs, we were not for this sum to 
kill more than a hundred hares, making thirty-three 
hares apiece ; partridges were not specially mentioned 
in the bargain. Any of us killing a hare more than his 
allowance was to be fined five francs. 

By midday on our first day's shooting I had killed 
eleven hares. 

Needless to say Pritchard had been the butt, on the 
part of my two aristocratic friends, of endless jokes, 
which, as was always his way, he turned eventually to 
his own honour and renown. 



CHAPTER XLIV 
FLORA 

THE following year I went once more to see M. 
Bertram, fully expecting, in view of the ex- 
cellent relations that had always existed between us, 
and the presents of game I had sent him from time 
to time during the shooting season, to obtain the same 
favourable conditions as on the first occasion. 

But I was altogether mistaken. The price of the 
shooting was doubled. 

My means not allowing me to pay so high a price, 
I made up my mind to go for the shooting to one of 
my friends who lives in Normandy. 

His chateau lay a few leagues from Bernay. He 
came to meet us on horseback, accompanied by two 
great white greyhounds that I had given him, 

" Ah ! look at M. Ernest, sir ! " exclaimed Michel, 
directly he caught sight of him ; " he's just like the 
Queen of England." 

The fact is Michel had, hung up in his room, an 
engraving after a picture by Dedreux, representing the 
Queen of England mounted on a black horse and ac- 
companied by two white greyhounds. I told Ernest 
of the likeness Michel saw between him and Queen 
Victoria, and he was highly flattered. 

I had a poor day's shooting, although I had slipped 
away by myself — bolted from the rails, as they say 

886 



FLORA 287 

in the language of the turf — for fear of Pritchard's 
playing some of his usual tricks on my fellow-sportsmen. 

I was coming home with a brace or two of birds 
and a hare in Michel's game-bag when I met a country- 
man holding in leash a handsome brown bitch, three 
or four years old to all appearance. 

" Egad ! " I remarked to Michel, " if yonder good 
fellow would part with his bitch at a reasonable figure, 
she's just the animal would suit my book." 

" But," objected Michel, " Monsieur forgets he com- 
missioned his friend Devisme to buy him a dog, and 
with that object authorised him to spend a hundred 
and fifty francs." 

"Pooh!" said I, "Devisme has doubtless forgotten. 
If he had bought me a dog, he would have done so in 
time for the opening of the season. On the eve of that 
day all the dogs are to buy ; a fortnight later all are 
to sell. Go and have a word with the good man," I 
insisted — and Michel accordingly went up to the 
countryman. 

" 'Od's life ! " began the fellow, " your master's best 
plan would be to get me to drown his dog there, which 
has only three legs and one eye left, instead of my 
bitch, and buy her to take the animal's place." 

" Why, are you going to drown your bitch, my fine 
fellow?" Michel asked him. 

" Alas, sir ! if it's not to-day, it will have to be 
to-morrow. Why, they have no common sense ! 
They go and clap a tax of ten francs a head on 
dogs, while we human beings only pay two ! Isn't 
it humiliating that a dumb beast should be rated five 
times as high as a man ? No, no ; folk are not rich 
enough in these days, when they have two children to 
feed, to feed a dog into the bargain — especially when 
the animal pays a ten francs' tax." 



288 MY PETS 

" Then you offer to give your bitch to my master, 
eh?" 

" Oh yes ; with all my heart ! " cried the country- 
man. " I'm sure she'll be happy with him." 

" Happy ? as happy as a queen ! " Michel assured 
him. You see Michel was a prudent man, and did 
not guarantee any extravagant degree of happiness. 

" Well, then," continued the man, with a sigh, " go 
and ask the gentleman if he'll take Flora." 

On Michel's coming back to me, I asked, " And 
have you been successful in your negotiations, Michel, 
and is the man reasonable in his demands ? " 

" You must judge for yourself, sir," returned 
Michel : " he offers to let you have the animal for 
nothing." 

" What ! for nothing ? " 

" Yes, only think : he was just on his way to drown 
the poor beast." 

" But why was he going to drown his dog ? " I asked 
Michel. " Was she mad ? " 

" No, sir ; on the contrary, as gentle as a sheep. But 
what would you have ? — he's drowning her because he 
has no bread to spare at home for himself, his wife, and 
his two children." 

" There, Michel, there's ten francs ; give them to the 
poor fellow, and bring the animal here to me." 

" The fact is . . ." stammered Michel, in some em- 
barrassment, " I ought to mention one thing." 

" What is that ? " 

" That the bitch is called Flora." 

" Well, yes, Michel, it is rather a pretentious name 
certainly ; but come, a dog doesn't deserve to be 
chucked into the river merely because she's called 
after the Goddess of Springtime." 

As a gardener Michel protested — 



FLORA 289 

" But I always thought, sir, she was the Goddess 
of Gardens." 

" No, Michel ; without wishing to impugn your 
knowledge of heathen mythology, I must tell you 
gardens have as their protecting divinity not a goddess 
but a god known as Vertumnus (Vertumne)," 

" Oh yes ! " exclaimed Michel, " like M. Vertumne 
of the Theatre-Frangais, the gentleman I used to ask 
for tickets." 

" Verteuil, you mean, Michel, don't you ? — a very 
charming fellow ! " 

" He has his days like other people. . . . Ah, well ! 
for my part, I have always called him Vertumne." 

" The days when you called him so were probably 
his bad days ; but as for me, as I have always called 
him Verteuil, I never noticed anything of what you 
say." 

" All the same, he ought to marry." 

" Who ought ? Verteuil ? " 

" No, no ; this Vertumnus of yours. He ought to 
marry Flora." 

" You are a bit late in making the demand, Michel ; 
he married, just about two thousand eight hundred 
years ago, a nymph of a very good family, by name 
Pomona." 

" Ah ! is that so ? " said Michel, evidently put out. 

Then, returning to our previous topic — 

" So," he resumed, " you have no objection to the 
name Flora? " 

" It is a trifle pretentious, as I observed before ; but 
there, I shall get used to it." 

Michel took two or three steps in the direction of 
the countryman, but then almost immediately turned 
back again, scratching the tip of his nose — a habit he 
had acquired since the day when Turk, an idiot dog 

19 



290 MY PETS 

which I have scarcely mentioned because he was not 
worth mentioning, all but bit that organ in two. 

" What is it, Michel ? " 

" It struck me, sir, that before I give the fellow ten 
francs, and that for an animal he was going to drown, 
I have a right to ask him if she can retrieve and 
point." 

" Michel, that's a great deal to require for ten francs ! 
It's as much as you ask of a dog costing a hundred 
crowns. Michel, give the man his ten francs, take 
Flora, and . . . let's trust in Providence ! " 

So Michel gave the countryman the money, and we 
took Flora home with us. Providence was good, and 
we found she could both point and retrieve as well as 
any hundred-crown dog. 

But, alas ! her mythological name brought mis- 
fortune in its train : Flora died like Eurydice. 



CHAPTER XLV 
THE DEATH OF PRITCHARD 

ON reaching the chateau, I found a letter from my 
daughter, who informed me that Devisme had 
secured me, for a hundred and twenty francs, a superb 
dog, by name Catinat ; she asked whether she should 
send the animal on to me or wait till I returned home, 
leaving him meantime in the stable, where she had 
given him quarters, 

I wrote back to tell her to leave Catinat where he 
was, — in the stable, that is to say, — adding that I 
expected to be back in Paris by the next day but 
one. 

Next morning, when he came to call me, Michel 
announced that in all probability our wishes were going 
to be fulfilled with regard to a new generation of little 
Pritchards. He thereupon advised, in order to prevent 
Flora being annoyed by her lover's attentions, to take 
her out alone, leaving Pritchard in his kennel. We 
could form an opinion at the same time as to what she 
was good for. It was sound advice, and we set off 
with Flora, in spite of the despairing howls of poor 
Pritchard. 

Flora turned out to be a good average sporting dog, 
without any marked faults or any very startling merits. 
It is very certain that, but for the chance that brought 
her in my road, her life would have remained in the 



292 MY PETS 

most complete obscurity, and her death, whatever it 
were, would have done nothing to make her famous. 

Fortunately, one of the merits she did possess was to 
run close under the guns. On the whole I was very 
well content with my new purchase. Flora was one 
of those animals you buy for a hundred and twenty 
francs the day before the opening day of the season 
and sell for forty the day after its close. 

Pritchard gave a wildly enthusiastic welcome to Flora 
on our return. He was a dog of good breeding, who 
was anxious, by dint of fond attentions, to make his 
innamorata forget his infirmities and injuries. 

We took leave of our Bernay friends, and made the 
best of our way back to Paris on September 3, 1850. 

This year the season opened late in the Depart- 
ment of the Yonne, not till the 5th. A letter from my 
friends at Auxerre informed me that, if I would promise 
to come for the opening day, as I was hand-in-glove 
with Mayors and Deputy-Mayors, they would defer the 
beginning of the shooting till the loth. This com- 
munication was not without influence on my hurried 
departure from Bernay. 

On reaching home, my first care was to ask to see 
Catinat. With this end, we began by shutting up 
Pritchard and Flora in the dining-room, while Catinat 
was brought up to my working-room. 

I was then residing in a small hotel, which I occupied 
alone with my eleven fowls, my heron, Pritchard, and 
Michel, and which was now to give admittance — at 
least I thought so — to two new inmates, Flora and 
Catinat. 

Catinat was a sturdy brach-hound, three or four 
years old, wild, rampageous, and quarrelsome. He 
bounded upstairs, leapt at my throat as if he wanted 
to strangle me, knocked over my daughter's easels, 



THE DEATH OF PRITCHARD 293 

jumped on to the table where my weapons and china 
figures were ranged, showing me at once that it 
would be in the last degree injudicious to admit him 
into any sort of familiar intercourse with the house- 
hold. 

I called Michel and told him this superficial 
introduction was quite enough for the present, and 
that I meant to defer till the beginning of the shooting 
season at Auxerre the pleasure of a more intimate 
acquaintance. Michel therefore was invited to take 
Catinat back to the stable. 

I am bound to say the poor fellow had a presenti- 
ment of coming evil at the mere sight of the dog. 

" Oh, sir," he said, " that animal will do us a 
mischief! I can't say what yet, but he will, I feel sure 
he will ! " 

" Well, meantime, Michel," I bade him, " put Catinat 
back in his stable." 

But Catinat, who no doubt was conscious himself 
that an author's working-room was no place for him, 
had gone downstairs again of his own accord. Only, 
unfortunately, as he did so, he found the door of the 
dining-room standing open, and pushed his way in. 

Not Hector and Achilles felt at first sight so fierce 
and sudden a hate of one another as Catinat and 
Pritchard. They sprang at each other, with instinctive 
and unpremeditated hostility, so furiously that Michel 
was forced to call me to his aid to part them. 

Whether from constitutional apathy, or perhaps from 
that cruel vanity which causes the she lion no less 
than the human female rather to like seeing two rivals 
tearing one another to pieces for her sake. Flora had 
remained indifferent during the fight, which after all 
was only a momentary savage tuzzle, thanks to 
Michel's and my own intervention. 



294 MY PETS 

Still Catinat appeared to be bleeding at the throat, 
the blood showing at once on his white coat. As for 
Pritchard, his brindled colour concealed his wounds, 
if he had received any. 

To enable the reader to comprehend the events that 
occurred next, it is indispensable for him to have 
some approximate idea of the disposition of the out- 
buildings attached to the little hotel in the Rue 
d'Amsterdam. 

The main door giving on the street opened in 
the opposite direction on a small garden, longer than 
it was broad, at the bottom of which I had found, on 
taking possession, coach-houses, a stable, and a second 
court serving as a stable-yard. Now, since the 
Revolution of 1 848 I had possessed neither horses 
nor carriages. I had turned the coach-houses into a 
big room for writing and general business ; the stable 
into a lumber room, where all sorts of rubbish was 
deposited ; and the stable-yard into a poultry-run, 
where my eleven hens and my cock Csesar perched 
and cackled and laid, and where, in a huge kennel, 
a veritable canine palace, Pritchard had lorded it 
hitherto. 

Pritchard's friendliness with the fowls had suffered 
no diminution. In fact, we know from what we saw 
in Charpillon's hen-run the good account he turned 
it to in his own interests ; from that day on the poor 
laying of my own fowls was sufficiently accounted for 
in my eyes. 

Pritchard resumed his place in the poultry-yard, and 
as the kennel was large enough both for him and Flora, 
the latter shared his abode as a wife should. 

Catinat was sent back to the stable, where he had 
been installed in the first instance, but which he had 
left temporarily on my arrival. 



THE DEATH OF PRITCHARD 295 

Michel, as usual, was in charge of all the live stock 
quadrupeds and bipeds alike. 

That evening, while my daughter and I were taking 
the air in the garden, he came up to me, twisting his 
cap about in his hands — a plain sign he had something 
important to say to me. 

" Well, what is it, Michel? " I asked. 

" Sir," he began, " an idea occurred to me as I was 
taking Pritchard and Flora to the poultry-yard, and 
that is, that we have no eggs because Pritchard eats 
them, as Monsieur saw at Saint-Bris, and Pritchard 
eats them because he is in direct communication 
with the fowls." 

" Yes, it is self-evident, Michel, that if Pritchard 
could not get into the poultry-yard, he would not 
eat the eggs." 

" Well, sir, it seems to me," Michel went on, " that 
if we were to put Catinat — a dog of no education, 
I imagine, but not a thief, like that low Pritchard — 
it seems to me that if we were to put Pritchard and 
I'lora in the stable, and Catinat in the poultry-yard, 
things would go better," 

" Do you know what would happen then, Michel ? " 
I objected. " It may be, as you say, Catinat would 
not be able to eat the eggs, but he might very well 
eat the hens." 

" Oh, if such a disaster happened, I have a way 
of curing him for all the rest of his life of any desire 
to eat fowls." 

" Yes, Michel ; but then, meantime, the fowls would 
be eaten." 

I had hardly spoken when there rose among the 
outbuildings an uproar as if a whole pack of hounds 
was in full cry — yells of rage, yelps of pain, every sign 
of a death struggle being fought out. 



296 MY PETS 

" Good Lord, Michel ! do you hear that ? " 

" Yes, I hear right enough," he said calmly ; " but 
it's M. Pigeory's dogs," 

" Michel, it's Catinat and Pritchard eating each other 
up — that and nothing else ! " 

" Sir, it's impossible ; I separated them." 

" Well, Michel, they have managed to meet again, 
that's all." 

" No difficulty about that — the scoundrels are quite 
capable of it ; why, that blackguard Pritchard could open 
the stable door as easily as any locksmith," 

" Well, Pritchard being a dog of spirit, no doubt he 
has opened the stable door in order to defy Catinat. 
Listen : upon my word, I am very much afraid one 
or other of them may have been killed." 

Michel dashed down the path leading to the stable, 
and disappeared ; in a few moments I heard sounds 
of lamentation, indicating that some great calamity 
had befallen. 

Another second or two and I saw Michel reappear, 
sobbing and carrying Pritchard in his arms. 

" Look, look, sir ! " he cried. " Poor Pritchard's done 
for ! Look at the state he's in — all the doing of 
M, Devisme's fine new dog ! His name should be 
Catiline, I say, instead of Catinat." 

I hurried up to Michel; for all the rages the animal had 
often put me into, I was much attached to Pritchard. 
He was the only dog in whom I had found true 
originality and that element of the unexpected to be 
met with in a man of quick wits and lively caprice. 

" Now, Michel, tell me what's wrong ? " 

" Wrong, sir, wrong ? Why, he's dead ! " 

" No, no, Michel ; not yet." 

" Anyway, he's as good as dead " — and he laid the 
poor beast on the ground. 



THE DEATH OF PRITCHARD 297 

Michel's shirt was all covered with blood. 

" Pritchard ! my poor Pritchard ! " I sobbed. 

Like the dying Gaul, Pritchard opened his yellow eye, 
looked at me sadly and lovingly, threw out his four paws, 
stiffened his body, heaved a sigh, and died. 

Catiline, with one snap of his jaws, had severed the 
carotid artery, and death had been almost instantaneous, 

" Well, well, Michel ! " I said, " we may not have lost 
a good servant, but we have lost a good friend. . . . 
You must wash him carefully, poor fellow ! We will 
give you something to wrap him in ; then you must 
dig a hole in the garden, and we will have a tombstone 
erected on which we will inscribe this epitaph : — 

"Comme le grand Rantzau, d'immortelle memoire, 
II perdit, inutile, quoique toujours vainqueur, 
La moitie de son corps dans les champs de la gloire, 
Et Mars ne lui laissa rien d'entier que le coeur. " ^ 

As I always did under such circumstances, I sought 
relief from my regrets in work. 

However, about midnight, feeling a wish to see if 
my orders with regard to Pritchard's burial had been 
duly carried out, I stole softly downstairs, to find 
Michel seated on the steps of the dining-room with 
the dog's body lying at his feet. 

Michel's grief was in no way assuaged ; he was 
groaning and sobbing as bitterly as when he first 
brought Pritchard to me in his arms. 

Only two wine bottles, which I conjectured to be 
empty because both were lying on their sides on the 
floor, showed me that, as in antique obsequies, Michel 
had not neglected the proper libations to the dead 

^ " Like the great Rantzau, of immortal memory, he lost by mutilation, 
though always victorious, the half of his person on the fields of glory, and 
Mars left him nothing entire but the brave heart only." 



298 MY PETS 

and I withdrew firmly convinced that if he was not 
weeping pure wine, the faithful Michel was at any 
rate crying wine and water. 

For his part, so absorbed was he in his sorrow that 
he neither saw nor heard me. 



CATINAT LKAI'T AT MV THROAT AS IF HE WANTED TO STRANGLE ME 



CHAPTER XLVI 

A WAY MICHEL HAD OF CURING DOGS OF 
THE BAD HABIT OF EATING FOWLS 

NEXT morning I was awakened at daybreak by 
Michel, who had not been to bed at all. 

Much has been said of Talma's entry on the stage 
in Ducis' version of the tragedy of Hamlet. I can 
judge of its effect, for I have seen it two or three 
times. 

I have only seen Michel's entry into my room once ; 
but this once entirely effaced from my memory the 
thrice-repeated impression of Talma's famous piece of 
acting. 

Never did Talma, in horror and amazement, give 
forth his dreadful cry at sight of the father's ghost in 
such appalling tones as those in which Michel uttered 
the simple words, three times repeated — 

" Oh, sir ! oh, sir ! oh, sir ! " 

I opened my eyes, and by the first glimmer of the 
dawning day, in the dim grey light of the hour when 
the sun is still striving with the darkness, I saw 
Michel standing before me with pale face and dishev- 
elled hair, his arms raised with a frantic gesture to the 
sky. 

"What is it now, Michel?" I asked him, half in 
alarm, half in annoyance at being roused at so untimely 
an hour. 

2W 



300 MY PETS 

" Oh, sir ! you don't know what he has done, that 
brigand of a Catiline ? " 

"Yes, I do, Michel: he has killed Pritchard, and 
I know " 

" Ah yes, sir ; if that were all he had done " 

" What ! if that ivere all ? But surely that is enough, 
I imagine." 

" If Monsieur will come down to the poultry-yard, 
he'll see." 

" See ? What shall I see ? Out with it " 

" A general massacre, sir ! a veritable St. Bartholo- 
mew ! " 

" Our fowls, Michel ? " 

" Yes, sir ; birds that were worth a hundred francs 
apiece — not to mention the cock, which was price- 
less." 

" A hundred francs, Michel ? " 

"Yes, yes, sir, a hundred francs. Why, there was 
actually one that had no feathers at all, that seemed 
to be covered with veritable hair — beautiful silky hair. 
You remember the one, sir. That hen was worth a 
hundred and fifty francs." 

" And the dog has killed them all ? " 

" Yes, sir, all — from the first to the last ! " 

" Ah, well, Michel ! yesterday you said that if 
Catiline killed the fowls, you knew a way of curing 
him of this fault " 

" To be sure, sir." 

" Well, have you buried Pritchard ? " 

" Yes, sir ; he lies under the lilacs " — and Michel 
wiped away a tear with the sleeve of his jacket, 
" Poor Pritchard, he would never have done such a 
thing ! " 

" Well, well, Michel ! come, what is to be your course 
of action under these dreadful circumstances .? " 



CURING DOGS OF A BAD HABIT 301 

" For my part, sir, I must own that this morning I 
was very nearly taking Monsieur's gun and putting an 
end to that blackguardly Catiline," 

" Michel, Michel, such extremities are all very well 
for Cicero, who was a lawyer, who was in mortal terror, 
and who was determined to assure the triumph of the 
gown over the sword ; but we, we who are Christians, 
know that God wills the repentance, not the death, of 
a sinner." 

" You think Catiline will ever repent, sir ? Not he ; 
he's ready at this moment to begin again. Yesterday, 
Pritchard ; to-day, the fowls. No, nothing will stop 
him, sir ! . . . To-morrow it will be me ; the day 
after it will be you." 

" But after all, Michel, you say you have a way of 
curing dogs of the foul trick of killing fowls ; so let 
us try your method first. If Catiline still goes on, 
it will then be time enough to resort to extreme 
measures." 

" That is Monsieur's final decision ? " 

" Yes, Michel." 

" Very well, then ; as soon as all's ready, I will let 
Monsieur know." 

Then Michel left me and went downstairs again. 
Half an hour afterwards I felt some one shaking me 
by the shoulder. 

It was Michel waking me up a second time — for 
I must admit that, despite yesterday's murder and 
this morning's carnage, I had dropped off to sleep 
again. 

" It's all ready, sir," he told me. 

" The deuce ! then I must get up, eh ? " 

" Yes, sir ; unless Monsieur prefers to watch pro- 
ceedings from his window. But Monsieur won't see 
well in that case." 



302 MY PETS 

" Where is the execution to be, Michel ? — for I pre- 
sume there is to be one." 

" In the outhouse at the side of the courtyard." 

" Very well, Michel ; down you go. I will follow you." 

I slipped on ^.pantalon h pieds and a loose jacket, put 
on my slippers, and descended the stairs. I had only 
to pass out of doors and go into the outhouse opposite. 

There I found Michel holding Catiline on his chain 
with one hand and carrying in the other a curious- 
looking instrument of which I could make nothing at 
first. This was a cross-piece of green wood, split up 
the middle, to which was tied by the neck a black hen, 
the only one of my eleven fowls of that colour. 

" If Monsieur would like to see the victims," said 
Michel, " they lie in a row on the dining-room table." 

I cast an eye over the table, and there I saw, as 
Michel said, all my poor feathered family, bleeding, 
torn, and covered with mud. 

My gaze wandered from the table to Catiline, whom 
this grievous spectacle appeared to leave absolutely 
callous. This want of feeling hardened my heart. 

" Come, Michel," I said, " to work ! " 

With the words we sallied out. It was the hour of 
executions — four o'clock in the morning.- We entered 
the empty outhouse, and shut the door behind us. 

" There ! " said Michel, shortening Catiline's chain ; 
" now, if Monsieur will hold him by the collar, he'll see 
what he shall see." 

I gripped the dog by the collar while Michel seized 
his tail, and, in spite of his growls, prising open the 
split with his knife, he opened the wood slightly, and 
through the opening crammed four or five inches of 
Catiline's tail. 

" Let go, sir," he cried. 

And, while 1 released the collar, he did the same 




i'«'-4^- 









/^^ 







TKITCHARD LOOKED AT ME SAULV AND LOVINGLY 



AND DIED 



CURING DOGS OF A BAD HABIT 303 

with the piece of wood, which, snapping together, closed 
on the culprit's tail and squeezed it violently. 

Catiline darted away with a yell of pain. But he 
was caught. The stick imprisoned his tail too tight 
for any obstacle whatever he might encounter to rid 
him of this new sort of drag. 

At the same moment, the fowl, which was firmly 
fastened to the cross-piece, being violently shaken by 
the dog's struggles, began leaping up and down on his 
back, tumbling on the ground, then bouncing back 
again on to his shoulders. Deceived by this factitious 
appearance of life, Catiline thought it was the bird and 
its furious pecks that were causing him such agonies of 
pain. 

The quicker he ran the more violent grew the pain, 
and Catiline dashed to and fro more and more wildly. 
He would stop, wheel round, give a savage bite at the 
fowl ; then, thinking he had killed the bird, he would 
set off again. But by this momentary respite he had 
only won a sharper pang than ever. He began a series 
of howls, that moved my compunction but produced 
no effect on the implacable Michel. Driven to madness, 
Catiline dashed among the piles of wood, hurled himself 
against the walls, vanished from sight, reappeared, his 
career getting every moment wilder and more reckless, 
till at last, panting, exhausted, done for, unable to take 
another step, he sank on the ground with a long-drawn 
groan. 

Thereupon Michel went up to Catiline, once more 
prised open the piece of wood with his knife, released 
the dog's bleeding tail, without the latter seeming to 
experience any great relief on the termination of his 
punishment. 

I thought he was dead. I stepped up to where the 
poor beast lay ; his limbs were as stiff as a hare's that 



304 MY PETS 

has been hunted to death ; only the eyes were open 
and still kept a feeble spark of life. 

" Michel," I ordered, " take a jug of water and empty 
it over his head." 

Michel looked about him. He saw a bucket con- 
taining water, brought as much as his two joined hands 
would hold, and emptied it over Catiline's head. 

The animal sneezed and shook his head, but that 
was all. 

" Oh, sir," sneered Michel, " what a fuss for a con- 
founded villain like him! Let's carry him into the 
house, and if he comes round, well, so much the 
better ! " 

So saying, Michel took Catiline by the scruff of the 
neck, and, carrying him through the house, dropped 
him on the turf of the lawn. 

Chance served us well. At the time of Catiline's 
execution, the sky had been overcast, as at the feast of 
Thyestes. But now, as if the storm did not conde- 
scend to burst in full fury for so minor an incident, 
and as if the thunders of heaven were reserved for 
mankind alone, the rain began to fall, but unaccompanied 
by thunder and lightning. 

The rain gradually soaked Catiline's stiffened limbs. 
He drew them in one after the other, then presently 
got up on his four legs. But finding himself unable 
to stand, he sat down on his rump, and remained still 
and motionless, with lack-lustre eye and a look of com- 
plete stolidity. 

" Michel," I said, " I think your lesson has been over- 
severe." 

Michel went up to him again, but the animal made 
no sign, not even one of terror, at his approach. He 
bared his teeth, opened his eyes and closed them again, 
and shouted his name in his ears — but all without avail. 



CURING DOGS OF A BAD HABIT 305 

" Sir," he said, turning to me, " Catiline is gone 
silly altogether ; we must send him to Sanfourche." 

Sanfourche, as everybody knows, is the Esquirol of 
dogs. That very day the patient was duly conducted 
to the great veterinary's. 



20 



CHAPTER XLVII 

JUSTIFYING WHAT WAS SAID AS TO THE RE- 
SEMBLANCE BETWEEN FLORA'S DEATH AND 
THAT OF EURYDICfi 

THE reader will remember how my Auxerre 
friends had offered to put off the shooting to 
the loth September to suit my convenience. 

I had written to tell them I should arrive on the 
evening of the 7th, and that the opening day might 
therefore be fixed for the 8th. This time I hoped to 
make a longer stay at Saint- Bris ; so I brought work 
with me to last me two or three weeks. 

We have said so much in different chapters about 
shooting matters that I will not tire my readers with 
further details of the sort. I will merely mention that, 
having in three weeks' time verified the fact that Flora 
was in an advanced stage of pregnancy, I begged my 
good friend Charpillon to keep her with him in the 
country till she had pupped. 

Charpillon, who was aware that Pritchard was the 
father, and who was conscious of wrongs done towards 
that individual, asked me for no indemnity for Flora's 
board and lodging beyond the privilege of choosing 
one of the litter for himself I made a condition on 
my side, which was that none of the pups should be 
drowned, as is generally done under pretext of the 
mother not being strong enough to bring them all up. 

306 



FLORA'S DEATH 307 

Finding myself already a quarter of the way there, 
I had determined to pay a visit to my friends at 
Marseilles ; and to give myself a pretext for doing so 
in my own eyes, I had made arrangements with the 
manager of the Gynmase Marseillais for the production 
of a piece called Les Gardes Forestiers. The play was 
to be specially written for the local actors, and to have 
never been performed on any other stage. 

My friend Bertheau offered me the sumptuous 
hospitality of his bastide or country house, La 
Blancardc. I stayed nearly a month at Marseilles. 
Then I returned to Charpillon's, who had made me 
promise to stop with him on my way back. I got 
there just in time to see Flora's litter arrive. 

This consisted of five pups, of which it was 
impossible not to recognise Pritchard as the father. 
Each chose the one he preferred, and in twenty- four 
hours they all had a home. I contented myself with 
taking the one nobody else wanted. 

Every day the keeper took Flora a little walk for 
the sake of her health. One day at the end of the 
first week he told us how he had come across a viper 
and killed it. These noxious creatures are fairly 
common in the woods of Saint-Bris, and we con- 
gratulated him on having diminished the number. 

Next day he took out Flora as usual, but came 
back without her. The worthy fellow seemed deeply 
chagrined. He asked to have a word in private with 
Charpillon. 

This is what had happened ; he had not had the 
heart to tell us the story publicly. He had taken the 
same walk as the day before ; on entering the path 
where he had killed the viper, Flora had scented the 
dead reptile, had run up to it, and then uttered a 
sharp, sudden cry. 



308 MY PETS 

Almost instantly she had gone into convulsions, and 
fallen dead as if struck by lightning. 

The keeper knew very well that every effect has a 
cause, and searched for the reason of the catastrophe. 
A rustling among the leaves betrayed the presence of 
something crawling through the undergrowth ; he 
pulled out the iron ramrod of his gun, pushed the 
bushes aside, and saw a viper trying to escape. 

One blow with the ramrod stopped it instantly. 
What he now saw was not one viper only, but two — one 
dead, the other still alive. The one he had killed the 
day before was a female ; the male had found it dying, 
and in hopes, no doubt, of bringing it back to life, had 
stayed close beside it all night. Thus the man had 
found them both when he searched the bushes — the 
dead reptile of the day before, and the other which had 
proved fatal to poor Flora. 

It was no doubt due to the exasperation caused by 
grief of the male at the death of its mate that the 
venom had acquired such an extraordinary degree of 
energy as to kill Flora in a few seconds. 

The dental cavities of vipers contain eight milli- 
grammes of poison ; the whole eight milligrammes are 
required to kill a dog, sixteen to kill a man. Now 
it is seldom that, under ordinary circumstances, the 
reptile expels the whole eight milligrammes of venom. 
But it has been observed that under the influence of 
anger, as also during the months of extreme heat, this 
poison, which is dangerous only when it enters the 
blood but is innocuous if swallowed, redoubles in 
intensity. It was doubtless to one of these circum- 
stances, probably the first, that Flora owed her 
sudden death. 

As with all accidents that are beyond remedy, we 
had to console ourselves as well as we could for this 



FLORA'S DEATH 309 

disaster. I had not had time to grow extravagantly 
fond of the dog ; I mourned her as much as her 
merits and the circumstances called for, and presently 
returned to Paris. 

My first visit was to Sanfourche, to see how Catiline 
was progressing. The animal had recovered his wits, 
but he was afflicted with a sort of St. Vitus' dance, 
and the sight of a fowl gave him a violent attack of 
nerves. 

Thus I found myself left with two dogs only — one 
a confirmed invalid, the other a puppy to be reared 
by hand ! 

Luckily, the first and most important days of the 
shooting were over, and I had time enough to provide 
myself better before the opening of the next season. 



Printed by 

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28 


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38 


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32 


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32 


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r 


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27 


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39 


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27 


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12 



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LOUISA. 
I KNOW A MAIDEN. 
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Bagot (Richard). A ROMAN MYSTERY. 
CASTING OF NETS. 
Balfour (Andrew). BY STROKE OF 

SWORD. 
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CHEAP JACK. ZITA. 
KITTY ALONE. 
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THE BROOM SQUIRE. 
IN THE ROAR OF THE SEA. 
NOEMI. 
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LITTLE TU'PENNY. 

WINEFRED. 

THE FROBISHERS. 

THE QUEEN OF LOVE. 

Barr (Robert). JENNIE BAXTER. 

IN THE MIDST OF ALARMS. 

THE COUNTESS TEKLA. 

THE MUTABLE MANY. 

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THE VINTAGE. 

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SALT SEA.S. 
Ca«yn(Mrs.). ANNE MAULEVERER. 



\ 



40 



Messrs. Methuen's Catalogue 



Capes (Bernard). THE LAKE OF 

WINE, 
Clifford (Mrs. W. K.). A FLASH OF 

SUMMER. 
MRS. KEITH'S CRIME. 
Corbett (Julian). A BUSINESS IN 

GREAT WATERS. 
Crolcer (Mrs. B. M.). ANGEL. 
A STATE SECRET. 
PEGGY OF THE BARTONS. 
JOHANNA. 
Dante (Alighieri). THE DIVINE 

COMEDY (Cary). 
Doyle (A. Conan). ROUND THE RED 

LAMP. 
Duncan (Sara Jeannette). A VOYAGE 

OF CONSOLATION. 
THOSE DELIGHTFUL AMERICANS. 
Eliot (George). THE MILL ON THE 

FLOSS. 
Findlater (Jane H.). THE GREEN 

GRAVES OF BALGOWRIE. 
Gallon (Tom). RICKERBY'S FOLLY. 
Gaskell (Mrs.). CRANFORD. 
MARY BARTON. 
NORTH AND SOUTH. 
Gerard (Dorothea). HOLY MATRI- 
MONY. 
THE CONQUEST OF LONDON. 
MADE OF MONEY. 

Gissing(G). THE TOWN TRAVELLER. 
THE CROWN OF LIFE. 
Glanville (Ernest). THE INCA'S 

TREASURE. 
THE KLOOF BRIDE. 
Gleig (Charles). BUNTER'S CRUISE. 
Grimm (The Brothers). GRIMM'S 

FAIRY TALES. 
Hope (Anthony). A MAN OF MARK. 
A CHANGE OF AIR. 
THE CHRONICLES OF COUNT 

ANTONIO. 
PHROSO. 
THE DOLLY DIALOGUES. 

Hornunsr (E. W.). DEAD MEN TELL 
NO TALES. 

ingraham (J. H.). THE THRONE OF 
DAVID. 

Le Queux (\V.). THE HUNCHBACK OF 
WESTMINSTER. 

Levett- Yeats (S. K.). THE TRAITOR'S 
WAY. 

Linton (E. Lynn). THE TRUE HIS- 
TORY OF lOSHUA DAVIDSON. 

Lyall (Edna).  DERRICK VAUGHAN. 

Malet (Lucas). THE CARISSIMA. 

A COUNSEL OF PERFECTION. 

Mann (Mrs.). MRS. PETER HOWARD. 

A LOST ESTATE. 

THE CEDAR STAR. 

ONE ANOTHER'S BURDENS. 

Marchmont (A. W.). MISER HOAD- 
LEY'S SECRET. 

A MOMENTS ERROR. 

Marryat (Captain). PETER SIMPLE. 

JACOB FAITHFUL, 



Marsh (Richard). A METAMORPHOSIS. 

THE TWICKENHAM PEERAGE. 

THE GODDESS. 

THE JOSS. 

Mason (A, E. W.). CLEMENTINA. 

Mathers (Helen). HONEY. 

GRIFF OF GRIFFITHSCOURT 

SAM'S SWEETHEART. 

Meade (Mrs. L. T.). DRIFT. 

Alitford (Bertram). THE SIGN OF THE 

SPIDER. 
Montresor (F. F.). THE ALIEN. 
Morrison (Arthur). THE HOLE IN 

THE WALL. 
Nesbit (E.) THE RED HOUSE. 
Norris(W. E.). HIS GRACE. 
GILES INGILBY. 
THE CREDIT OF THE COUNTY. 
LORD LEONARD THE LUCKLESS. 
MATTHEW AUSITN. 
CLARISSA FURIOSA. 
Oliphant (Mrs.). THE LADY'S WALK. 
SIR ROBERTS FORTUNE. 
THE PRODIGALS. 
THE TWO MARYS. 

Oppenheim (E. P.). MASTER OF MEN. 
Parker (Gilbert). THE POMP OF THE 

LAVILETTES. 
WHEN VALMOND CAME TO PONTIAC. 
THE TRAIL OF THE SWORD. 
Pemberton (Max). THE FOOTSTEPS 

OF A THRONE. 
I CROWN THEE KING. 
Phillpotts (Eden). THE HUMAN BOY. 
CHILDREN OF THE MIST. 
THE POACHER'S WIFE. 
THE RIVER. 
' Q ' (A. T. Quiller Couch). THE 

WHITE WOLF. 
Ridge (W. Rett). A SON OF THE STATE. 
LOST PROPERTY. 
GEORGE and THE GENERAL. 
Russell (W. Clark). ABANDONED. 
A MARRIAGE AT SEA. 
MY DANISH SWEETHEART. 
HIS ISLAND PRINCESS. 
Sergeant (Adeline). THE MASTER OF 

BEECHWOOD. 
BARBARA'S MONEY. 
THE YELLOW DIAMOND. 
THE LOVE THAT OVERCAME. 
.Surtees (R. S.). HANDLEY CROSS. 
MR. SPONGE'S SPORTING TOUR. 
ASK MAMMA. 

WaIford(Mrs. L. B.). MR. SMITH. 
COUSINS. 

THE BABY'S GRANIDMOTHER. 
Wallace (General LeVf-). BEN-HUR. 
THE FAIR GOD. 

■Watson (H. B. Marri(itt). THE ADVEN- 
TURERS. 

Weekes (A. B.). PRISONERS OF WAR. 

Wells (H. G.). THE. SEA LADY. 

White (Percy), A PASSIONATE 
PILGRIM. 



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