no MONSIEUR DUMAS AND HIS BEASTS
' Michel, I have no more to say.'
' "The number of eggs in the nest varied. There have been as many as six at a time." ' ' Michel, I yield, rescue or no rescue !' ' Only,' said Michel, shutting the book, ' you must be careful not to give them bitter almonds or parsley.'
' Not bitter almonds,' I answered, ' because they con-tain prussic acid; but why not parsley ?'
Michel, who had kept his thumb in the page, reopened the book. ' " Parsley and bitter almonds,"' he read, ' " are a violent poison to parrots."'
' All right, Michel, I shall remember.'
I remembered so well, that some time after, hearing that M. Persil had died suddenly (persil being the French for parsley), I exclaimed, much shocked : ' Ah ! poor man, how unfortunate! He must have been eating parrot!' However, the news was afterwards contradicted.
The next day I desired Michel to tell the carpenter to make a new cage for Mademoiselle Desgarcins, who would certainly die of cramp if left in her small travelling cage. But Michel, with a solemn face, said it was unnecessary. ' For,' said he, 'I am sorry to tell you, sir, that a misfortune has happened. A weasel has killed the golden pheasant. You will, however, have it for your dinner to-day.'
I did not refuse, though the prospect of this repast caused me no great pleasure. I am very fond of game, but somehow prefer pheasants which have been shot to those killed by weasels.
' Then,' said I, ' if the cage is empty, let us put in the monkey.' We brought the little cage close to the big cage, and opened both doors. The monkey sprang into her new abode, bounded from perch to perch, and then came and looked at me through the bars, making grimaces and uttering plaintive cries.
' She is unhappy without a companion,' said Michel.
' Suppose we give her the parrot ? '