114 MONSIEUR DUMAS AND HIS BEASTS
' But where am I to find two white mice and a guinea-pig?'
' If you will leave the commission to me, I will see that they are found.'
I left the commission to Michel.
' If you won't think me impertinent, sir,' said Madame Lamarque, ' I should so like to know what Mysouff means.'
' Mysouff just means Mysouff, Madame Lamarque.'
' It is a cat's name, then? '
' Certainly, since Mysouff the First was so-called. It is true, Madame Lamarque, you never knew Mysouff.' And I became so thoughtful that Madame Lamarque was kind enough to withdraw quietly, without asking any questions about Mysouff the First.
That name had taken me back to fifteen years ago, when my mother was still living. I had then the great happiness of having a mother to scold me sometimes. At the time I speak of, I had a situation in the service of the Due d'Orleans, with a salary of 1,500 francs. My work occupied me from ten in the morning until five in the afternoon. We had a cat in those days whose name was Mysouff. This cat had missed his vocation — he ought to have been a dog. Every morning I started for my office at half-past nine, and came back every evening at half-past five. Every morning Mysouff followed me to the corner of a particular street, and every evening I found him in the same street, at the same corner, waiting for me. Now the curious thing was that on the days when I had found some amusement elsewhere, and was not coming home to dinner, it was no use to open the door for Mysouff to go and meet me.1 Mysouff, in the attitude of the serpent with its tail in its mouth, refused to stir from his cushion. On the other hand, the days I did come, Mysouff would scratch at the door until someone
' A remarkable instance of telepathy in the Cat. —A. L.