116 MONSIEUR DUMAS AND HIS BEASTS
' Do buy this charming creature,' said my artist friend Giraud.
' Yes, do buy this ridiculous little beast,' said Alexandre.
' Buy him, indeed,' said I; ' have I forty francs to give away every day, to say nothing of a guinea-pig and two white mice ?'
' Gentlemen,' said Alexandre, ' I am sorry to tell you that my father is, without exception, the most avaricious man living.'
My guests exclaimed, but Alexandre said that one day he would prove the truth of his assertion. I was now called upon to admire the monkey, and to remark how like he was to a friend of ours. Giraud, who was painting a portrait of this gentleman, said that if I would let the monkey sit to him, it would help him very much in his work, and Maquet, another of my guests, offered, amidst general applause, to make me a present of it.1 This decided me.
' You see,' said Alexandre, ' he accepts.'
' Come, young man,' said I to the Auvergnat, ' embrace your monkey for the last time, and if you have any tears to shed, shed them without delay.'
When the full price was paid, the boy made an attempt to do as I told him, but the Last of the Laidmanoirs refused to be embraced by his former master, and as soon as the latter had gone away, he seemed delighted and began to dance, while Mademoiselle Desgarcins in her cage danced, too, with all her might.
'Look!' said Maquet, ' they like each other. Let us complete the happiness of these interesting animals.'
We shut them up in the cage together, to the great delight of Mademoiselle Desgarcins, who did not care for Potich, and much preferred her new admirer. Potich, indeed, showed signs of jealousy, but, not being armed
1 Maquet. The immortal Augustus MacKeat.