118 MONSIEUR DUMAS AND HIS BEASTS
'You know, of course, how they catch them in their own country.'
' What! you don't know that, gentlemen ?' said Michel, full of compassion for our ignorance. ' You know that monkeys are very fond of Indian corn. Well, you put some Indian corn into a bottle, the neck of which is just large enough to admit a monkey's paw. He sees the Indian corn through the glass-----'
' He puts his hand inside, and takes a good handful of the Indian corn. At that moment the hunter shows himself. They are so obstinate — the monkeys, I mean — that they won't let go what they have in their hand, but as they can't draw their closed fist through the opening, there they are, you see, caught.'
' Well, then, Michel, if ever our monkeys get out, you will know how to catch them again.'
' Oh! no fear, sir, that is just what I shall do.'
The seltzer-water experiment was successfully repeated, to the triumph of Michel and the delight of Alexandre, who wished to go on doing it; but I forbade him, seeing that poor Mademoiselle Desgarcin's nose was bleeding from the blow of the cork.
'It is not that,' said Alexandre; 'it is because you grudge your seltzer water. I have already remarked, gentlemen, that my father is, I regret to say, an exceedingly avaricious man.'
It is now my painful duty to give my readers some account of the infamous conduct of Mysouff II. One morning, on waking rather late, I saw my bedroom door gently opened, and the head of Michel thrust in, wearing such a concerned expression that I knew at once that something was wrong.