MONSIEUR DUMAS AND HIS BEASTS 123
crime. The counsel here took the prisoner in his arms, showed us his paws, and defied any anatomist to say that with paws so made, an animal could possibly open a door that was bolted. Finally, he borrowed Michel's Dictionary of Natural History, opened it at the article ' Cat,' ' Domestic Cat,' ' Wild Cat'; he proved that Mysouff was no wild cat, seeing that nature had robed him in white, the colour of innocence; then smiting the book with vehemence, ' Cat!' he exclaimed, ' Cat! You shall now hear, gentlemen, what the illustrious Buffon, the man with lace sleeves, has to say about the cat.
' " The cat," says M. de Buffon, "is not to be trusted, but it is kept to rid the house of enemies which cannot otherwise be destroyed. Although the cat, especially when young, is pleasing, nature has given it perverse and untrustworthy qualities which increase with age, and which education may conceal, but will not eradicate." Well, then,' exclaimed the orator, after having read this passage, ' what more remains to be said ? Did poor Mysouff come here with a false character seeking a situation ? Was it not the cook herself who found him — who took him by force from the heap of sticks behind which he had sought refuge? It was merely to interest and touch the heart of her master that she described him mewing in the cellar. We must reflect also, that those unhappy birds, his victims — I allude especially to the quails, which are eaten by man — though their death is doubtless much to be deplored, yet they must have felt themselves liable to death at any moment, and are now released from the terrors they experienced every time they saw the cook approaching their retreat. Finally, gentlemen, I appeal to your justice, and I think you will now admit that the interesting and unfortunate Mysouff has but yielded, not only to incontrollable natural instincts, but also to foreign influence. I claim for my client the plea, of extenuating circumstances.'
The counsel's pleading was received with cries of