MONSIEUR DUMAS AND HIS BEASTS 129
ment, make them believe you are the neighbour's dog, and after two or three days, nobody would know you did not belong to the house. You might live here just as well as those idle useless monkeys, who do nothing but amuse themselves, or that greedy vulture, who eats tripe all day long, or that idiot of a macaw, who is always screaming about nothing.'
The dog stayed, keeping in the background at first, but in a day or two he jumped up upon me and followed me everywhere, and there was another guest to feed, that was all. Michel asked me one day if I knew how many dogs there were about the place. I answered that I did not.
' Sir,' said Michel, ' there are thirteen.'
' That is an unlucky number, Michel; you must see that they do not all dine together, else one of them is sure to die first.'
' It is not that, though,' said Michel, ' it is the expense I am thinking of. Why, they would eat an ox a day, all those dogs; and if you will allow me, sir, I will just take a whip and put the whole pack to the door, to-morrow morning.'
' But, Michel, let us do it handsomely. These dogs, after all, do honour to the house by staying here. So give them a grand dinner to-morrow; tell them that it is the farewell banquet, and then, at dessert, put them all to the door.'
' But after all, sir, I cannot put them to the door, because there isn't a door.'
' Michel,' said I, ' there are certain things in this world that one must just put up with, to keep up one's character and position. Since all these dogs have come to me, let them stay with me. I don't think they will ruin me, Michel. Only, on their own account, you should be careful that there are not thirteen.'
' I will drive away one,' suggested Michel, ' and then there will only be twelve.'