134 MONSIEUR DUMAS AND HIS BEASTS
lay down flat and waited. Almost at the same moment, Portugo's first bark was heard some two hundred yards off. Now the plan the two dogs had laid was clear to us. The rabbits came out of their holes in the quarry every evening to go to their feeding ground; Pritchard found the scent of one ; Portugo then made a wide circuit, found and chased the rabbit, and, as a rabbit or a hare always comes back upon its former track, Pritchard, lying in ambush, awaited its return. Accordingly, as the sound of Portugo's barking came closer, we saw Pritchard's yellow eyes light up and flame like a topaz; then all of a sudden he made a spring, and we heard a cry of fright and distress.
' They've done it!' said Michel, and he went to Pritchard, took out of his mouth a nice plump rabbit, gave it a blow behind the ears to finish it, and, opening it on the spot, gave the inside to the two dogs, who shared their portion contentedly, although they probably regretted Michel's interference. As Michel told me, I could have eaten a stewed rabbit every day for dinner, if such had been my desire.
But after this, events of a different kind were taking place, which obliged me to leave my country pursuits, and I spent about two months in Paris. The day before I returned to St.-Germains I wrote and told Michel to expect me, and found him waiting for me on the road half way from the station.
'I must tell you, sir,' he said, as soon as I was within hearing, 'that two important events have happened at Monte Cristo since you went away.'
' Well, Michel, let me hear.'
' In the first place, Pritchard got his hind foot into a snare and instead of staying where he was as any other dog would have done, he bit off his foot with his teeth, and so he came home upon three legs.'
'But,' said I, much shocked, ' is the poor beast dead after such an accident ?'