138 MONSIEUR DUMAS AND HIS BEASTS
' Well, sir,' he said, ' find out whom the crime benefits, and you will find the criminal.'
' I remember that axiom perfectly, Michel. "Well? '
' Well, sir, whom can this crime of stolen eggs benefit more than Pritchard?'
' Pritchard? You think it is he who steals the eggs? Pritchard, who brings home eggs without breaking them! *
' You mean who used to bring them. Pritchard is an animal who has vicious instincts, sir, and if he does not come to a bad end some day, I shall be surprised, that's all.'
' Does Pritchard eat eggs, then?'
' He does; and it is only right to say, sir, that that is your fault.'
'What! my fault? My fault that Pritchard eats eggs?'
Michel shook his head sadly, but nothing could shake his opinion.
' Now really, Michel, this is too much ! Is it not enough that critics tell me that I pervert everybody's mind with my corrupt literature, but you must join my detractors and say that my bad example corrupts Pritchard ?'
' I beg pardon, sir, but do you remember how one day, at the Villa Medicis, while you were eating an egg, M. Rusconi who was there said something so ridiculous that you let the egg fall upon the floor?'
' I remember that quite well.'
' And do you remember calling in Pritchard, who was scraping up a bed of fuchsias in the garden, and making him lick up the egg ?'
11 do not remember him scraping up a bed of fuchsias, but I do recollect that he licked up my egg.'
' Well, sir, it is that and nothing else that has been his ruin. Oh! he is quick enough to learn what is wrong; there is no need to show it him twice.'
' Michel, you are really extremely tedious. How have I shown Pritchard what is wrong?'