MONSIEUR DUMAS AND HIS BEASTS 139
' By making him eat an egg. You see, sir, before that he was as innocent as a new-born babe; he didn't know what an egg was — he thought it was a badly made golf ball. But as soon as you make him eat an egg, he learns what it is. Three days afterwards, M. Alexandre came home, and was complaining to me of his dog — that he was rough and tore things with his teeth in carrying them. "Ah! look at Pritchard," I said to him, "how gentle he is! you shall see the way he carries an egg." So I fetched an egg from the kitchen, placed it on the ground, and said, "Fetch, Pritchard!" Pritchard didn't need to be told twice, but what do you think the cunning rascal
did? You remember, some days before, Monsieur------
the gentleman who had such a bad toothache, you know. You recollect his coming to see you ?'
' Yes, of course I remember.'
' Well, Pritchard pretended not to notice, but those yellow eyes of his notice everything. Well, all of a sudden he pretended to have the same toothache that that gentleman had, and crack! goes the egg. Then he pretends to be ashamed of his awkwardness — he swallows it in a hurry, shell and all! I believed him — I thought it was an accident and fetched another egg. Scarcely did he make three steps with the egg in his mouth than the toothache comes on again, and crack ! goes the second egg. I began then to suspect something — I went and got a third, but if I hadn't stopped then he'd have eaten the whole basketful. So then M. Alexandre, who likes his joke, said, "Michel, you may possibly make a good musician of Pritchard, or a good astronomer, but he'll never be a good incubator! "'
' How is it that you never told me this before, Michel?'
'Because I was ashamed, sir; for this is not the worst.'
' What! not the worst?'
Michel shook his head.