144 MONSIEUR DUMAS AND HIS BEASTS
From this moment there was only one shout all along the line.
' Hold in your dog, confound him !'
' Keep in your Pritchard, can't you! He's sending all the birds out of shot!'
' Look here ! Would you mind my putting a few pellets into your brute of a dog ? How can anybody shoot if he won't keep in? '
' Michel,' said I, ' catch Pritchard again.'
' I told you so, sir. Luckily we are not far from the house; I can still take him back.'
'Not at all. I have a second idea. Catch Pritchard.'
' After all,' said Michel, ' this is nearly as good fun as if we were shooting.'
And by-and-by he came back, dragging Pritchard by his stake. Pritchard had a partridge in his mouth.
'Look at him, the thief!' said Michel. 'He has carried off M. Gaignez's partridge — I see him looking for it'
' Put the partridge in your game-bag, Michel; we will give him a surprise.'
Michel hesitated. ' But,' said he, ' think of the opinion this rascal will have of you! '
' What, Michel ? do you think Pritchard has a bad opinion of me ? '
' Oh, sir ! a shocking opinion.'
' But what makes you think so ? '
' Why, sir, do you not think that Pritchard knows in his soul and conscience that when he brings you a bird that another gentleman has shot, he is committing a theft?'
' I think he has an idea of it, certainly, Michel.'
' Well, then, sir, if he knows he is a thief, he must take you for a receiver of stolen goods. Look at the articles of the Code; it is said there that receivers are equally guilty with thieves, and should be similarly punished.'
' Michel, you open my eyes to a whole vista of terrors.