152 MONSIEUR DUMAS AND HIS BEASTS
Michel? ' I said. ' Catinat will not eat the eggs, perhaps, but he will eat the hens.'
' If a misfortune like that were to occur, I know a method of curing him of eating hens.'
'Well but in the meantime the hens would be eaten.'
Scarcely had I uttered these words, when a frightful noise was heard in the stable-yard, as loud as that of a pack of hounds in full cry, but mingled with howls of rage and pain wThich indicated a deadly combat.
' Michel! ' I cried, ' do you hear that? '
' Oh yes, I hear it,' he answered, ' but those must be the neighbours' dogs fighting.'
' Michel, those are Catinat and Pritchard killing each other!'
' Impossible, sir I have separated them.'
' Well, then, they have met again.'
' It is true,' said Michel, ' that scoundrel Pritchard can open the stable-door as well as any one.'
'Then, you see, Pritchard is a dog of courage; he'll have opened the stable-door for Catinat on purpose to fight him. Be quick, Michel, I am really afraid one of them will be killed.'
Michel darted into the passage which led to the stable, and no sooner had he disappeared than I knew from the lamentations which I heard that some misfortune had happened. In a minute or two Michel reappeared sobbing bitterly and carrying Pritchard in his arms.
' Look, sir! just look! ' he said; ' this is the last we shall see of Pritchard look what your fine sporting dog has done to him. Catinat, indeed! it is Catilina he should be called!'
I ran up to Pritchard, full of concern I had a great love for him, though he had often made me angry. He was a dog of much originality, and the unexpected things he did were only a proof of genius.
' What do you think is the matter?' I asked Michel.
' The matter? the matter is that he is dead!'