Very well — but still — three pounds seems a good deal.'
He put Gazelle in the scale. She weighed exactly two pounds and a half! The deduction was simple. Either Gazelle had been falsely accused or the theft had been much smaller than was represented. Indeed the waiter readily took this view of the matter, and was quite satisfied with five francs as an idemnity.
The varied adventures of Gazelle had become rather a bore, and her owner felt that he must try to find some other home for her. She spent the following night in his room, but thanks to the absence of snails all went well. When Joseph came in next morning, his first act as usual was to roll up the hearthrug, and, opening the window, to shake it well out in the air. Suddenly he uttered an exclamation and flung himself half out of the window.
' What's the matter, Joseph ?' asked his master, only half awake.
' Oh, sir — it's your tortoise. It was on the rug, and I never saw it — and------'
' And I declare, before I knew what I was about, I shook it out of the window.'
' Imbecile ! ' shouted Dumas, springing out of bed.
' Ah!' cried Joseph with a sigh of relief. ' See, she's eating a cabbage!'
And so she was. Her fall had been broken by a rubbish heap, and after a few seconds in which to recover her equanimity, she had ventured to thrust her head out, when finding a piece of cabbage near, she at once began her breakfast.
'Didn't I say so, sir?' cried Joseph, delighted. ' Nothing hurts those creatures. There now, whilst she's eating that cabbage a coach-and-four might drive over her------'
'Never mind, never mind; just run down and fetch her up quick.'