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PAGE 4

The Rabbit
by [?]

“All right, here we are!”

“What have you got? The rabbit?”

“No, the thief.”

“The thief! Pull him out, pull him out!”

The gendarme had put his arms under the bed and laid hold of something, and he was pulling with all his might, and at last a foot, shod in a thick boot, appeared, which he was holding in his right hand. The brigadier took it, crying:

“Pull! Pull!”

And Lenient, who was on his knees by that time, was pulling at the other leg. But it was a hard job, for the prisoner kicked out hard, and arched up his back under the bed.

“Courage! courage! pull! pull!” Senateur cried, and they pulled him with all their strength, so that the wooden slat gave way, and he came out as far as his head; but at last they got that out also, and they saw the terrified and furious face of Polyte, whose arms remained stretched out under the bed.

“Pull away!” the brigadier kept on exclaiming. Then they heard a strange noise, and as the arms followed the shoulders, and the hands the arms, they saw in the hands the handle of a saucepan, and at the end of the handle the saucepan itself, which contained stewed rabbit.

“Good Lord! good Lord!” the brigadier shouted in his delight, while Lenient took charge of the man; the rabbit’s skin, an overwhelming proof, was discovered under the mattress, and then the gendarmes returned in triumph to the village with their prisoner and their booty.

A week later, as the affair had made much stir, Lecacheur, on going into the mairie to consult the schoolmaster, was told that the shepherd Severin had been waiting for him for more than an hour, and he found him sitting on a chair in a corner, with his stick between his legs. When he saw the mayor, he got up, took off his cap, and said:

“Good-morning, Maitre Cacheux”; and then he remained standing, timid and embarrassed.

“What do you want?” the former said.

“This is it, monsieur. Is it true that somebody stole one of your rabbits last week?”

“Yes, it is quite true, Severin.”

“Who stole the rabbit?”

“Polyte Ancas, the laborer.”

“Right! right! And is it also true that it was found under my bed?”

“What do you mean, the rabbit?”

“The rabbit and then Polyte.”

“Yes, my poor Severin, quite true, but who told you?”

“Pretty well everybody. I understand! And I suppose you know all about marriages, as you marry people?”

“What about marriage?”

“With regard to one’s rights.”

“What rights?”

“The husband’s rights and then the wife’s rights.”

“Of course I do.”

“Oh! Then just tell me, M’sieu Cacheux, has my wife the right to go to bed with Polyte?”

“What, to go to bed with Polyte?”

“Yes, has she any right before the law, and, seeing that she is my wife, to go to bed with Polyte?”

“Why, of course not, of course not.”

“If I catch him there again, shall I have the right to thrash him and her also?”

“Why–why–why, yes.”

“Very well, then; I will tell you why I want to know. One night last week, as I had my suspicions, I came in suddenly, and they were not behaving properly. I chucked Polyte out, to go and sleep somewhere else; but that was all, as I did not know what my rights were. This time I did not see them; I only heard of it from others. That is over, and we will not say any more about it; but if I catch them again–by G–, if I catch them again, I will make them lose all taste for such nonsense, Maitre Cacheux, as sure as my name is Severin.”