“Understand your own interest better, Cornemuse! Penguinia is ours. What do we need to conquer it? just one effort more . . . one more little sacrifice of money and . . .”
But without listening further, the monk of Conils drew in his head and closed his window.
THE AFFAIR OF THE EIGHTY THOUSAND TRUSSES OF HAY
O Father Zeus, only save thou the sons of the Acheans from the darkness, and make clear sky and vouchsafe sight to our eyes, and then, so it be but light, slay us, since such is thy good pleasure. (Iliad, xvii. 645 et seq.)
A short time after the flight of the Emiral, a middle-class Jew called Pyrot, desirous of associating with the aristocracy and wishing to serve his country, entered the Penguin army. The Minister of War, who at the time was Greatauk, Duke of Skull, could not endure him. He blamed him for his zeal, his hooked nose, his vanity, his fondness for study, his thick lips, and his exemplary conduct. Every time the author of any misdeed was looked for, Greatauk used to say:
“It must be Pyrot!”
One morning General Panther, the Chief of the Staff, informed Greatauk of a serious matter. Eighty thousand trusses of hay intended for the cavalry had disappeared and not a trace of them was to be found.
Greatauk exclaimed at once:
“It must be Pyrot who has stolen them!”
He remained in thought for some time and said: “The more I think of it the more I am convinced that Pyrot has stolen those eighty thousand trusses of hay. And I know it by this: he stole them in order that he might sell them to our bitter enemies the Porpoises. What an infamous piece of treachery!
“There is no doubt about it,” answered Panther; “it only remains to prove it.”
The same day, as he passed by a cavalry barracks, Prince des Boscenos heard the troopers as they were sweeping out the yard, singing:
Boscenos est un gros
On en va faire des andouilles,
Des saucisses et du jambon
Pour le riveillon des pauy’ bougres.
It seemed to him contrary to all discipline that soldiers should sing this domestic and revolutionary refrain which on days of riot had been uttered by the lips of jeering workmen. On this occasion he deplored the moral degeneration of the army, and thought with a bitter smile that his old comrade Greatauk, the head of this degenerate army, basely exposed him to the malice of an unpatriotic government. And he promised himself that he would make an improvement before long.
“That scoundrel Greatauk,” said he to himself, “will, not remain long a Minister.”