This man, employed as an inferior servant in the house, had the most ridiculously stupid look that can be imagined. His functions consisted in carrying wood, running errands, etc. In other respects he was a kind of laughing-stock to the other servants. In a moment of good humor, Dagobert, who filled the post of major-domo, had given this idiot the name of “Loony” (lunatic), which he had retained ever since, and which he deserved in every respect, as well for his awkwardness and folly as for his unmeaning face, with its grotesquely flat nose, sloping chin, and wide, staring eyes. Add to this description a jacket of red stuff, and a triangular white apron, and we must acknowledge that the simpleton was quite worthy of his name.
Yet, at the moment when Loony listened so attentively at the door of the adjoining room, a ray of quick intelligence animated for an instant his dull and stupid countenance.
When he had thus listened for a short time, Loony returned to the fireplace, still crawling on his knees; then rising, he again took his basket half full of wood, and once more approaching the door at which he had listened knocked discreetly. No one answered. He knocked a second time, and more loudly. Still there was the same silence.
Then he said, in a harsh, squeaking, laughable voice: “Ladies, do you want any wood, if you please, for your fire?”
Receiving no answer, Loony placed his basket on the ground, opened the door gently, and entered the next room, after casting a rapid glance around. He came out again in a few seconds, looking from side to side with an anxious air, like a man who had just accomplished some important and mysterious task.
Taking up his basket, he was about to leave Marshal Simon’s room, when the door of the private staircase was opened slowly and with precaution, and Dagobert appeared.
The soldier, evidently surprised at the servant’s presence, knitted his brows, and exclaimed abruptly, “What are you doing here?”
At this sudden interrogation, accompanied by a growl expressive of the ill-humor of Spoil-sport, who followed close on his master’s heels, Loony uttered a cry of real or pretended terror. To give, perhaps, an appearance of greater reality to his dread, the supposed simpleton let his basket fall on the ground, as if astonishment and fear had loosened his hold of it.
“What are you doing, numbskull?” resumed Dagobert, whose countenance was impressed with deep sadness, and who seemed little disposed to laugh at the fellow’s stupidity.
“Oh, M. Dagobert! how you frighten me! Dear me! what a pity I had not an armful of plates, to prove it was not my fault if I broke them all.”
“I ask what you are doing,” resumed the soldier.
“You see, M. Dagobert,” replied Loony, pointing to his basket, “that I came with some wood to master’s room, so that he might burn it, if it was cold—which it is.”