"Master Etienne," said a footman, entering the hall, "Philip wishes me to ask you where you put the whip."
"Where I put it? Why, I gave it back to him."
"But he says that you did not."
"Well, I laid it across the carriage-lamps!"
"No, sir, he says that you did not do that either. You had better confess that you took it and lashed it to shreds. I suppose poor Philip will have to make good your mischief out of his own pocket." The footman (who looked a grave and honest man) seemed much put out by the affair, and determined to sift it to the bottom on Philip's behalf.
Out of delicacy I pretended to notice nothing and turned aside, but the other footmen present gathered round and looked approvingly at the old servant.
"Hm--well, I DID tear it in pieces," at length confessed Etienne, shrinking from further explanations. "However, I will pay for it. Did you ever hear anything so absurd?" he added to me as he drew me towards the drawing-room.
"But excuse me, sir; HOW are you going to pay for it? I know your ways of paying. You have owed Maria Valericana twenty copecks these eight months now, and you have owed me something for two years, and Peter for--"