"They attribute to you more than a hundred and fifty murders by your own hand."
All this while Theophrastus had been trolling with a minnow without having had the slightest reason to suspect the existence of any fish in the waters of the Marne with the slightest appetite for his living bait. Of a sudden, the float which the minnow was drawing gently along among the green hearts of the water-lilies seemed smitten with frenzy. It leapt out of the water and plunged into it again, with such an unexpected swiftness and in such a resolute haste that it disappeared in the depths, carrying with it all the line which united it to the rod which united it to the hand of Theophrastus. The unfortunate thing was that after having taken after it all the line, it also took with it all the rod—with the result that nothing whatever united it any longer to the empty hand of Theophrastus.
"The blackguard!" cried Theophrastus, with a gesture of despair, in such a manner that it is impossible to say whether he used that strong expression, so rare in his mouth, about the murderer of the past or the fish of the present.
He added however: "It must have weighed a good four pounds!"
Taking everything into account, Theophras-