you think came of that? Why the economist in despair at last mentioned Mont-Fermeuil as one of the French towns, remembering it probably from some novel of Paul de Kock's. And that reminds me of the following anecdote. I was one day strolling through a wood with a dog and a gun——'
'Are you a sportsman then?' asked Litvinov.
'I shoot a little. I was making my way to a swamp in search of snipe; I 'd been told of the swamp by other sportsmen. I saw sitting in a clearing before a hut a timber merchant's clerk, as fresh and smooth as a peeled nut, he was sitting there, smiling away—what at, I can't say. So I asked him: "Whereabouts was the swamp, and were there many snipe in it?" "To be sure, to be sure," he sang out promptly, and with an expression of face as though I 'd given him a rouble; "the swamp 's first-rate, I 'm thankful to say; and as for all kinds of wild fowl,—my goodness, they 're to be found there in wonderful plenty." I set off, but not only found no wild fowl, the swamp itself had been dry for a long time. Now tell me, please, why is the Russian a liar? Why does the political economist lie, and why the lie about the wild fowl too?'
Litvinov made no answer, but only sighed sympathetically.