The captain took me through the paths, among the beds bordered with box and filled with flowers. He told me the names of the prettiest ones, remarking each time that there were no such to be seen in the garden of that pig of a Lanlaire. Suddenly he plucked a little orange-colored flower, odd and charming, twirled the stem gently in his fingers, and asked me:
"Did you ever eat any of these?"
I was so surprised by this preposterous question that I stood with mouth closed. The captain declared:
"Well, I have eaten them. They are perfect to the taste. I have eaten all the flowers that are here. Some are good; some are not so good; and some don't amount to much. But, as for me, I eat everything."
He winked, clacked his tongue, tapped his belly, and repeated in a louder voice, in which an accent of defiance was uppermost:
"I eat everything, I do."
The way in which the captain had just proclaimed this strange confession of faith revealed to me that his vanity in life was to eat everything. I amused myself in humoring his mania.
"And you are right, Captain."
"Surely," he answered, not without pride. "And it is not only plants that I eat; I eat animals also,—animals that nobody else has eaten,—animals that are not known. I eat everthing, I do."