« PreviousContinue »
of currant-jelly. Don't cry, I will buy you another. There is a great piece of apple-candy.
The Little Boy.-Thank you, papa. Ah! make me a Punch with a pen.
M. G.-I am busy now. Another time. • THE LITTLE BOY.- Ah, papa! a little Punch-very, very little.
M. G.-( Taking a pen and a sheet of paper.) You are as tenacious as your mother, I think. There-look-there is your Punch; but off with you as fast as you can, and be sure not to come back again, or I'll pull your cars for you.
The Little Boy.-( Taking the paper.) Thank you, dear papa. (Goes out jumping for joy.)
M. G.–So the poor little fellow wanted to make plays like me? There is something very engaging in this child. (Resuming his pen.) It is to be hoped that I shall be left in peace now.
“ A wife is an angel who unceasingly strives.” No, no, that won't do; the verse is incorrect; a wife is not an angel. I had put something else ; but when one is disturbed at every instant.
"A wife is a star--" No.
“ A wise is a cupid " No; I have lost the word.
Mad. G.-(Half opening the door.) My dear, my dear..
M. G.–Striking his hand upon his desk.) Ah! upon my word this is too much. Disturbed again.
Man. G.-Dear me! I am sorry for it; but the little young man who came here yesterday for his manuscript.
M. G.-Let him go to the devil-him and his “ Grand Turk Amorous !” I was sure that this cursed manuscript would still be the cause of annoyance to me. Is it, then, no longer possible to study in one's own house ?
Mad. G.-My word! You may say what you will to the young man himself. Here, Monsieur, here is my husband.(MAD. G. retires, after having introduced a young man, not very well dressed, who, in great confusion, makes a number of reverences, and remains at the door, twisting his hat in his hands, without any apparent intention of speaking first.)
M. G.-( To himself.) Let me recollect that I also have had my beginning. This young man is timid. Modesty is rare in these days. (He requests the young man to take a seat, and the visitor places himself on the corner of a chair, stammering.)
YOUNG MAN.-Monsieur, I am the author of the piece which has, no doubt, been delivered to you. I should be very much flattered by beginning with you. I have yet five grand dramas in progress. I will bring you them all.
M. G.–No, Monsieur, do not give yourself the trouble, I beg of you. Here is your manuscript. I cannot accede to any cooperation.
Young MAN.—But, Monsieur, if this piece does not please you, I have others.
M. G. I have had the honour of telling you that, with respect to me, it is impossible.
Young Man.-At least, Monsieur, tell me what you think of my piece.
M. G.–The title alone frightens me.
Young Max.—However, Monsieur, “ Poison, Poniard, and Bowstring" promises something.
M. G.-Exactly so; it promises horrors, for which I have no taste.
Young Man.-But, Monsieur, does not the drama excite strong emotions ?
M. G.–They are to be produced by natural sentiments and effects which touch the feelings. Here is your manuscript.
Young MAN.-And so, Monsieur, you will not accept me as an associate in your works? And what do you advise me to do with my “ Grand Turk?"
M. G.–Just what you will. Since the piece is ready, you risk nothing in offering it somewhere. I beg your pardon for not asking you to stay longer ; but I am very busy, and
YOUNG MAN.-( Making his reverences.) I am sorry, Monsieur, for having disturbed you. (Returning.) Monsieur, Monsieur, I make vaudevilles also. I am not amiss at a couplet.
M. G.-I do not doubt it, Monsieur. Make couplets ! for my part I wish to finish my poem.
Young Man.--I wrote some couplets upon the fête-day of one of my uncles. His name is Gregory. The name helped me. They were thought very droll. If you like it, I will sing them to you. They go to the air of Petit Matelot.
M. G.-Monsieur, I repeat to you once more that I am seriously engaged, and that I cannot listen to you any longer.
Young MAN.—Then, Monsieur, I beg your pardon. I take my leave. Your servant. (Bows and goes out.)
M. G.--A good riddance.
Young Man.-(Half opening the study door.) Monsieur, I am not the less delighted at having had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with you.
M. G.-(Shutting the door.) And I the same, certainly, Monsieur. Ah! this little young man is really a terrible infliction. Take in manuscripts indeed! See to what it exposes a man. I should do well to shut my doors to all the world, as so many others do. But to work now. Let us see. To myDomestic Happiness. It is a very pretty title. I am pleased
A couho unceasinglyther ring)
serbell! My wife, Thas some
with my title. Ah! where was I? At the portrait of my wife. (Strokes his forehead.) This unlucky young man has put all my ideas to the rout. Ah! I think I have got it.
“A wife is-a god—” Yes-that is it. I have it now. An angel would not do.
"A wife is a god who unceasingly strives,
Who-" A curse upon this young fellow with his “ Grand Turk!” Ah! -“who unceasingly strives ”-(house-bell rings, )-" unceasingly strives ”—(another ring) "strives—strives.”—( A louder ring.) The devil fly away with the bell! My wife must have gone out with the children; and perhaps the maid has some errand. Let them ring on-I shall not open the door. (He declaims.)
“ And love without bounds,
A wife is a god " (A ring to bring the house about one's ears.) They are going to break everything. There is no standing this. (Goes out of his study, and opens the door. A tall man, with a withered, yellow skin, dressed in rusty black, green spectacles with joints to hold them firm, and a soiled shirt and dirty hands, enters abruptly, crying out)
Ah! I knew very well there was somebody at home. The porter told me I should find some one, and so I was determined to ring on, and I am very glad I did so.
M. G.-But, Monsieur, it does not appear to me that that is a sufficient reason for pulling a bell down.
The Tall Man.-(Pushing M. G. into the apartment, and all but treading on his heels.) It is to M. G., a man of letters, that I have the honour of addressing myself?
M. G.-( Trying to prevent the tall man from advancing.) Yes, Monsieur; may I know
The Tall Man.- (Continuing to push forwards.) My faith, I am very glad to have found you at home; for I have been here very often, and was always told that you were out. That is annoying when one lives at a distance, and the weather is bad, particularly to me, for I hate umbrellas, and never use one.
M. G.–Will you have the goodness to tell me, Monsieur, in what I can
The Tall Man.--( Who has reached the drawing-room.) That is my object. I am come to beg a moment's audience of you ; for what I have to propose requires some explanation.
M. G.– Aside, after having examined him. He has no manuscript. I think I may risk it. (He introduces him into his cabinet, and offers him a seat ; on which the long stranger stretches himself, and takes out his snuff-box.
THE TALL MAN.— I shall go direct to my object. (Present. ing his snuff-box.) Do you take snuff? It is quite fresh.
M. G.--No, I thank you. I never take it.
THE TALL MAN.–And a man of letters too! It is very extraordinary. Whatever may say Aristotle and his learned cabal, snuff's a heavenly comfort, which has not its equal. I have taken it since I was fifteen years old; I accustomed myself to it on account of a disorder in my eyes, which, however, was not cured. Monsieur, I have a great many things to say to you. (M. G. heares a long sigh.) You must know, in the first place, that I have travelled, travelled a very great deal. By a train of adventures, which it would be too long to relate to you, I happened to find myself one winter's morning in the very middle of the Apennines. The heat was not oppressive, I can assure you.
M. G.-Monsieur, is it your history that you intend to relate to me?
The Tall Man.—(Speaking without stopping.) Another time, in the height of the dog-days, I was in Spain, in the mountains of the Sierra. A burning sun struck me in the face. That, as you see, has considerably helped to turn me yellow.
M. G.–I do not know what has made you yellow, Monsieur; but I should be glad to know what I have to do with all that?
THE TALL MAN.--Another time I went on foot from Milan to Naples; the distance is great. I had my boots all in holes in consequence of circumstances which it would be too tedious to communicate to you. ( Offering his snuff-box.) Do you take snuff?
M. G.-I have already told you, Monsieur, that I never take it. But I do not comprehend.
THE TALL MAN.—Another time I was overturned in a diligence on the road to Lyons; I fell into a quagmire of considerable depth, my body was all bruised to a jelly; but what was extraordinary enough, an apple, a golden rennet, that I happened to have in the left-hand pocket of my coat, was not at all squashed. I say squashed, * because this word expresses my meaning the best.
M. G.–To the fact, Monsieur, I beg of you, my moments are precious to me.
The Tall Max.—You don't take snuff? (takes a pinch). I am at my point, Monsieur. By the little summary I have given you, you must see that I have met with adventures ! a man who has travelled thirty years without stopping! Well, Monsieur, I am come to make your fortune—my own at the same time. You write romances, I learnt that in my travels. As to myself, I am not ambitious. You write novels: well, I will sell you my adventures; with them you may compose an immense number of volumes--one a-week! You will gain enormously; we will divide
it. But HALL Mato Lyo
* Translated by guess; écrabouillée, or écrabouiller not having a place in Boiste's Dictionary.
the profits, and by not putting my name, I leave you all the glory.
M. G.-(Rising.) If I had imagined the object of your visit, Monsieur, it should not have lasted so long. I am not a purchaser of adventures.
THE TALL MAN.--How! that does not suit you? It is very surprising! Only think, that with the strange adventures that I should have related to you, you would have made the most curious and extraordinary volumes, all palpitating with interest and emotion. Since it is your final decision, it is very annoying. You Jose an immense number of fine subjects. You don't take snuff? (takes a pinch). I would have sold you them all a bargain. But as that does not suit you-could you not do me the favour to lend me a piece of five francs? I have forgotten my purse. I will return it to you the first tiine I am in your neighbourhood. (M. G. delighted to get rid of his long visitor, hastens to put a
five-franc piece in his hand; on which the tall man makes his bow and his exit with great rapidity. M. G. shuts the door angrily and goes to reseat himself at his desk, saying) What an insupportable talker! (He then takes up his pen, murmuring to himself)
"A wife is a god." He has given me the head-ache. My patience was pushed to the utmost.
"A wife is an angel-a treasure.” I know no more what I am about than—let me recollect myself a little—with a little quiet I shall remember it. (Leans his head upon his hand. MADAME G. half opens the
door very gently, and putting in her head says)
“A wife is a god."
M. G.–(Turning round very angrily.) Well! what is it, Madame? Is there to be no end to this? What is the matter, in Heaven's name? What has happened? Is the house on fire?
Mad. G.– Would you like it best with melted butter or with oil ? (M. G. gives a great blow with his clenched hand on the desk ;
the papers fly in every direction, and he falls back in his chair, exclaiming)
This is frightful, Madame. It is unpardonable. What! for a fish! To come and disturb me! When I thought—when I was full of my subject! Ah! you deserve to be the wife of a grocer, of a Baotian! You do not comprehend an author !