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workhouse, Katey sweet; and now that
they've started them old hobgoblins, and
hunted up the few sacks of wild oats I
sowed when I was young and foolish, why
they may all get too many for me at last,
and put me to the wall."

Such disquisitions only confirmed Katey
in her chivalrous purpose, and the flutter
and all but delirium of nuptial preparation
the dresses coming home, the fitting on
of the wreath, a grand and exciting solemnity,
helped even more.


A CALL for seven A.M. would hardly meet
with a punctual response were such an
announcement posted behind the stage-door
of a London theatre; but in Cuba the more
important business of the day is transacted
during the cool hours of the morning, and
it does not surprise Roscius of the West
Indies when he finds himself summoned to
a theatrical rehearsal some three or four
hours before breakfast. After that meal
Roscius makes up for lost sleeping-time,
by taking a long siesta till the hour of

During rehearsal in the theatre I am
describing, the doors are open to the public,
and, there being nothing to pay for admission,
the stalls and private boxes are always
well filled by a not very select audience.
Gentlemen of colour are not inadmissible
on these occasions; hats may be worn at
pleasure, and smoking is so far from being
strictly prohibited, that manager and actors
themselves set the example. I am tempted
to stroll into the theatre during rehearsal
because it is a refreshing lounge after toiling
up the stony, hilly Cuban streets, and
because I may gather a new fact or two
connected with life behind the Cuban
curtain from my friend Tunicú, who is a great
authority in matters theatrical. Tunicú
resides permanently in the building itself,
and is paid for taking care of it by
night and by day. He is, besides, scene-
painter, property-man, costumier, and a
good mimic, often obliging the manager by
imitating the bark of a dog, the crow of
a cock, or the bray of a donkey behind the
wings. At the end of the season he is
allowed half a benefit, on which occasion
only he delights his numerous patrons by
enacting the fore-paws in a dancing donkey
to the tune of the Zapateo, a popular negro
double- shuffle. In carnival time Tunicú
lets out dominoes and masks of his own
manufacture, or faded theatrical costumes
and properties; and whenever the captain-
general honours the town with his august
presence, it devolves upon my friend to
superintend the decorations of the houses
and those of the theatre, where a grand
ball to celebrate the event is held.

The curtain being raised for rehearsal,
discloses the whole strength of a very fair
company of Spanish actors. None of them
bear the conventional air of strolling
players; the men are moustached, and
fashionably attired, and the women, from
leading lady to insignificant super, are
elegantly dressed. Apropos of supers,
Tunicú assures me it is no easy matter to
secure the invaluable services of a genuine
white for these purposes. A white lady is
not to be had for love or money; and when
fairies are required for a burlesque, the
children of respectable families are
sometimes prevailed upon to appear. Male
supers are not so scarce; Spanish soldiers
may occasionally be hired; and when these
are otherwise engaged, a dozen stage-struck
youths of good family volunteer their
services as chorus, crowd, or army. The
important roles of quadruped and agitated
water are filled by negroes, who, in Cuba,
are, of course, plentiful as blackberries;
but when a real black face is required to
figure in the performance, it is represented
by a painted mulatto, for Spanish law in
Cuba is severe, and prohibits the genuine
article from appearing on the stage. The
theatre opens four times a week, including
Sunday, and the entertainment is varied
every night. To-day the company rehearse
a local drama, a zarzuela, and a farce called
Un Cuarto con dos Camas, being a Spanish
version of Morton's Double-bedded Room.
A famous actor from Spain is the star of
the present season. At rehearsal he is a
fallen star, being extremely old and shaky,
but at night his make-up is wonderful, and
he draws large audiences, who witness his
great scene of a detected thief in convulsions.
The prompter is seated under a cupola in
the centre of the stage near the footlights,
as at the opera, and his duties are arduous.
It devolves upon him to read over the part
of each performer in a suppressed tone,
and to direct their manner of exit and their
position on the stage. He is unseen by
the audience, but often heard by them, for
the actors have only a faint notion of their
parts, and cannot repeat a line at night
without having it first hissed at them by
their friend at the .footlights.

Tunicú has much to say upon the subject