+ ~ -
 
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
 
Report an Error
Go!
 
Go!
 
TOC
 

room. As many as conveniently can enter
the leading actor's room to congratulate him
on his success and his speedy recovery from
the sensational scene. Another party of
Pollos chokes the narrow passage leading to
the premier danseuse's boudoir, and great
is their joy when they catch a glimpse
of the gauze goddess as she flutters
hurriedly past on her way to the green-roorn.
The stage is thronged with these walking
gentlemen, who require no rehearsal
or prompter, and whose most attractive
performance consists in unbounded
cigarette smoking, and in getting in
everybody's way. It is a miracle how, in the
midst of this dire confusion, carpenters,
scene-shifters, and managers contrive to
set the stage for another act; and what
a scene would be disclosed if the drop
were to rise prematurely! Presently a
voice is heard to cry, " Fuera!" this being
Spanish for " clear the stage;" the big bell
tolls, and the audience in due course
return to their places in front. The curtain
having been drawn up after the drama, a
man comes round, like a ticket-collector on
a railway, to demand the cards of reserved
seats from their holders, and to distribute
programmes for to-morrow's performances.
Everybody is in turn disturbed and annoyed,
for at that moment the low comedy man is
singing a comic parody, in a farce called
the Sexton and the Widow.

But there is a graver interruption than
that caused by the ticket- collector. An
interruption which affects actors as well as
audience, rendering everybody within the
theatre walls motionless and speechless.
Some ladies are seen to cross themselves
devoutly, and are heard to utter ejaculations
about Misericordia and Maria
Santisima. Every door in the theatre is
thrown wide open, and the servants of
the establishment stand before them with
lighted candles. What is amiss? I look
for Tunicรบ, but he has disappeared. Fire?
The black bombero firemen are in their
accustomed places, and exhibit no sign that
such a catastrophe has occurred. Rebellious
outbreak of runaway niggers? I
glance at the military-box, and find the
occupants peacefully inclined. Earthquake?
I look towards the doctor's box, and observe
that nervous gentleman perfectly tranquil
and unmoved. Hark!. a tinkling bell is
ringing somewhere outside the theatre.
From my position in the stalls I can see
into the open street beyond, and anon I
descry a procession of church dignitaries
in full canonicals, the first of whom bears the
tinkling bell, while the rest carry long wax
candles, the Host, and the sacred umbrella.
Their mission at this hour of the evening
is that of administering the holy sacrament
to a dying man, and as they pass along
the streets, it behoves all occupants of
houses within the route devoutly to acknowledge
the procession as it passes. The
audience and actors accordingly kneel and
cross themselves while the holy functionaries
and their sacrament are in view. One
of the ecclesiastical party enters the theatre
and glances hurriedly within to see that all
are in the approved attitude. I am thankful
to find myself doing as the good Catholics
are doing, for I know that our visitor
has no respect of persons or creeds, and
would call me to order without the least
hesitation were I inclined to rebel. When
the religious funcion in the street (all
public shows, from a bull-fight to high mass,
are called funcions in the Spanish language)
is out of sight and hearing, the candles at
the door are extinguished, the spectators
resume their seats, and the farce funcion on
the stage proceeds.

TOYS, PAST AND PRESENT,

LOUNGING, the other day, through one of
the great thoroughfares at the West-end, I
found myself in front of a shop with a,
displayed stock so large, so gay, and so
various, that it arrested the attention of
children and adults alike, and perhaps
excited in the latter a regret that the time
had gone by when they could glory in the
possession of such amusing treasures.
Hoffmann, in one of his wildest novels, tells
us of a gentleman of thirty-six years of age,
who always kept his birthday or his Christmas
(I forget which) by having a vast
number of new toys purchased and spread
on a table for his pastime. The toys were
bought by his housekeeper, of course with
his own money, but, that the delusion of a
returning childhood might be maintained,
they were not shown to him till they had
all been properly arranged, and the
housekeeper had called out, " Come in, my little
Peregrine." There might have been a
Peregrine, or a Peregrine's agent, in the
crowd that stood in admiration before that
shop in Blank-street.

Certainly, the spectacle was gorgeous.
There were long boxes fitted with materials
for constructing every possible combination
of man and beast, that could be made to
wear a gay aspect. There was an elaborate