Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!

A Dramatic Funeral
by [?]

For twenty-five years he had played the role of the villain at the Boulevard du Crime,[A] and his harsh voice, his nose like an eagle’s beak, his eye with its savage glitter, had made him a good player of such parts. For twenty-five years, dressed in the cloak and encircled by the fawn-colored leather belt of Mordaunt, he had retreated with the step of a wounded scorpion before the sword of D’Artagnan; draped in the dirty Jewish gown of Rodin, he had rubbed his dry hands together, muttering the terrible “Patience, patience!” and, curled on the chair of the Duc d’Este, he had said to Lucretia Borgia, with a sufficiently infernal glance, “Take care and make no mistake. The flagon of gold, madame.” When, preceded by a tremolo, he made his entry in the scene, the third gallery trembled, and a sigh of relief greeted the moment when the first walking gentleman at last said to him: “Between us two, now,” and immolated him for the grand triumph of virtue.

[Footnote A: A nickname given to the Boulevard du Temple, on account of the numerous melodramatic theatres situated there.]

But this sort of success, which is only betrayed by murmurs of horror, is not of the kind to make a dramatic career seductive; and besides the old actor had always hidden in a corner of his heart the bucolic ideal which is in the heart of almost all artists. He sighed for an old age of leisure, and the comfortable dignity of a retired shopkeeper; the house in the country, where he could live with his family, with melons, under an arbor; cakes and wine in the winter evenings; his daughter a scholar in a convent; his son in the uniform of the Polytechnique; and the cross of the Legion.

Now, when we had occasion to know him, he had already nearly realized his dreams.

After the failure of the theatre where he had been for a long time engaged, some capitalists had thought of him to put the enterprise on its feet again. With his systematic habits, his good sense, his thorough and practical knowledge of the business, and a sufficiently correct literary instinct, he became an excellent manager. He was the owner of stocks and a villa at Montmorency; his son was a student at Sainte-Barbe, and his daughter had just come out of Les Oiseaux; and if the malice of small newspapers had retarded his nomination in the Legion of Honor by recalling every year, about the first of January, his old ranting on the stage, when he played formerly the villains’ parts, he could yet hope that it would not be long before the red ribbon would flourish in his button-hole. He had still preserved some of the habits of a strolling player, such as being very familiar with everybody, and dyeing his mustaches; but as he was, on the whole, good, honest, and serviceable, he conquered the esteem and friendship of those with whom he came in contact.

So it was with sincere grief that the whole dramatic world learned one day the terrible sorrow which had smitten that excellent man. His daughter, a girl of seventeen, had died suddenly of brain-fever.

We knew how he adored the child; how he had brought her up in the strictest principles of family and religion, far from the theatre, something as Triboulet hid his daughter Blanche in the little house of the cul-de-sac Bucy. We understood that all the hopes and ambitions of the man rested on the head of that charming girl, who, near all the corruption of the theatre, had grown up in innocence and purity, as one sees sometimes in the scanty grass of the faubourgs a field-flower spring up by the door of a hovel.

We were among the first at the funeral, to which we had been summoned by a black-bordered billet.