Page:The Yellow Book - 01.djvu/153

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By Henry Harland

called to dinner. It was hard that evening to apply myself o my school-books. Before I went to bed I paid them a parting visit; they were huddled together in their nest of cotton-wool, sleeping soundly. And I was up at an unheard-of hour next morning, to have a bout with them before going to school. I found Alexandre, in his nightcap and long white apron, occupied with the soins de propreté, as he said. He cleaned out the cage, put in fresh food and water, and then, pointing to the fat old couple, the grandparents, who stopped lazily abed, sitting up and rubbing their noses together, whilst their juniors scampered merrily about their affairs, "Tiens! On dirait Monsieur et Madame Denis," he cried. I felt the appositeness of his allusion; and the old couple were forthwith officially denominated Monsieur and Madame Denis, for their resemblance to the hero and heroine of the song—though which was Monsieur, and which Madame, I'm not sure that I ever clearly knew.

It was a little after this that I was taken for the first time in my life to the play. I fancy the theatre must have been the Porte St. Martin; at any rate, it was a theatre in the Boulevard, and towards the East, for I remember the long drive we had to reach it. And the piece was The Count of Monte Cristo. In my memory the adventure shines, of course, as a vague blur of light and joy; a child's first visit to the play, and that play The Count of Monte Cristo! It was all the breath-taking pleasantness of romance made visible, audible, actual. A vague blur of light and joy, from which only two details separate themselves. First, the prison scene, and an aged man, with a long white beard, moving a great stone from the wall; then—the figure of Mercedes. I went home terribly in love with Mercedes. Surely there are no such grandes passions in maturer life as those helpless, inarticulate ones we burn in secret with before our teens; surely we never love