opera cloak. Every day she exhibits him. It is “Alexander this” and “Alexander that,” till I ’ate Alexander very much. I ’ate all the animals, but especially Alexander.

And so, monsieur, it goes on, day by day, in this hotel that is a Zoological Garden. And every day I ’ate the animals the more. But especially Alexander.

We artists, monsieur, we are martyrs to our nerves. It became insupportable, this thing. Each day it became more insupportable. At night I dream of all the animals, one by one—the giraffe, the two dromedaries, the young lion, the alligator, and Alexander. Especially Alexander. You have ’eard of men who cannot endure the society of a cat—how they cry out and jump in the air if a cat is among those present. Hein? Your Lord Roberts? Precisely, monsieur. I have read so much. Listen, then. I am become by degrees almost like ’im. I do not cry out and jump in the air when I see the cat Alexander, but I grind my teeth and I ’ate ’im.

Yes, I am the sleeping volcano, and one morning, monsieur, I have suffered the eruption. It is like this. I shall tell you.

Not only at that time am I the martyr to nerves, but also to toothache. That morning I ’ave ’ad the toothache very bad. I ’ave been in pain the most terrible. I groan as I add up the figures in my book.

As I groan I ’ear a voice.

“Say good morning to M. Priaulx, Alexander.” Conceive my emotions, monsieur, when this fat, beastly cat is placed before me upon my desk!

It put the cover upon it. No, that is not the phrase. The lid. It put the lid upon it. All my smothered ’atred of the animal burst forth. I could no longer conceal my ’atred.

I rose. I was terrible. I seized ’im by the tail. I flung him—I did not know where. I did not care. Not then. Afterwards, yes, but not then.

Your Longfellow has a poem. “I shot an arrow into the air. It fell to earth, I know not where.” And then he has found it. The arrow in the ’eart of a friend. Am I right? Also was that the tragedy with me. I flung the cat Alexander. My uncle, on whom I am dependent, is passing at the moment. He has received the cat in the middle of his face.

My companion, with the artist’s instinct for the “curtain,” paused. He looked round the brightly-lit restaurant. From every side arose the clatter of knife and fork, and the clear, sharp note of those who drank soup. In a distant corner a small waiter with a large voice was calling the cook names through the speaking- tube. It was a cheerful scene, but it brought no cheer to my companion. He sighed heavily and resumed.

I ’urry over that painful scene. There is blooming row. My uncle is ’to-tempered man. The cat is ’eavy cat. I ’ave thrown ’im very hard, for my nerves and my toothache and my ’atred ’ave given me the giant’s strength. Alone is this enough to enrage my ’ot-tempered uncle. I am there in his hotel, you will understand, as cashier, not as cat-thrower. And now, besides all this, I have insulted valuable patron. She ’ave left the hotel that day.

There are no doubts in my mind as to the outcome. With certainty I await my congé. And after painful scene I get it. I am to go. At once. He ’ave assured the angry American woman that I go at once.

He has called me into his private office. “Jean,” he has said to me, at the end of other things, “you are a fool, dolt, no-good imbecile. I give you good place in my hotel, and you spend your time flinging cats. I will ’ave no more of you. But even now I cannot forget that you are my dear brother’s child. I will now give you one thousand francs and never see you again.”

I have thanked him, for to me it is wealth. Not before have I ever had one thousand francs of my own.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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