Passepartout entered and asked for Mr Batulcar, who straightaway appeared in person.
`What do you want?' said he to Passepartout, whom he at first took for a native.
`Would you like a servant, sir?' asked Passepartout.
`A servant!' cried Mr Batulcar, caressing the thick gray beard which hung from his chin. `I already have two who are obedient and faithful, have never left me, and serve me for their nourishment, - and here they are,' added he, holding out his two robust arms, furrowed with veins as large as the strings of a bass-viol.
`So I can be of no use to you?'
`The devil! I should so like to cross the Pacific with you!'
`Ah!' said the Honourable Mr Batulcar. `You are no more a Japanese than I am a monkey! Why are you dressed up in that way?'
`A man dresses as he can.'
`That's true. You are a Frenchman, aren't you?'
`Yes; a Parisian of Paris.'
`Then you ought to know how to make grimaces?'
`Why?' replied Passepartout, a little vexed that his nationality should cause this question; `we Frenchmen know how to make grimaces, it is true, - but not any better than the Americans do.'
`True. Well, if I can't take you as a servant, I can as a clown. You see, my friend, in France they exhibit foreign clowns, and in foreign parts French clowns.'
`You are pretty strong, eh?'
`Especially after a good meal.'
`And you can sing?'
`Yes,' returned Passepartout, who had formerly been wont to sing in the streets.
`But can you sing standing on your head, with a top spinning on your left foot, and a sabre balanced on your right?'
`Humph! I think so,' replied Passepartout, recalling the exercises of his younger days.
`Well, that's enough,' said the Honourable William Batulcar.
The engagement was concluded there and then.
Passepartout had at last found something to do. He was engaged to act in the celebrated Japanese troupe. It was not a very dignified position, but within a week he would be on his way to San Francisco.
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