“Morin,” she replied, “is not one of the skaters. Look, he is on the stage. That’s he over there, the one who is doing the bishop; that bishop, you see, who is being pushed and pulled. Wait, he will be off directly.”
One of the Anabaptist leaders intervened, however, declaring that the nobles and priests who could pay ransom should be spared. Morin escaped with his life, and I had the honor of being presented to him by the little Westphalian peasant-girl.
He had quite a venerable air, with his long gray beard and his fine purple robe with his large pastoral cross. While he was arranging somewhat his costume, which had been so roughly pulled by those violent Anabaptists, I asked him if he would be willing to give lessons to two young girls of good family.
The pious bishop accepted with alacrity. His price was ten francs an hour.
The little skaters had gone on the stage, and were performing wonderful feats. The wings had suddenly become calm and silent. We gave ourselves up, his Reverence and myself, to a little friendly chat.
“Yes, sir,” his Highness said to me, “I give dancing lessons. I have many patrons among the aristocracy and the bankers. I have no reason to complain; and yet one must admit things were better once, much better. Dancing is going out, sir, dancing is going out.”
“Is it possible?”
“It is as I have the honor of telling you. Women still learn to dance; but no longer the young men, sir, no longer. Baccarat, races, and the minor theatres—that’s what they enjoy. It’s a little the fault of the Government.”
“How can that be?”
“M. Jules Ferry has recently rearranged the curriculum of the University. He has made certain studies obligatory—modern languages, for instance. I don’t blame him for that; the study of modern languages has great advantages. But dancing, sir; nothing has been done for dancing, and it is dancing which ought, after all, to have been made obligatory. There ought to be a dancing-master in every high-school, and a normal-school for dancing with examinations and competitions in dancing. Dancing ought to be studied the same as Latin or Greek. Dancing, too, is a language, and a language that every well-bred man ought to be able to speak. Well, do you know what happens nowadays? Sometimes it happens, sir, that diplomatic posts are given to people who get confused in the figures of a quadrille, and who are incapable of waltzing for two minutes. They know very well that their education is incomplete. Quite lately a young man came to me—a young man of great merit, it seems, except in regard to dancing. He had just been attached to a great embassy. He had never danced in his life—never. Do you understand? Never! It is scarcely to be credited, and yet it is true. That’s the way M. Barthelemy-Saint-Hilaire picks them out. Oh, this beard smothers me! Will you permit me?”