“Ha! ha! ha!”
“Well then, sir,” continued Melchior to Philotas, “perhaps you’ll tell how many ladies and gentlemen we may expect to honour us with their company to-night.”
“How many, sir?”
“Yes, sir, how many.”
“I’m sure I don’t know,” said Num, after a pause.
“Positively you are the greatest fool I ever met with,” said Melchior.
“Well, he does act the fool as natural as life,” observed the crowd. “What a stupid face he does put on!”
“Perhaps you will be able to answer that question, Mr Dionysius,” said I to Tim.
“Yes, sir, I know exactly.”
“Well, sir, let’s hear.”
“In the first place, all the pretty women will come, and all the ugly ones stay away; and as for the men, all those who have got any money will be certain to come; those who haven’t, poor devils, must stay outside.”
“Suppose, sir, you make a bow to the ladies.”
“A very low one, sir?”
“Yes, very low indeed.”
Tim bent his body to the ground, and threw a somerset forward. “There, sir; I bowed so low, that I came up on the other side.”
“Ha! ha! capital!” from the crowd.
“I’ve got a round turn in my back, sir,” continued Tim, rubbing himself. “Hadn’t I better take it out again?”
“By all means.”
Tim threw a somerset backwards. “There, sir, all’s right now. One good turn deserves another. Now I’ll be off.”
“Where are you going to, sir?”
“Going, sir!! Why, I left my lollipop in the tinder-box, and I’m going to fetch it.”
“Ha! ha! ha!”
“Strike up, music!” and Master Jumbo commenced tumbling.
Such was the elegant wit with which we amused and attracted the audience. Perhaps, had we been more refined, we should not have been so successful.
That evening we had the room as full as it could hold. Signor Velotti alias Melchior astonished them. The cards appeared to obey his commands—rings were discovered in lady’s shoes—watches were beat to a powder and made whole—canary birds flew out of eggs. The audience were delighted. The entertainment closed with Fleta’s performance on the slack wire; and certainly never was there anything more beautiful and graceful. Balanced on the wire in a continual, waving motion, her eyes fixed upon a point to enable her to maintain her position, she performed several feats, such as the playing with five oranges, balancing swords, &c. Her extreme beauty—her very picturesque and becoming dress—her mournful expression and downcast eyes—her gentle manner, appeared to win the hearts of the audience; and when she was assisted off from her perilous situation by Melchior and me, and made her graceful courtesy, the plaudits were unanimous.
When the company dispersed I went to her, intending to praise her, but I found her in tears. “What is the matter, my dear Fleta?”