“You must move with the times, monsieur. In Paris Beaumarchais is the rage. ‘Figaro’ is known to-day throughout the world. Let us borrow a little of his glory. It will draw the people in. They will come to see half a ‘Figaro’ when they will not come to see a dozen ‘Heartless Fathers.’ Therefore let us cast the mantle of Figaro upon some one, and proclaim it in our title.”
“But as I am the head of the company... " began M. Binet, weakly.
“If you will be blind to your interests, you will presently be a head without a body. And what use is that? Can the shoulders of Pantaloon carry the mantle of Figaro? You laugh. Of course you laugh. The notion is absurd. The proper person for the mantle of Figaro is Scaramouche, who is naturally Figaro’s twin-brother.”
Thus tyrannized, the tyrant Binet gave way, comforted by the reflection that if he understood anything at all about the theatre, he had for fifteen livres a month acquired something that would presently be earning him as many louis.
The company’s reception of the canevas now confirmed him, if we except Polichinelle, who, annoyed at having lost half his part in the alterations, declared the new scenario fatuous.
“Ah! You call my work fatuous, do you?” M. Binet hectored him.
“Your work?” said Polichinelle, to add with his tongue in his cheek: “Ah, pardon. I had not realized that you were the author.”
“Then realize it now.”
“You were very close with M. Parvissimus over this authorship,” said Polichinelle, with impudent suggestiveness.
“And what if I was? What do you imply?”
“That you took him to cut quills for you, of course.”
“I’ll cut your ears for you if you’re not civil,” stormed the infuriated Binet.
Polichinelle got up slowly, and stretched himself.
“Dieu de Dieu!” said he. “If Pantaloon is to play Rhodomont, I think I’ll leave you. He is not amusing in the part.” And he swaggered out before M. Binet had recovered from his speechlessness.
EXIT MONSIEUR PARVISSIMUS
Ar four o’clock on Monday afternoon the curtain rose on “Figaro-Scaramouche” to an audience that filled three quarters of the market-hall. M. Binet attributed this good attendance to the influx of people to Guichen for the fair, and to the magnificent parade of his company through the streets of the township at the busiest time of the day. Andre-Louis attributed it entirely to the title. It was the “Figaro” touch that had fetched in the better-class bourgeoisie, which filled more than half of the twenty-sous places and three quarters of the twelve-sous seats. The lure had drawn them. Whether it was to continue to do so would depend upon the manner in which the canevas over which he had laboured to the glory of Binet was interpreted by the company. Of the merits of the canevas itself he had no doubt. The authors upon whom he had drawn for the elements of it were sound, and he had taken of their best, which he claimed to be no more than the justice due to them.