Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Prima Donna: A Passage from City Life >> Page 190

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 190THE PRIMA DONNA
as if she knew its real value as well as the oldest veteran among us.
If you really desire an introduction, after what you have heard, I
don't see that there will be any difficulty. She will be at rehearsal
to-day at 12, M., and the matter can be easily managed."
I readily embraced the proposition. He continued:
"A week more will finish her career in New York. The rage now,
she will soon give place to another novelty, and in ten days more be
among the things that were. We are to have, by the next packet, a
celebrated Harlequin, who can jump twenty feet high, take the
ceiling in his teeth, and hold on thereby sufficiently long, to enable
him to poach a dozen eggs for his supper by a machine which he
takes up with him for that purpose. His legs, meanwhile, not to
be outdone, are to go through all the movements of the famous
Tilsit Waltz, and at the close he professes to be able to shuffle them
off, with his boots, and drop down, finally, with his stumps again
falling into the dismembered sockets, as truly as if the position had
undergone mathematical arrangement."
"Oh, nonsense!"
"Well, I doubt not that the report of his wonders is somewhat
exaggerated, but the report is enough. It will kill Mam'selle most
effectually for the season, so that, to know her in the day of her
glory, you must know her at once. I shall look for you at 12."
I was punctual. The hour was fortunately chosen. Mam'selle was
in the Green Room alone. Her ugly little protector was absent
where, it mattered not to me,—so long as he was absent; and I had
at length the felicity of speaking to the fair creature, whom, hitherto,
I had not been permitted to approach. My address, I had reason
to believe, said little in my favour. I was flushed, confused, agitated.
I feel that I stammered while speaking the most customary nonsense;
and I was so little the master of my own faculties, that I could not
tell whether her composure was less or more than mine. But, in
either event, perhaps, I had no reason for annoyance. If the woman,
in such a case, preserves her composure—if she be any thing of a
veteran in the arts of life it does not displease her to look on the
bashfulness of the unsophisticated heart of youth. There is a compli-