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Page:Man Who Laughs (Estes and Lauriat 1869) v1.djvu/373

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On arriving at open spaces in towns or villages, Ursus, in the intervals between the tootings of Fibi and Vinos, gave instructive explanations concerning the trumpetings. "This symphony is Gregorian," he would exclaim, "citizens and townsmen; the Gregorian form of worship, this great progress, has had to contend in Italy with the Ambrosial ritual, and in Spain with the Mozarabic ceremonial, and has achieved its triumph over them with difficulty." After which the Green Box drew up in some place chosen by Ursus, and evening having come, and the panel stage having been let down, the theatre opened and the performance began.

The scenery of the Green Box represented a landscape, painted by Ursus; and as he knew nothing about painting, it could, if need be, represent a cave just as well as a landscape. The curtain was quite a gorgeous silk affair, with large plaids of contrasting colours.

The public stood outside, in the street, forming a semicircle round the stage, exposed to the wind and weather,—an arrangement which made rain even less desirable for theatres in those days than now. When they could, they acted in an inn yard, on which occasions the windows of the different stories served as boxes for the spectators. The theatre being better protected, the audience was a better paying one.

Ursus was everywhere,—in the piece, in the company, in the kitchen, in the orchestra. Vinos beat the drum, handling the sticks with great dexterity. Fibi played on the morache, a kind of guitar. The wolf had been promoted to be a utility gentleman, and played his little parts as occasion required. Often when they appeared side by side on the stage, Ursus in his tightly laced bear's skin. Homo with his wolf's skin fitting still better, one could hardly tell which was the beast. This flattered Ursus.