I have conceived my 'atred of animals, monsieur, many years ago in
Paris. Animals are to me a symbol for the lost dreams of youth, for
ambitions foiled, for artistic impulses cruelly stifled. You are
astonished. You ask why I say these things. I shall tell you.
I am in Paris, young, ardent, artistic. I wish to paint pictures. I
'ave the genius, the ent'usiasm. I wish to be disciple of the great
Bouguereau. But no. I am dependent for support upon an uncle. He is
rich. He is proprietor of the great Hotel Jules Priaulx. My name is
also Priaulx. He is not sympathetic. I say, 'Uncle, I 'ave the genius,
the ent'usiasm. Permit me to paint.' He shakes his head. He say, 'I
will give you position in my hotel, and you shall earn your living.'
What choice? I weep, but I kill my dreams, and I become cashier at my
uncle's hotel at a salary of thirty-five francs a week. I, the artist,
become a machine for the changing of money at dam bad salary. What
would you? What choice? I am dependent. I go to the hotel, and there I
learn to 'ate all animals. Cats especially.
I will tell you the reason. My uncle's hotel is fashionable hotel. Rich
Americans, rich Maharajahs, rich people of every nation come to my
uncle's hotel. They come, and with them they have brought their pets.
Monsieur, it was the existence of a nightmare. Wherever I have looked
there are animals. Listen. There is an Indian prince. He has with him
two dromedaries. There is also one other Indian prince. With him is a
giraffe. The giraffe drink every day one dozen best champagne to keep
his coat good. I, the artist, have my bock, and my coat is not good.
There is a guest with a young lion. There is a guest with an alligator.
But especially there is a cat. He is fat. His name is Alexander. He
belongs to an American woman. She is fat. She exhibits him to me. He is
wrapped in a silk and fur creation like an opera cloak. Every day she
exhibits him. It is 'Alexander this' and 'Alexander that', till I 'ate
Alexander very much. I 'ate all the animals, but especially Alexander.
And so, monsieur, it goes on, day by day, in this hotel that is a
Zoological Garden. And every day I 'ate the animals the more. But
We artists, monsieur, we are martyrs to our nerves. It became
insupportable, this thing. Each day it became more insupportable. At
night I dream of all the animals, one by one--the giraffe, the two
dromedaries, the young lion, the alligator, and Alexander. Especially
Alexander. You have 'eard of men who cannot endure the society of a
cat--how they cry out and jump in the air if a cat is among those
present. Hein? Your Lord Roberts? Precisely, monsieur. I have
read so much. Listen, then. I am become by degrees almost like 'im. I
do not cry out and jump in the air when I see the cat Alexander, but I
grind my teeth and I 'ate 'im.
Yes, I am the sleeping volcano, and one morning, monsieur, I have
suffered the eruption. It is like this. I shall tell you.
Not only at that time am I the martyr to nerves, but also to toothache.
That morning I 'ave 'ad the toothache very bad. I 'ave been in pain the
most terrible. I groan as I add up the figures in my book.
As I groan I 'ear a voice.
'Say good morning to M. Priaulx, Alexander.' Conceive my emotions,
monsieur, when this fat, beastly cat is placed before me upon my desk!
It put the cover upon it. No, that is not the phrase. The lid. It put
the lid upon it. All my smothered 'atred of the animal burst forth. I
could no longer conceal my 'atred.
I rose. I was terrible. I seized 'im by the tail. I flung him--I did
not know where. I did not care. Not then. Afterwards, yes, but not
Your Longfellow has a poem. 'I shot an arrow into the air. It fell to
earth, I know not where.' And then he has found it. The arrow in the
'eart of a friend. Am I right? Also was that the tragedy with me. I
flung the cat Alexander. My uncle, on whom I am dependent, is passing
at the moment. He has received the cat in the middle of his face.
My companion, with the artist's instinct for the 'curtain', paused. He
looked round the brightly-lit restaurant. From every side arose the
clatter of knife and fork, and the clear, sharp note of those who drank
soup. In a distant corner a small waiter with a large voice was calling
the cook names through the speaking-tube. It was a cheerful scene, but
it brought no cheer to my companion.
- Анна Клешева
- Абрамова Анна
- Т. И. В.
- Н. М. Тагина