The Puppet-show Man
I once heard from an actor that when he played the part of a lover he always thought of one particular lady in the audience; he played only to her and forgot the rest of the house. Now the Polytechnic student was my 'she,' my only spectator, for whom alone I performed.
"After the performance, when the puppets had taken their curtain calls, the Polytechnic student invited me into his room to have a glass of wine; he spoke of my plays, and I spoke of his science, and I think we were equally pleased. But I had the better of it, for there was much of what he did that he couldn't explain to me. For instance, a piece of iron that falls through a spiral becomes magnetic. Now why does that happen? The spirit enters it, but where does it come from? It is just as it is with the humans in our world, I think; our Lord lets them fall through the spiral line of time; the spirit enters them, and there then stands a Napoleon, a Luther, or some such person. 'The whole world is a series of miracles,' said the student, 'but we're so used to them that we call them everyday things.' And he continued talking and explaining until finally my skull seemed lifted from my brain, and I honestly confessed that if I weren't already an old fellow I would at once attend the Polytechnic Institute and learn to examine the world more closely, even though I was one of the happiest of men.
" 'One of the happiest!' said the student, and seemed to be quite thoughtful about it. 'Are you really happy?' he asked me.
" 'Yes,' I said, 'I am happy. All the towns welcome me whenever I come with my company. But I do, to be sure, have one wish, which sometimes haunts me like a goblin- a nightmare that rides on my good nature. I should like to be a real theatrical manager, director of a troupe of real men and women!'
" 'You wish your puppets would come to life; you wish they would become real actors,' he said, 'and you would be their director; and then would you be completely happy, you think?' He didn't believe it, but I believed it, and we talked back and forth about it, without coming any nearer a solution; still we clinked glasses together, and the wine was excellent.