The Puppet-show Man
There must have been some magic in it, for otherwise the story would have been that I got drunk. That didn't happen, though; I kept my clear viewpoint. Somehow there was sunlight in the room, and it shone from the face of the Polytechnic student. It made me think of the old tales of the gods in their eternal youth, when they wandered on earth. I told him that, and he smiled. I could have sworn that he was one of the old gods in disguise, or at least that he belonged to their family! And he certainly must have been something of that sort, for my greatest wish was to be fulfilled; the puppets would come to life, and I would be the director of real people. We drank to that.
"He packed all my puppets into a wooden box, strapped it on my back, and then let me fall through a spiral. I can still hear how I tumbled; and then I was lying on the floor-this is positively true-and the whole company sprang from the box! The spirit had come upon all of them; all the puppets had become great artists-at least, so they said-and I was their director. Everything was ready for the first performance. But the whole company wanted to speak to me, and the public, too.
"The prima ballerina said that the 'house' was going to 'fall' if she didn't stand on one leg in the show; she was mistress of the whole company, and insisted on being treated as such. The lady who played the empress wanted to be treated as an empress off stage, or else she would get out of practice. The man who had only to deliver a letter made himself as important as the leading man, for the little parts were just as important as the big ones, and all were of equal consequence in making up an artistic whole, he said. The hero would play only parts composed of nothing but exit lines, because those brought him the applause. The prima donna would only play act in a red light, for that suited her best; she refused to appear in a blue one. They were like a troupe of flies in a bottle, and I was in the middle of the bottle with them, for I was the director.
The Silver Tracks - The Story of the Poor Man Who Befriended a Beggar
Category: Slavic Folktale
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