160 RECOLLECTIONS OF A LION TAMER
had no further need for my services. Here was I turned adrift again, and not much further advanced than when I received the same treatment at the hands of my late master the quack dentist. At Bordeaux I gained a livelihood for a while by making and selling little balloons. Then a naturalist took me with him to Havre, where I found another menagerie, Planet's, in which I succeeded in obtaining a berth. My new employers treated me well, and I threw myself ardently, passionately, into the study of my work, observing, reflecting, and laying the foundations of my future career. Now that I felt my prospects becoming more assured I ventured to let my thoughts return to Maria, who, I feltx had become indispensable to me. A fortunate chance bringing us with our respective shows to the same place, I dared to tell my secret to her, and to ask her to unite her lot to mine. Her consent I readily obtained; but her adopted parents withheld theirs till I should have gained a position of my own. I determined to conquer every obstacle in order to win her. With this end in view, I thought to introduce a new element into the profession; to become, in fact, not an exhibitor of tamed and subdued animals, but a real tamer of the fierce and unvanquished. By one means and another, therefore, I contrived to become the possessor of a cargo of freshly caught forest-bred animals, whose ferocity had hitherto daunted the courage of the most audacious. I dared them, I defied them, and I quelled them. It was a real battle, that might at any moment end in slaughter. When I entered the cages it was often doubtful if I would ever come out alive; and frequently I have heard sighs of relief from the spectators when I emerged safe and sound. The expenses were heavy, if it were for the keep of the animals alone ; and often I have gone without dinner myself in order that they might fare well; it was better so to do, for if I had put them on short commons they might have avenged themselves bv devouring me!