RECOLLECTIONS OF A LION TAMER
Among my very earliest recollections is that of running and playing, along with other little urchins, in front of a heavy caravan, at whose horses' heads walked my father. We were about to halt for the night, at Laval, w7hich we could see perched on the hill-side in front of us.
The weather was fine, the sun shone brightly, and we ran gaily to and fro, like so many puppy-dogs let out to play, shouting and laughing about nothing at all, as delighted to arrive at a strange place for to-night as we should be to set off to-morrow morning for a fresh one.
Suddenly there arose a cry—a cry of anguish—that still echoes in my ears, mingled with a horrible sound as of crunching bones. Swiftly I turned round; in the place where my father had been stood a group of men, some stopping the horses, some kneeling round a formless mass under the wheels. Terrified and weeping, I ran back as fast as my little legs would carry me, to find that this dead weight was all that remained of my father. In a jolt of the waggon the shafts had struck and knocked him down: one wheel had gone over his feet, the other had crushed in his head; life was extinct. We were fatherless, and my mother was left in sole charge, not only of her little children, but also of the menagerie.
My father had been, first, a travelling pedlar; then, after his marriage, he had started a panorama of scenes from Napoleon's wars, and when the public grew tired of that he obtained some curious animals, and by degrees