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152                              A FEW MEMORIES
wheels, but, try as we would, the stamping of the horses' feet upon the gravel before Clarisse's door we could not manage. At last a brilliant idea struck me, which the stage-manager promptly endorsed. It was that we should have in a donkey from Covent Garden to trot up and down behind the scenes on the gravel especially laid for him. We were decidedly nervous on the first appearance of our four-footed friend, whose role was to counterfeit the high-stepping horses of the brilliant French court. When his cue was given there was only an ominous silence. I repeated the word in a louder voice, when such a braying and scuffling was heard as sent the audience into roars of laughter. Although it was one of the most serious situations of the play, I could not help joining in their mirth until the tears rolled down my cheeks. That was the greatest lesson I ever had against too much realism.
The success of the season continuing, Mr. Abbey offered me the following year at the Lyceum, which was accepted.
It was about this time that I met Robert Browning at a party, when he happened to be surrounded by many who were congenial to him. He took me in to dinner, and my first impression