YOU should have known Auntie！ She was charming！
That is to say， she was not at all charming in the usual sense of the word， but she was sweet and nice， and funnyin her own way， just the thing to talk about， when someone is to be talked about and made merry over． She was fitto be put in a play，and that simply and solely because shelived for the play－house and all that goes on in it． She wasso very respectable， but Agent Fab，whom Auntie called Flab，called her theatre－mad．
"The theatrs is my schoolroom，" said she，"my foun－tain of knowledge；from it I have freshened up my Biblehistory；' Moses，''Joseph and his brethren，' these areoperas！ From the theatreI have my general history， geog- raphy and knowledge of mankind！ From the French playsI know the life of Paris—naughty， but highly interesting！
How Ihave wept over'The Riquebourg Family'； to think that the husband should drink himself to death， so that hiswife should get her young sweetheart！ Yes， how many tearsIhave shed in the fifty years Ihave been a'regular ticket－holder'．"
Auntie knew every piece， every bit of scenery， every person who came on， or had ever come on． She really livedonly in the nine theatrical months． The summer-time，without a play， was a time which made her old， whilst aplay－night which lasted till past midnight was a lengtheningof life． She did not say like other people，"Now spring iscoming， the stork has arrived！ or "There is mention in thepapers of the first strawberry．" On the contrary，she an－nounced the coming of autumn："Have you seen that thetheatre seats are being taken； now the performances willbegin！"
She reckoned the worth of a house and its situation byhow nearit lay to the theatre． It was a grief to herto leavethe little lane behind the theatre and remove to the bigger street a little farther off， and there live in a house whereshe had no opposite neighbours．
"At home my window has to be my theatre－box！One can't sit and think only of oneself；one must see people．But now Ilive as if Ihad removed right out into the coun－try．If Iwish to see people， I must go out into my kitchenandclimb on to the sink；only there have I opposite neighbours． Now， whenI lived in my lane， Icould see right into the flax－dealer's， and then Ihad only three steps to the theatre； now I have three thousand life－guard's steps．"
Auntie might be ill，but however bad she was ，she never neglected the theatre． One evening her doctor or- dered her to have poultices on her feet；she did as he di-rected， but drove to the theatre， and sat there with herfeet in poultices． If she had died there， it would have de－lighted her．Thorwaldsen died in the theatre，and she called that"a happy death"．
She certainly could not imagine a heavenly kingdom without a theatre． It certainly had not been promised to us，but it was to be supposed that the many celebratedactors and actresses， who had gone before， must have acontinued sphere of activity．
Auntie had her electric wire from the theatre toherroom；the telegram came every Sunday to coffee．Her electric wire was Mr．Sivertson of the stage－machinery de-partment，the man who gave the signals forthe scenery and curtains to go up and down， in and out．
From him she got in advance a short and pithy re－ view of the pieces Shakespeare's "Tempest"， he called"wretched stuff！ There is so much to set up， and then itbegins with water up to the first side－scene！"That is tosay， the rolling waves went so far forward． On the otherhand， if one and the same room－decoration remained through all five acts， he said that it was a sensible andwell－written，restful piece，which played itself withoutsetting up ．
In earlier times，as Auntie called the times somethirty and odd years ago， she and the above- named Mr．Sivertson were younger； he was already in the "machin－ery"，and， as she called him， her"benefactor"． Atthattime， it was the custom at the evening performance， in thegreat and only theatre of the town， to admit spectators to the flies； every stage－carpenter had one or two places todispose of． It was often chock－full， and that with very se－lect company； itwas said that the wives both of generals and aldermen had been there；it was so interesting to lookdown behind the scenes， and know how the performersstood and moved when the curtain was down．Auntie had been there many times， both at tragedies and ballets， for the pieces wih the greatest number of performers were the most interesting from the flies．
One sat pretty much in the dark up there， and most ofthe people brought supper with them．Once three apples and a slice of bread and butter， with sausage on it， fell right down into Ugolino's prison， where he was just about to die of hunger．At that there was a general laugh．The sausage was one of the important reasons why the director ordered the public to be excluded from the flies．
"But Iwas there thirty－seven times，" said Auntie， "andI shall never forget it，Mr．Sivertson．"
It was just the very last night that the flies were opento the public that they played"The Judgement of Solomon"．Auntie remembered it so well． She had， through her benefactor， Mr． Sivertson， procured a ticketfor Agent Fab， although he did not deserve it， as he wasalways making fun of the theatre， and teasing her about it；but still she had got him a place up there． He wanted to see the theatre—tings upside－down； these were his ownwords—and just like him， said Auntie．
And he saw" The Judgement of Solomon"， from above， and fell asleep； one would really have thought thathe had just come from a big dinner with many toasts．He slept and was locked in， sat and slept through the darknight in the theatre， and when he awoke he told a story；but Auntie did not believe him． The play was finished， allthe lamps and candies were out，all the people were out，upstairs and downstairs； but then began the real play， theafter－piece—the best of all， the agent said． Life came intothe properties！ it was not "The Judgement of Solomon"that was played； no， it was"The Judgement Day at theTheatre"． And all this Agent Fab had the impudence totry to make Auntie believe；that was her thanks for gettinghim admission to the flies．
What the agent told was， no doubt， comical enoughto hear but malice and mockery lay at the bottom of it．
"It was dark up there，" said the agent，"but thenthe demon－show began， the great spectacle，'The Judge-ment Day at the Theatre．' Check－takers stood at the doors， and every spectator had to show a certificate as tohis character，to settle whether he was to enter with handsfree or fettered， with muzzle or without．Gentlefolks whocame too late， when the performance had already begun，as well as young men who were given to wasting their time， were tethered outside， and got felt－soles under theirfeet， to go in with at the beginning of the next act， be－sides being muzzled； and then began'The Judgement Dayat the Theatre'．"
"Mere spite， which Our Lord knows nothing of，"said Auntie．
The scene－painter， if he wished to get into Heaven，had to go up a stair which he had painted himself， butwhich no man could walk up ．That was only a sin againstperspective， however． All the plants and buildings， which the stage－carpenter had with great trouble placed incountries to which they did not belong， the poor man hadto move to their right places， and that before cock－crow，if he wished to get into Heaven．Mr． Fab had better seethat he himself got in there； and what he now told aboutthe actors， bath in comedy and tragedy， in song and indance，was the worst of all． He did not deserve to get in－to the flies； Auntie would not repeat his words． He hadsaid that the whole account was written down，and wouldbe printed after he was dead and gone—not before； he did not want to be skinned alive．
Auntie had only once been in anguish and terror inher temple of happiness， the theatre．It was one winter'sday， one of the days when we have two hours' daylightand that only grey．It was cold and snowy， but Auntiemust go tothe theatre． They were playing "Herrman vonUnna，" besides a little opera and a great ballet， a pro-logue and an epilogue；it would last right into the night．Auntie must go there； her lodger had lent her a pair ofsledging－boots with fur both outside and inside； they camehigh up on the legs．
She came into the theatre，and into her box； theboots were warm， so she kept them on． All at once a cry of"Fire" was raised． Smoke came from one of the wings， smoke came from the flies； there was a frightful commo－tion；people shed out； Auntie was the last in the box—"the secondtier to the left—the decorations look best fromthere，" she said，"they are placed always to look most beautiful from the royal side"—Auntie wished to get out，but those in front of her， had thoughtlessly slammed the door in their terror． There sat Auntie；she could not getout， nor in either， that is to say into the next box， the par－tition was too high．She shouted，no one heard；she lookeddown into the tier underneath， it was empty， it was low，and it was near．Auntie， in her fear， felt herself so youngand active；shewould jump down；she got one leg over the balustrade and the other off the bench． There she sat astride， beautifully draped with her flowered skirt， withone long leg dangling out， a leg with a monster sledging－boot． That was a sight to see！ and when it was seen， Aun－tie was also heard， and saved from burning， for the theatrewas not burnt after all．
That was the most memorable evening of her life， shesaid，and she was glad that she had not been able to seeherself； for then she would have died of shame．
Her benefactor， Mr． Sivertson， came constantly to her every Sunday， but it was a long time from Sunday toSunday． Latterly，therefore， in the middle of the week shehad alitile childfor"the leavings"， that is to say， to enjoywhat had been left over from dinner－time．This was a littlechild from the ballet， who was in need of food． The littleone appeared onthe stage both as a page and a fairy；her hardest part was that of hind－legs for the lion in "The En－chanted Whistle"， but she grew to be fore-legs in the lion．She only got a shilling for this， whereas for the backlegsshe got two； but there she had to go about stooping，andmissed the fresh air． It was very interesting to know allthis， Auntie thought．
She had deserved to live as long as the theatre last－ed，but she was not able to do that； she did not die thereeither，but respectably and quietly in her own bed．Her last words were full of meaning；she asked，"What are they playing tomorrow？"
She left behind her about five hundred rix－dollars：we infer that from the interest，which is twenty rix-dol-lars． Auntie had assigned these as a legacy for a worthyold maid without relatives；they should be applied yearlyto pay for a seat in the second tier， left side， and on Sat－urdays， for then they gave the best pieces． There was on－ly one condition forthe person who profited by the legacy；every Saturday in the theatre， she must think of Auntie，who lay in her grave．
That was Auntie's religion．