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El Dorado

4. Mademoiselle Lange
The green-room was crowded when de Batz and St. Just arrived there after the
performance. The older man cast a hasty glance through the open door. The
crowd did not suit his purpose, and he dragged his companion hurriedly away
from the contemplation of Mlle. Lange, sitting in a far corner of the room,
surrounded by an admiring throng, and by innumerable floral tributes offered to
her beauty and to her success.
De Batz without a word led the way back towards the stage. Here, by the dim
light of tallow candles fixed in sconces against the surrounding walls, the scene-
shifters were busy moving drop-scenes, back cloths and wings, and paid no heed
to the two men who strolled slowly up and down silently, each wrapped in his
own thoughts.
Armand walked with his hands buried in his breeches pockets, his head bent
forward on his chest; but every now and again he threw quick, apprehensive
glances round him whenever a firm step echoed along the empty stage or a
voice rang clearly through the now deserted theatre.
"Are we wise to wait here?" he asked, speaking to himself rather than to his
companion.
He was not anxious about his own safety; but the words of de Batz had
impressed themselves upon his mind: "Heron and his spies we have always with
us."
From the green-room a separate foyer and exit led directly out into the street.
Gradually the sound of many voices, the loud laughter and occasional snatches
of song which for the past half-hour had proceeded from that part of the house,
became more subdued and more rare. One by one the friends of the artists were
leaving the theatre, after having paid the usual banal compliments to those whom
they favoured, or presented the accustomed offering of flowers to the brightest
star of the night.
The actors were the first to retire, then the older actresses, the ones who could
no longer command a court of admirers round them. They all filed out of the
greenroom and crossed the stage to where, at the back, a narrow, rickety
wooden stairs led to their so-called dressing-rooms--tiny, dark cubicles, ill-lighted,
unventilated, where some half-dozen of the lesser stars tumbled over one
another while removing wigs and grease-paint.
Armand and de Batz watched this exodus, both with equal impatience. Mlle.
Lange was the last to leave the green-room. For some time, since the crowd had
become thinner round her, Armand had contrived to catch glimpses of her slight,
elegant figure. A short passage led from the stage to the green-room door, which
was wide open, and at the corner of this passage the young man had paused
from time to time in his walk, gazing with earnest admiration at the dainty outline
of the young girl's head, with its wig of powdered curls that seemed scarcely
whiter than the creamy brilliance of her skin.
De Batz did not watch Mlle. Lange beyond casting impatient looks in the direction
of the crowd that prevented her leaving the green-room. He did watch Armand,
 
 
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