Four Short Stories
Since morning Zoe had delivered up the flat to a managing man who had come from
Brebant's with a staff of helpers and waiters. Brebant was to supply everything, from the
supper, the plates and dishes, the glass, the linen, the flowers, down to the seats and
footstools. Nana could not have mustered a dozen napkins out of all her cupboards, and
not having had time to get a proper outfit after her new start in life and scorning to go to
the restaurant, she had decided to make the restaurant come to her. It struck her as being
more the thing. She wanted to celebrate her great success as an actress with a supper
which should set people talking. As her dining room was too small, the manager had
arranged the table in the drawing room, a table with twenty-five covers, placed somewhat
"Is everything ready?" asked Nana when she returned at midnight.
"Oh! I don't know," replied Zoe roughly, looking beside herself with worry. "The Lord be
thanked, I don't bother about anything. They're making a fearful mess in the kitchen and
all over the flat! I've had to fight my battles too. The other two came again. My eye! I did
just chuck 'em out!"
She referred, of course, to her employer's old admirers, the tradesman and the Walachian,
to whom Nana, sure of her future and longing to shed her skin, as she phrased it, had
decided to give the go-by.
"There are a couple of leeches for you!" she muttered.
"If they come back threaten to go to the police."
Then she called Daguenet and Georges, who had remained behind in the anteroom, where
they were hanging up their overcoats. They had both met at the stage door in the Passage
des Panoramas, and she had brought them home with her in a cab. As there was nobody
there yet, she shouted to them to come into the dressing room while Zoe was touching up
her toilet. Hurriedly and without changing her dress she had her hair done up and stuck
white roses in her chignon and at her bosom. The little room was littered with the
drawing-room furniture, which the workmen had been compelled to roll in there, and it
was full of a motley assemblage of round tables, sofas and armchairs, with their legs in
air for the most part. Nana was quite ready when her dress caught on a castor and tore
upward. At this she swore furiously; such things only happened to her! Ragingly she took
off her dress, a very simple affair of white foulard, of so thin and supple a texture that it
clung about her like a long shift. But she put it on again directly, for she could not find
another to her taste, and with tears in her eyes declared that she was dressed like a
ragpicker. Daguenet and Georges had to patch up the rent with pins, while Zoe once more
arranged her hair. All three hurried round her, especially the boy, who knelt on the floor