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ter were audible above a continuous hubbub of voices, and
heads in women’s and workmen’s caps were ranged, row
above row, under the wide-vaulted bays with their gilt-
surrounding adornments. Every few seconds an attendant
would make her appearance, bustling along with tickets in
her hand and piloting in front of her a gentleman and a
lady, who took their seats, he in his evening dress, she sit-
ting slim and undulant beside him while her eyes wandered
slowly round the house.
Two young men appeared in the stalls; they kept stand-
ing and looked about them.
“Didn’t I say so, Hector?” cried the elder of the two, a
tall fellow with little black mustaches. “We’re too early!
You might quite well have allowed me to finish my cigar.”
An attendant was passing.
“Oh, Monsieur Fauchery,” she said familiarly, “it won’t
begin for half an hour yet!”
“Then why do they advertise for nine o’clock?” mut-
tered Hector, whose long thin face assumed an expression
of vexation. “Only this morning Clarisse, who’s in the piece,
swore that they’d begin at nine o’clock punctually.”
For a moment they remained silent and, looking upward,
scanned the shadowy boxes. But the green paper with which
by
Emile Zola
CHAPTER I
house at the Theatres des Varietes was still all
but empty. A few individuals, it is true, were sit-
ting quietly waiting in the balcony and stalls, but these were
lost, as it were, among the ranges of seats whose cover-
ings of cardinal velvet loomed in the subdued light of the
dimly burning luster. A shadow enveloped the great red
splash of the curtain, and not a sound came from the stage,
the unlit footlights, the scattered desks of the orchestra. It
was only high overhead in the third gallery, round the domed
ceiling where nude females and children flew in heavens
which had turned green in the gaslight, that calls and laugh-
3
AT NINE OCLOCK in the evening the body of the
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