Four Short Stories HTML version
The Petite Duchesse was being rehearsed at the Varietes. The first act had just been
carefully gone through, and the second was about to begin. Seated in old armchairs in
front of the stage, Fauchery and Bordenave were discussing various points while the
prompter, Father Cossard, a little humpbacked man perched on a straw-bottomed chair,
was turning over the pages of the manuscript, a pencil between his lips.
"Well, what are they waiting for?" cried Bordenave on a sudden, tapping the floor
savagely with his heavy cane. "Barillot, why don't they begin?"
"It's Monsieur Bosc that has disappeared," replied Barillot, who was acting as second
Then there arose a tempest, and everybody shouted for Bosc while Bordenave swore.
"Always the same thing, by God! It's all very well ringing for 'em: they're always where
they've no business to be. And then they grumble when they're kept till after four
But Bosc just then came in with supreme tranquillity.
"Eh? What? What do they want me for? Oh, it's my turn! You ought to have said so. All
right! Simonne gives the cue: 'Here are the guests,' and I come in. Which way must I
"Through the door, of course," cried Fauchery in great exasperation.
"Yes, but where is the door?"
At this Bordenave fell upon Barillot and once more set to work swearing and hammering
the boards with his cane.
"By God! I said a chair was to be put there to stand for the door, and every day we have
to get it done again. Barillot! Where's Barillot? Another of 'em! Why, they're all going!"
Nevertheless, Barillot came and planted the chair down in person, mutely weathering the
storm as he did so. And the rehearsal began again. Simonne, in her hat and furs, began
moving about like a maidservant busy arranging furniture. She paused to say:
"I'm not warm, you know, so I keep my hands in my muff."
Then changing her voice, she greeted Bosc with a little cry: