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A Penn State Electronic Classics Series Publication Nana by Emile Zola is a publication of the Pennsylvania State University. This Portable Document file is furnished free and without any charge of any kind. Any person using this document file, for any purpose, and in any way does so at his or her own risk. Neither the Pennsylvania State Uni-versity nor Jim Manis, Faculty Editor, nor anyone associated with the Pennsylvania State University assumes any responsibility for the material contained within the document or for the file as an electronic trans-mission, in any way.
Nana by Emile Zola , the Pennsylvania State University, Electronic Classics Series, Jim Manis, Faculty Editor, Hazleton, PA 18201-1291 is a Portable Document File produced as part of an ongoing student publication project to bring classical works of literature, in English, to free and easy access of those wishing to make use of them.
Student Editors: Matt Bouis, Patty Haggerty Cover Design: Matt Bouis
Copyright © 2000 The Pennsylvania State University The Pennsylvania State University is an equal opportunity university.
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 by
would make her appearance, bustling along with tickets in her hand and piloting in front of her a gentleman and a Emile Zola
lady, who took their seats, he in his evening dress, she sitting slim and undulant beside him while her eyes wandered CHAPTER I
slowly round the house.
Two young men appeared in the stalls; they kept standing and looked about them.
AT NINE O’CLOCK in the evening the body of the “Didn’t I say so, Hector?” cried the elder of the two, a house at the Theatres des Varietes was still all tall fellow with little black mustaches. “We’re too early!
but empty. A few individuals, it is true, were sit-You might quite well have allowed me to finish my cigar.” ting quietly waiting in the balcony and stalls, but these were An attendant was passing.
lost, as it were, among the ranges of seats whose cover-
“Oh, Monsieur Fauchery,” she said familiarly, “it won’t ings of cardinal velvet loomed in the subdued light of the begin for half an hour yet!”
dimly burning luster. A shadow enveloped the great red
“Then why do they advertise for nine o’clock?” mut-splash of the curtain, and not a sound came from the stage, tered Hector, whose long thin face assumed an expression the unlit footlights, the scattered desks of the orchestra. It of vexation. “Only this morning Clarisse, who’s in the piece, was only high overhead in the third gallery, round the domed swore that they’d begin at nine o’clock punctually.” ceiling where nude females and children flew in heavens For a moment they remained silent and, looking upward, which had turned green in the gaslight, that calls and laugh-scanned the shadowy boxes. But the green paper with which 3
these were hung rendered them more shadowy still. Down
“There you are; you’re beginning again!” cried Fauchery, below, under the dress circle, the lower boxes were buried casting up his arms. “Ever since this morning people have in utter night. In those on the second tier there was only been dreeing me with Nana. I’ve met more than twenty one stout lady, who was stranded, as it were, on the vel-people, and it’s Nana here and Nana there! What do I know?
vet-covered balustrade in front of her. On the right hand Am I acquainted with all the light ladies in Paris? Nana is and on the left, between lofty pilasters, the stage boxes, an invention of Bordenave’s! It must be a fine one!” bedraped with long-fringed scalloped hangings, remained He calmed himself, but the emptiness of the house, the untenanted. The house with its white and gold, relieved by dim light of the luster, the churchlike sense of self-absorp-soft green tones, lay only half disclosed to view, as though tion which the place inspired, full as it was of whispering full of a fine dust shed from the little jets of flame in the voices and the sound of doors banging—all these got on great glass luster.
“Did you get your stage box for Lucy?” asked Hector.
“No, by Jove,” he said all of a sudden, “one’s hair turns
“Yes,” replied his companion, “but I had some trouble to gray here. I—I’m going out. Perhaps we shall find get it. Oh, there’s no danger of Lucy coming too early!” Bordenave downstairs. He’ll give us information about He stifled a slight yawn; then after a pause: things.”
“You’re in luck’s way, you are, since you haven’t been at a Downstairs in the great marble-paved entrance hall, where first night before. The Blonde Venus will be the event of the the box office was, the public were beginning to show them-year. People have been talking about it for six months. Oh, selves. Through the three open gates might have been ob-such music, my dear boy! Such a sly dog, Bordenave! He served, passing in, the ardent life of the boulevards, which knows his business and has kept this for the exhibition sea-were all astir and aflare under the fine April night. The son.” Hector was religiously attentive. He asked a question.
sound of carriage wheels kept stopping suddenly; carriage
“And Nana, the new star who’s going to play Venus, d’you doors were noisily shut again, and people began entering know her?”
in small groups, taking their stand before the ticket bureau 4
and climbing the double flight of stairs at the end of the the young man’s measure at a glance. But Hector returned hall, up which the women loitered with swaying hips. Unhis scrutiny with deep interest. This, then, was that der the crude gaslight, round the pale, naked walls of the Bordenave, that showman of the sex who treated women entrance hall, which with its scanty First Empire decora-like a convict overseer, that clever fellow who was always tions suggested the peristyle of a toy temple, there was a at full steam over some advertising dodge, that shouting, flaring display of lofty yellow posters bearing the name of spitting, thigh-slapping fellow, that cynic with the soul of a
“Nana” in great black letters. Gentlemen, who seemed to policeman! Hector was under the impression that he ought be glued to the entry, were reading them; others, standing to discover some amiable observation for the occasion.
about, were engaged in talk, barring the doors of the house
“Your theater—” he began in dulcet tones.
in so doing, while hard by the box office a thickset man Bordenave interrupted him with a savage phrase, as be-with an extensive, close-shaven visage was giving rough comes a man who dotes on frank situations.
answers to such as pressed to engage seats.
“Call it my brothel!”
“There’s Bordenave,” said Fauchery as he came down At this Fauchery laughed approvingly, while La Faloise the stairs. But the manager had already seen him.
stopped with his pretty speech strangled in his throat, feel-
“Ah, ah! You’re a nice fellow!” he shouted at him from a ing very much shocked and striving to appear as though he distance. “That’s the way you give me a notice, is it? Why, enjoyed the phrase. The manager had dashed off to shake I opened my Figaro this morning—never a word!” hands with a dramatic critic whose column had consider-
“Wait a bit,” replied Fauchery. “I certainly must make able influence. When he returned La Faloise was recover-the acquaintance of your Nana before talking about her.
ing. He was afraid of being treated as a provincial if he Besides, I’ve made no promises.”
showed himself too much nonplused.
Then to put an end to the discussion, he introduced his
“I have been told,” he began again, longing positively to cousin, M. Hector de la Faloise, a young man who had find something to say, “that Nana has a delicious voice.” come to finish his education in Paris. The manager took
“Nana?” cried the manager, shrugging his shoulders. “The 5
voice of a squirt!”
good points, by heaven!—something which is as good as The young man made haste to add:
all the other things put together. I’ve smelled it out; it’s
“Besides being a first-rate comedian!” deuced pronounced with her, or I’ve got the scent of an
“She? Why she’s a lump! She has no notion what to do idiot. You’ll see, you’ll see! She’s only got to come on, with her hands and feet.”
and all the house will be gaping at her.” La Faloise blushed a little. He had lost his bearings. He He had held up his big hands which were trembling un-stammered:
der the influence of his eager enthusiasm, and now, having
“I wouldn’t have missed this first representation tonight relieved his feelings, he lowered his voice and grumbled to for the world. I was aware that your theater—” himself:
“Call it my brothel,” Bordenave again interpolated with
“Yes, she’ll go far! Oh yes, s’elp me, she’ll go far! A the frigid obstinacy of a man convinced.
skin—oh, what a skin she’s got!”
Meanwhile Fauchery, with extreme calmness, was look-Then as Fauchery began questioning him he consented ing at the women as they came in. He went to his cousin’s to enter into a detailed explanation, couched in phraseol-rescue when he saw him all at sea and doubtful whether to ogy so crude that Hector de la Faloise felt slightly dis-laugh or to be angry.
gusted. He had been thick with Nana, and he was anxious
“Do be pleasant to Bordenave—call his theater what he to start her on the stage. Well, just about that time he was wishes you to, since it amuses him. And you, my dear fel-in search of a Venus. He—he never let a woman encumber low, don’t keep us waiting about for nothing. If your Nana him for any length of time; he preferred to let the public neither sings nor acts you’ll find you’ve made a blunder, enjoy the benefit of her forthwith. But there was a deuce that’s all. It’s what I’m afraid of, if the truth be told.” of a row going on in his shop, which had been turned topsy-
“A blunder! A blunder!” shouted the manager, and his turvy by that big damsel’s advent. Rose Mignon, his star, a face grew purple. “Must a woman know how to act and comic actress of much subtlety and an adorable singer, was sing? Oh, my chicken, you’re too stoopid. Nana has other daily threatening to leave him in the lurch, for she was fu-6
rious and guessed the presence of a rival. And as for the sallow pallor on their faces and silhouetted their short black bill, good God! What a noise there had been about it all! It shadows on the asphalt. Mignon, a very tall, very broad had ended by his deciding to print the names of the two fellow, with the square-shaped head of a strong man at a actresses in the same-sized type. But it wouldn’t do to fair, was forcing a passage through the midst of the groups bother him. Whenever any of his little women, as he called and dragging on his arm the banker Steiner, an exceed-them—Simonne or Clarisse, for instance—wouldn’t go the ingly small man with a corporation already in evidence and way he wanted her to he just up with his foot and caught a round face framed in a setting of beard which was alher one in the rear. Otherwise life was impossible. Oh yes, ready growing gray.
he sold ‘em; he knew what they fetched, the wenches!
“Well,” said Bordenave to the banker, “you met her yes-
“Tut!” he cried, breaking off short. “Mignon and Steiner.
terday in my office.”
Always together. You know, Steiner’s getting sick of Rose;
“Ah! It was she, was it?” ejaculated Steiner. “I suspected that’s why the husband dogs his steps now for fear of his as much. Only I was coming out as she was going in, and I slipping away.”
scarcely caught a glimpse of her.” On the pavement outside, the row of gas jets flaring on Mignon was listening with half-closed eyelids and ner-the cornice of the theater cast a patch of brilliant light.
vously twisting a great diamond ring round his finger. He Two small trees, violently green, stood sharply out against had quite understood that Nana was in question. Then as it, and a column gleamed in such vivid illumination that Bordenave was drawing a portrait of his new star, which one could read the notices thereon at a distance, as though lit a flame in the eyes of the banker, he ended by joining in in broad daylight, while the dense night of the boulevard the conversation.
beyond was dotted with lights above the vague outline of
“Oh, let her alone, my dear fellow; she’s a low lot!
an ever-moving crowd. Many men did not enter the the-The public will show her the door in quick time. Steiner, ater at once but stayed outside to talk while finishing their my laddie, you know that my wife is waiting for you in cigars under the rays of the line of gas jets, which shed a her box.”
He wanted to take possession of him again. But Steiner He disappeared, enchanted at having fired his public. Mi-would not quit Bordenave. In front of them a stream of gnon shrugged his shoulders, reminding Steiner that Rose people was crowding and crushing against the ticket of-was awaiting him in order to show him the costume she fice, and there was a din of voices, in the midst of which was about to wear in the first act.
the name of Nana sounded with all the melodious vivacity
“By Jove! There’s Lucy out there, getting down from of its two syllables. The men who stood planted in front of her carriage,” said La Faloise to Fauchery.
the notices kept spelling it out loudly; others, in an interIt was, in fact, Lucy Stewart, a plain little woman, some rogative tone, uttered it as they passed; while the women, forty years old, with a disproportionately long neck, a thin, at once restless and smiling, repeated it softly with an air drawn face, a heavy mouth, but withal of such brightness, of surprise. Nobody knew Nana. Whence had Nana fallen?
such graciousness of manner, that she was really very And stories and jokes, whispered from ear to ear, went the charming. She was bringing with her Caroline Hequet and round of the crowd. The name was a caress in itself; it was her mother—Caroline a woman of a cold type of beauty, a pet name, the very familiarity of which suited every lip.
the mother a person of a most worthy demeanor, who Merely through enunciating it thus, the throng worked it-looked as if she were stuffed with straw.
self into a state of gaiety and became highly good natured.
“You’re coming with us? I’ve kept a place for you,” she A fever of curiosity urged it forward, that kind of Parisian said to Fauchery. “Oh, decidedly not! To see nothing!” he curiosity which is as violent as an access of positive unrea-made answer. “I’ve a stall; I prefer being in the stalls.” son. Everybody wanted to see Nana. A lady had the flounce Lucy grew nettled. Did he not dare show himself in her of her dress torn off; a man lost his hat.
company? Then, suddenly restraining herself and skipping
“Oh, you’re asking me too many questions about it!” to another topic:
cried Bordenave, whom a score of men were besieging
“Why haven’t you told me that you knew Nana?” with their queries. “You’re going to see her, and I’m off;
“Nana! I’ve never set eyes on her.” they want me.”
“Honor bright? I’ve been told that you’ve been to bed 8
the way with their deeply flounced skirts, and Nana’s name But Mignon, coming in front of them, his finger to his kept repeating itself so shrilly in their conversation that lips, made them a sign to be silent. And when Lucy ques-people began to listen to them. The Count de Vandeuvres tioned him he pointed out a young man who was passing carried Blanche off. But by this time Nana’s name was echo-and murmured:
ing more loudly than ever round the four walls of the en-
“Nana’s fancy man.”
trance hall amid yearnings sharpened by delay. Why didn’t Everybody looked at him. He was a pretty fellow.
the play begin? The men pulled out their watches; late-Fauchery recognized him; it was Daguenet, a young man comers sprang from their conveyances before these had who had run through three hundred thousand francs in the fairly drawn up; the groups left the sidewalk, where the pursuit of women and who now was dabbling in stocks, in passers-by were crossing the now-vacant space of gaslit order from time to time to treat them to bouquets and din-pavement, craning their necks, as they did so, in order to ners. Lucy made the discovery that he had fine eyes.
get a peep into the theater. A street boy came up whistling
“Ah, there’s Blanche!” she cried. “It’s she who told me and planted himself before a notice at the door, then cried that you had been to bed with Nana.” out, “Woa, Nana!” in the voice of a tipsy man and hied on Blanche de Sivry, a great fair girl, whose good-looking his way with a rolling gait and a shuffling of his old boots.
face showed signs of growing fat, made her appearance in A laugh had arisen at this. Gentlemen of unimpeachable the company of a spare, sedulously well-groomed and ex-appearance repeated: “Nana, woa, Nana!” People were tremely distinguished man.
crushing; a dispute arose at the ticket office, and there was
“The Count Xavier de Vandeuvres,” Fauchery whispered a growing clamor caused by the hum of voices calling on in his companion’s ear.
Nana, demanding Nana in one of those accesses of silly The count and the journalist shook hands, while Blanche facetiousness and sheer animalism which pass over mobs.
and Lucy entered into a brisk, mutual explanation. One of But above all the din the bell that precedes the rise of the them in blue, the other in rose-pink, they stood blocking curtain became audible. “They’ve rung; they’ve rung!” The 9
rumor reached the boulevard, and thereupon followed a ings of the ceiling. The footlights were turned up and with stampede, everyone wanting to pass in, while the servants a vivid flood of brilliance lit up the curtain, the heavy purple of the theater increased their forces. Mignon, with an anx-drapery of which had all the richness befitting a palace in a ious air, at last got hold of Steiner again, the latter not fairy tale and contrasted with the meanness of the having been to see Rose’s costume. At the very first tinkle proscenium, where cracks showed the plaster under the of the bell La Faloise had cloven a way through the crowd, gilding. The place was already warm. At their music stands pulling Fauchery with him, so as not to miss the opening the orchestra were tuning their instruments amid a delicate scene. But all this eagerness on the part of the public irri-trilling of flutes, a stifled tooting of horns, a singing of tated Lucy Stewart. What brutes were these people to be violin notes, which floated forth amid the increasing up-pushing women like that! She stayed in the rear of them all roar of voices. All the spectators were talking, jostling, with Caroline Hequet and her mother. The entrance hall settling themselves in a general assault upon seats; and the was now empty, while beyond it was still heard the long-hustling rush in the side passages was now so violent that drawn rumble of the boulevard.
every door into the house was laboriously admitting the
“As though they were always funny, those pieces of inexhaustible flood of people. There were signals, rustlings theirs!” Lucy kept repeating as she climbed the stair.
of fabrics, a continual march past of skirts and head dresses, In the house Fauchery and La Faloise, in front of their accentuated by the black hue of a dress coat or a surtout.
stalls, were gazing about them anew. By this time the house Notwithstanding this, the rows of seats were little by little was resplendent. High jets of gas illumined the great glass getting filled up, while here and there a light toilet stood chandelier with a rustling of yellow and rosy flames, which out from its surroundings, a head with a delicate profile rained down a stream of brilliant light from dome to floor.
bent forward under its chignon, where flashed the light-The cardinal velvets of the seats were shot with hues of ning of a jewel. In one of the boxes the tip of a bare shoul-lake, while all the gilding shonc again, the soft green deco-der glimmered like snowy silk. Other ladies, sitting at ease, rations chastening its effect beneath the too-decided paint-languidly fanned themselves, following with their gaze the 10
pushing movements of the crowd, while young gentlemen,
“You don’t know Gaga? She was the delight of the early standing up in the stalls, their waistcoats cut very low, gar-years of Louis Philippe. Nowadays she drags her daughter denias in their buttonholes, pointed their opera glasses with about with her wherever she goes.” gloved finger tips.
La Faloise never once glanced at the young girl. The sight It was now that the two cousins began searching for the of Gaga moved him; his eyes did not leave her again. He faces of those they knew. Mignon and Steiner were together still found her very good looking but he dared not say so.
in a lower box, sitting side by side with their arms leaning Meanwhile the conductor lifted his violin bow and the for support on the velvet balustrade. Blanche de Sivry seemed orchestra attacked the overture. People still kept coming to be in sole possession of a stage box on the level of the in; the stir and noise were on the increase. Among that stalls. But La Faloise examined Daguenet before anyone else, public, peculiar to first nights and never subject to change, he being in occupation of a stall two rows in front of his there were little subsections composed of intimate friends, own. Close to him, a very young man, seventeen years old who smilingly forgathered again. Old first-nighters, hat on at the outside, some truant from college, it may be, was head, seemed familiar and quite at ease and kept exchang-straining wide a pair of fine eyes such as a cherub might ing salutations. All Paris was there, the Paris of literature, have owned. Fauchery smiled when he looked at him.
of finance and of pleasure. There were many journalists,
“Who is that lady in the balcony?” La Faloise asked sud-several authors, a number of stock-exchange people and denly. “The lady with a young girl in blue beside her.” more courtesans than honest women. It was a singularly He pointed out a large woman who was excessively tight-mixed world, composed, as it was, of all the talents and laced, a woman who had been a blonde and had now be-tarnished by all the vices, a world where the same fatigue come white and yellow of tint, her broad face, reddened and the same fever played over every face. Fauchery, whom with paint, looking puffy under a rain of little childish curls.
his cousin was questioning, showed him the boxes devoted
“It’s Gaga,” was Fauchery’s simple reply, and as this name to the newspapers and to the clubs and then named the seemed to astound his cousin, he added: dramatic critics—a lean, dried-up individual with thin, spite-11
ful lips and, chief of all, a big fellow with a good-natured Late arrivals were obliging whole rows of spectators to expression, lolling on the shoulder of his neighbor, a young rise; the doors of boxes were banging; loud voices were miss over whom he brooded with tender and paternal eyes.
heard disputing in the passages. And there was no cessa-But he interrupted himself on seeing La Faloise in the act tion of the sound of many conversations, a sound similar of bowing to some persons who occupied the box oppo-to the loud twittering of talkative sparrows at close of day.
site. He appeared surprised.
All was in confusion; the house was a medley of heads and
“What?” he queried. “You know the Count Muffat de arms which moved to and fro, their owners seating them-Beuville?”
selves or trying to make themselves comfortable or, on the
“Oh, for a long time back,” replied Hector. “The Muffats other hand, excitedly endeavoring to remain standing so as had a property near us. I often go to their house. The count’s to take a final look round. The cry of “Sit down, sit down!” with his wife and his father-in-law, the Marquis de came fiercely from the obscure depths of the pit. A shiver Chouard.”
of expectation traversed the house: at last people were And with some vanity—for he was happy in his cousin’s going to make the acquaintance of this famous Nana with astonishment—he entered into particulars. The marquis was whom Paris had been occupying itself for a whole week!
a councilor of state; the count had recently been appointed Little by little, however, the buzz of talk dwindled softly chamberlain to the empress. Fauchery, who had caught up down among occasional fresh outbursts of rough speech.
his opera glass, looked at the countess, a plump brunette And amid this swooning murmur, these perishing sighs of with a white skin and fine dark eyes.
sound, the orchestra struck up the small, lively notes of a
“You shall present me to them between the acts,” he ended waltz with a vagabond rhythm bubbling with roguish laugh-by saying. “I have already met the count, but I should like ter. The public were titillated; they were already on the to go to them on their Tuesdays.” grin. But the gang of clappers in the foremost rows of the Energetic cries of “Hush” came from the upper galleries.
pit applauded furiously. The curtain rose.
The overture had begun, but people were still coming in.
“By George!” exclaimed La Faloise, still talking away.
“There’s a man with Lucy.”
Once again the prearranged applause of the clappers alone He was looking at the stage box on the second tier to his burst forth; the public, a little out of their depth, sat wait-right, the front of which Caroline and Lucy were occupying. Nevertheless, La Faloise had clapped Clarisse Besnus, ing. At the back of this box were observable the worthy one of Bordenave’s little women, who played Iris in a soft countenance of Caroline’s mother and the side face of a blue dress with a great scarf of the seven colors of the tall young man with a noble head of light hair and an irre-rainbow looped round her waist.
“You know, she draws up her chemise to put that on,” he
“Do look!” La Faloise again insisted. “There’s a man said to Fauchery, loud enough to be heard by those around there.”
him. “We tried the trick this morning. It was all up under Fauchery decided to level his opera glass at the stage her arms and round the small of her back.” box. But he turned round again directly.
But a slight rustling movement ran through the house;
“Oh, it’s Labordette,” he muttered in a careless voice, as Rose Mignon had just come on the stage as Diana. Now though that gentle man’s presence ought to strike all the though she had neither the face nor the figure for the part, world as though both natural and immaterial.
being thin and dark and of the adorable type of ugliness Behind the cousins people shouted “Silence!” They had peculiar to a Parisian street child, she nonetheless appeared to cease talking. A motionless fit now seized the house, charming and as though she were a satire on the personage and great stretches of heads, all erect and attentive, sloped she represented. Her song at her entrance on the stage was away from stalls to topmost gallery. The first act of the full of lines quaint enough to make you cry with laughter Blonde Venus took place in Olympus, a pasteboard and of complaints about Mars, who was getting ready to Olympus, with clouds in the wings and the throne of Jupi-desert her for the companionship of Venus. She sang it ter on the right of the stage. First of all Iris and Ganymede, with a chaste reserve so full of sprightly suggestiveness aided by a troupe of celestial attendants, sang a chorus that the public warmed amain. The husband and Steiner, while they arranged the seats of the gods for the council.
sitting side by side, were laughing complaisantly, and the 13
whole house broke out in a roar when Prulliere, that great Lucy began laughing with Labordette; the Count de favorite, appeared as a general, a masquerade Mars, decked Vandeuvres was craning his neck in conversation behind with an enormous plume and dragging along a sword, the Blanche’s sturdy shoulders, while Fauchery, out of the cor-hilt of which reached to his shoulder. As for him, he had ners of his eyes, took stock of the Muffats, of whom the had enough of Diana; she had been a great deal too coy count appeared very serious, as though he had not under-with him, he averred. Thereupon Diana promised to keep stood the allusions, and the countess smiled vaguely, her a sharp eye on him and to be revenged. The duet ended eyes lost in reverie. But on a sudden, in this uncomfortable with a comic yodel which Prulliere delivered very amus-state of things, the applause of the clapping contingent ingly with the yell of an angry tomcat. He had about him all rattled out with the regularity of platoon firing. People the entertaining fatuity of a young leading gentleman whose turned toward the stage. Was it Nana at last? This Nana love affairs prosper, and he rolled around the most swag-made one wait with a vengeance.
gering glances, which excited shrill feminine laughter in It was a deputation of mortals whom Ganymede and Iris the boxes.
had introduced, respectable middle-class persons, deceived Then the public cooled again, for the ensuing scenes were husbands, all of them, and they came before the master of found tiresome. Old Bosc, an imbecile Jupiter with head the gods to proffer a complaint against Venus, who was crushed beneath the weight of an immense crown, only assuredly inflaming their good ladies with an excess of ar-just succeeded in raising a smile among his audience when dor. The chorus, in quaint, dolorous tones, broken by si-he had a domestic altercation with Juno on the subject of lences full of pantomimic admissions, caused great amuse-the cook’s accounts. The march past of the gods, Nep-ment. A neat phrase went the round of the house: “The tune, Pluto, Minerva and the rest, was well-nigh spoiling cuckolds’ chorus, the cuckolds’ chorus,” and it “caught everything. People grew impatient; there was a restless, on,” for there was an encore. The singers’ heads were droll; slowly growing murmur; the audience ceased to take an their faces were discovered to be in keeping with the phrase, interest in the performance and looked round at the house.
especially that of a fat man which was as round as the moon.
Meanwhile Vulcan arrived in a towering rage, demanding ing unfastened over her shoulders, came down to the foot-back his wife who had slipped away three days ago. The lights with a quiet certainty of movement and a laugh of chorus resumed their plaint, calling on Vulcan, the god of greeting for the public and struck up her grand ditty: the cuckolds. Vulcan’s part was played by Fontan, a comic
“When Venus roams at eventide.”
actor of talent, at once vulgar and original, and he had a From the second verse onward people looked at each role of the wildest whimsicality and was got up as a village other all over the house. Was this some jest, some wager blacksmith, fiery red wig, bare arms tattooed with arrow-on Bordenave’s part? Never had a more tuneless voice been pierced hearts and all the rest of it. A woman’s voice cried heard or one managed with less art. Her manager judged in a very high key, “Oh, isn’t he ugly?” and all the ladies of her excellently; she certainly sang like a squirt. Nay, more, laughed and applauded.
she didn’t even know how to deport herself on the stage: Then followed a scene which seemed interminable. Jupi-she thrust her arms in front of her while she swayed her ter in the course of it seemed never to be going to finish whole body to and fro in a manner which struck the audi-assembling the Council of Gods in order to submit thereto ence as unbecoming and disagreeable. Cries of “Oh, oh!” the deceived husband’s requests. And still no Nana! Was were already rising in the pit and the cheap places. There the management keeping Nana for the fall of the curtain was a sound of whistling, too, when a voice in the stalls, then? So long a period of expectancy had ended by annoy-suggestive of a molting cockerel, cried out with great con-ing the public. Their murmurings began again.
“It’s going badly,” said Mignon radiantly to Steiner.
“That’s very smart!”
“She’ll get a pretty reception; you’ll see!” All the house looked round. It was the cherub, the truant At that very moment the clouds at the back of the stage from the boardingschool, who sat with his fine eyes very were cloven apart and Venus appeared. Exceedingly tall, wide open and his fair face glowing very hotly at sight of exceedingly strong, for her eighteen years, Nana, in her Nana. When he saw everybody turning toward him be grew goddess’s white tunic and with her light hair simply flow-extremely red at the thought of having thus unconsciously 15
spoken aloud. Daguenet, his neighbor, smilingly examined came to certain rather lively verses a delicate sense of en-him; the public laughed, as though disarmed and no longer joyment made her tilt her nose, the rosy nostrils of which anxious to hiss; while the young gentlemen in white gloves, lifted and fell, while a bright flush suffused her cheeks. She fascinated in their turn by Nana’s gracious contours, lolled still swung herself up and down, for she only knew how to back in their seats and applauded.
do that. And the trick was no longer voted ugly; on the
“That’s it! Well done! Bravo!”
contrary, the men raised their opera glasses. When she came Nana, in the meantime, seeing the house laughing, began to the end of a verse her voice completely failed her, and to laugh herself. The gaiety of all redoubled itself. She was she was well aware that she never would get through with an amusing creature, all the same, was that fine girl! Her it. Thereupon, rather than fret herself, she kicked up her laughter made a love of a little dimple appear in her chin.
leg, which forthwith was roundly outlined under her diShe stood there waiting, not bored in the least, familiar aphanous tunic, bent sharply backward, so that her bosom with her audience, falling into step with them at once, as was thrown upward and forward, and stretched her arms though she herself were admitting with a wink that she had out. Applause burst forth on all sides. In the twinkling of not two farthings’ worth of talent but that it did not matter an eye she had turned on her heel and was going up the at all, that, in fact, she had other good points. And then stage, presenting the nape of her neck to the spectators’
after having made a sign to the conductor which plainly gaze, a neck where the red-gold hair showed like some signified, “Go ahead, old boy!” she began her second verse: animal’s fell. Then the plaudits became frantic.
“’Tis Venus who at midnight passes—” The close of the act was not so exciting. Vulcan wanted Still the same acidulated voice, only that now it tickled to slap Venus. The gods held a consultation and decided to the public in the right quarter so deftly that momentarily it go and hold an inquiry on earth before granting the de-caused them to give a little shiver of pleasure. Nana still ceived husband satisfaction. It was then that Diana sur-smiled her smile: it lit up her little red mouth and shone in prised a tender conversation between Venus and Mars and her great eyes, which were of the clearest blue. When she vowed that she would not take her eyes off them during 16
the whole of the voyage. There was also a scene where protected by the final curve of the balusters. The audience Love, played by a little twelve-year-old chit, answered ev-from the cheap places were coming down the steps with a ery question put to her with “Yes, Mamma! No, Mamma!” continuous tramp of heavy boots; a stream of black dress in a winy-piny tone, her fingers in her nose. At last Jupiter, coats was passing, while an attendant was making every with the severity of a master who is growing cross, shut possible effort to protect a chair, on which she had piled Love up in a dark closet, bidding her conjugate the verb “I up coats and cloaks, from the onward pushing of the crowd.
love” twenty times. The finale was more appreciated: it
“Surely I know her,” cried Steiner, the moment he per-was a chorus which both troupe and orchestra performed ceived Fauchery. “I’m certain I’ve seen her somewhere—
with great brilliancy. But the curtain once down, the clap-at the casino, I imagine, and she got herself taken up there—
pers tried in vain to obtain a call, while the whole house she was so drunk.”
was already up and making for the doors.
“As for me,” said the journalist, “I don’t quite know where The crowd trampled and jostled, jammed, as it were, be-it was. I am like you; I certainly have come across her.” tween the rows of seats, and in so doing exchanged ex-He lowered his voice and asked, laughing: pressions. One phrase only went round:
“At the Tricons’, perhaps.”
“It’s idiotic.” A critic was saying that it would be one’s
“Egad, it was in a dirty place,” Mignon declared. He duty to do a pretty bit of slashing. The piece, however, seemed exasperated. “It’s disgusting that the public give mattered very little, for people were talking about Nana such a reception to the first trollop that comes by. There’ll before everything else. Fauchery and La Faloise, being soon be no more decent women on the stage. Yes, I shall among the earliest to emerge, met Steiner and Mignon in end by forbidding Rose to play.”
the passage outside the stalls. In this gaslit gut of a place, Fauchery could not restrain a smile. Meanwhile the down-which was as narrow and circumscribed as a gallery in a ward shuffle of the heavy shoes on the steps did not cease, mine, one was well-nigh suffocated. They stopped a mo-and a little man in a workman’s cap was heard crying in a ment at the foot of the stairs on the right of the house, drawling voice:
“Oh my, she ain’t no wopper! There’s some pickings fore entering, for the widely opened glazed doors afforded there!”
a view right through the gallery—a view of a surging sea In the passage two young men, delicately curled and for-of heads, which two currents, as it were, kept in a continu-mally resplendent in turndown collars and the rest, were ous eddying movement. But they entered after all. Five or disputing together. One of them was repeating the words, six groups of men, talking very loudly and gesticulating,
“Beastly, beastly!” without stating any reasons; the other were obstinately discussing the play amid these violent inwas replying with the words, “Stunning, stunning!” as terruptions; others were filing round, their heels, as they though he, too, disdained all argument.
turned, sounding sharply on the waxed floor. To right and La Faloise declared her to be quite the thing; only he left, between columns of variegated imitation marble, ventured to opine that she would be better still if she were women were sitting on benches covered with red velvet to cultivate her voice. Steiner, who was no longer listen-and viewing the passing movement of the crowd with an ing, seemed to awake with a start. Whatever happens, one air of fatigue as though the heat had rendered them lan-must wait, he thought. Perhaps everything will be spoiled guid. In the lofty mirrors behind them one saw the reflec-in the following acts. The public had shown complaisance, tion of their chignons. At the end of the room, in front of but it was certainly not yet taken by storm. Mignon swore the bar, a man with a huge corporation was drinking a glass that the piece would never finish, and when Fauchery and of fruit syrup.
La Faloise left them in order to go up to the foyer he took But Fauchery, in order to breathe more freely, had gone Steiner’s arm and, leaning hard against his shoulder, whis-to the balcony. La Faloise, who was studying the photo-pered in his ear:
graphs of actresses hung in frames alternating with the
“You’re going to see my wife’s costume for the second mirrors between the columns, ended by following him. They act, old fellow. It is just blackguardly.” had extinguished the line of gas jets on the facade of the Upstairs in the foyer three glass chandeliers burned with theater, and it was dark and very cool on the balcony, which a brilliant light. The two cousins hesitated an instant be-seemed to them unoccupied. Solitary and enveloped in 18
shadow, a young man was standing, leaning his arms on distance did the string of carriages extend.
the stone balustrade, in the recess to the right. He was
“What a moving mass! And what a noise!” La Faloise smoking a cigarette, of which the burning end shone redly.
kept reiterating, for Paris still astonished him.
Fauchery recognized Daguenet. They shook hands warmly.
The bell rang for some time; the foyer emptied. There
“What are you after there, my dear fellow?” asked the was a hurrying of people in the passages. The curtain was journalist. “You’re hiding yourself in holes and crannies—
already up when whole bands of spectators re-entered the you, a man who never leaves the stalls on a first night!” house amid the irritated expressions of those who were
“But I’m smoking, you see,” replied Daguenet.
once more in their places. Everyone took his seat again Then Fauchery, to put him out of countenance: with an animated look and renewed attention. La Faloise
“Well, well! What’s your opinion of the new actress? She’s directed his first glance in Gaga’s direction, but he was being roughly handled enough in the passages.” dumfounded at seeing by her side the tall fair man who but
“Bah!” muttered Daguenet. “They’re people whom she’ll recently had been in Lucy’s stage box.
have had nothing to do with!”
“What is that man’s name?” he asked.
That was the sum of his criticism of Nana’s talent. La Fauchery failed to observe him.
Faloise leaned forward and looked down at the boulevard.
“Ah yes, it’s Labordette,” he said at last with the same Over against them the windows of a hotel and of a club careless movement. The scenery of the second act came as were brightly lit up, while on the pavement below a dark a surprise. It represented a suburban Shrove Tuesday dance mass of customers occupied the tables of the Cafe de at the Boule Noire. Masqueraders were trolling a catch, Madrid. Despite the lateness of the hour the crowd were the chorus of which was accompanied with a tapping of still crushing and being crushed; people were advancing their heels. This ‘Arryish departure, which nobody had in with shortened step; a throng was constantly emerging from the least expected, caused so much amusement that the the Passage Jouffroy; individuals stood waiting five or six house encored the catch. And it was to this entertainment minutes before they could cross the roadway, to such a that the divine band, let astray by Iris, who falsely bragged 19
that he knew the Earth well, were now come in order to literary first-night world: legend was trampled underfoot; proceed with their inquiry. They had put on disguises so as ancient images were shattered. Jupiter’s make-up was capi-to preserve their incognito. Jupiter came on the stage as tal. Mars was a success. Royalty became a farce and the King Dagobert, with his breeches inside out and a huge tin army a thing of folly. When Jupiter, grown suddenly amo-crown on his head. Phoebus appeared as the Postillion of rous of a little laundress, began to knock off a mad cancan, Lonjumeau and Minerva as a Norman nursemaid. Loud Simonne, who was playing the part of the laundress, bursts of merriment greeted Mars, who wore an outra-launched a kick at the master of the immortals’ nose and geous uniform, suggestive of an Alpine admiral. But the addressed him so drolly as “My big daddy!” that an im-shouts of laughter became uproarious when Neptune came moderate fit of laughter shook the whole house. While they in view, clad in a blouse, a high, bulging workman’s cap on were dancing Phoebus treated Minerva to salad bowls of his head, lovelocks glued to his temples. Shuffling along in negus, and Neptune sat in state among seven or eight slippers, he cried in a thick brogue.
women who regaled him with cakes. Allusions were ea-
“Well, I’m blessed! When ye’re a masher it’ll never do gerly caught; indecent meanings were attached to them; not to let ‘em love yer!”
harmless phrases were diverted from their proper signifi-There were some shouts of “Oh! Oh!” while the ladies cations in the light of exclamations issuing from the stalls.
held their fans one degree higher. Lucy in her stage box For a long time past the theatrical public had not wallowed laughed so obstreperously that Caroline Hequet silenced in folly more irreverent. It rested them.
her with a tap of her fan.
Nevertheless, the action of the piece advanced amid these From that moment forth the piece was saved—nay, more, fooleries. Vulcan, as an elegant young man clad, down to promised a great success. This carnival of the gods, this his gloves, entirely in yellow and with an eyeglass stuck in dragging in the mud of their Olympus, this mock at a whole his eye, was forever running after Venus, who at last made religion, a whole world of poetry, appeared in the light of a her appearance as a fishwife, a kerchief on her head and royal entertainment. The fever of irreverence gained the her bosom, covered with big gold trinkets, in great evi-20
dence. Nana was so white and plump and looked so natu-that waltz with the naughty rhythmic beat, had returned ral in a part demanding wide hips and a voluptuous mouth and swept the gods with it. Juno, as a peasant woman, that she straightway won the whole house. On her account caught Jupiter and his little laundress cleverly and boxed Rose Mignon was forgotten, though she was made up as a his ears. Diana, surprising Venus in the act of making an delicious baby, with a wicker-work burlet on her head and assignation with Mars, made haste to indicate hour and a short muslin frock and had just sighed forth Diana’s plaints place to Vulcan, who cried, “I’ve hit on a plan!” The rest in a sweetly pretty voice. The other one, the big wench of the act did not seem very clear. The inquiry ended in a who slapped her thighs and clucked like a hen, shed round final galop after which Jupiter, breathless, streaming with her an odor of life, a sovereign feminine charm, with which perspiration and minus his crown, declared that the little the public grew intoxicated. From the second act onward women of Earth were delicious and that the men were all everything was permitted her. She might hold herself awk-to blame.
wardly; she might fail to sing some note in tune; she might The curtain was falling, when certain voices, rising above forget her words—it mattered not: she had only to turn the storm of bravos, cried uproariously: and laugh to raise shouts of applause. When she gave her
famous kick from the hip the stalls were fired, and a glow Thereupon the curtain rose again; the artistes reappeared of passion rose upward, upward, from gallery to gallery, hand in hand. In the middle of the line Nana and Rose Mi-till it reached the gods. It was a triumph, too, when she led gnon stood side by side, bowing and curtsying. The audi-the dance. She was at home in that: hand on hip, she en-ence applauded; the clappers shouted acclamations. Then throned Venus in the gutter by the pavement side. And the little by little the house emptied.
music seemed made for her plebeian voice—shrill, piping
“I must go and pay my respects to the Countess Muffat,” music, with reminiscences of Saint-Cloud Fair, wheezings said La Faloise. “Exactly so; you’ll present me,” replied of clarinets and playful trills on the part of the little flutes.
Fauchery; “we’ll go down afterward.” Two numbers were again encored. The opening waltz, But it was not easy to get to the first-tier boxes. In the 21
passage at the top of the stairs there was a crush. In order
“By Jove, you’re right!” cried Fauchery. “I was saying to get forward at all among the various groups you had to that I had come across her!”
make yourself small and to slide along, using your elbows La Faloise presented his cousin to Count Muffat de in so doing. Leaning under a copper lamp, where a jet of Beuville, who appeared very frigid. But on hearing the name gas was burning, the bulky critic was sitting in judgment Fauchery the countess raised her head and with a certain on the piece in presence of an attentive circle. People in reserve complimented the paragraphist on his articles in passing mentioned his name to each other in muttered tones.
the Figaro. Leaning on the velvet-covered support in front He had laughed the whole act through—that was the ru-of her, she turned half round with a pretty movement of mor going the round of the passages—nevertheless, he was the shoulders. They talked for a short time, and the Uni-now very severe and spoke of taste and morals. Farther off versal Exhibition was mentioned.
the thin-lipped critic was brimming over with a benevo-
“It will be very fine,” said the count, whose square-cut, lence which had an unpleasant aftertaste, as of milk turned regular-featured face retained a certain gravity.
“I visited the Champ de Mars today and returned thence Fauchery glanced along, scrutinizing the boxes through truly astonished.”
the round openings in each door. But the Count de
“They say that things won’t be ready in time,” La Faloise Vandeuvres stopped him with a question, and when he was ventured to remark. “There’s infinite confusion there—” informed that the two cousins were going to pay their re-But the count interrupted him in his severe voice: spects to the Muffats, he pointed out to them box seven,
“Things will be ready. The emperor desires it.” from which he had just emerged. Then bending down and Fauchery gaily recounted how one day, when he had gone whispering in the journalist’s ear: down thither in search of a subject for an article, he had
“Tell me, my dear fellow,” he said, “this Nana—surely come near spending all his time in the aquarium, which she’s the girl we saw one evening at the corner of the Rue was then in course of construction. The countess smiled.
Now and again she glanced down at the body of the house, 22
raising an arm which a white glove covered to the elbow soft and white under a broad-brimmed hat, and with his and fanning herself with languid hand. The house dozed, restless eyes he followed the movements of the women almost deserted. Some gentlemen in the stalls had opened who passed.
out newspapers, and ladies received visits quite comfort-The moment the countess had given her invitation ably, as though they were at their own homes. Only a well-Fauchery took his leave, feeling that to talk about the play bred whispering was audible under the great chandelier, would not be quite the thing. La Faloise was the last to the light of which was softened in the fine cloud of dust quit the box. He had just noticed the fair-haired Labordette, raised by the confused movements of the interval. At the comfortably installed in the Count de Vandeuvres’s stage different entrances men were crowding in order to talk to box and chatting at very close quarters with Blanche de ladies who remained seated. They stood there motionless Sivry.
for a few seconds, craning forward somewhat and display-
“Gad,” he said after rejoining his cousin, “that Labordette ing the great white bosoms of their shirt fronts.
knows all the girls then! He’s with Blanche now.”
“We count on you next Tuesday,” said the countess to
“Doubtless he knows them all,” replied Fauchery qui-La Faloise, and she invited Fauchery, who bowed.
etly. “What d’you want to be taken for, my friend?” Not a word was said of the play; Nana’s name was not The passage was somewhat cleared of people, and once mentioned. The count was so glacially dignified that Fauchery was just about to go downstairs when Lucy he might have been supposed to be taking part at a sitting Stewart called him. She was quite at the other end of the of the legislature. In order to explain their presence that corridor, at the door of her stage box. They were getting evening he remarked simply that his father-in-law was fond cooked in there, she said, and she took up the whole corri-of the theater. The door of the box must have remained dor in company with Caroline Hequet and her mother, all open, for the Marquis de Chouard, who had gone out in three nibbling burnt almonds. A box opener was chatting order to leave his seat to the visitors, was back again. He maternally with them. Lucy fell out with the journalist. He was straightening up his tall, old figure. His face looked was a pretty fellow; to be sure! He went up to see other 23
women and didn’t even come and ask if they were thirsty!
seated himself at a table in the first saloon, which opened Then, changing the subject:
full on the boulevard, its doors having been removed rather
“You know, dear boy, I think Nana very nice.” early for the time of year. As Fauchery and La Faloise were She wanted him to stay in the stage box for the last act, passing the banker stopped them.
but he made his escape, promising to catch them at the
“Come and take a bock with us, eh?” they said.
door afterward. Downstairs in front of the theater Fauchery But he was too preoccupied by an idea; he wanted to and La Faloise lit cigarettes. A great gathering blocked the have a bouquet thrown to Nana. At last he called a waiter sidewalk, a stream of men who had come down from the belonging to the cafe, whom he familiarly addressed as theater steps and were inhaling the fresh night air in the Auguste. Mignon, who was listening, looked at him so boulevards, where the roar and battle had diminished.
sharply that he lost countenance and stammered out: Meanwhile Mignon had drawn Steiner away to the Cafe
“Two bouquets, Auguste, and deliver them to the at-des Varietes. Seeing Nana’s success, he had set to work to tendant. A bouquet for each of these ladies! Happy talk enthusiastically about her, all the while observing the thought, eh?”
banker out of the corners of his eyes. He knew him well; At the other end of the saloon, her shoulders resting twice he had helped him to deceive Rose and then, the against the frame of a mirror, a girl, some eighteen years of caprice being over, had brought him back to her, faithful age at the outside, was leaning motionless in front of her and repentant. In the cafe the too numerous crowd of cus-empty glass as though she had been benumbed by long and tomers were squeezing themselves round the marble-topped fruitless waiting. Under the natural curls of her beautiful tables. Several were standing up, drinking in a great hurry.
gray-gold hair a virginal face looked out at you with vel-The tall mirrors reflected this thronging world of heads to vety eyes, which were at once soft and candid.
infinity and magnified the narrow room beyond measure She wore a dress of faded green silk and a round hat with its three chandeliers, its moleskin-covered seats and which blows had dinted. The cool air of the night made her its winding staircase draped with red. Steiner went and look very pale.
“Egad, there’s Satin,” murmured Fauchery when his eye Faloise knew, having met him at the Muffats’. As to lit upon her.
Fauchery, he was under the impression that her name was La Faloise questioned him. Oh dear, yes, she was a street-Madame Robert, a lady of honorable repute who had a walker—she didn’t count. But she was such a scandalous lover, only one, and that always a person of respectability.
sort that people amused themselves by making her talk.
But they had to turn round, for Daguenet was smiling at And the journalist, raising his voice: them. Now that Nana had had a success he no longer hid
“What are you doing there, Satin?” himself: indeed, he had just been scoring triumphs in the
“I’m bogging,” replied Satin quietly without changing passages. By his side was the young truant schoolboy, who position.
had not quitted his seat, so stupefying was the state of ad-The four men were charmed and fell a-laughing. Mignon miration into which Nana had plunged him. That was it, he assured them that there was no need to hurry; it would thought; that was the woman! And he blushed as he thought take twenty minutes to set up the scenery for the third act.
so and dragged his gloves on and off mechanically. Then But the two cousins, having drunk their beer, wanted to go since his neighbor had spoken of Nana, he ventured to up into the theater again; the cold was making itself felt.
Then Mignon remained alone with Steiner, put his elbows
“Will you pardon me for asking you, sir, but that lady on the table and spoke to him at close quarters.
who is acting—do you know her?”
“It’s an understood thing, eh? We are to go to her house,
“Yes, I do a little,” murmured Daguenet with some sur-and I’m to introduce you. You know the thing’s quite be-prise and hesitation.
tween ourselves—my wife needn’t know.”
“Then you know her address?”
Once more in their places, Fauchery and La Faloise noThe question, addressed as it was to him, came so abruptly ticed a pretty, quietly dressed woman in the second tier of that he felt inclined to respond with a box on the ear.
boxes. She was with a serious-looking gentleman, a chief
“No,” he said in a dry tone of voice.
clerk at the office of the Ministry of the Interior, whom La And with that he turned his back. The fair lad knew that 25
he had just been guilty of some breach of good manners.
the footlights. There was no applause. Nobody laughed He blushed more hotly than ever and looked scared.
any more. The men strained forward with serious faces, The traditional three knocks were given, and among the sharp features, mouths irritated and parched. A wind returning throng, attendants, laden with pelisses and over-seemed to have passed, a soft, soft wind, laden with a se-coats, bustled about at a great rate in order to put away cret menace. Suddenly in the bouncing child the woman people’s things. The clappers applauded the scenery, which stood discovered, a woman full of restless suggestion, who represented a grotto on Mount Etna, hollowed out in a brought with her the delirium of sex and opened the gates silver mine and with sides glittering like new money. In the of the unknown world of desire. Nana was smiling still, background Vulcan’s forge glowed like a setting star. Diana, but her smile was now bitter, as of a devourer of men.
since the second act, had come to a good understanding
“By God,” said Fauchery quite simply to La Faloise.
with the god, who was to pretend that he was on a journey, Mars in the meantime, with his plume of feathers, came so as to leave the way clear for Venus and Mars. Then hurrying to the trysting place and found himself between scarcely was Diana alone than Venus made her appear-the two goddesses. Then ensued a passage which Prulliere ance. A shiver of delight ran round the house. Nana was played with great delicacy. Petted by Diana, who wanted nude. With quiet audacity she appeared in her nakedness, to make a final attack upon his feelings before delivering certain of the sovereign power of her flesh. Some gauze him up to Vulcan, wheedled by Venus, whom the presence enveloped her, but her rounded shoulders, her Amazonian of her rival excited, he gave himself up to these tender bosom, her wide hips, which swayed to and fro volup-delights with the beatified expression of a man in clover.
tuously, her whole body, in fact, could be divined, nay dis-Finally a grand trio brought the scene to a close, and it was cerned, in all its foamlike whiteness of tint beneath the slight then that an attendant appeared in Lucy Stewart’s box and fabric she wore. It was Venus rising from the waves with threw on the stage two immense bouquets of white lilacs.
no veil save her tresses. And when Nana lifted her arms the There was applause; Nana and Rose Mignon bowed, while golden hairs in her armpits were observable in the glare of Prulliere picked up the bouquets. Many of the occupants 26
of the stalls turned smilingly toward the ground-floor oc-animal, and its influence had spread and spread and spread cupied by Steiner and Mignon. The banker, his face blood-till the whole house was possessed by it. At that moment red, was suffering from little convulsive twitchings of the her slightest movement blew the flame of desire: with her chin, as though he had a stoppage in his throat.
little finger she ruled men’s flesh. Backs were arched and What followed took the house by storm completely. Diana quivered as though unseen violin bows had been drawn had gone off in a rage, and directly afterward, Venus, sit-across their muscles; upon men’s shoulders appeared fugi-ting on a moss-clad seat, called Mars to her. Never yet had tive hairs, which flew in air, blown by warm and wandering a more glowing scene of seduction been ventured on. Nana, breaths, breathed one knew not from what feminine mouth.
her arms round Prulliere’s neck, was drawing him toward In front of him Fauchery saw the truant schoolboy half her when Fontan, with comically furious mimicry and an lifted from his seat by passion. Curiosity led him to look at exaggerated imitation of the face of an outraged husband the Count de Vandeuvres—he was extremely pale, and his who surprises his wife in flagrante delicto, appeared at the lips looked pinched—at fat Steiner, whose face was purple back of the grotto. He was holding the famous net with to the verge of apoplexy; at Labordette, ogling away with iron meshes. For an instant he poised and swung it, as a the highly astonished air of a horse dealer admiring a per-fisherman does when he is going to make a cast, and by an fectly shaped mare; at Daguenet, whose ears were blood-ingenious twist Venus and Mars were caught in the snare; red and twitching with enjoyment. Then a sudden idea made the net wrapped itself round them and held them motion-him glance behind, and he marveled at what he saw in the less in the attitude of happy lovers.
Muffats’ box. Behind the countess, who was white and A murmur of applause swelled and swelled like a grow-serious as usual, the count was sitting straight upright, with ing sigh. There was some hand clapping, and every opera mouth agape and face mottled with red, while close by glass was fixed on Venus. Little by little Nana had taken him, in the shadow, the restless eyes of the Marquis de possession of the public, and now every man was her slave.
Chouard had become catlike phosphorescent, full of golden A wave of lust had flowed from her as from an excited sparkles. The house was suffocating; people’s very hair 27
grew heavy on their perspiring heads. For three hours back give effect to its petition, for since women had lived at the breath of the multitude had filled and heated the atmo-home, domestic life was becoming impossible for the men: sphere with a scent of crowded humanity. Under the sway-the latter preferred being deceived and happy. That was ing glare of the gas the dust clouds in mid-air had grown the moral of the play. Then Venus was set at liberty, and constantly denser as they hung motionless beneath the chan-Vulcan obtained a partial divorce from her. Mars was rec-delier. The whole house seemed to be oscillating, to be onciled with Diana, and Jove, for the sake of domestic lapsing toward dizziness in its fatigue and excitement, full, peace, packed his little laundress off into a constellation.
as it was, of those drowsy midnight desires which flutter in And finally they extricated Love from his black hole, where the recesses of the bed of passion. And Nana, in front of instead of conjugating the verb amo he had been busy in this languorous public, these fifteen hundred human be-the manufacture of “dollies.” The curtain fell on an apo-ings thronged and smothered in the exhaustion and ner-theosis, wherein the cuckolds’ chorus knelt and sang a hymn vous exasperation which belong to the close of a spec-of gratitude to Venus, who stood there with smiling lips, tacle, Nana still triumphed by right of her marble flesh and her stature enhanced by her sovereign nudity.
that sexual nature of hers, which was strong enough to The audience, already on their feet, were making for the destroy the whole crowd of her adorers and yet sustain no exits. The authors were mentioned, and amid a thunder of injury.
applause there were two calls before the curtain. The shout The piece drew to a close. In answer to Vulcan’s trium-of “Nana! Nana!” rang wildly forth. Then no sooner was phant summons all the Olympians defiled before the lovers the house empty than it grew dark: the footlights went out; with ohs and ahs of stupefaction and gaiety. Jupiter said, “I the chandelier was turned down; long strips of gray canvas think it is light conduct on your part, my son, to summon slipped from the stage boxes and swathed the gilt orna-us to see such a sight as this.” Then a reaction took place mentation of the galleries, and the house, lately so full of in favor of Venus. The chorus of cuckolds was again ush-heat and noise, lapsed suddenly into a heavy sleep, while a ered in by Iris and besought the master of the gods not to musty, dusty odor began to pervade it. In the front of her 28
box stood the Countess Muffat. Very erect and closely ence were lighting their cigars and walking off, humming: wrapped up in her furs, she stared at the gathering shad-When Venus roams at eventide.
ows and waited for the crowd to pass away.
Satin had gone back in front of the Cafe des Varietes, In the passages the people were jostling the attendants, where Auguste let her eat the sugar that remained over who hardly knew what to do among the tumbled heaps of from the customers’ orders. A stout man, who came out in outdoor raiment. Fauchery and La Faloise had hurried in a very heated condition, finally carried her off in the shadow order to see the crowd pass out. All along the entrance hall of the boulevard, which was now gradually going to sleep.
men formed a living hedge, while down the double stair-Still people kept coming downstairs. La Faloise was case came slowly and in regular, complete formation two waiting for Clarisse; Fauchery had promised to catch up interminable throngs of human beings. Steiner, in tow of Lucy Stewart with Caroline Hequet and her mother. They Mignon, had left the house among the foremost. The Count came; they took up a whole corner of the entrance hall de Vandeuvres took his departure with Blanche de Sivry and were laughing very loudly when the Muffats passed on his arm. For a moment or two Gaga and her daughter by them with an icy expression. Bordenave had just then seemed doubtful how to proceed, but Labordette made opened a little door and, peeping out, had obtained from haste to go and fetch them a conveyance, the door whereof Fauchery the formal promise of an article. He was drip-he gallantly shut after them. Nobody saw Daguenet go by.
ping with perspiration, his face blazed, as though he were As the truant schoolboy, registering a mental vow to wait drunk with success.
at the stage door, was running with burning cheeks toward
“You’re good for two hundred nights,” La Faloise said the Passage des Panoramas, of which he found the gate to him with civility. “The whole of Paris will visit your closed, Satin, standing on the edge of the pavement, moved theater.”
forward and brushed him with her skirts, but he in his deBut Bordenave grew annoyed and, indicating with a jerk spair gave her a savage refusal and vanished amid the crowd, of his chin the public who filled the entrance hall—a herd tears of impotent desire in his eyes. Members of the audi-of men with parched lips and ardent eyes, still burning with 29
the enjoyment of Nana—he cried out violently: Nana was sleeping on her face, hugging in her bare arms
“Say ‘my brothel,’ you obstinate devil!” a pillow in which she was burying cheeks grown pale in sleep. The bedroom and the dressing room were the only CHAPTER II
two apartments which had been properly furnished by a neighboring upholsterer. A ray of light, gliding in under a curtain, rendered visible rosewood furniture and hangings AT TEN O’CLOCK the next morning Nana was still and chairbacks of figured damask with a pattern of big asleep. She occupied the second floor of a large blue flowers on a gray ground. But in the soft atmosphere new house in the Boulevard Haussmann, the of that slumbering chamber Nana suddenly awoke with a landlord of which let flats to single ladies in order by their start, as though surprised to find an empty place at her means to dry the paint. A rich merchant from Moscow, side. She looked at the other pillow lying next to hers; who had come to pass a winter in Paris, had installed her there was the dint of a human head among its flounces: it there after paying six months’ rent in advance. The rooms was still warm. And groping with one hand, she pressed were too big for her and had never been completely furthe knob of an electric bell by her bed’s head.
nished. The vulgar sumptuosity of gilded consoles and
“He’s gone then?” she asked the maid who presented gilded chairs formed a crude contrast therein to the bric-a-herself.
brac of a secondhand furniture shop—to mahogany round
“Yes, madame, Monsieur Paul went away not ten min-tables, that is to say, and zinc candelabras, which sought to utes back. As Madame was tired, he did not wish to wake imitate Florentine bronze. All of which smacked of the her. But he ordered me to tell Madame that he would come courtesan too early deserted by her first serious protector tomorrow.”
and fallen back on shabby lovers, of a precarious first ap-As she spoke Zoe, the lady’s maid, opened the outer shut-pearance of a bad start, handicapped by refusals of credit ter. A flood of daylight entered. Zoe, a dark brunette with and threats of eviction.
hair in little plaits, had a long canine face, at once livid and 30
full of seams, a snub nose, thick lips and two black eyes in the young man would watch for his departure from Zoes continual movement.
kitchen and would take his place, which was still quite
“Tomorrow, tomorrow,” repeated Nana, who was not warm, till ten o’clock. Then he, too, would go about his yet wide awake, “is tomorrow the day?” business. Nana and he were wont to think it a very com-
“Yes, madame, Monsieur Paul has always come on the fortable arrangement.