Chapter 22: - Page 8 of 11

The Performance

(English version of “El Filibusterismo”)

At length the first act was concluded, the marquis taking away as servants Serpolette and Germaine, the representative of timid beauty in the troupe, and for coachman the stupid Grenicheux.  A burst of applause brought them out again holding hands, those who five seconds before had been tormenting one another and were about to come to blows, bowing and smiling here and there to the gallant Manila public and exchanging knowing looks with various spectators.

While there prevailed the passing tumult occasioned by those who crowded one another to get into the greenroom and felicitate the actresses and by those who were going to make calls on the ladies in the boxes, some expressed their opinions of the play and the players.

Undoubtedly, Serpolette is the best, said one with a knowing air.

I prefer Germaine, she’s an ideal blonde.

But she hasn’t any voice.  

What do I care about the voice?

Well, for shape, the tall one.

Pshaw, said Ben-Zayb, not a one is worth a straw, not a one is an artist!

Ben-Zayb was the critic for El Grito de la Integridad, and his disdainful air gave him great importance in the eyes of those who were satisfied with so little.

Serpolette hasn’t any voice, nor Germaine grace, nor is that music, nor is it art, nor is it anything! he concluded with marked contempt.  To set oneself up as a great critic there is nothing like appearing to be discontented with everything.  Besides, the management had sent only two seats for the newspaper staff.

In the boxes curiosity was aroused as to who could be the possessor of the empty one, for that person, would surpass every one in chic, since he would be the last to arrive.  The rumor started somewhere that it belonged to Simoun, and was confirmed: no one had seen the jeweler in the reserved seats, the greenroom, or anywhere else.

Yet I saw him this afternoon with Mr. Jouay, some one said.  He presented a necklace to one of the actresses.

To which one? asked some of the inquisitive ladies.

To the finest of all, the one who made eyes at his Excellency.

This information was received with looks of intelligence, winks, exclamations of doubt, of confirmation, and half-uttered commentaries.

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