The second, also quite voluminous, was entitled: PROJECTS UNDER CONSIDERATION. “No, not those either.”
Then came the PROJECTS NEARING COMPLETION, PROJECTS PRESENTED, PROJECTS REJECTED, PROJECTS APPROVED, PROJECTS POSTPONED. These last envelopes held little, but the least of all was that of the PROJECTS EXECUTED.
Don Custodio wrinkled up his nose—what did it contain? He had completely forgotten what was in it. A sheet of yellowish paper showed from under the flap, as though the envelope were sticking out its tongue. This he drew out and unfolded: it was the famous project for the School of Arts and Trades!
“What the devil!” he exclaimed. “If the Augustinian padres took charge of it—”
Suddenly he slapped his forehead and arched his eyebrows, while a look of triumph overspread his face. “I have reached a decision!” he cried with an oath that was not exactly eureka. “My decision is made!”
Repeating his peculiar eureka five or six times, which struck the air like so many gleeful lashes, he sat down at his desk, radiant with joy, and began to write furiously.
That night there was a grand function at the Teatro de Variedades. Mr. Jouay’s French operetta company was giving its initial performance, Les Cloches de Corneville. To the eyes of the public was to be exhibited his select troupe, whose fame the newspapers had for days been proclaiming. It was reported that among the actresses was a very beautiful voice, with a figure even more beautiful, and if credit could be given to rumor, her amiability surpassed even her voice and figure.
At half-past seven in the evening there were no more tickets to be had, not even though they had been for Padre Salvi himself in his direct need, and the persons waiting to enter the general admission already formed a long queue. In the ticket-office there were scuffles and fights, talk of filibusterism and races, but this did not produce any tickets, so that by a quarter before eight fabulous prices were being offered for them. The appearance of the building, profusely illuminated, with flowers and plants in all the doors and windows, enchanted the new arrivals to such an extent that they burst out into exclamations and applause. A large crowd surged about the entrance, gazing enviously at those going in, those who came early from fear of missing their seats. Laughter, whispering, expectation greeted the later arrivals, who disconsolately joined the curious crowd, and now that they could not get in contented themselves with watching those who did.