“How are you getting on?”
“Oh, pretty fairly. And how are you?”
“Very well, thank you.”
That was all. They seemed to have only parted at the doors of the theater the day before. Meanwhile the players were waiting about, but Bordenave said that the third act would not be rehearsed. And so it chanced that old Bosc went grumbling away at the proper time, whereas usually the company were needlessly detained and lost whole afternoons in consequence. Everyone went off. Down on the pavement they were blinded by the broad daylight and stood blinking their eyes in a dazed sort of way, as became people who had passed three hours squabbling with tight-strung nerves in the depths of a cellar. The count, with racked limbs and vacant brain, got into a conveyance with Nana, while Labordette took Fauchery off and comforted him.
A month later the first night of the Petite Duchesse proved supremely disastrous to Nana. She was atrociously bad and displayed such pretentions toward high comedy that the public grew mirthful. They did not hiss—they were too amused. From a stage box Rose Mignon kept greeting her rival’s successive entrances with a shrill laugh, which set the whole house off. It was the beginning of her revenge. Accordingly, when at night Nana, greatly chagrined, found herself alone with Muffat, she said furiously:
“What a conspiracy, eh? It’s all owing to jealousy. Oh, if they only knew how I despise ’em! What do I want them for nowadays? Look here! I’ll bet a hundred louis that I’ll bring all those who made fun today and make ’em lick the ground at my feet! Yes, I’ll fine-lady your Paris for you, I will!”
Thereupon Nana became a smart woman, mistress of all that is foolish and filthy in man, marquise in the ranks of her calling. It was a sudden but decisive start, a plunge into the garish day of gallant notoriety and mad expenditure and that daredevil wastefulness peculiar to beauty. She at once became queen among the most expensive of her kind. Her photographs were displayed in shopwindows, and she was mentioned in the papers. When she drove in her carriage along the boulevards the people would turn and tell one another who that was with all the unction of a nation saluting its sovereign, while the object of