And she escaped and rejoined Steiner, feeling happy and once more possessed with the idea of drinking milk. In the empty room the Count de Vandeuvres was left alone with the “decorated” man who had recited “Abraham’s Sacrifice.” Both seemed glued to the card table; they had lost count of their whereabouts and never once noticed the broad light of day without, while Blanche had made bold to put her feet up on a sofa in order to try and get a little sleep.
“Oh, Blanche is with them!” cried Nana. “We are going to drink milk, dear. Do come; you’ll find Vandeuvres here when we return.”
Blanche got up lazily. This time the banker’s fiery face grew white with annoyance at the idea of having to take that big wench with him too. She was certain to bore him. But the two women had already got him by the arms and were reiterating:
“We want them to milk the cow before our eyes, you know.”
At the Varietes they were giving the thirty-fourth performance of the Blonde Venus. The first act had just finished, and in the greenroom Simonne, dressed as the little laundress, was standing in front of a console table, surmounted by a looking glass and situated between the two corner doors which opened obliquely on the end of the dressing-room passage. No one was with her, and she was scrutinizing her face and rubbing her finger up and down below her eyes with a view to putting the finishing touches to her make-up. The gas jets on either side of the mirror flooded her with warm, crude light.
“Has he arrived?” asked Prulliere, entering the room in his Alpine admiral’s costume, which was set off by a big sword, enormous top boots and a vast tuft of plumes.
“Who d’you mean?” said Simonne, taking no notice of him and laughing into the mirror in order to see how her lips looked.
“I don’t know; I’ve just come down. Oh, he’s certainly due here tonight; he comes every time!”
Prulliere had drawn near the hearth opposite the console table, where a coke fire was blazing and two more gas jets were flaring brightly. He lifted his eyes and looked at the clock and the barometer on his right hand and on his left. They had gilded sphinxes by way of adornment in the style of the First Empire. Then he stretched himself out in a huge armchair with ears, the green velvet of which had been so worn by four generations of comedians that it looked yellow in places, and there he stayed, with moveless limbs and vacant eyes, in that weary and resigned attitude peculiar to actors who are used to long waits before their turn for going on the stage.