Why, dear, it’s only in the circus that they attract crowds by beating drums, but in a palace—
Oh, hang it! Stop imagining that, then. Now imagine something else. The violins are playing a melodious plaint; the flutes are singing gently; the double bass drones like a beetle.
[Man sits down, still wearing his oak wreath, and strikes up a dance tune, clapping his hands in accompaniment. The melody is the same as in the next scene at Man’s ball. The Wife dances. She is well-formed and graceful.
Oh, you darling!
I am the queen of the ball.
[The song and dance grow ever jollier. Man rises slowly and begins to dance lightly on the spot where he is standing; then he seizes his Wife and dances with her. The oak wreath slips to one side. Someone in Gray looks on indifferently, the candle burning brightly in his petrified hand.
THE THIRD SCENE
A BALL AT MAN’S HOUSE
The ball is in the drawing-room of Man’s large mansion. It is a very lofty, spacious, perfectly rectangular room. The floor is bright and smooth. There is a certain irregularity about the room due to the disproportionate size of the parts. Thus, the doors are very small in proportion to the windows. This produces a strange, irritating impression, as of something disharmonious, something lacking, and also of something superfluous and adventitious. The whole is pervaded by a chilly white, the monotony of which is broken only by a row of windows in the rear wall. They are very high, reaching almost to the ceiling, and dense with the blackness of night. Not one gleam, not a bright spot shows in the blank spaces between the window frames. Man’s wealth shows in the abundance of gildings. There are gilded chairs, and very wide gold frames enclose the pictures. These constitute the only furniture as well as the only ornamentation. The lighting is from three chandeliers shaped like tings, with a few electric lights placed at a great distance apart. At the ceiling the light is bright, but considerably less so below, so that the walls seem grayish.
The ball is in full swing. The music is furnished by an orchestra of three pieces. The musicians resemble closely their respective instruments; the violinist, a violin—lean neck, small head, a shock of hair brushed to one side, back somewhat bent, a handkerchief correctly adjusted on his shoulder under the violin; the flute-player, a flute—very, tall, with a thin, elongated face, and stiff, thin legs, the bass-violinist, a double-bass—stumpy, round-shouldered, lower part of his body very stout,