Young men and girls are dancing dreamily. All are handsome, distinguished-looking, with good figures. In contrast to the piercing notes of the music, their dancing is smooth, noiseless, light. At the first musical phrase, they circle around; at the second, they gracefully part and join again. There is a slight mannerism in their dancing.
Along the walls, on the gilded chairs, sit the Guests, stiff and constrained. They scarcely venture to move their heads. Their conversation is also constrained. They do not whisper to one another; they do not laugh, and they scarcely look at one another. They speak abruptly, as if chopping out the words of a text. Their hands hanging superciliously over their laps make their arms look as if they had been broken at the wrists. The monotony of their faces is strongly emphasized. Every face bears the same expression of self-satisfaction, haughtiness, and inane respect for the wealth of Man.
The dancing girls are all in white, the men in black. Some of the Guests wear black, white, and brightly yellow? flowers.
In the near corner, which is darker than the rest, Someone in Gray called He stands motionless. The candle in his hand is reduced two-thirds and burns with a strong, yellow light, casting a yellow sheen on His stony face and chin._
THE GUESTS’ CONVERSATION
—It is a very great honor to be a guest at Man’s ball.
—You may add, it is an honor of which very few have been deemed worthy. The whole city tried to get themselves invited, but only a very few succeeded. My husband, my children, and I are quite proud of the honor Man has showed us.
—I am really sorry for those who were not able to get here. They won’t sleep the whole night from sheer envy, and to-morrow they’ll say nasty things about the ball and call it a bore.
—They never saw such magnificence.
—Or such wonderful wealth and luxury.
—Or, I dare say, such charming, free and easy gayety.
—If this isn’t gay, I should like to know what is.
—Oh, what’s the use of talking? You can’t convince people consumed by jealousy. They’ll tell us we didn’t sit on gilded chairs, absolutely not.
—They’ll say that the chairs were of the commonest sort, bought at second hand.
—That the illumination was not by electricity, but just by tallow candles.
—Say candle stumps.