They stared at each other; then, as women do, they glanced down at their skirts to see if there was anything amiss with them, and Miss Triscoe perceived her hands empty of Mrs. March’s sandals and of Burnamy’s handkerchief.
“Oh, I put it in one of the toes!” she lamented, and she fled back to their bench, alarming in her course the fears of a gendarme for the public security, and putting a baby in its nurse’s arms into such doubts of its personal safety that it burst into a desolate cry. She laughed breathlessly as she rejoined Mrs. March. “That comes of having no pocket; I didn’t suppose I could forget your sandals, Mrs. March! Wasn’t it absurd?”
“It’s one of those things,” Mrs. March said to her husband afterwards, “that they can always laugh over together.”
“They? And what about Burnamy’s behavior to Stoller?”
“Oh, I don’t call that anything but what will come right. Of course he can make it up to him somehow. And I regard his refusal to do wrong when Stoller wanted him to as quite wiping out the first offence.”
“Well, my dear, you have burnt your ships behind you. My only hope is that when we leave here tomorrow, her pessimistic papa’s poison will neutralize yours somehow.”
One of the pleasantest incidents of March’s sojourn in Carlsbad was his introduction to the manager of the municipal theatre by a common friend who explained the editor in such terms to the manager that he conceived of him as a brother artist. This led to much bowing and smiling from the manager when the Marches met him in the street, or in their frequent visits to the theatre, with which March felt that it might well have ended, and still been far beyond his desert. He had not thought of going to the opera on the Emperor’s birthnight, but after dinner a box came from the manager, and Mrs. March agreed with him that they could not in decency accept so great a favor. At the same time she argued that they could not in decency refuse it, and that to show their sense of the pleasure done them, they must adorn their box with all the beauty and distinction possible; in other words, she said they must ask Miss Triscoe and her father.
“And why not Major Eltwin and his wife? Or Mrs. Adding and Rose?”
She begged him, simply in his own interest, not to be foolish; and they went early, so as to be in their box when their guests came. The foyer of the theatre was banked with flowers, and against a curtain of evergreens stood a high-pedestalled bust of the paternal Caesar, with whose side-whiskers a laurel crown comported itself as well as it could. At the foot of the grand staircase leading to the boxes the manager stood in evening dress, receiving his friends and their felicitations upon the honor which the theatre was sure to do itself on an occasion so august. The Marches were so cordial in their prophecies that the manager yielded to an artist’s impulse and begged his fellow-artist to do him the pleasure of coming behind the scenes between the acts of the opera; he bowed a heart-felt regret to Mrs. March that he could not make the invitation include her, and hoped that she would not be too lonely while her husband was gone.