Considering what Braintop was ready to do that he might be remembered for a day and no more, the request was so very moderate as to be painful to him.
“You will leave him when you have given it into his hand. You are not to answer any questions,” said Emilia.
With a reassuring glance at the musician’s wig, Braintop bent his head.
“Do see,” she pursued, “how differently he bows from the other men, though it is only dance music. Oh, how his ears are torn by that violoncello! He wants to shriek:—he bears it!”
She threw a piteous glance across the agitated instruments, and Braintop was led to inquire: “Is he anything particular?”
“He can bring out notes that are more like honey—if you can fancy a thread of honey drawn through your heart as if it would never end! He is Italian.”
Braintop modestly surveyed her hair and brows and cheeks, and taking the print of her eyes on his brain to dream over, smelt at a relationship with the wry black wig, which cast a halo about it.
The musicians laid down their instruments, and trooped out, one by one. Emilia perceived a man brush against her father’s elbow. Her father flicked at his offended elbow with the opposite hand, and sat crumpled up till all had passed him: then went out alone. That little action of disgust showed her that he had not lost spirit, albeit condemned to serve amongst an inferior race, promoters of discord.
Just as the third play was opening, some commotion was seen in the pit, rising from near Braintop’s vacated seat; and presently a thing that shone flashing to the lights, came on from hand to hand, each hand signalling subsequently toward Mr. Pole’s box. It approached. Braintop’s eyes were in waiting on Emilia, who looked sadly at the empty orchestra. A gentleman in the stalls, a head beneath her, bowed, and holding up a singular article, gravely said that he had been requested to pass it. She touched Mr. Pole’s shoulder. “Eh? anything funny?” said he, and glanced around. He was in time to see Braintop lean hurriedly over the box, and snatch his pocket-mirror from the gentleman’s hand. “Ha! ha!” he laughed, as if a comic gleam had illumined him. A portion of the pit and stalls laughed too. Emilia smiled merrily. “What was it?” said she; and perceiving many faces beneath her red among handkerchiefs, she was eager to see the thing that the unhappy Braintop had speedily secreted.
“Come, sir, let’s see it!” quoth Mr. Pole, itching for a fresh laugh; and in spite of Braintop’s protest, and in defiance of his burning blush, he compelled the wretched youth to draw it forth, and be manifestly convicted of vanity.
A shout of laughter burst from Mr. Pole. “No wonder these young sparks cut us all out. Lord, what cunning dogs they are! They ain’t satisfied with seeing themselves in their boots, but they—ha! ha! By George! We’ve got the best fun in our box. I say, Braintop! you ought to have two, my boy. Then you’d see how you looked behind. Ha-ha-hah! Never enjoyed an evening so much in my life! A looking-glass for their pockets! ha! ha!—hooh!”