“Really, what are you carrying on like that for, Jennechka? What are you down on her like that for...”
“Eh, all of you are fine!” Jennie sharply cuts her short. “No self-respect of any sort! Some scum comes along, buys you like a piece of meat, hires you like a cabby, at a fixed rate, for love for an hour, but you go all to pieces: ’Ah, my little lover! Ah, what unearthly passion!’ Ugh!” she spat in disgust.
She wrathfully turns her back upon them and continues to promenade on a diagonal through the room, swinging her hips and blinking at herself in every mirror.
During this time Isaac Davidovich, the piano player, is still struggling with the refractory violinist.
“Not that way, not that way, Isaiah Savvich. You throw the fiddle away for one little minute. Listen a little to me. Here is the tune.”
He plays with one finger and hums in that horrible goatish voice that all musical directors—for which calling he had been at one time preparing—possess.
“Ess-tam, ess-tam, ess-tiam-tiam. Well, now, repeat after me the first part, first time off..... Well..... ein, zwei...”
Their rehearsal is being attentively watched by the grey-eyed, round-faced, arch-browed Zoe, mercilessly bedaubed with cheap rouges and whiteners, leaning with her elbows on the pianoforte, and the slight Vera, with drink-ravaged face, in the costume of a jockey—in a round little cap with straight brim, in a little silk jacket, striped blue and white, in tightly stretched trunks and in little patent leather boots with yellow facings. And really, Vera does resemble a jockey, with her narrow face, in which the exceedingly sparkling blue eyes, under a smart bob coming down on the forehead, are set too near the humped, nervous, very handsome nose. When, at last, after long efforts the musicians agree, the somewhat small Verka walks up to the large Zoe, in that mincing, tethered walk, the hind part sticking out, and elbows spread as though for flight, with which only women in male costume can walk, and makes a comical masculine bow to her, spreading her arms wide and lowering them. And, with great enjoyment, they begin careering over the room.
The nimble Niura, always the first to announce all the news, suddenly jumps down from the window sill, and calls out, spluttering from the excitement and hurry:
“A swell carriage...has driven up...to Treppel ...with electricity... Oi, goils...may I die on the spot...there’s electricity on the shafts.”
All the girls, save the proud Jennie, thrust themselves out of the windows. A driver with a fine carriage is indeed standing near the Treppel entrance. His brand-new, dashing victoria glistens with new lacquer; at the ends of the shafts two tiny electric lights burn with a yellow light; the tall white horse, with a bare pink spot on the septum of its nose, shakes its handsome head, shifts its feet on the same spot, and pricks up its thin ears; the bearded, stout driver himself sits on the coach-box like a carven image, his arms stretched out straight along his knees.