Nevertheless, he continued to steal glances now and then, and presently saw an interesting sight. In her lap this Juno had a gold-embroidered bag, and she opened it, disclosing a collection of mysterious apparatus of which she proceeded to make use: first a little gold hand-mirror, in which she studied her charms; then a little white powder-puff with which she deftly tapped her nose and cheeks; then some kind of red pencil with which she proceeded to rub her lips; then a golden pencil with which she lightly touched her eyebrows. Then it seemed as if she must have discovered a little hair which had grown since she left her dressing-room. Peter couldn’t be sure, but she had a little pair of tweezers, and seemed to pull something out of her chin. She went on with quite an elaborate and complicated toilet, paying meantime not the slightest attention to the people passing by.
Peter looked farther, and saw that just as when one person sneezes or yawns everybody else in the room is irresistibly impelled to sneeze or yawn, so all these Dianas and Junos and Hebes on the “mezzanine floor” had suddenly remembered their little gold or silver hand-mirrors, their powder-puffs and red or golden or black pencils. One after another, the little vanity-bags came forth, and Peter, gazing in wonder, thought that Mount Olympus had turned into a beauty parlor.
Peter rose again and strolled and watched the goddesses, big and little, old and young, fat and thin, pretty and ugly—and it seemed to him the fatter and older and uglier they were, the more intently they gazed into the little hand-mirrors. He watched them with hungry eyes, for he knew that here he was in the midst of high life, the real thing, the utmost glory to which man could ever hope to attain, and he wanted to know all there was to know about it. He strolled on, innocent and unsuspecting, and the two hundred and twenty-four white boy angels in the ceiling smiled their bland and placid smiles at him, and Peter knew no more than they what complications fate had prepared for him on that mezzanine floor!
On one of the big lounges there sat a girl, a radiant creature from the Emerald Isles, with hair like sunrise and cheeks like apples. Peter took one glance at her, and his heart missed three successive beats, and then, to make up for lost time, began leaping like a runaway race-horse. He could hardly believe what his eyes told him; but his eyes insisted, his eyes knew; yes, his eyes had gazed for hours and hours on end upon that hair like sunrise and those cheeks like apples. The girl was Nell, the chambermaid of the Temple of Jimjambo!
She had not looked Peter’s way, so there was time for him to start back and hide himself behind a pillar; there he stood, peering out and watching her profile, still arguing with his eyes. It couldn’t be Nell; and yet it was! Nell transfigured, Nell translated to Olympus, turned into a goddess with a pale grey band about her middle, and a pale grey ribbon over each shoulder to hold it in place! Nell reclining at ease and chatting vivaciously to a young man with the face of a bulldog and the dinner-jacket of a magazine advertisement!