The Singular Attitude of a Safety-pin

Behind the curtain, there was an indescribable crowd. Artists, scene-shifters, dancers, supers, choristers, subscribers were all asking questions, shouting and hustling one another.

`What became of her?'

`She's run away.'

`With the Vicomte de Chagny, of course!'

`No, with the count!'

`Ah, here's Carlotta! Carlotta did the trick!'

`No, it was the ghost!' And a few laughed, especially as a careful examination of the trap-doors and boards had put the idea of an accident out of the question.

Amid this noisy throng, three men stood talking in a low voice and with despairing gestures. They were Gabriel, the chorus-master; Mercier, the acting-manager; and Rémy, the secretary. They retired to a corner of the lobby by which the stage communicates with the wide passage leading to the foyer of the ballet. Here they stood and argued behind some enormous `properties.'

`I knocked at the door,' said Rémy. `They did not answer. Perhaps they are not in the office. In any case, it's impossible to find out, for they took the keys with them,'

`They' were obviously the managers, who had given orders, during the last entr'acte, that they were not to be disturbed on any pretext whatever. They were not in to anybody.

`All the same,' exclaimed Gabriel, `a singer isn't run away with, from the middle of the stage, every day!'

`Did you shout that to them?' asked Mercier, impatiently.

`I'll go back again,' said Rémy, and disappeared at a run.

Thereupon the stage-manager arrived.

`Well, M. Mercier, are you coming? What are you two doing here? You're wanted, Mr. Acting-Manager.'

`I refuse to know or to do anything before the commissary arrives,' declared Mercier. `I have sent for Mifroid. We shall see when he comes!'

`And I tell you that you ought to go down to the organ at once.'

`Not before the commissary comes.'

`I've been down to the organ myself already.'

`Ah! And what did you see?'

`Well, I saw nobody! Do you hear - nobody!'

`What do you want me to do down there for{sic}?'

`You're right!' said the stage-manager, frantically pushing his hands through his rebellious hair. `You're right! But there might be some one at the organ who could tell us how the stage came to be suddenly darkened. Now Mauclair is nowhere to be found. Do you understand that?'

Mauclair was the gas-man, who dispensed day and night at will on the stage of the Opera.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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