By this time they were both very angry and extremely hoarse from shouting with so much passion at each other. Weiss seemed on the point of snapping his baton across his knee; Lina, on the stage, stamped her foot, shading her eyes from the glare of the footlights, and had grown pale with fury at this public defiance from her musical director. And then a large figure secreted somewhere in the stalls reared itself suddenly to life, seeming, in the darkness of the theater, like some primeval monster uncoiling itself from the slime of a forgotten world,—Kessel. He advanced negligently toward the orchestra, tapped Weiss on the shoulder and whispered significantly in his ear for some moments.
"What's all this mystery?" Lina called down angrily.
And Kessel shouted back: "My dear Madame, I was only saying a word to our friend Weiss here. I think if you proceed now matters will be more satisfactory. In fact, I am sure of it. Shall we continue?"
Weiss shrugged his shoulders. Instead of breaking his baton over his knee he tapped upon the rail and the members of the orchestra, who had been lounging about with mocking grins upon their faces, at once stiffened to attention. Lina, too, who had been frowning like a Medusa, now threw off her sables, assumed once more her brilliant, exalted, ballerina's smile, and sprang up on her pointes. The dispute was over—forgotten. Kessel returned to his lair in the stalls. Weiss, as he conducted, smiled to himself, for the confidences of the impresario had restored his good humor and he no longer cared how drastically Lina altered the tempo of the music. Kessel had whispered, with an air of sapience combined with sympathy:
"Humor her, Weiss. She is a bad-tempered, hysterical woman, accustomed to being spoiled. This afternoon, do what you wish with the music. But humor her this morning or we shall not get a break before the matinée."