Borek was protesting loudly.
"How can I dance when there is so much noise and laughter in front? It's impossible for me and not very easy for Mademoiselle Rosa!"
Chaos at once ensued, during the course of which Duflos was sworn at by every one, while Paul—"Madame's son"—sat at peace, quietly smoking his cigarette.
Lina asked suddenly, while Marie tied the ribbons of her shoes: "Paul is in front, isn't he?"
"I believe so, Madame."
"Oh, really, he is impossible! I forbade it!"
But she said no more, and allowed the dispute to continue without interference.
She was thinking dreamily, that in this theater, while they danced and squabbled on the stage, something more than a ballet rehearsal was taking place, something that she could not quite understand,—a drama, perhaps, since in this theater were collected together so many people who had played, and who were playing, important, diverse parts in the story of her own life. Kessel, Marie, Paul, Borek, Weiss, Carlotta Rosa, even Duflos, with his light hair and silly laugh. Paul and Borek, hating each other. Paul and Duflos, giggling in the stalls. Borek and Rosa, working so admirably together. Kessel, obsequious to her, falsely paternal in his manner toward Rosa. Weiss, who had been with her when Rosing died. Marie, impassive, chafing her mistress' sore feet with gentle hands.
They were all there, the people of her own world, collected haphazard and at intervals by herself, a vivid, incongruous, quarrelsome gathering. Only one figure was missing, she reflected vaguely, a vital splendid figure, that would have dwarfed the others. And that figure would always be missing.
The stage-manager came up to her.