• 2017/5/10

while they finished their cigars

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With the advice of Nana herself he had addressed himself to Labordette, but the latter, deeming it too heavy an undertaking, had mentioned it to the hairdresser Francis, who willingly busied himself in such affairs in order to oblige his lady clients. The count put himself into the hands of these gentlemen but expressed a formal desire not to appear in the matter, and they both undertook to keep in hand the bill for a hundred thousand francs which he was to sign, excusing themselves at the same time for charging a matter of twenty thousand francs interest and loudly denouncing the blackguard usurers to whom, they declared, it had been necessary to have recourse. When Muffat had himself announced, Francis was putting the last touches to Nana's coiffure. Labordette also was sitting familiarly in the dressing room, as became a friend of no consequence.


Satin went and lolled back in the depths of a sofa near the fireplace. She had lit a cigarette, but Vandeuvres began amusing himself by pretending to be ferociously jealous. Nay, he even threatened to send her his seconds if she still persisted in keeping Nana from her duty. Philippe and Georges joined him and teased her and badgered her so mercilessly that at last she shouted out:

 

"Now then, let her be," said Nana seriously. "I won't have her tormented; you know that quite well. And you, my pet, why d'you always go mixing yourself up with them when they've got so little sense?"

Satin, blushing all over and putting out her tongue, went into the dressing room, through the widely open door of which you caught a glimpse of pale marbles gleaming in the milky light of a gas flame in a globe of rough glass. After that Nana talked to the four men as charmingly as hostess could. During the day she had read a novel which was at that time making a good deal of noise. It was the history of a courtesan, and Nana was very indignant, declaring the whole thing to be untrue and expressing angry dislike to that kind of monstrous literature which pretends to paint from nature. "Just as though one could describe everything," she said. Just as though a novel ought not to be written so that the reader may while away an hour pleasantly!

The conversation continued, and same mention was made of an execution shortly to take place. The young woman said she was burning to go to it when Satin appeared at the dressing-room door and called her in tones of entreaty. She got up at once and left the gentlemen lolling lazily about,  and discussed the grave question as to how far a murderer subject to chronic alcoholism is responsible for his act. In the dressing room Zoe sat helpless on a chair, crying her heart out, while Satin vainly endeavored to console her Neo skin lab.

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