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"O baby, baby," said Edward, catching
up our little girl from the floor, " we will
never let you marry such a wicked man as
Sir Edward Stamford, though mamma has
done so,—will we?"


THE features of this region of enchantment
are pretty much the same all the world over,
excepting always the tawdry efforts of
provincial theatricalism, sure and fatal a wakener
from all romantic notions. In the wide
domain of the great metropolitan boards
there are no such jarring associations.
The colouring, seen afar off through the
misty haze always floating over the
parterre, is softened away into a golden vision;
while all other stage trickeries become
invested with a certain dignity that forbids
any degrading ideas. It is one magnificent
sham, in which all believers coming to
worship have unbounded faith, and would grieve
to be awakened from their delusion.
Especially is there a certain grandeur in the
aspect of a great Paris opera-house, very
inspiring; even to blazé habitués, when imperial
visitors are expected to occupy the grand
loge on the left, and the stalls below are
crowded to the full, and the balcony tiers are
peopled with noble ladies, round whom float
clouds of snowy muslinall so many pictures
in gorgeous gold and crimson setting. For
everywhere is there gold and crimsongolden
shields and garlands on this same rich crimson
ground. There is a flood of white
subdued light from lustres diffusing everything.
The grand army in the orchestra, ranged
in many long files behind each other, are
arrayed in gala costumewhite ties and
evening garmentsto do honour to the
august presence on the left, soon expected to
be here. By-and-by, a rustle and general
flutter running round, and upturning of faces in
the parterre, betoken that beneath the golden
crown and bee sprinkled draperies of the grand
loge visitors have arrived, and are bestowing
themselves in their places. Those who sit
opposite can discern, through the open door,
the tall figure of a Cent Garde, keeping watch
and ward in the corridor. After an instant's
further delay, the chef appears suddenly in
the orchestraa man with high bald crown
and spectacles. He opens his music hastily,
and, looking around him, lifts his bâton in
the air. Then, one, two, three, and from a
lone, mysterious corner rises the subdued
tremolo of the drum. An exciting, soul-
stirring moment that, if it be the first night
of a new operaM. Verdi's Vêpres, sayin
which the Parisian public takes exceeding

Supposing it now to have reached the end
of the opening act, and that the parties who
purvey that ingenious sheet, L'Entreacte, the
evening journals, and lorgnettes, are all busy
with their callings, the curious stranger,
looking about him, will note that many are
deep in those evening papers, and that many
more seats are void, and garnished round
curiously with a ligature formed of a white
handkerchief. This is but a sign that the
absence of the late occupant is only temporary,
and that he will shortly return and
resume his rights. But he will likewise be
attracted by a door towards the right of the
orchestra opening every now and then, and
swinging to behind men of all ages and qualities.
That swinging door, he will be told,
leads to the mystic regions of the Coulisses.
Those gentlemen have perpetual entrée
behind the scenes; and it is by them, most
likely, that the white mementoes have been
left on the parterre seats.

Behind that awful door, sits always a stern
Cerberusstern, that is, to all who come
without just title of entry, but otherwise
endowed with persuasive and insinuating
manners. He has come in contact with so
many ranks and characters, that he has
grown in some sort to be a man of the world.
But, in matters connected with duty he is
utterly inflexible. To those whose names are
wanting on the little roll that hangs before
him, neither prayers, nor soothing persuasion,
nor gold itself, can open the passage. That
man is known to be incorruptible. M.Cerberus
is not to be seduced.

Supposing, however, the stranger to have
cemented friendly relations with one of the
orchestra, or that M. le Directeur has kindly
furnished him with a passeport, and the door
has swung-to behind him, he will find
himself, after a few steps forward, in a very
strange and novel scene. To say nothing of
the mysteries overheadthe pulleys and
cordage, like the rigging of a great ship, the
ponderous bits of scenic furniture descending
slowly, the figures seen high in the air, walking
across frail bridgeshe will be more puzzled
with the stranger scene going on below.
Here is a flood of people newly entered by
that same swinging door, who are now busy
seeking out their own friends and familiars.
Great toppling structures are being moved
forward by strong arms to the front. Here
are singers walking to and fro, chanting
their parts softly to themselves; ballerinas
disporting fancifully, for practice sake, in the
centre of the stage; captains of firemen,
with their lieutenants and subordinates, prying
curiously into out-of-the-way corners
and by places; M. le Directeur himself,
walking up and down thoughtfullyin charming
spirits if the house be crowded to
inconvenience. There must be added to this, a
perfect Babel of many tongues, of words of
command, angry chiding, and inextinguishable
laughter, from the lively groups
scattered over the stage. In the midst of
all this, a voice is heard sounding clear
above the storm, "Clear the stage, messieurs
et mesdames! the curtain is about to rise."