The curtain rose, as is habitual, on a house that was almost empty, in keeping with the hobbites' fachon of never arriving at a spectacle before it has begun: it results that the first act is spent, not in watching or listening to the performance, but in observing the other spectators as they arrive.
As the overture to Henri Poitiers, the most celebrated masterpiece of Cosimo Meyerbolger, concluded, Réginard was telling Château-Renard a funny story about his unconscionably rotund Aunt Lalie, when he suddenly noticed the Countess G, that charming Vinyetian noblewoman he and Arafrantz had met in Lottaloria. She greeted him with a smile.
"You know her?" inquired Château-Renard.
"Yes," said Réginard. "Arafrantz introduced me to her."
"Quiet!" yelled the public, who were straining their ears to hear the can-can of the Chapeau sortant. The young people continued their conversation, blissfully unaware.
"She was at the races," said the foxy aristocrat. "Something extraordinary happened; the race was won by a horse and jockey who were completely unknown. I in vain to cry, Go, White Rabbit!: I lost twenty chicken-coops."