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>15. The Opera Camille and Eveline spent the afternoon at the beauty parlor the day of the opera.Eveline had purchased a dark blue frock with a narrow lace yoke and bands of shirring, while Camille had selected a champagne-pink Marquisette gown with ivory lace and a matching ostrich-plumed hat. Brooks washed and waxed his Cadillac for the occasion, and the two couples drank a glass of port at the Leightons’ home before Brooks drove them all downtown. The Hancock Opera House lay just west of Congress on Pecan Street. Many of Austin’s noteworthy politicians and socialites had already arrived. The Bremonds had ordered drinks and were inquiring about their seats, while Governor Colquitt and his wife climbed the stairs to their box in the mezzanine. Brooks ordered scotch for himself and Thomas and gin and tonics for Camille and Eveline before they entered the theater and showed the usher their tickets. He directed them to the center of the auditorium in the seventh row, where Camille and Eveline took seats together. Camille gasped as she looked around. Bas-reliefs of flora and fauna covered the walls, and the three-tiered stage curtain was a spectacle in itself—hand-painted with a variety of pastoral and celestial scenes. Muses danced in clouds on either side of the stage, and cherub faces complacently glared down from their frames of golden scrollwork. The orchestra played a Chopin étude softly from the pit. Camille and Eveline 111 admired the intricacies of the decor and commented on the attire of the other women while Brooks and Thomas stood on the aisle exchanging greetings with colleagues and acquaintances.Camille was amazed how many people Brooks knew. Eveline pointed out local dignitaries. “In that box,” she nodded toward the mezzanine,“that’s MayorWooldridge and his wife, and look,” she motioned toward the left wall,“that’s Colonel Edward House, President Wilson’s closest political advisor and confidant.” “Here in Austin?” Camille asked. “It’s said Wilson doesn’t do anything without consulting him first.” Eveline looked around. Her tone changed.“Who’s that?” “Doctor Abernathy!” A young blonde woman in a red satin frock with Spanish black lace approached Brooks. Her décolletage was unavoidable and the look in her eyes, unmistakable . Camille watched as he politely nodded and crooned a greeting with a backward glance at her and Eveline. He didn’t introduce them. “Have you ever seen her before?” Eveline asked. “No,” Camille replied and took a large sip of her gin. “Here we are!”Jewel’s alto could be heard well before she appeared on the aisle aglow in a chocolate-brown satin dress with a gold lamé jacket and a small cap with a pheasant feather rising like an exclamation point above her head.“Let’s see, we’re all here except for Merriweather and Alicia. Camille, Eveline, hello.” Camille and Eveline rose to join the circle in the aisle as Brooks’blonde friend excused herself and made her way to her seat. Jewel gave them each a perfunctory hug and praises for their attire. Professor Kimbrough stopped next to the men without a word and downed half his whiskey.“I’ve made reservations at the Driskill for a late din112 Comfort and Mirth ner,” Jewel announced. Kimbrough wrinkled his brow. “Or an early breakfast,” she wagged a finger toward her husband. “It’s the fashionable thing to do after the theater.” “Sounds lovely,” Eveline remarked. “It will be, dear,” Jewel assured her.“And we can discuss the artistic merit and depth of metaphor in the show.” “I need a cigar,” Kimbrough declared.“Anyone else?” “I have an announcement!” Jewel interjected.“This week I’ve officially joined the suffragists.” She turned to Camille and Eveline.“And I’ll shamelessly work to enlist your talents as well.” Brooks’ eyes spun up toward the ceiling as he raised his elbow and took a sip of his scotch.“I saw that, Professor Abernathy,” Jewel scolded. “Surely you would encourage your wife in this manner.We have an important moral duty to raise the status of women above that of mere children. I’ve been raving about your modern philosophical views all over town, and I know we can count on your support.” Brooks straightened his ascot. “I would consider such activity an imperfect moral duty.” Jewel frowned. “I like you, Dr. Abernathy. I find your work intense, but intelligent and avant garde, so tell me in terms I can readily digest.What...


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