natural background, a hurdy-gurdy) never danced for joy.
They danced because they had to dance. They danced until the sweat streaked their faces and their toes bied and their strained limbs ached. They danced for fear of Madame Vanessi with her sharp, beady black eyes and her long wicked cane and her terrible tongue. They danced because the lightness of their steps, the dexterity of their style, represented to them their future bread and butter. They had little ambition. The recent visit to London of a goddess in white tarlatan, of a sylphide named Taglioni, meant nothing to them. She was a spirit, soaring in the clouds. They had to eat. And so they slaved and toiled and clung to a bar, the better to make their joints supple and whimpered when their teacher struck them, and arched their insteps mournfully, as weary wrestlers exhibit their biceps.
And Paulina Varley, considered promising when first she came to the school, learned her evolutions with ease and performed them listlessly, as pupils will who are stale and discouraged, and weary to death of a routine undistinguished by one single spark of enthusiasm.
Paulina was stubborn upon one point: she persisted that she could dance, and that were she permitted six months' rest she would surprise her teachers.
"Undoubtedly, lazy one," was Vanessi's invariable sardonic reply.
Rest! Amelita Vanessi had never heard the word. She was a slave-driver, determined, pitiless, a tireless machine that turned out ballet-girls by the dozen as the years passed by and dust lay thicker upon the chairs and walls of the dancing academy, and piaster began to peel off the nose of Vestris, a bust of whom stood upon the mantelpiece in the big room.
And here, where her mother, the furiously energetic