It was cold in the hall, and the stairs, which were in complete darkness, seemed bitterly haunted by that same fog which hung so thickly about the house. But on the top step Paulina collapsed and began to cry, for her world had crashed about her ears and she was most sorely afraid. And as she sobbed and shivered, and dreaded Mrs. Purdie with all her heart and soul, a door opened softly behind her and some one watched her, shading a candle with his hand.
For some time she noticed nothing, then a voice whispered "Lina," and she started, for only one person called her Lina, and that was Nurdo, the juggler, and she had forgotten that he was in the house.
He repeated, softly and urgently: "Lina, Lina, what is it?"
"Oh," she said, swallowing her tears, "I did not . . . mean to disturb you. I had quite forgotten .. . but I'll go to bed."
"To bed! To cry some more?"
"Oh, let me alone. Please."
But he came to sit beside her on the stairs, his eyes fixed upon her little round neck and dark silky head.
"How long is it since you have seen me, Lina?"
"Oh, very long! Perhaps two years."
"Two years! It is three."
She turned her head to look at him. He was exactly the same. She remembered, very vividly, his scarred sallow face with its slanting eyes, and his black curly hair, that made her think of astrakhan. She remembered, too, the heavy perfume of the scent with which he always