She, whose emotions had been at first dazed by the tremendous upheaval of her life, took some time to awake from the bright bewildering dream of this new nomad existence. Her past life, the squalid lodging-house, the sad, dusty dancing school, these seemed less real than the huge grayish mushroom of the circus tent and its rows of scarlet gilded caravans. Her father, Madame Vanessi, Mrs. Purdie, had all receded somewhere into the background of her mind, vague shapes, with vaguer faces. Other, more vivid figures had displaced them; Nurdo, Monsieur Rambert, the Cossack rider, the Chinese babies and the Indian snake-charmer.
She supposed that all her life long she would trail with Nurdo from one foreign land to another, and sometimes, when this thought occurred to her she knew a moment's panic, for it seemed to her obvious that as she grew older she would become more tired, and she was quite often enoügh tired as it was.
Often at night she would wake up to find that Nurdo was no longer in his bunk. At first she was afraid, then curious; once she lay awake, saw him slip out of the wagon and followed him on tiptoe. He vanished inside the Big Top; there was a bright moon. She watched him through the flaps for a little while. He was practising a new trick; he did not return to the wagon until dawn. Always after these nocturnal escapades he was morose and gloomy; he refused to eat, refused to talk, and juggled with anything upon which he could lay his hands knives, spoons, forks, candlesticks. Grimly, with a sort of desperation, hour after hour, Nurdo sent these objects whirling in rings of silver about his head. Once he collapsed upon the table and wept. He said that he was intent upon a very special trick, and that he could not learn it. Yet, when she would have comforted him, he pushed her away.
Paulina practised too. Her dancing-floor was a plank,