But he motioned her away.
"No. You mustn't come near me. Fm not—I don't
want " He paused, gulped, and finally produced:
"I am not working to-night."
She told him severely that he was being very silly.
"You don't understand, Lina. You never understand me. I am not blaming you because you are only a child and I should never have taken you from your home in the first place. But since you are here you must not interfere with me, do you understand?"
He sat down on the bunk and relapsed into silence.
"Nurdo, will you please get ready?"
"Nurdo, the Arabs have nearly finished their act."
He looked at her then.
"You see," he said with an air of sad finality, "if I can really not learn my new trick I am no use as a juggler, no use at all. And so it is better to give up. You have brought bad luck to me, Lina."
He dropped his head upon his hands and groaned.
She said nothing, but went across to him and began unbuttoning his coat. He made no protest. Her fingers trembled. Then his cravat, his shirt.
"Get up, Nurdo."
He obeyed like an automaton.
"Look, your vest . . . you must be quick . . . and your tights."
She wondered drearily whether or not he had been drinking. She thought not; she could not detect even the faintest smell of spirits and he behaved more as though he were walking in his sleep.
"Make-up," he said briefly, when she had helped him into his black spangled trunks and stuck the sham rubies in his ears.
"Then sit down."