She wrapped her apron round his neck and took up a stick of grease-paint, streaking it, kneading it with her fingers. Rouge, powder, a pencil. As she worked, swiftly and deftly, she saw that the blank look had left his eyes, which now seemed to be regarding her with an expression of black hostility. But he said nothing.
"We must go now. The clowns are on."
He followed her to the tent, still in silence, walking stiffly, staring straight in front of him. Occasionally a muscle in his cheek twitched spasmodically. They knelt down together to arrange his properties. She was afraid; her hands still trembled. Suddenly she feit that she could bear this silence no longer. She turned to him impulsively.
"Nurdo, are you ill?"
He swung his head round then, looked at her slantwise, with cunning eyes.
"Puta," he said, and spat with great ostentation upon the ground.
"I wish that I had never come away with you," she told him sadly.
The clowns came jostling and panting out of the ring. Their costumes were bright as butterfly-wings, their faces grotesquely chalked. They bade Nurdo good evening, but he made no reply.
"Come," he said to Paulina over his shoulder.
She was cold with fear as she followed him into the ring. He might break down, he might refuse even to begin his act. She tried to catch his eye, to look at him pleadingly, but he held his head stiffly, like a soldier on parade.
She need have had no fear.
He might be sick, feverish, crazy and tormented, but he was also a showman and a trouper. When he stepped into the blazing brightness of the arena he flung off his