above the mantelpiece in the little salon. There were more than a hundred of them, great and small, pale ovalfaced Virgins in robes of solid gold and silver stiff with gems, remote and cold, Lina sometimes thought, for all their brightness, the strange saints of a far-away, fantastic land. Rosing, who was religious whenever it occurred to him, which was not often, gave his pupil one of these ikons to hang in the corner of her bedroom with a taper burning beneath it. He loved his ikons; they brought back to him the very scent of Russia.
The house, for all its confusion, had a curious and genial charm. lts windows looked over the deep darkness of a wide canal on which floated swans like pale birds of fairy; behind lay a crumbling bridge, a shady chestnut tree, the mossy gables of old houses just opposite, and the spires of an ancient hoary church much frequented by beggars, old maids and stray cats.
Every one in Bruges seemed elderly, pious, secretive and wrinkled. If youth existed at all in the town, youth must have stifled.
Rosing had a few friends, all older than himself. The Doctor Silvercroys, Vanderkerk, his lawyer, Paul Martens, an unsuccessful and embittered painter. They dined with him at six o'clock, the fashionable Bruges hour, at least once a fortnight. It was not long before these cronies discovered that "the Russian" kept a young girl concealed in his house, and that they suspected a liaison was of course inevitable. Rosing, when questioned, smiled enigmatically.
"The demoiselle of whom you speak is my pupil."
And that was all. Nor were they allowed to see the young lady for themselves. Like Cinderella, she was sternly, and as though by magie, banished from their presence. Rosing once condescended to explain her absence.
"My pupil is young, modest, innocent. Your grossness,