so sarcastic that he was far more to be dreaded. Behind him, unsmirched, unsullied, lay outspread like some splendid flag, all the traditions of the classical ballet of Russia. This supreme mastery of technique, this fierce striving after a beauty as elusive as it was idealistic, required a rigid course of discipline almost terrifying in its ecstatic austerity.
Once again dancing became a solemn thing, a matter of routine more dreary than a soldier's drill. And then at last there came a misty winter day with a bright fire snapping in the grate and a swarm of waxen tapers clustered gaily on the piano. Rosing, in his dressinggown, one foot tapping the ground, stood by the window, his fiddle tucked against his chin, evoking the strains of Rossini; Lina faced him in tarlatan as misty as the day outside, and sighed, because she had been for two hours toiling at the bar.
"Now! Dance, improvise, anything—it doesn't matter how bad. But dance as though this were a conquest, a triumph. Use your imagination!"
Oh, to be released! The house stifled her that day. It would be pleasant, later on, when her lesson was finished, to run out to the Grande Place and buy hot chestnuts. And so she danced, for freedom, with a light and skilful grace that would no doubt have amazed Madame Vanessi. Rosing stopped playing. Lina stopped too, flushed, panting, ready for the inevitable fault-finding which always followed such improvisations.
There was a pause.
"Come here," he said.
She obeyed, convinced that she had committed some major crime. Rosing caught her arm, pulled her closer, stared into her eyes.
"What is it?"
He embraced her then, tilting her head backward the