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' Chapter 13

Somehow, mysteriously, af ter that evening she insinuated berself into the good graces not only of Rosing's friends but of Rosing himself. She was subsequently allowed, when the dinner-parties took place, not indeed to be present at the actual festivities, but to preside afterward in the salon, serving tea, Russian-fashion, in glasses, a graceful and modest Hebe. The pink tights might never have been. And yet somehow Rosing was not quite sure. He remembered the smile she had given him on that other evening, the smile with which she bade him good night after having been rebuked for her unmaidenly behavior. A strange smile, disconcerting in its suggestion of a sly elfin wisdom to which mortal man might never attain. It was as though she read him through, knew, in that one moment, all his sad forgotten secrets. Old memories, dim yet painful, had stirred unrestfully in his deepest heart and he had recollected many thingsā€”a flame of Russian music, the white arms of a woman, even the scent that woman used, the sunburned neck of a young boy, a shy laugh, and then again the fiery music of gipsy singers, and drink, a Russian drink more fiery even than the music. But all that was long ago, and now when he looked out of his window he heard no music, saw no snow, and there was only the muted tolling of a church-bell and a rain-washed mist that blurred the panes.

It was strange, he mused, that a smile from Lina could thus evoke for him that part of a vivid brilliant life so remote, so faded, so utterly locked away in the past that he had seldom thought of it since first he came to live in Bruges.