passages, up flights of cold stone stairs, into a tiny whitewashed room where a stout Italian woman was engaged in crimping the hair of a sallow little girl in a limp tulle skirt.
As Lina could speak no Italian and her companions nothing else, conversation was impossible and she changed as quickly as she could, a little reassured by the freshness of her new ballet-dress, with its ten layers of crisp and snowy tulle. The Italian woman kindly lent her make-up, which she used sparingly. By the time she was ready two other budding ballerinas, also escorted by mothers, had taken possession of the room, and she was glad enough to leave it. She lost herself for quite five minutes in the rabbit-warren of passages and was in a panic when she at last succeeded in finding her master.
He was right to hurry her. Already five or six girls were practising back-stage, exercising, "warming up," or working at the bar, while their teaehers, standing over them, screamed abuse and encouragement. One girl burst into tears. Two others whispered and giggled together. But the majority were pale, solemn as soldiers about to go into battle. Lina and Rosing worked for an hour. Then they waited until the pianist was free and could run over the music of her dance.
She said nervously to Rosing:
"He is taking it too fast—that tempo's all wrong."
"No, no. It is exactly the right tempo—as we have always taken it."
But she was distracted and unable to believe him.
She wrapped a shawl over her shoulders and went afterward to sit in the stalls. The great theater was very cold. An hour passed. Then, at last, strolling cheerfully into the theater as though the occasion were of no importance whatsoever, came the great maitres de ballet, the dancing teaehers, the musical director and other gods of the opera.