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Some of these people knew Rosing and nodded to him; one, Carlo Villeneuve, actually came across to speak to him.

"You've brought a pupil, they teil me?"

"Yes. The little one here."

"Is she any good?"

"I really can't say," said Rosing carelessly, "she has a certain talent."

"Splendid, splendid," commented the great man with vague condescension. He took his place in the front row of stalls. The audition had begun.

Lina was sent to wait in the wings. There she remained for another hour. Her acute nervous fear had subsided, leaving her wretched, certainly, but cold, indifferent, detached, and rather inclined to yawn.

"What does it matter? Most certainly I shan't please these people."

And so she waited, silent and aloof, among a knot of trembling young girls in muslin skirts. When they were summoned, they crossed themselves, invoked the Madonna, glided on to the stage, danced and came back panting, relieved, almost jubilant. Then they disappeared, and their place was immediately taken by other aspirants. At last a man came across to Lina.

"Varsovina?" he asked, frowning at a paper in his hand.


"On next."

When she heard the opening bars of her dance her indifference vanished, to be succeeded by an intense, an almost fanatical desire to excel. She in her turn glided on to the great stage. She had a confused impression of emptiness in the auditorium, where indeed only the first few rows of stalls were occupied by the masters, by the pupils who had already danced, and by the mothers of these pupils. Her shoes feit stiff; she had not "broken"