and return home, some of them, triumphantly, with a souvenir of Varsovina the dancer.
She obeyed him, as she always did; smiled when he directed her, bowed when he told her to. She was not yet eighteen.
Once he said to her, jerked for a moment out of his hypnotized acceptance of their triumphs:
"Really, you know, you were right. You should perhaps have danced for a season as third ballerina in Milan. All this has come so quickly—too quickly. It's almost frightening."
He looked, as he said this, haggard, older than usual. She answered, after a pause, that it would have been more frightening to have been a failure.
"And what do you mean by 'too quickly'?" she wanted to know. "Too quickly for me, or for you?"
"For you, of course."
"Oh, my dear . . . if you can't understand, what is the use of my trying to explain? Can you really not see that you have set for yourself, before you are eighteen, a Standard that will not perhaps be easy to maintain? When you are still a child, you are discovered to have genius, and the world applauds you. For the next twenty years you must never look back, never deteriorate, for if you do I assure you that those who have flattered you will be the first to sneer. On the contrary, every day you must try to improve yourself, and one grows weary, after about ten years, of trying to do that. I wish, Lina, with all my heart, that you were a few years older."
"You mustn't become so melancholy," she told him, "it's only because you are tired, and haven't slept lately. Why, the other day, when you gave me the ruby, you said you had never been happier."
And indeed, her triumphs had done much to make their