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Chapter 23

She was at the Opera, dancing Le Lac de Fées, and Nordstrom seemed more devoted than ever. She had contracts arranged for Naples, Turin, Vienna and Berlin, and she was busy substantiating the legend that Varsovina, when she danced, was a being eerie, unearthly, a spirit floating across the stage from the moonlight of another, fairy world. There were critics who regretted Fanny Elssler. Elssler, they said, was a woman, a living creature of flesh and blood, and Elssler had never permitted any one to forget her mortality. This Varsovina, winged, ephemeral, transparent as a spirit, always the phantom princess of some enchanted realm peopled with sylphs, dryads, shadows and dreams, was sexless, when she danced, and somehow a little sinister; she was less tangible, they thought, than the ghost of a dead love, she was a wraith, beckoning to them from somewhere very far away.

And if the fairy came to life at the rue d'Antin, and entertained for Nordstrom and his friends on the nights when she was not dancing, there were those who would not have believed you, had you told them she laughed on these occasions, and was gay, and drank champagne, and wore her pearls. For Lina these were happy nights.

She met charming and brilliant men who flattered her, and who, when they had become a little drunk, forgot all about their intelligence and insisted upon drinking her health from the tiny pink satin ballet shoes littered about in her bedroom. She met women, kept women like herself, but without her genius, cheerful, practical, incomprehensible French cocottes who drew her into corners and