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Chapter 26

The Ondine bewitched Naples and Turin, enchanted Berlin, delighted Vienna, enraptured Brussels and fascinated London. For six months Lina lived entirely for her dancing. She had finished, she declared, with lovers, whose only idea was to waste the time of a busy woman, yet somewhere, hidden away in some secret cranny of her brain, there still lurked the passionate desire to amass money and yet more money—"for the ballet."

"At least," Heinrich commented sardonically, "you have managed to collect some handsome pearls, my dear.

"Good heavens," she said, laughing, "aren't they entirely suitable for a woman of my position?"

Wherever she went she was fêted and flattered by royalty and distinguished persons. Never, she thought, had she been happier, or enjoyed freedom more, in all her life. Before, in America, there had been the perpetual anxiety of Rosing and his failing health; in Paris her liberty had been menaced, first by Nordstrom, and then by De Beauvais. Now, at last, she was free to do as she pleased, and she danced with a grace, an exquisite wildness, an enchanting abandon, that was to win her immortality wherever she went. Her elevation, her ballon, her leap, were more prodigious than ever, her pointes stronger than steel, and technically she was at her most brilliant, her most confident.

Now that she was so far from little Paul, she began to feel that she was neglecting his well-being; on her way to the threater she haunted toy-shops, buying, vaguely and extravagantly, presents that would have amused only a child three or four years older than her son.