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Chapter 29

The strange inevitable element of Lina's love for Chevis was that it caused her to forget, for the first time in her life, that she was a dancer. Even in those shadowy days when she had toiled as a pantomime child in Kennington she had gloried in her profession; ever since the time of her d├ębut she had never, like any other royalty, been able to forget for one moment that she was a prima ballerina assoluta. But now, in the first rhapsodies of this wild obsession for the Englishman, the world of the ballet seemed almost to waver, until it receded somewhere very remote, somewhere so far away from her that she thought of it no more.

And chance favored her, for she had returned so recently from her foreign tour that Heinrich had as yet made no plans for her future. Perhaps because she was afraid of Heinrich she chose, after three days, to take Chevis down to the villa at Fontainebleau.

"How long," he asked her, "am I to stay with you?"

And she answered feverishly, putting her hand over his mouth so that he should not protest: "For ever and for ever and for ever!"

"And you'11 not grow tired of me, Lina?"

"That's a wicked thing to say!"

"My darling, I know it is! Very well, then, my sweet, I'll stay with you for ever and for ever and for ever!"

"And not go back to England?" she demanded.

"Ah, don't let's talk of that! Don't you remember the fairy-books, Lina? 'They lived happily for ever after?' We must be like that. Like the fairy-books. And we must really never think of solemn things."

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