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"It sounds quite interesting. A change, at any rate, from the perpetual Ondine."

"But my dear friend, The Ondine will have to come to Spain, if you go. And I suggest Les Elfes, or possibly La Péri. But The Ondine, of course, is of supreme importance."

"I am so tired," she said, "of The Ondine. Really, at times I think I almost hate her."

"My dear, your biggest success!"

"Oh, yes, I know all about that. Give me a cigarette from the silver box near you."

"I am sorry to hear," Heinrich pursued, "that you have not been sleeping well, lately."

"Who told you that? Marie, I suppose? What a chatterbox the woman is! Yes. It's true. I don't sleep lately."

"If there's anything, Lina, that I can do for you "

"Thank you, Heinrich, there's nothing. I shall be all the better when I start work again."

"Is the child well?" he pursued.

"Paul? He's all right. Did I teil you—I'm sending him to live by the sea, at a place near Dieppe. I think the change of air will do him good."

"Then I suppose you will close the villa?"

"I am selling it."

And she looked at him then, as she said these words, for the first time during their interview. In her eyes, that were ringed with the dark cïrcles of insomnia, he surprised such a fury of grief and torment that despite himself, despite his exasperation with her for all her feckless ways, his heart was touched.

"My poor Lina!"

"Oh," she cried, "don't you begin to pity me. Otherwise you will make me weaker, I think, even than I am. And that," she added, "would indeed be a mistake."

I

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