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"Perhaps it has not occurred to you," she told him, "that your friends might be interested in meeting me. You never realize, do you, that you are the son of a famous woman?"

"Oh, yes," Paul said smoothly, "I wouldn't have a crooked back, otherwise, would I?"

This was his obsession, his mania, over which he brooded with a sort of revengeful darkness. Had a hundred doctors assured him that his deformity was in no way due to his mother's dancing, he would not have believed them.

One day he said to her casually: "I don't want to continue at Louvain. I don't want to go on studying law."

"Then I would like to know what you propose doing with yourself?"

"Ah, I'll teil you, although doubtless you'11 throw cold water on my schemes—I want to learn something about the ballet."

She was so astonished that she could scarcely believe her ears. She sat up and stared at him with wide-open eyes. For a moment she was speechless. Then she said:

"What is this new idea? You have never taken the slightest interest in the ballet,—I don't suppose you have even seen me dance more than half a dozen times! And what exactly do you mean when you say that you want to learn something about the ballet? Learn what?"

"I was scarcely proposing," said he, "that I should take dancing lessons, if that is what you mean. No. But there are other ways in which I could make myself useful. At first, perhaps, I could act as secretary to your manager, or do other work of that kind. And then, all the time, I could be learning. . . . You see I paint a little, I compose a little, I have all kinds of half-formed ideas for costumes and scenery. You might find me of some value to you before very long."