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Chapter 42

In the spring, then, when the Varsovina Ballet was beginning to rehearse at the Empress Theater, London, Carlotta Rosa came from Milan to join the troupe. There she had danced for two seasons, not as fïrst, but as second ballerina; she had given satisfaction, and would undoubtedly have been promoted during the following year, but she was twenty, and the idea of dancing abroad in the ballets that had made Varsovina famous, appealed to her far more than the idea of continuing indefinitely at the Scala.

She was so happy, at twenty, to bid farewell to Milan! She longed for London, Paris, America, bouquets, triumphs, and a smattering of Russian technique. Her profound admiration for Varsovina was tinged with discreet and secret pity for a star that, waning, was still glorious. She knew instinctively that Varsovina was at bay, desperate, resentful.

She thought, with a sigh: "La Poverina! To be as old as she is, most decidedly that can not be verv pleasant!"

And then she hummed an air from The Ondine, and forgot to pity Varsovina any more, for she could not, she said, for very long be sad. To escape from the Scala at twenty, to dance as second ballerina in Varsovina's troupe, to visit London in the springtime ... oh, no, most decidedly Carlotta Rosa could not for very long be sad!

On the day of her first rehearsal it seemed as though the entire corps de ballet held its breath, aghast, at the sacrilege of this young upstart who dared to mime, with so much coolness, Varsovina's röle in Paquerette. But Rosa,