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"If I give you this money will you swear to go back to Paris and not come near the theater?"

"Why should I keep away from the theater?"

"You know very well why. I have had enough scandals."

Their eyes met. Two serpents would have been more amicable.

"I agree," he said at length.

But as usual he broke his word and came down to the theater on the day before his return to Paris.

Lina was dancing a pas seul in the lavender tulle and bright shawl that had been for so many years her rehearsal costume. She was dancing to the orchestra, and Weiss, waving his baton, his white hair ruffled, followed with an almost passionate anxiety the movements of her flying feet. She was graceful, ecstatic, elegant—the smiling formal ballerina of a hundred old-fashioned prints. The music to which she danced, which was by Rossini, seemed to Paul old-fashioned too, and the romantic sweetness of its melodies aroused in him only a sensation of vague disgust. He continued to watch his mother, shading his eyes with his hand.

He watched her with apprehension. He had not seen her dance since her return from America, and his sharp eyes instantly perceived that a certain unique element was lacking from her performances,—the effortless, joyous quality of spacious movement which had once, long ago, so much electrified the maitres de ballet of Milan. But now there was something forced, as though she were straining herself to achieve effects that once came to her more naturally than song to the nightingale. Her technical resources were prodigious; a strange elusive grace still etherealized every movement, every glance, and yet... her pointes, so famous in two continents, no longer appeared as strong and hard as steel, and Paul, staring, feit