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Chapter 43

On first nights Lina was always in the theater by six o'clock. She saw no one at these times, but Marie, Kessel, Weiss and her stage-manager. She ate nothing, but drank quantities of coffee and, to calm her nerves, smoked an occasional cigarette. She wore the gray woolen dressinggown and took more than an hour to make up. It was at such times that she scrutinized her face frankly, impersonally, without either vanity or agitation, and worked upon it accordingly, employing quite dispassionately all the arts and experience of more than twenty years in the theater.

When she had finished she gazed with satisfaction upon a white creamy mask smoother than milk, upon heavy purple eyelids, eyelashes like spiders' legs, and a mouth more vivid than hibiscus flowers. From the front of the theater these artifices did much to foster the illusion of an elfin fragile youthfulness that was as much a part of Varsovina's box of tricks as were her exquisite pirouettes.

Now, under the new régime, she was not dancing until ten o'clock, but by seven she was ordering Marie to prepare the wet-white for her arms and shoulders.

Marie protested.

"There is so much time."

"Do as I teil you!" she retorted, stamping her foot. She was nervous, on edge. Marie obeyed without further argument.

"Is Rosa ready?" Lina wanted to know.

' I think that Mademoiselle Rosa has only just arrived in the theater."

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