"You heard! I shan't dance to-night. The prodigious Rosa understudies me in Snowbird. This is her great opportunity."
Kessel gaped at her. "Are you a madwoman?"
"No. Only very sane. After that ovation, how can I dance?"
A dark flush swept Kessel's face.
"So you are jealous, Lina Varsovina?"
"Perhaps," she said indifïerently.
"Jealous! Of Carlotta Rosa! Of a little ballerina from Milan!"
"Oh, no, of a very fine ballerina from Milan! Rosa is excellent to-night. And she might be my daughter. I am Varsovina. Why should I risk unfavorable comparison with this young girl! I teil you, I shall not dance to-night. I shall take off my make-up, return home and go to bed."
"I forbid you," Kessel roared, and then there came a knock at the door. Marie came back with a letter.
"From the front, Madame, and it has 'Urgent' on the envelope."
Lina took the note mechanically and went on talking while she crumpled it in her nervous hand.
"If you speak to me so insolently, Kessel, you will leave my room immediately. I refuse to be dictated to. My reputation is too great to be injured at this stage of my career. I am Varsovina, and I am no longer young. I have my own interests to safeguard. Rosa is too accomplished, too young, too pretty, if you like, to dance before I dance. I have been a fooi to allow it. Now I am a fooi no longer."
She flung open her palm, as though to toss away her letter. And then her attention suddenly fastened itself upon this piece of paper. She unfolded it, read it once, twice, three times. She became absorbed, withdrawn. Kessel, raging, swearing in several languages, paced up