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Chapter 44

She was dressed for The Snow Bird, and already, even in the intimacy of the little over-heated dressing-room, she had assumed, as she stood before her mirror, the unearthly personality with which she trans formed this famous ballet into something rich and strange, a lovely thing from fairy kingdoms.

She was small and fragile in the fluttering white feathers that seemed, through some alchemy or other, as though they grew upon her limbs in a veritable plumage, and were actually a part of herself. White wings bound the blackness of her hair and she was ice-pale and strangely beautiful. Her thin taut body was like the body of a greyhound in its suggestion of speed and grace. And she was calm now, she to whom first nights were a torment, so calm that her hands scarcely trembled. Marie stood waiting for her with a shawl over her arm. "Madame . . . it is time."

Lina replied, without turning round: "I can still read my letter once again."

And she read:

"I am here by myself. I sent you some carnations, but they had no card. I did not mean to write, but I found that I couldn't help sending you this note. I am going home, to the country, tomorrow. Will you have supper with me to-night? If you have any feeling left for me, love or hate or friendship, I entreat you to accept. Perhaps you have forgotten meā€”then refuse. Our lives are so different, our parting was so long ago, that you may have forgotten even my name. But to me,