indifferent, withdrawn, wrapped in some mystic dream of her own. When Borek, dressed in the trunks and tights of the Prince, came up to greet her she started, as though he were a stranger.
"Nervous, Lina Varsovina?"
"I am happy," she answered with that deep singing
note in her voice.
"You're beautiful!" said Borek, naïvely, surprised.
"I am happy," she repeated with assurance.
The overture. She rubbed her feet in a tray of resin, allowed Marie once more to dust her shoulders with powder, and then went to wait in her place in the wings. She was frowning now, intense, concentrated, counting the beats beneath her breath, clasping and unclasping her hands. Then came her cue and she was gone, like a bird
released from a cage.
A mighty thunder of spontaneous applause almost drowned the music. Then, in a moment, as she began to dance, the audience was intensely still, and to the watchers in the wings it was as though some gigantic monster held its breath. How would she fare after Rosa s seductive exhibition of youthful abandon? Would they guess that she was soon exhausted now and that her pointes were weak and that her pirouettes were by no means perfectly finished? Would Borek fail to conceal these defects? Or would the glamour of her personality, the individual grace of her movements, once more succeed in satisfying her followers?
They waited, tense and motionless.
Lina, her white feathers blown away from her body as though by the wind, now whirled across the stage in the Snow Bird's first ecstatic flight. She was at first absorbed in expressing the joy of life, of movement, of radiant, careless vitality; she was the bird of freedom soaring gladly from the snow-clouds of winter toward