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"How can we dance here properly? Even without the heat it would be terrible,—the stage has the worst rake I've ever knownl"

Lina smiled then, and patted Rosa's cheek.

"Ma pauvre petite, you make me feel so old! When I toured this country at your age such a stage would have seemed like paradise! But we were not so spoiled in those days . . . perhaps ..."

Duflos, overhearing this conversation, said to Rosa afterward, sardonically: "She killed her husband in this country, when she was your age. It's common knowledge. Oh, she's a demon, that woman,—she doesn't even feel the heat like other people."

"She will kill us all."

"Madame," said Marie, one night, her honest perspiring face resembling nothing so much as a large tomato, this heat is worse than anything I have before experienced. How can Madame dance in such frightful conditions?"

"It is not the first time," Lina informed her, "and those who dislike it are free to go. For my part, I shall stay. I have never yet broken a contract."

She could not sleep herself at night, but that was nothing new; she had slept badly for the last six months. One night, exasperated at last by her tumbled bed, she got up, just before dawn, lighted a cigarette and wandered out on to the balcony, wearing only a nightgown of lace. The night was heavy, stifling; down in the square people still chattered, and bells jangled from the harness of the mules that continually shook themselves, goaded by the persistent onslaught of mosquitoes. She smoked for a moment in silence, looking down remotely upon these dark gesticulating figures.

Then she heard a sound near her and started. It was Borek, on the next-door balcony.

"Good morning, Lina Varsovina."