period of her existence; she recollected, vaguely, a roistering city peopled by graceful women in crinolines and by beautiful young men in brilliant uniforms; in her imagination these people habitually laughed a great deal, drank quantities of champagne, and moved inevitably, in a romantic dreamy parade, to the music of waltzes from Vienna. The very cafés in which they had laughed and danced all night brought back to her tired mind memories of follies incredibly joyous—the Maison d'Or, the Café Anglais,—their bright lights were dimmed now, for like the snows of yesterday they had vanished with the crash of the Empire, vanishing when a brighter light than theirs had been for ever dimmed—the light, even then flickering, of the last Napoleon's sun.
But in the old days, supping in these cafés, Lina had been the personality above all others remarked, stared at, flattered, fawned upon. The whisper, "C'est Varsovina!" had always sufficed to put other women—Thérèsa, Cora Pearl, Marie Duplessis, Margot la Rigoleuse—temporarily in the shade. The Ondine, then, had reigned as queen; her word was law, her kingdom Paris. And now there was no Ondine, only the Snow Bird; and no Paris, only San Pablo. There was no laughter, no gaiety, there were no parties, no lovers. There was only the heat, and loneliness, and torment, and the Snow Bird was tired.
She wondered whether any one had ever been more tired than she was, and then she supposed that long, long ago, when she was still a child, dancing in this same country, Rosing, her husband, had suffered as she did. Perhaps, since he died, he had suffered more but she did not believe this. She had not thought of him for so many years that she had at first the greatest difficulty in separating him from his natural background, Bruges, but at last she was able to do so, able even to remember his gray aquiline face and tired cynical eyes.