She answered with immense scorn:
"Is it my fault that I can't get work? Goodness knows, I've tried everywhere. I can't help looking younger than I am. And I'm the best dancer at Madame Vanessi's."
"That's more than Madame herself says, if I may make so bold."
"She is a silly old woman. She can't teach me any more. She's old-fashioned—every one says so."
Alfred was silent. He had no wish to embark upon a dispute, and it was a curious fact that Paulina, who was in every other respect docility itself, evinced upon this matter of her dancing a passionate and fiery obstinacy with which he was quite unable to cope. She, who was normally of a humility proper to her circumstances, had always shocked him profoundly by her monstrous conceit, her overbearing wilfulness, her amazing selfconfidence on this question of her own talent. Nor, as far as he could make out, was her good opinion of herself in any way shared by her instructors, who were fond of describing her as sharp but lazy. As for making fun of Madame Vanessi, that was of course ridiculous, for Madame had taught her mother, Katie, and Katie had been a better dancer than Polly would ever be. It was just sauce, that's what it was, but sauce from such a well-behaved child as Polly was oddly disconcerting. And look at the money he'd paid old Vanessi for bringing her up as a ballet-girl! And what had she got to show for
it Puck and Ariel in a fourth-rate tour and a bit last
year in a Swansea panto? And this year nothing, nothing at all. He was keeping her and paying for her lessons just as though she were a young lady, and she'd turned down that offer to pose for the Italian firework chap at Vauxhall, and Bertha Purdie said she wanted smacking.
"Look where you're going, now," he cautioned her irritably as they crossed the road into Mott Street.