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She followed him into a slice of a room where a fire blazed, and hampers were piled one on top of another, and a table was littered with colored balls and cardboard bottles and gaudy posters of himself. Paulina thought it a nice room, and said as much.

Nurdo watched her impassively. He looked very thin, very saturnine, as he stood there in his shabby dressinggown and fixed her with his narrow Slav eyes and ran his fingers through the oily black curls that feil over his collar. But he was sorry for her, thinking it sad that one so young and frail should suffer thus through the follies of a wastrel father, and he rejoiced sincerely that she should have found, in an hour of need, so splendid a person as himself.

When she smiled at him again he went across the room, knelt down beside her and kissed her, cupping his hands about her face.

Paulina was astonished. She could not recollect that any one had ever wanted to do such a thing to her before. Men were not apt to consider her attractive, being rather more disposed than not to regard her as a child, and a plain child at that. And everybody, by which she meant the other young ladies at Vanessi's, had at one time or another informed her that she was too skinny. She submitted to Nurdo's kiss without much liking it, but he had been so kind to her that she feit it would have been ungrateful to protest.

He, having kissed her, remained sitting on his heels, still staring at her. So much freshness and sweetness had seldom come his way, and in a moment his pity for Paulina was swept away by his desire for her. He was a simple creature, stupid, egotistical, industrious; when he was not working he liked to have a woman about, and he preferred that his woman should be soft, yielding, feminine. Paulina possessed these qualities, combined with