Onderstaande tekst is niet 100% betrouwbaar


set ofï in the direction of Nurdo's wagon. He had gone, leaving behind him a scene of disorder; his tights and trunks lay scattered on the floor and a torn rag, stained and daubed with grease-paint, hung over the back of their one chair. Mechanically she put these objects in their places. She had left the door open, pining for fresh air, and occasional passers-by, devoured by curiosity, peeped in from time to time to comment upon the strangeness of a house on wheels. She was accustomed after six months of the circus, to this lack of privacy, but she was none the less surprised when one of the intruders, knocking pompously upon the door, asked in French whether he might speak to her for a moment.

"What is it?" she wanted to know.

She had learned to speak French correctly but rather painfully, and was still shy of carrying on a conversation in this language. She was even more embarrassed when she perceived that her visitor was what in Kennington would have been known as a "swell." He was elderly, with gray hair, an aquiline face and a small gray beard. He was most correctly attired in evening-dress. His cloak had a red lining and he carried a cane.

Paulina stared at him apprehensively. No previous experience of her varied life had in any way equipped her for dealing with so aristocratic-looking a person, and she was immensely awed. The swell took off his hat.

"Forgive me, Mademoiselle, for disturbing you in this manner, but I tried to catch you after your performance, and was unfortunately too late. May I speak to you for five minutes?"

Paulina had an inspiration. This, obviously, must be a circus agent de luxe. And Nurdo had vanished! She smiled, trying to look as though such visits were a commonplace occurrence in their life. She said, ceremoniously:

"Will you please come in and take a seat?"