satisfied with her lot in life! And all to no purpose. Already, no doubt, the poor gosse sees herself as a ballerina. One must be kind, but one must also be firm . . . perhaps a little present . . . and yet, I think she has talent ... but what can I do? I am old, finished, I no longer have power. Who, nowadays, listens to Rosing?"
He tied his cravat.
When he descended into the little salon he was slightly consoled by the sight of his breakfast, the fresh snowy rolls, the delicious butter, the foaming coffee. In spite of her obstinacy, Justine was undoubtedly a treasure.
He opened his letters. One was a business letter from an acquaintance in Brussels, the other, over which he dallied longer, a long epistle in Russian from an old friend, a retired ballerina who lived in Moscow.
"I still rusticate," wrote the lady. "And dream of the past splendors we both have loved so well. ... I have grown fat, and have a cow, and feed my chickens .. . there are no dancers here to compare with our giants of the past. . . . Marie set the fashion for Italian ballerinas and now one hears of nothing but the prodigies of Milan ... are they so very famous, teil me? And when will a great star flame once more in our own country? Surely Italy should breed singers, not dancers? . . . everything seems upside down . . . personally I always disliked Italians." And so on, for many pages.
Rosing thought, sipping his coffee: "She might have thrown me one small bouquet—she doesn't neglect to mention herself. But it's as I have said. Rosing is quite forgotten. There might never have been a Rosing."
He stirred the fire, toying with the idea of flinging his letter into its ruby heat. But he thought better of it. It was so seldom that he heard from Russia.
Justine came in, making him start, for she had at last consented to don her feit slippers. He turned round,