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"The idea of dancing as Varsovina's partner appeals to me enormously. She is a great artist; in Russia, although she is disliked for her neglect of her own country, she is everywhere regarded with the greatest admiration."

Pierre Véron laughed. "Varsovina was a great artist, yes. What of it?"

"What of it? What of The Ondine, The Snow Bird?"

Véron laughed again. "Ah, don't let us talk of that! For years, so many years now, Varsovina has given us The Snow Bird, and the poor creature, really, should be left in peace for a time—its wings are becoming abominably bedraggled!"

"In any case," Borek argued, "although Varsovina has never come to Russia I assure you that she is still a legend in my own country!"

"Why? Because she was supposed at one time to have a love-affair with the Duc de Morny? He's dead now, and they say she has no lovers at all, although it is tolerably certain that two years ago she was living with a disgustingly fat Greek named Anastasio Mauritini. Imagine the Snow Bird embracing a fat Greek! It is, all the same, a little incongruous!"

"I repeat," said Borek stolidly, "Varsovina is to us a legend."

"She is in any case an ill-tempered woman," the Frenchman commented placidly, "and the proof is that when once, admittedly a long time ago, she had the good fortune to find for herself a royal lover, he soon tired of her tantrums and packed her back to Paris. And he, in any case, was a lunatic. It must have been an enchanting ménage."

"Ah!" Borek pricked up his ears, "you mean the Grand Duke of Brandenstein, don't you? But they say that he built her a private theater in his palace, and covered her with jewels, and made her dance alone for him "