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"Yes, and where is His Highness the Grand Duke at the present moment? In a lunatic-asylum! And why not? All his family are mad—he is not alone in his misfortune. And no one, now, dances in the theater that once upon a time was built for Varsovina. That's an old story, my dear Borek, old and moth-eaten. And I suspect that even the jewels are pawned."

There was silence for a moment while they both smoked, and Véron smiled spitefully. He had once been ignored by Varsovina at an audition. Borek, for his part, continued to ponder his future. He was, as has been remarked before, a youth to whom ideas of any kind flowed slowly, which possibly explains the fact that whenever he discovered an idea that seemed to him a good one, he continued to cling to it with a dumb but satisfied obstinacy. The idea of dancing with Varsovina seemed to him about the best idea that had ever occurred to him, and it would have required more than Véron's malice to convince him to the contrary.

"She often tours America, doesn't she?" he asked after a pause.

"Varsovina?"

"Varsovina, of course."

"Oh, yes," Véron yawned, "she départs there periodically, in search of dollars, I suppose."

Borek smiled; he had always wished to travel. Véron, watching with a feeling of faint jealousy the supple body, square shoulders and narrow Tartar face of his comrade, said presently, in a half-jesting tone:

"All the same, it seems to me a pity that such a fine artist as yourself should spend his days in wandering about the world for the purpose of propping up an old woman of nearly fifty!"

"That's absurd; she can't possibly be more than thirtyeight."

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