And the dancer for the first time turned to examine this odd boy with a frank and unabashed curiosity. The boy was possibly fourteen, but might on the other hand have been at least seventeen; he sat so queerly huddled on the sofa that Borek suspected him of being misshapen; his head was singularly big, his forehead dome-like, his complexion waxen sallow; only his eyes, that were brighter than black jewels, seemed alive, and they were too alive, for they darted a restless malicious fire upon the Russian until Borek, an unimaginative creature, was conscious of a sudden hostile revulsion. He repeated, thrusting his hands in his pockets and drawling his words:
"Yes, I am Borek."
"Is it true that you were dismissed from the Bolshoy Theater? And if so, why?"
"There is such a maxim in life," Borek declared, "as minding one's own business. You, my young friend, have not yet managed to discover it."
But the youth only remarked, stuffing another marron into his mouth:
"They told me Borek was handsome. That is why I wanted to know who you were."
He moved slightly, bending down to pull a footstool nearer to him, and Borek observed with growing horror that he was hunchbacked. He turned away and pretended to look out of the window. But the high piping voice behind him continued almost without a pause:
"If you get this engagement you will take Novarro's place, and if you can't dance better than he you must be very bad indeed ... but perhaps you won't get the engagement. I heard Kessel talking about you this morning and he said that you would probably begin by asking too much money. And let me teil you that if you do that you will be very foolish indeed, because they won't