give it to you. They won't, for instance, pay you as much as you got in Milan."
Borek asked, really angry by this time: "And who in the devil's name are you?"
But at this moment the door opened, and a lady came impetuously into the room, very splendid indeed in a fashionable dress of coral-pink trimmed in the Spanish style with black lace, and wearing diamonds that glittered like ice upon her bosom. And Borek, gazing, knew that he was at last in the presence of Varsovina, the legend.
There was a pause.
Then Varsovina said to the boy, in a low angry voice:
"What are you doing here? I told you to go into the other room. Go away at once."
Without another word, but darting a furious glance at Borek, the hunchback climbed slowly to his feet, gathering together his novel and his bonbons, and shambled out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
"I am sorry," she said, "that you should have been disturbed. Won't you come and sit down near the fire?"
And she held out her hand for him to kiss. It was a very small hand, thin and delicate, with a yellow diamond the size of a walnut on the third finger. Borek, as he followed her toward the fire, was puzzled, for he was quite unable to guess the age of this woman. When she had first burst into the room she had seemed, with her coral crinoline and her black lace and her slight tiny body, to be no more than a young girl, and her face was vivid and eager, as though a light burned behind it. She had been beautiful then, the Russian legend come to life, but when he sat down beside her on the sofa he saw at once how thin her throat seemed beneath the jewels, and there were dragging lines about her mouth, and black sulky marks, like stains, beneath her eyes, and in a moment she seemed to him old, older indeed than was really the case.