She lighted a cigarette and opened a letter from Paul, that had arrived by the last mail. Paul, who was at Louvain University, where he was supposed to be studying, wanted more money. The matter, he said, was urgent. He feit tolerably certain, he informed her, that his maman chérie would not refuse this modest request, and the veiled and covert insolence of his letter had the effect of evoking the writer himself before her eyes, so that for a moment she stared resentfully into the fire, where Paul confronted her, with his humpback and sly smile, and then a piece of coal crashed, and the image of her son vanished in a myriad of gold and silvery sparks, each one more beautiful than the petals of a rose.
"Money, money!" she grumbled to herself, "does he think I dance only to pay his debts?"
She kicked off her slippers and once more examined with every sign of affection the pale loveliness of her feet. A morbid thought occurred to her.
"When I am dead, they will take a cast of these, because, af ter all, they are unique, they are Varsovina's feet!"
And she remembered how long ago Gavarni had sketched one foot and how, with a charming courtesy, he had scribbled underneath his drawing: "Pourquoi chaus-
ser une aile?"
She smiled then, curling up her toes, and Paul was forgotten. That had been long ago, many years ago, when she was living at the rue d'Antin and Pierre de Beauvais, whom she had never liked very much, had been her lover. And before Pierre there had been Nordstrom, whom for various reasons she preferred to forget, and before him Rosing, her husband.
Oddly enough, for she was not a woman who cared to live in the past, the name of Rosing still had power to move her. She would never cease to be grateful to him,