before their eyes into the last decade of her glamourous reign. In any case, whatever may have been their private opinion, they united in singing the praises of an artist who, they insisted, must be for ever an exquisite, an ageless legend. Only Kessel, watching her from his box, watching that slim flying figure whirling in clouds of white tulle, Kessel, watching with narrowed eyes the lovely gracious movements of her thin arms, the shadow of her fleet winged feet, feit sometimes a constriction of the throat, and shook his head, for it seemed to him who knew her well that at last, after so long, the sylphide faltered in her flight.
"And as yet," he thought, "she doesn't know it herself. And I, who am probably younger than she is, have already three chins and a paunch. . . . Ces artistes!"
But Kessel was wrong, for Varsovina knew that her powers were waning. She had known ever since the departure of Borek. She, whose custom it had been to dance divinely when she was sick, or feverish, or coughing, or in pain, she who had once continued to dance— divinely—after having been stunned by the premature descent of a curtain, knew at last without being told that she could no longer fulfil the terrifically exacting röles of three ballets a night. Where eight years before she had known panic, she now was calm and resolute. Rest . . . sleep . . . these no longer meant salvation. She was forty-five, lean, strained, haggard, technically exquisite— and exhausted. On the stage, in all the sham enchantment of her graceful fairy-tales she appeared as a young girl. But without her make-up, without the radiance of theatrical lighting, without the kindly barrier of footlights, she at once became a pale, worn little creature with enormous, sunken eyes. No one now, but for her expensive, fashionable Parisian dresses, would ever have glanced at her as she passed in and out of the hotels where she went, as