and the result of these cogitations was that she sent for Kessel, as she had once, many years ago, sent for him in almost similar circumstances. But this time she was no longer defiant and on the defensive, no longer determined to prove to all the world that she was still young and strong and radiant. She had become cautious, and her caution was tinged with a resignation, a finality, that she had never before experienced.
Kessel had been wrong in supposing that she accepted the rapturous farewell of New York as a proof conclusive of her immortality. At the time this had been so; the theatrical fanfare of her farewell ovation had caught her in a mood at once excitable and melancholy, emotional and condescending. With the cold light of reflection had come the realization not only of her own waning power, but also a doubt as to her future financial potentialities as a dancer.
She had survived the Second Empire. In Paris, with casual cynicism, they thought her older than she was. In London, the public, she decided, was still prepared to accept her as immortal. With Borek as her partner, she would have been actually optimistic as to her likelihood of success in England, but Borek had gone, and she was tired, nervous, battered, apprehensive. But she still owned the Varsovina ballet, and she therefore announced pleasantly to Kessel:
"I shall rest myself during the English season. I have worked too hard of late. Nowadays they can't expect to buy with the name Varsovina my very life-blood— I'm not a slave!"
"Exactly," said Kessel.
"Exactly." And she was still very pleasant. She repeated: "I have worked too hard all my life. Harder, I imagine, than most women. And now, after so many years, I really don't see why I should be expected to dance