"Non lo so," Rosa replied unhappily.
Borek's arm slid farther round her body; his embrace tightened, grasping her closer, so close that she could feel his heart beating. And still he smiled. He was sure, now, what he wanted. He wanted Rosa. His nights of insomnia, of restlessness, of fretting in the heat, had left him morose, unnerved and sullen; now, suddenly, this delightful girl, so bewildered, so confiding, so perplexed as to her precise status with the she-devil, Varsovina, appeared to him infinitely pathetic, strangely appealing. In a moment he decided that he loved her, wildly, tenderly, with a passion not unreasonably intensified by her own most innocent helplessness.
He urged: "Carlotta! I'll protect you, if you will only let me. Say 'I love you!' "
Rosa feit weaker than a child. The quivering heat of midday had risen up to smite her like a burning sword. And then the sun whipped her blood into fire, and she clung to Borek, and stopped crying, and gave him her mouth to kiss. Outside the gardens mules stamped, jingling their harness, and rough voices shouted, and a young boy, selling water, called across the square like a shrill angel, but Rosa heard none of these sounds, for she was engaged in telling Borek how much she loved him.
The sun had stripped away from them all restraint, all dignity, all outward tranquillity; the personalities of Borek, the Russian, and of Carlotta, the Italian from the North, were indeed both of them at that moment temporarily non-existent; the sun, having beaten down their powers of resistance, having thawed the coldness of which both had been so conscious, now flung them together as though they had spent their entire lives in craving for each other with ferocity.
Rosa, who had always boasted that she could never for