Page:Nalkowska - Kobiety (Women).djvu/57

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45
Ice-Plains

wheedling and coaxing him. The secret shall go down to the grave with me, I promise him. He hesitates awhile; then says in an undertone:

"Martha."

I do my best to conceal my unbounded astonishment under some commonplace expressions of faint surprise. I obviously have not the slightest intention to keep my word: I will ask Martha about the whole business. Can she possibly not be in love with such a Phœnix? Can she too have found him undesirable because of that beauty of his?

During supper I watch her closely, and see in her face that very same pallor, that very look of weariness and constraint that she was wearing in Topolow. No, his love is certainly not unrequited.

I have no fondness, and consequently no fellow-feeling, for the girl: but now I am more interested than before in her theory of "Azoism." I formerly thought she had taken it up as an apology for her life; now I see that her life itself compels her to profess it.

Imszanski himself is always the same, courteous and languidly good-humoured.