And it was with imperial hauteur that she asked in a low, cultivated voice with no accent:
“Well, what is it? Why have you sent for me thus peremptorily?”
The financier surveyed her for a moment; he seemed to be taking in all her points with a fresh eye. It was almost as though he were counting them over to himself—and his thoughts ran: “You astonishingly attractive devil. You have all the pride of my father, the Emperor. How he would have gloried in you! You are enough to drive any man mad: you shall be a pawn in my game for the winning of my lady and gain happiness for yourself, so in the end, Elinka, if she is able to see from where she has gone, will not say I have been cruel to you.”
“I asked you to come down—to discuss a matter of great importance: Will you be good enough to be seated, my niece,” he said aloud with ceremonious politeness as he drew forward a chair—into which she sank without more ado and there waited, with folded hands, for him to continue. Her stillness was always as intense as his own, but whereas his had a nervous tension of conscious repression, hers had an unconscious, quiet force. Her father had been an Englishman, but both uncle and niece at moments made you feel they were silent panthers, ready to spring.
“So—” was all she said.
And Francis Markrute went on:
“You have a miserable position—hardly enough to eat at times, one understands. You do not suppose I took the trouble to send for you from Paris last week, for nothing, do you? You guessed I had some plan in my head, naturally.”
“Naturally,” she said, with fine contempt. “I did not mistake it for philanthropy.”
“Then it is well, and we can come to the point,” he went on. “I am sorry I have had to be away, since your arrival, until yesterday. I trust my servants have made you comfortable?”
“Quite comfortable,” she answered coldly.
“Good: now for what I want to know. You have no doubt in your mind that your husband, Count Ladislaus Shulski, is dead? There is no possible mistake in his identity? I believe the face was practically shot away, was it not? I have taken the precaution to inform myself upon every point, from the authorities at Monte Carlo, but I wish for your final testimony.”