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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 371 pages of information about Nancy.

I turn away my head, and look out of the window up at Charles’s Wain, and all my other bright old friends.  No one is heeding me—­no one sees me; so I drop my hot cheek on the sill.

Suddenly I start up.  Some one is approaching me:  some one has thrown himself with careless freedom on the couch beside me.  It is Algy.

Having utterly failed in dislodging Mr. Parker from his cushion—­having had a suggestion on his part, on the treatment of the gnat-bite, passed over in silent contempt—­he has retired from the circle in dudgeon.

“This is lively, is not it?” he says, in an aggressively loud voice, as if he were quarrelsomely anxious to be overheard.

I say “Hush!” apprehensively

“As no one makes the slightest attempt to entertain us, we must entertain each other, I suppose!”

“Yes, dear old boy!” I say, affectionately, “why not?—­it would not be the first time by many.”

“That does not make it any the more amusing!” he says, harshly.—­“I say, Nancy”—­his eyes fixing themselves with sullen greediness on the central figure of the group he has left—­on the slight round arm (after all, not half so round or so white as Barbara’s or mine)—­which is still under treatment, “is eau de cologne good for those sort of bites?—­her arm is bad, you know!”

Bad!” echo I, scornfully; “bad! why, I am all lumps, more or less, and so is Barbara! who minds us!”

“You ought to make your old man—­’auld Robin Gray’—­mind you,” he says, with a disagreeable laugh.  “It is his business, but he does not seem to see it, does he? ha! ha!”

“I wish!” cry I, passionately; then I stop myself.  After all, he is hardly himself to-night, poor Algy!

“By-the-by,” he says, presently, with a wretchedly assumed air of carelessness, “is it true—­it is as well to come to the fountain-head at once—­is it true that once, some time in the dark ages, he—­he—­ thought fit to engage himself to, to her?” (with a fierce accent on the last word).

A pain runs through my heart.  Well, that is nothing new nowadays.  He too has heard it, then.

“I do not know!” I answer, faintly.

“What! he has not told you? Kept it dark! eh?” (with the same hateful laugh).

“He has kept nothing dark!” I answer, indignantly.  “One day he began to tell me something, and I stopped him!  I would not hear; I did not want to hear, I believe; I am sure that they are—­only—­only—­old friends.”

Old friends!” he echoes, with a smile, in comparison of which our host’s satyr-leer seems pleasant and chaste. “Old friends! you call yourself a woman of the world” (indeed I call myself nothing of the kind), “you call yourself a woman of the world, and believe that!  They looked like old friends at dinner to-day, did not they?  A little less than kin, and more than kind!  Ha! ha!”

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