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

For a moment I look down irresolute, then, through some fixed belief in him, I look up and tell him the plain, bare truth.

“I did think that it would be a nice thing for the boys,” I say, “and so it will, there is no doubt; you will be as good as a fa—­, as a brother to them; but—­I like you myself besides, you may believe it or not as you please, but it is quite, quite, QUITE true.”

As I speak, the tears steal into my eyes.

“And I like you!” he answers very simply, and so saying, stoops, and with a sort of diffidence, kisses me.

“Well, how did it go off?” cries Bobby, curiously, when I next rejoin my compeers.  “Did you laugh?”

Laugh!” I echo, with lofty anger, “I do not know what you mean!  I never felt in the least inclined.”  Then seeing my brethren look rather aghast at this sudden change in the wind, I add gayly:  “Bobby, you must never again breathe a word about Sir Roger’s having been at school with father; let it be supposed that he did without education.”

CHAPTER VIII.

This is my wooing:  thus I am disposed of.  Without a shadow of previous flirtation with any man born of woman—­without any of the ups and downs, the ins and outs of an ordinary love-affair, I place my fate in Sir Roger’s hands.  Henceforth I must have done with all girlish speculations, as to the manner of man who is to drop from the clouds to be my wooer.  Well, I have not many daydreams to relinquish.  When I have built Spanish castles—­in a large family, one has not time for many—­a lover for myself has been less the theme of my aspirations than a benefactor for the family.  One, who will exercise a wholesomely repressive influence over father, has been more than any thing the theme of my longings; on the unlikely hypothesis of my marrying at all.  For, O friends, it has seemed to me most unlikely; I dare say that I might not have been over-difficult—­might have thankfully and heartily loved some one not quite a Bayard, but one cannot love any thing—­any odd and end—­and, say what you will, the choice of a country girl, with a little dowry and a plain face, is but small.  For—­do not dislike me for it if you can help—­I am plain.  I know it by the joint and honest testimony of all my brethren.  I have had no trouble in gathering the truth from them.  A hundred times they have volunteered it, with that healthy disregard of any sickly sensitiveness which arms one against blows to one’s vanity through all after-life.  Yes:  I am plain; not offensively so, not largely, fatly, staringly plain, but in a small, blond, harmless way.  However, Sir Roger thinks me pretty.  Did not he say so, in unmistakable English?  I have tried darkly to hint this to the boys, but have been so decisively pooh-poohed that I resolve not to allude to the subject again.  Not only am I plain now, but I shall remain plain to my life’s end.  Unlike the generality of ugly heroines, you will not see me develop and effloresce into beauty toward the end of my story.

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