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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 342 pages of information about The Ne'er-Do-Well.

She settled uncertainly beside him like a butterfly just alighting, ready to take flight again, on the instant.

“Perhaps I can help you to find your way, senor?” she said, with ingenuous politeness.

“You are the only one who can, Miss Garavel.  I don’t know that I ever told you, but I’m in love.”

“Indeed?”

“I am the most miserably happy person in the world, for I have just this moment begun to believe that the young lady likes me a little bit.”

“Oh!  But I forgot the real reason why I came.  I have something I must tell you.”

“All right.  But honestly now, didn’t you want to come?”

She turned upon him in a little burst of passion.  “Yes!” she cried.  “Of course I did!  I wished to come, madly, senor.  There is no use to lie.  But wait!  It is wholly because I am a-what you call fleert-a very sad fleert.”  No one could possibly describe the quaint pronunciation she gave the word.  “It makes my heart patter, like that”—­she made her little fingers “patter"-"to be wooed even by a Yankee.  But I do not love you in the least.  Oh no!  Even if I wished to do so, there are too many reasons why I could not, and when I explain you will understand.”

“I know; it’s Ramon Alfarez.  You’re half-way engaged to him—­but you know you don’t love him.”

“Ah!  It is not too sure.  He is of fine family, he is rich, he is handsome-not possibly could I care for any man who was not all of those.  All my life I have thought him a very sweet gentleman, and for a long time it has been agreed that I should be his wife.  Even all the young ladies are furious at me, which is very nice also-so it is only because I am disobedient that I rebelled.  But I was punished for my evil disposition.”  She sighed mournfully.  “And now it is all arranged once more.”

“Is it really signed, sealed, stamped, and delivered in the presence of?”

“No, no; but ’Arco siempre armado’-”

“Of course.  Is that a prescription?”

‘"A bow long bent grows weak.’  And there are so many reasons why I should say yes.”

“You haven’t mentioned any that would be binding in law.”

“My father’s wish.  Is not that sufficient?”

“You disregarded that once.”

“That was but a flutter.  All the time I knew I should be Ramon’s wife when the time arrived.  But it made him so unhappy that I was quite pleased.  Only for those ugly blue dresses, I would have greatly enjoyed my penance.  Perhaps I could refuse to wed a man my father chose for me, but no nice Spanish girl would dare to wed a man her father did not like.  Do you see?”

“But it’s no cinch your father won’t positively hunger for me, once we get chummy.”

“And I for Ramon?  How sad that would be, eh?”

“Really, now, couldn’t you bring yourself to marry a chap who wasn’t aristocratic, rich, and handsome?  You know that’s a tough combination.  Most aristocratic people are poor, and the rich ones have dyspepsia.”

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