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16

ties not best suited to the supper-table. And brother Ted would probably get drunk too. She did not care very much for Nurdo the juggler, but she would have preferred him to be present at supper, for the excellent reason that Nurdo, like Paulina, drank nothing but water.

She carried an armful of bottles into the parlor and therein encountered an enormous man with a purple face like a bruise and a breath reeking of whisky. Brother Ted, she thouglit drearily, was even worse than she had imagined. He watched her place the bottles carefully on the table, and said at length, in a voice like a fog-horn:

"Time for little girls to be in bed, ain't it?"

She said with dignity: "I am not a little girl," and added, as the conversation seemed about to languish: "I am nearly fifteen."

The sailor stared at her slowly, his jaws moving like a cow's as he chewed at a wad of tobacco. He said: "Too big, eh, to sit on an old man's knee?"

"Far too big."

"I'm not so sure."

He stretched out his hand vaguely as though to grasp her skirt, but she anticipated him with a whisk, agile as a kitten.

"And who the devil are you?"

She answered, with satisfaction: "I'm a dancer."

She sought an opportunity, whenever it was possible, to make this point clear, for her profession was her life-buoy, to which she clung sometimes in desperation. When the rent was overdue, or her bed was damp, or there were rats in the wainscot, or she was unsuccessful in obtaining employment, she repeated, over and over again to herself, that she was a dancer, and it was as though trumpets echoed to her words. And she had the best pointes and the best arabesque of any girl at Vanessi's. She would undoubtedly go far, much farther than her

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