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heard again. The irritable general only remembered the first line of the well-known ditty.

'It still pricks a little, your excellency,' observed the stout general with the whiskers, with a loud and broad intonation, apparently quoting from some amusing story, well-known to the whole beau monde, and with a short wooden laugh he again fell to staring into the air. All the rest of the party laughed too.

'What a sad dog you are, Boris!' observed Ratmirov in an undertone. He spoke in English and pronounced even the name 'Boris' as if it were English.

'Irène?' the lady in the yellow hat said inquiringly for the third time. Irina turned sharply round to her.

'Eh bien? quoi? que me voulez-vous?'

'Je vous dirai plus tard,' replied the lady, mincing. With a very unattractive exterior, she was for ever mincing and grimacing. Some wit said of her that she 'minaudait dans le vide,' 'grimaced upon the desert air.'

Irina frowned and shrugged her shoulders impatiently. 'Mais que fait done Monsieur Verdier? Pourquoi ne vient-il pas?' cried one lady with that prolonged drawl which is the peculiarity of the Great Russian accent, and is so insupportable to French ears.