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and had performed an act of remarkable virtue. Blanche, indeed, was very fond of sugarplums; she would have fed the poor upon them, when she had had enough, and given a country-girl a ball dress when she had worn it and was tired of it.
"Pretty girl — pretty young woman!" mumbled Mrs. Bonner. "I know / want no pretty young women to come about Lightfoot," and in imagination she peopled the " Clavering Arms" with a harem of the most hideous chambermaids and barmaids.
Blanche, with pink and blue, and feathers, and flowers, and trinkets, and a shot silk dress, and a wonderful mantle, and a charming parasol, presented a vision of elegance and beauty such as bewildered the eyes of Mrs. Bolton, who was scrubbing the lodge-floor of Shepherd's Inn, and caused BetsyJane and Ameliar-Ann to look with delight.
Blanche looked on them with a smile of ineffable sweetness and protection; like Eowena going to see Eebecca; like Marie Antoinette visiting the poor in the famine; like the Marchioness of Carabas alighting from her carriage and four at a pauper-tenant's door, and taking from John No. -II. the packet of Epsom salts for the invalid's benefit, carrying it with her own imperial hand into the sick room—Blanche felt a queen stepping down from her throne to visit a subject, and enjoyed all the bland consciousness of doing a good action.
"My good woman! I want to see Fanny—Fanny Bolton;
is she here?"
Mrs. Bolton had a sudden suspicion, from the splendour of Blanche's appearance, that it must be a play-actor, or something worse.
"What do you want with Fanny, pray?" she asked.
"I am Lady Clavering's daughter—you have heard of Sir Francis Clavering? And I wish very much indeed to see Fanny Bolton."
"Pray step in, Miss.—Betsy-Jane, where's Fanny?"
Betsy-Jane said Fanny had gone into No. 3 staircase, on which Mrs. Bolton said she was probably in Strong's rooms, and bade the child go and see if she was there.
"In Captain Strong's rooms! Oh, let us go to Captain Strong's rooms," cried out Miss Blanche. "I know him very well. You dearest little girl, show us the way to Captain Strong!" cried out Miss Blanche, for the floor reeked with the recent scrubbing, and the goddess did not like the smell of brown soap.
And as they passed up the stairs, a gentleman by the name of Costigan, who happened to be swaggering about the court, and gave a very knowing look with his "oi" under Blanche's bonnet, remarked to himself, "That's a devilish foine gyurll, bedad, goan up to Sthrong and Altamont: they're always having foine gyurlls up their stairs."
"Hallo—hwhat's that?" he presently said, looking up at the windows: from which some piercing shrieks issued.
At the sound of the voice of a distressed female the intrepid Cos rushed up the stairs as fast as his old legs would carry him, being nearly overthrown by Strong's servant, who was descending the stair. Cos found the outer door of Strong's chambers open, and began to thunder at the knocker. After many and fierce knocks, the inner door was partially unclosed, and Strong's head appeared.
"It's oi, me boy. Hwhat's that noise, Sthrong?" asked Costigan.
"Go to the d "was the only answer, and the door was
shut on Cos's venerable red nose: and he went downstairs muttering threats at the indignity offered to him, and vowing that he would have satisfaction. In the meanwhile the reader, more lucky than Captain Costigan, will have the privilege of being made acquainted with the secret which was withheld from that officer.
It has been said of how generous a disposition Mr. Altamont was, and when he was well supplied with funds, how liberally he spent them. Of a hospitable turn, he had no greater pleasure than drinking in company with other people; so that there was no man more welcome at Greenwich and Eichmond than the Emissary of the Nawaub of Lucknow.
Now it chanced that on the day when Blanche and Mrs. Bonner ascended the staircase to Strong's room in Shepherd's Inn, the Colonel had invited Miss Delaval of the Theatre
Royal, and her mother, Mrs. Hodge, to a little party down the river, and it had been agreed that they were to meet at Chambers, and thence walk down to a port in the neighbouring Strand to take water. So that when Mrs. Bonner and Mes Larmes came to the door, where Grady, Altamont's servant, was,standing, the domestic said "Walk in, ladies," with the utmost affability, and led them into the room, which was arranged as if they had been expected there. Indeed, two bouquets of flowers, bought at Covent Garden that morning, and instances of the tender gallantry of Altamont, were awaiting his guests upon the table. Blanche smelt at the bouquet, and put her pretty little dainty nose into it, and tripped about the room, and looked behind the curtains, and at the books and prints, and at the plan of Clavering estate hanging up on the wall; and had asked the servant for Captain Strong, and had almost forgotten his existence and the errand about which she had come, namely, to visit Fanny Bolton; so pleased was she with the new adventure, and the odd, strange, delightful, droll little idea of being in a bachelor's chambers in a queer old place in the City!
Grady meanwhile, with a pair of ample varnished boots, had disappeared into his master's room. Blanche had hardly the leisure to remark how big the boots were, and how unlike Mr. Strong's.
"The women's come," said Grady, helping his master to the boots.
"Did you ask 'em if they would take a glass of anything?" asked Altamont.
Grady came out.—"He says, will you take anything to drink?" the domestic asked of them: at which Blanche, amused with the artless question, broke out into a pretty little laugh, and asked of Mrs. Bonner, "Shall we take anything to drink?"
"Well, you may take it or lave it," said Mr. Grady, who thought his offer slighted, and did not like the contemptuous manners of the new-comers, and so left them.
"Will we take anything to drink?" Blanche asked again: and again began to laugh.