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Men's Wives   By: (1811-1863)

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By William Makepeace Thackeray


The Ravenswing.

I. Which is entirely introductory contains an account of Miss Crump, her suitors, and her family circle.

II. In which Mr. Walker makes three attempts to ascertain the dwelling of Morgiana.

III. What came of Mr. Walker's discovery of the "Bootjack."

IV. In which the heroine has a number more lovers, and cuts a very dashing figure in the world.

V. In which Mr. Walker falls into difficulties, and Mrs. Walker makes many foolish attempts to rescue him.

VI. In which Mr. Walker still remains in difficulties, but shows great resignation under his misfortunes.

VII. In which Morgiana advances towards fame and honour, and in which several great literary characters make their appearance.

VIII. In which Mr. Walker shows great prudence and forbearance.

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Berry.

I. The fight at Slaughter House.

II. The combat at Versailles.

Dennis Haggarty's wife.




In a certain quiet and sequestered nook of the retired village of London perhaps in the neighbourhood of Berkeley Square, or at any rate somewhere near Burlington Gardens there was once a house of entertainment called the "Bootjack Hotel." Mr. Crump, the landlord, had, in the outset of life, performed the duties of Boots in some inn even more frequented than his own, and, far from being ashamed of his origin, as many persons are in the days of their prosperity, had thus solemnly recorded it over the hospitable gate of his hotel.

Crump married Miss Budge, so well known to the admirers of the festive dance on the other side of the water as Miss Delancy; and they had one daughter, named Morgiana, after that celebrated part in the "Forty Thieves" which Miss Budge performed with unbounded applause both at the "Surrey" and "The Wells." Mrs. Crump sat in a little bar, profusely ornamented with pictures of the dancers of all ages, from Hillisberg, Rose, Parisot, who plied the light fantastic toe in 1805, down to the Sylphides of our day. There was in the collection a charming portrait of herself, done by De Wilde; she was in the dress of Morgiana, and in the act of pouring, to very slow music, a quantity of boiling oil into one of the forty jars. In this sanctuary she sat, with black eyes, black hair, a purple face and a turban, and morning, noon, or night, as you went into the parlour of the hotel, there was Mrs. Crump taking tea (with a little something in it), looking at the fashions, or reading Cumberland's "British Theatre." The Sunday Times was her paper, for she voted the Dispatch, that journal which is taken in by most ladies of her profession, to be vulgar and Radical, and loved the theatrical gossip in which the other mentioned journal abounds.

The fact is, that the "Royal Bootjack," though a humble, was a very genteel house; and a very little persuasion would induce Mr. Crump, as he looked at his own door in the sun, to tell you that he had himself once drawn off with that very bootjack the top boots of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and the first gentleman in Europe. While, then, the houses of entertainment in the neighbourhood were loud in their pretended Liberal politics, the "Bootjack" stuck to the good old Conservative line, and was only frequented by such persons as were of that way of thinking. There were two parlours, much accustomed, one for the gentlemen of the shoulder knot, who came from the houses of their employers hard by; another for some "gents who used the 'ouse," as Mrs. Crump would say (Heaven bless her!) in her simple Cockniac dialect, and who formed a little club there.

I forgot to say that while Mrs. C. was sipping her eternal tea or washing up her endless blue china, you might often hear Miss Morgiana employed at the little red silk cottage piano, singing, "Come where the haspens quiver," or "Bonny lad, march over hill and furrow," or "My art and lute," or any other popular piece of the day... Continue reading book >>

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