Men's Wives HTML version

The Ravenswing
Chapter 1
Which Is Entirely Introductory - Contains An Account Of Miss Crump, Her
Suitors, And Her Family Circle.
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