Cox's Diary, by William Makepeace Thackeray

Down at Beulah.

Although there was a regular cut between the next-door people and us, yet Tug and the Honorable Master MacTurk kept up their acquaintance over the back-garden wall, and in the stables, where they were fighting, making friends, and playing tricks from morning to night, during the holidays. Indeed, it was from young Mac that we first heard of Madame de Flicflac, of whom my Jemmy robbed Lady Kilblazes, as I before have related. When our friend the Baron first saw Madame, a very tender greeting passed between them; for they had, as it appeared, been old friends abroad. “Sapristie,” said the Baron, in his lingo, “que fais-tu ici, Amenaide?” “Et toi, mon pauvre Chicot,” says she, “est-ce qu’on t’a mis a la retraite? Il parait que tu n’es plus General chez Franco —” “CHUT!” says the Baron, putting his finger to his lips.

“What are they saying, my dear?” says my wife to Jemimarann, who had a pretty knowledge of the language by this time.

“I don’t know what ‘Sapristie’ means, mamma; but the Baron asked Madame what she was doing here? and Madame said, ‘And you, Chicot, you are no more a General at Franco.’— Have I not translated rightly, Madame?”

“Oui, mon chou, mon ange. Yase, my angel, my cabbage, quite right. Figure yourself, I have known my dear Chicot dis twenty years.”

“Chicot is my name of baptism,” says the Baron; “Baron Chicot de Punter is my name.”

“And being a General at Franco,” says Jemmy, “means, I suppose, being a French General?”

“Yes, I vas,” said he, “General Baron de Punter — n’est ‘a pas, Amenaide?”

“Oh, yes!” said Madame Flicflac, and laughed; and I and Jemmy laughed out of politeness: and a pretty laughing matter it was, as you shall hear.

About this time my Jemmy became one of the Lady-Patronesses of that admirable institution, “The Washerwoman’s-Orphans’ Home;” Lady de Sudley was the great projector of it; and the manager and chaplain, the excellent and Reverend Sidney Slopper. His salary, as chaplain, and that of Doctor Leitch, the physician (both cousins of her ladyship’s), drew away five hundred pounds from the six subscribed to the Charity: and Lady de Sudley thought a fete at Beulah Spa, with the aid of some of the foreign princes who were in town last year, might bring a little more money into its treasury. A tender appeal was accordingly drawn up, and published in all the papers:—

“APPEAL.

“BRITISH WASHERWOMAN’S-ORPHANS’ HOME.

“The ‘Washerwoman’s-Orphans’ Home’ has now been established seven years: and the good which it has effected is, it may be confidently stated, INCALCULABLE. Ninety-eight orphan children of Washerwomen have been lodged within its walls. One hundred and two British Washerwomen have been relieved when in the last state of decay. ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-EIGHT THOUSAND articles of male and female dress have been washed, mended, buttoned, ironed, and mangled in the Establishment. And, by an arrangement with the governors of the Foundling, it is hoped that THE BABY-LINEN OF THAT HOSPITAL will be confided to the British Washerwoman’s Home!

“With such prospects before it, is it not sad, is it not lamentable to think, that the Patronesses of the Society have been compelled to reject the applications of no less than THREE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED AND ONE BRITISH WASHERWOMEN, from lack of means for their support? Ladies of England! Mothers of England! to you we appeal. Is there one of you that will not respond to the cry in behalf of these deserving members of our sex?

“It has been determined by the Ladies-Patronesses to give a fete at Beulah Spa, on Thursday, July 25; which will be graced with the first foreign and native TALENT; by the first foreign and native RANK; and where they beg for the attendance of every WASHERWOMAN’S FRIEND.”

Her Highness the Princess of Schloppenzollernschwigmaringen, the Duke of Sacks-Tubbingen, His Excellency Baron Strumpff, His Excellency Lootf-Allee-Koolee-Bismillah-Mohamed-Rusheed-Allah, the Persian Ambassador, Prince Futtee-Jaw, Envoy from the King of Oude, His Excellency Don Alonzo di Cachachero-y-Fandango-y-Castanete, the Spanish Ambassador, Count Ravioli, from Milan, the Envoy of the Republic of Topinambo, and a host of other fashionables, promised to honor the festival: and their names made a famous show in the bills. Besides these, we had the celebrated band of Moscow-musiks, the seventy-seven Transylvanian trumpeters, and the famous Bohemian Minnesingers; with all the leading artists of London, Paris, the Continent, and the rest of Europe.

I leave you to fancy what a splendid triumph for the British Washerwoman’s Home was to come off on that day. A beautiful tent was erected, in which the Ladies-Patronesses were to meet: it was hung round with specimens of the skill of the washerwomen’s orphans; ninety-six of whom were to be feasted in the gardens, and waited on by the Ladies-Patronesses.

Well, Jemmy and my daughter, Madame de Flicflac, myself, the Count, Baron Punter, Tug, and Tagrag, all went down in the chariot and barouche-and-four, quite eclipsing poor Lady Kilblazes and her carriage-and-two.

There was a fine cold collation, to which the friends of the Ladies-Patronesses were admitted; after which, my ladies and their beaux went strolling through the walks; Tagrag and the Count having each an arm of Jemmy; the Baron giving an arm apiece to Madame and Jemimarann. Whilst they were walking, whom should they light upon but poor Orlando Crump, my successor in the perfumery and hair-cutting.

“Orlando!” says Jemimarann, blushing as red as a label, and holding out her hand.

“Jemimar!” says he, holding out his, and turning as white as pomatum.

“SIR!” says Jemmy, as stately as a duchess.

“What! madam,” says poor Crump, “don’t you remember your shopboy?”

“Dearest mamma, don’t you recollect Orlando?” whimpers Jemimarann, whose hand he had got hold of.

“Miss Tuggeridge Coxe,” says Jemmy, “I’m surprised of you. Remember, sir, that our position is altered, and oblige me by no more familiarity.”

“Insolent fellow!” says the Baron, “vat is dis canaille?”

“Canal yourself, Mounseer,” says Orlando, now grown quite furious: he broke away, quite indignant, and was soon lost in the crowd. Jemimarann, as soon as he was gone, began to look very pale and ill; and her mamma, therefore, took her to a tent, where she left her along with Madame Flicflac and the Baron; going off herself with the other gentlemen, in order to join us.

It appears they had not been seated very long, when Madame Flicflac suddenly sprung up, with an exclamation of joy, and rushed forward to a friend whom she saw pass.

The Baron was left alone with Jemimarann; and, whether it was the champagne, or that my dear girl looked more than commonly pretty, I don’t know; but Madame Flicflac had not been gone a minute, when the Baron dropped on his knees, and made her a regular declaration.

Poor Orlando Crump had found me out by this time, and was standing by my side, listening, as melancholy as possible, to the famous Bohemian Minnesingers, who were singing the celebrated words of the poet Gothy:—

“Ich bin ya hupp lily lee, du bist ya hupp lily lee.
Wir sind doch hupp lily lee, hupp la lily lee.”
“Chorus — Yodle-odle-odle-odle-odle-odle hupp! yodle-odle-aw-o-o-o!”

They were standing with their hands in their waistcoats, as usual, and had just come to the “o-o-o,” at the end of the chorus of the forty-seventh stanza, when Orlando started: “That’s a scream!” says he. “Indeed it is,” says I; “and, but for the fashion of the thing, a very ugly scream too:” when I heard another shrill “Oh!” as I thought; and Orlando bolted off, crying, “By heavens, it’s HER voice!” “Whose voice?” says I. “Come and see the row,” says Tag. And off we went, with a considerable number of people, who saw this strange move on his part.

We came to the tent, and there we found my poor Jemimarann fainting; her mamma holding a smelling-bottle; the Baron, on the ground, holding a handkerchief to his bleeding nose; and Orlando squaring at him, and calling on him to fight if he dared.

My Jemmy looked at Crump very fierce. “Take that feller away,” says she; “he has insulted a French nobleman, and deserves transportation, at the least.”

Poor Orlando was carried off. “I’ve no patience with the little minx,” says Jemmy, giving Jemimarann a pinch. “She might be a Baron’s lady; and she screams out because his Excellency did but squeeze her hand.”

“Oh, mamma! mamma!” sobs poor Jemimarann, “but he was t-t-tipsy.”

“T-t-tipsy! and the more shame for you, you hussy, to be offended with a nobleman who does not know what he is doing.”

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 19:07