Mens Wives, by William Makepeace Thackeray


G. Fitz-Boodle, Esq., to O. Yorke, Esq.

MY DEAR YORKE — The story of the Ravenswing was written a long time since, and I never could account for the bad taste of the publishers of the metropolis who refused it an insertion in their various magazines. This fact would never have been alluded to but for the following circumstance:—

Only yesterday, as I was dining at this excellent hotel, I remarked a bald-headed gentleman in a blue coat and brass buttons, who looked like a colonel on half-pay, and by his side a lady and a little boy of twelve, whom the gentleman was cramming with an amazing quantity of cherries and cakes. A stout old dame in a wonderful cap and ribands was seated by the lady’s side, and it was easy to see they were English, and I thought I had already made their acquaintance elsewhere.

The younger of the ladies at last made a bow with an accompanying blush.

“Surely,” said I, “I have the honour of speaking to Mrs. Ravenswing?”

“Mrs. Woolsey, sir,” said the gentleman; “my wife has long since left the stage:” and at this the old lady in the wonderful cap trod on my toes very severely, and nodded her head and all her ribands in a most mysterious way. Presently the two ladies rose and left the table, the elder declaring that she heard the baby crying.

“Woolsey, my dear, go with your mamma,” said Mr. Woolsey, patting the boy on the head. The young gentleman obeyed the command, carrying off a plate of macaroons with him.

“Your son is a fine boy, sir,” said I.

“My step-son, sir,” answered Mr. Woolsey; and added, in a louder voice, “I knew you, Mr. Fitz-Boodle, at once, but did not mention your name for fear of agitating my wife. She don’t like to have the memory of old times renewed, sir; her former husband, whom you know, Captain Walker, made her very unhappy. He died in America, sir, of this, I fear” (pointing to the bottle), “and Mrs. W. quitted the stage a year before I quitted business. Are you going on to Wiesbaden?”

They went off in their carriage that evening, the boy on the box making great efforts to blow out of the postilion’s tasselled horn.

I am glad that poor Morgiana is happy at last, and hasten to inform you of the fact. I am going to visit the old haunts of my youth at Pumpernickel. Adieu.


G. F.-B.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00