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resumed his seat after the dancing, and being at that moment surrounded by only a few of his more intimate associates, Jocelyn considered it a favourable opportunity for his purpose; and imploring his Majesty's pardon for the liberty, which he attributed to a deep attachment for the lady in question, he humbly stated the information he required.
« Gadzooks! that is very true,» cried the King, choosing to misunderstand the object of his solicitation -«I remember you were to have fifty pieces for preventing a wench from singeing her petticoats; my treasurer shall pay them to you.»
« I beg to assure your Majesty,» said Jocelyn, « that I was not influenced by any hope of reward, nor do I claim it: but, if your Majesty would condescend to inform me where
«Tush! Sir,» cried Charles, interrupting him-«must the King be answerable for every pretty Perdita that chooses to jilt her lover ?»
« Your Majesty may perhaps have forgotten,» continued Jocelyn, « that the person who accompanied the , lady in the carriage received instructions--»
« Enough, Sir, enough!» interposed Charles, with a stern look, and at the same time slightly colouring-«I am not to be questioned as to what orders I may give, nor do I recollect that the Queen's private Secretary is of his Majesty's Privy Council. Turning his back upon Jocelyn after this pointed rebuff, he exclaimed to the Duke of Buckingham-«What say you, George, to this white pinking of the vest? methinks 't were better without it: and this black ruffling of the leg, as if it were a
pigeon's, shall we discard it for a peach-coloured silk stocking? Pronounce, my arbiter eleqantiarum, my monarch of the mode, forin foppery and frippery I acknowledge thee to be infallible.»
Buckingham gave his opinion with great gravity upon these important points, discouraging any alterations, commending the dress as at once elegant and manly, although he concluded with an offer of a heavy wager, that his Majesty would be presently tired of the innovation, and would resume his former garb. This bet the King accepted with much confidence, protesting his perfect approbation of the change; but the result proved that Buckingham, who soon claimed the money, knew his capricious humour better than he did himself. As there had been no reason for the adoption of this new fashion, so was there none for its discontinuance. It had been the whim of the moment. To a monarch who needed perpetual excitement, its novelty was sufficient recommendation; when this ceased, its attraction was lost, and the Persian garment followed the fate of the ministers, mistresses, and favourites, of whom he had successively grown tired-it was thrown aside and forgotten.
Jocelyn's indignation at his cavalier dismissal from the royal presence was inflamed by the conviction that his suspicions were well founded, and that the King was the real author of Julia's abduction, and perfectly well acquainted with her place of concealment. His Majesty had begun with a wilful misconception, he had proceeded with an evasion, he had concluded with a rude and haughty sneer, but he had never denied the fact. Indeed his manner and his equivocation amounted to a full
admission in the mind of Jocelyn, who sate apart in a corner of the festive hall, indulging bitter and jealous thoughts, and little participating in the mirth and merriment that surrounded him. The mummerý usually enacted at these entertainments was now beginning. Killigrew, having dressed himself up as a Quaker, went about denouncing the vices of the court, and prognosticating the most dreadful calamities in consequence, such as a stoppage to the supply of canary, claret, and muscadel for the men; of Flander's lace, French gloves, Spanish rouge, and Dutch sprunking-glasses for the ladies; together with a general mortality among lap-dogs, monkeys, and parroquets, pimps, pandars, and parasites; whereby the recreation and occupation of all ranks and sexes at Whitehall were likely to be annihilated.
«What news, friend, in the City?» inquired the King, as
he came up:
«Worse and worse, friend,» replied Killigrew, as if he were addressing a stranger. « All going to rack and ruin; commerce declining, confidence destroyed, incapable ministers, a pleasure-loving King, a discontented nation. And yet there is one good, honest, able man in the country, who if he could be prevailed upon to undertake the management of affairs, and look to every thing himself, would speedily redeem all.»
« 'Ods fish!» cried the King, « he must be a spruce and stirring blade, and it would like me well to know the name of such a phoenix.»
« His name,» continued Killigrew, very seriously, « is Charles Stuart, who now spends his time in kissing and
courting, in toying and tippling; but who has talents to perform all that I have said, if he would only devote himself to the undertaking.”
«Tush, friend!» replied the King, “what can you expect
from one who associates with such a deboshed, idle, and rakehelly fellow as Tom Killigrew ?»
« That he should laugh at him when he plays the fool, and endeavour to profit by him when he acts the Mentor,» said Killigrew, and immediately moved off to another part of the apartment. Attracted by the bustle and laughter that sounded from a distant part of the saloon, Charles, ever on the alert for amusement, hastened in that direction, and no sooner reached the spot, than several voices at once cried out, « Here is his Majesty! here is his Majesty!” and, opening to the right and left, disclosed to the King's observation the strange figure whom they had been previously encircling. It was a squat and corpulent Dutchwoman, with grey eyes, sandy mustachios, a coif with laced streamers surmounting her hair, which was pomatumed back from the forehead; two ponderous gold ear-rings, laying themselves down upon the fat of either shoulder; and her costume But we need not describe it a second time; for the figure was Lady Compton, and her attire the identical suit she had worn upon her first presentation to Jocelyn, and which having considerably suffered by the lapse of time, had been selected for her travellingdress. She had come up to London herself, finding Jocelyn's exertions ineffectual, to use her own personal influence with his Majesty in procuring a settlement of the Brambletye cause. Lord Rochester happened to
hear her inquiring for Jocelyn's apartments at Whiteball, and rightly conceiving that so grotesque a figure might afford amusement to the court, had introduced her into the saloon, informing her that she would be sure to find Mr Compton among
the King himself if she desired to speak with him. The latter, indeed, was much more the object of her search than the former, and she no sooner gained sight of him in the manner we have described, than she waddled
up to him, curtsying, and exclaiming --« Hoe is het met zyne majesteit de Koning? Vive le Roi! God bless de King!»
« Who is it? who is it?» was eagerly buzzed about, while the exclamations of « Capital character! inimitably supported ! charmingly dressed !» proceeded from the mouths of others, who took for granted that the whole had been got up for the amusement of the King. As Charles himself looked somewhat puzzled from not exactly comprehending the meaning of the mummery, her ladyship proceeded to inform him, in the same mixture of Dutch, French, and English, that she had had the honour of being acquainted with him at Bruges and elsewhere, before the Restoration.
« Prettily acted, i' faith! and a droll piece of mummery,» cried the King, who did not in the least recognise his old acquaintance,---- but somewhat enigmatical as to the plot, and no less questionable as to the player, unless it be Tom Wollop, the Falstaff of the Red Bull Theatre.» Not a little indignant at this supposition, her ladyship inquired whether he had so entirely forgotten his friend the quondam widow Weegschaal, whom