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Sedan with the capture of the unhappy
French emperor and eighty thousand of his


*See ALL THE YEAR ROUND, New Series, vol. iv.,
p. 487.

How well I recal at this moment my
first visit to the "Royal Property"—to the
Vauxhall of 1837! It was on the occasion
of a grand juvenile fête, and as though
there could be no pleasure without pain,
my tribulation commenced very early in
the day. It began with such a washing as
never was known, and a combat à outrance
with a stern and determined person, named
Betsy, who, in the struggle for mastery,
filled my eyes and nose with, as it now
appears to me, an entire cake of soap. Then
followed the torment of curling-irons,
wielded by a ferocious hairdresser, who
twisted, twirled, and scorched my locks till
the tears ran down my cheeks. Then came
the mysteries of a toilet, principally, as it
seemed, made up of needles and thread,
pins and bows, drattings from Betsy, and
prickings to me. After which came the
passing in review in the drawing-room, and
the long stately sitting under orders not to
move and rumple myself. Ah! how I
envied the children, whom I could see from
my perch, romping carelessly in the next
garden, inundating their pinafores from
a watering-can, and delightfully messing
about in an off-hand and reckless manner.
What had I done that I should be
subjected to the despotism of silk and velvet?
What was Vauxhall to me that I should
be doomed to an ordeal of ablutions,
hairdressers, and dressmakers, and, after escaping
from the various tormenting hands,
to the much greater ordeal of keeping
myself nice? At length I was released
from one thraldom only to exchange it for
another, that of sitting perfectly rigid in the
carriage that whirled me away to the
mysterious place for which all this preparation
had been made. We stop, I am lifted out
by a linkman, whose offensive familiarity I
am inclined to resent with a kickyes, I
did kick him as though by accident, and
with that kick threw off some of my
bottled-up indignation. We pass through
a dark portal, andoh my! I am in fairy
land, my breath comes in quick sobs, and
I cling tightly to the hand that leads me.
A slim gentleman, all in black, with a frill
at his breast like a pouter pigeon, ruffles
on his wrists, and a crush hat beneath his
arm, bows elegantly to the lady to whose
side I flatten myself in utter bewilderment.
Yes, he actually pats me on the head,
reckless of my curls, this noble and stately
personage, who can be nothing less than
one of the lord chamberlains I have been
told about in Cinderella and such like tales.
(I afterwards grew up to know him as
Mr. Simpson, the famous master of the
ceremonies.) On we sweep through a
succession of luminous grottoes all
bespangled with diamonds, rubies, emeralds,
and sapphires. Surely this must be the
wonderful cave that my nurse has described
to me the cave in which Aladdin found
himself, and I tremblingly await the
appearance of the genii. Out we come on to
an open space, in the midst of which is a
magnificent palace, all ablaze with jewels,
and on the balcony stand the king and
queen, singing beautifully, though it seems
to me they do no treat each other with
proper respect, for as we approach, his
majesty, addressing the partner of his throne,
trills out the question:

Pretty, pretty Polly Hopkins, how do you do, how
do you do?

To which her majesty replies in a rather
insulting manner:

None the better, Mr. Tompkins, for seeing you, for
seeing you!

I feel very much disturbed and vexed at
the notion of a king and queen calling one
another Polly Hopkins and Mr. Tompkins;
but the noblemen of the court, all dressed
in scarlet coats and cocked-hats, who are
playing for them, do not seem to mind it a
bit, and go on scraping their fiddles, as if it
were usual for sovereigns to converse
together in this fashion.

And what a wonderful company, moving
about the dazzling walks and in and out of
the shrubberies, to the strains of music that
rise in all directions! These are all lords
and ladies to me, and little princes and
princesses. By-and-bye the stately
chamberlain comes and leads me to a beautiful
and gorgeously-dressed princess, who has
her finger in her mouth, and who pouts and
flirts deliciously. Then we small people
have a big band of great tall soldiers all
to ourselves, and dance a quadrille with
the lords and ladies, standing round us.
Before we come to the last figure, I am
desperately in love, and, at the end, I ask
to be allowed to share with my princess
some lemonade and fruit, which magnificent
servants in red and gold liveries set before
us. And then we stroll, hand-in-hand,