She put on her chignon, her curls, her breast elevator, her bustle, her high-heeled shoes, a little rouge, a little whiting and a bit of court-plaster, and sallied forth, down the dumb-waiter to the cellar, and thence, through the ash-hole, to the street.
He may be near us, dreaming yet Of unrepented rouge and coral; Or in a grave without a name May be as far off as a moral.
"'It must be very uncommon rouge,' remarked he, quietly fixing his eyes on me; 'it grows red after it is put on, and must require much care in the use of it.'
He dressed like a habitant from head to foot, putting on a tasselled bonnet rouge and an etoffe du pays (grey homespun) suit of clothes, with a red sash and bottes sauvages like Indian moccasins.
The next letter is of such a nature, that, I dare say, these proud rouges would not have had it fall into my hands for the world.*
Louis Philippe either would have been overthrown very speedily after his elevation, or he would have been enabled to wear his new crown only by placing the old bonnet rouge above it.
If I were to detail the building of the palace alone, and how it killed me nearly, and how I twice fled from it, and had to return, and became its bounden slave, and dreamed of it, and grovelled before it, and prayed, and raved, and rolled; and how I forgot to make provision on the west side for the contraction and expansion of the gold in the colder weather and the heats of summer, and had to break down nine months' work, and how I cursed Thee, how I cursed Thee; and how the lake of wine evaporated faster than the conduits replenished it, and the three journeys which I had to take to Constantinople for shiploads of wine, and my frothing despairs, till I had the thought of placing the reservoir in the platform; and how I had then to break down the south side of the platform to the very bottom, and of the month-long nightmare of terror that I had lest the south side of the palace would undergo subsidence; and how the petrol failed, and of the three-weeks' search for petrol along the coast; and how, after list-rubbing all the jet, I found that I had forgotten the necessary rouge for polishing; and how, in the third year, I found the fluate, which I had for water-proofing the pores of the platform-stone, nearly all leaked away in the Speranza's hold, and I had to get silicate of soda at Gallipoli; and how, after two years' observation, I had to come to the conclusion that the lake was leaking, and discovered that this Imbros sand was not suitable for mixing with the skin of Portland cement which covered the cement concrete, and had to substitute sheet-bitumen in three places; and how I did all, all for the sake of God, thinking: 'I will work, and be a good man, and cast Hell from me: and when I see it stand finished, it will be an Altar and a Testimony to me, and I shall find peace, and be well': and how I have been cheated--seventeen years, long years of my life--for there is no God; and how my plasterers'-hair failed me, and I had to use flock, hessian, scrym, wadding, wood-street paving-blocks, and whatever I could find, for filling the interspaces between the platform cross-walls; and of the espagnolette bolts, how a number of them mysteriously disappeared, as if snatched to Hell by harpies, and I had to make them; and how the crane-chain would not reach two of the silver-panel castings when they were finished, and they were too heavy for me to lift, and the wringing of the hands of my despair, and my biting of the earth, and the transport of my fury; and how, for a whole wild week, I searched in vain for the text-book which describes the ambering process; and how, when all was nearly over, in the blasting away of the forge and crane with dynamite, a long crack appeared down the gold of the east platform-steps, and how I would not be consoled, but mourned and mourned; and how, in spite of all my tribulations, it was sweetly interesting to watch my power slowly grow from the first feeble beginnings of the landing of materials and unloading them from the motor, a hundred-weight at a time, till I could swing four tons--see the solid metals flow--enjoy the gliding sounds of the handle, crank-shaft, and system of levers, forcing inwards the mould-end, and the upper and lower plungers, for pressing the material--build at ease in a travelling-cage--and watch from my hut-door through sleepless hours, under the electric moonlight of this land, the three piles of gold stones, the silver panels, the two-foot squares of jet, and be comforted; and how the putty-wash--but it is past, it is past: and not to live over again that vulgar nightmare of means and ends have I taken to this writing again--but to put down something else, if I dare.
Each man snatched his gun; some stood behind the wagons; some threw themselves flat on the ground, and in an instant twenty cocked muskets were leveled full at the horrified Tete Rouge, who just then began to be visible through the darkness.
There is the vanity and fear of the world, which assist mysteriously with pious principles in keeping a man respectable; there are combinations of this kind of every imaginable human form and colour, redeemed but feebly by the steady excellence of an awkward man, and the genuine heart of a vulgar woman, till we feel inclined to tax Mr. Thackeray with an under estimate of our nature, forgetting that Madame de Stael is right after all, and that without a little conventional rouge no human conplexion can stand the stage-lights of fiction.
Their position and our own had been very greatly affected by the fortunes of the war, for the Belgian Croix Rouge and Army Medical Services were for the moment in abeyance, and instead of obtaining from them the help which had hitherto been so generously given, we had now to undertake their work and to rely entirely on our own resources.
He grinned with wrath, chattered, gesticulated, and hurled forth a volley of incoherent words in broken English at the astonished Tete Rouge.