And Rake, rendered almost melancholy by his thoughts, went out of the box to get into saddle and ride off on an errand of his master’s to the Zu-Zu at her tiny hunting-lodge, where the snow-white ponies made her stud, and where she gave enchanting little hunting-dinners, at which she sang equally enchanting little hunting-songs, and arrayed herself, in the Fontainebleau hunting costume, gold-hilted knife and all, and spent Cecil’s winnings for him with a rapidity that threatened to leave very few of them for the London season. She was very pretty, sweetly pretty; with hair that wanted no gold powder, the clearest, sauciest eyes, and the handsomest mouth in the world; but of grammar she had not a notion, of her aspirates she had never a recollection, of conversation she had not an idea; of slang she had, to be sure, a repertoire, but to this was her command of language limited. She dressed perfectly, but she was a vulgar little soul; drank everything, from Bass’ ale to rum-punch, and from cherry-brandy to absinthe; thought it the height of wit to stifle you with cayenne slid into your vanilla ice, and the climax of repartee to cram your hat full of peach stones and lobster shells; was thoroughly avaricious, thoroughly insatiate, thoroughly heartless, pillaged with both hands, and then never had enough; had a coarse good nature when it cost her nothing, and was “as jolly as a grig,” according to her phraseology, so long as she could stew her pigeons in champagne, drink wines and liqueurs that were beyond price, take the most dashing trap in the Park up to Flirtation Corner, and laugh and sing and eat Richmond dinners, and show herself at the Opera with Bertie or some other “swell” attached to her, in the very box next to a Duchess.
The Zu-Zu was perfectly happy; and as for the pathetic pictures that novelists and moralists draw, of vice sighing amid turtle and truffles for childish innocence in the cottage at home where honeysuckles blossomed and brown brooks made melody, and passionately grieving on the purple cushions of a barouche for the time of straw pallets and untroubled sleep, why—the Zu-Zu would have vaulted herself on the box-seat of a drag, and told you “to stow all that trash”; her childish recollections were of a stifling lean-to with the odor of pigsty and straw-yard, pork for a feast once a week, starvation all the other six days, kicks, slaps, wrangling, and a general atmosphere of beer and wash-tubs; she hated her past, and loved her cigar on the drag. The Zu-Zu is fact; the moralists’ pictures are moonshine.
The Zu-Zu is an openly acknowledged fact, moreover, daily becoming more prominent in the world, more brilliant, more frankly recognized, and more omnipotent. Whether this will ultimately prove for the better or the worse, it would be a bold man who should dare say; there is at least one thing left to desire in it—i. e., that the synonym of “Aspasia,” which serves so often to designate in journalistic literature