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It had been a long vigil, and the three sisters - thinking it may be over much of love - had grown a little languid in waiting for the Royal lover.
Lucy, hidden in the softness of a thousand frills, trembled ever so slightly, with fear or with longing as may be, at the thought of approaching possibilities.
Mrs Birchman, raising the lid from a large ointment jar, commenced to rouge her lips and breasts heavily, smiling approval into a small hand-mirror upon the lavish use of the pigment.
Moll loosened her bodice, and laying aside for a moment the copy of Love And Louisa which she was reading, expressed her impatience in gestures which were frankly sensual. Poor Moll, she had once been a very gallant lady indeed! And even now, when youth's lilies were faded, she was adorned with the esoteric blossoms of unguentarian art, and Moll still had a certain success among the Mashers and the Beaux.
It was twilight, and the pale acacias, stirred by a fitful breeze, seemed to weep that the day had died so soon, covering the green lawns with the purity of their summer snows and lending to the surroundings an indefinable air of chastity.
Mrs Birchman perceived this and took it as a delicate compliment, puffing out her breasts, and pluming herself, in a manner that was attractive enough, the very moths growing careless of nature and abandoning the flowers to hover in the fragrance of the scented rouge.
A cuckoo that had solved the problem of poverty passed on its way to rest, and already the fire-flies could be seen gleaming in the shadows; a love-bird in a neighbouring coppice was in the midst of one of the most amorous little thrills imaginable, when - Count Fanny was seen to be approaching.
There was a veritable flutter in the dove-cot, and I should blush were I to relate the astonishing stratagems to which Mrs Birchman was put in order to conceal the telltale jar!
Nor would it be easy to describe the ravishing appearance of the adorable Count, for the exquisite Marquis de Parabère himself might have paled with envy at the sight of such preciosity, and surely Monsieur Racinet would have added yet another chapter to his already exhaustive work upon La Costume Historique, had he been so fortunate as to have beheld the delicate indiscretion of Count Fanny's pantaloons!
He wore canary kid boots - with fourteen buttons and the most fascinating little heels - silk stockings, a false bust, and - Ave Maria! the tiniest little purple moustache in the world ...