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back to the point from which it had strayed.

‘No, no, my life.’
‘You were,’ said Madame; ‘I had my eye upon you all the time.’
‘Bless the little winking twinkling eye; was it on me all the
time!’ cried Mantalini, in a sort of lazy rapture. ‘Oh, demmit!’

‘And I say once more,’ resumed Madame, ‘that you ought not to
waltz with anybody but your own wife; and I will not bear it,
Mantalini, if I take poison first.’

‘She will not take poison and have horrid pains, will she?’ said
Mantalini; who, by the altered sound of his voice, seemed to have
moved his chair, and taken up his position nearer to his wife. ‘She
will not take poison, because she had a demd fine husband who
might have married two countesses and a dowager--’

‘Two countesses,’ interposed Madame. ‘You told me one

‘Two!’ cried Mantalini. ‘Two demd fine women, real countesses
and splendid fortunes, demmit.’

‘And why didn’t you?’ asked Madame, playfully.
‘Why didn’t I!’ replied her husband. ‘Had I not seen, at a
morning concert, the demdest little fascinator in all the world, and
while that little fascinator is my wife, may not all the countesses
and dowagers in England be--’

Mr Mantalini did not finish the sentence, but he gave Madame
Mantalini a very loud kiss, which Madame Mantalini returned;
after which, there seemed to be some more kissing mixed up with
the progress of the breakfast.

‘And what about the cash, my existence’s jewel?’ said
Mantalini, when these endearments ceased. ‘How much have we
in hand?’

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