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46. CHAPTER XLVI: MR SLOPE'S PARTING INTERVIEW WITH THE SIGNORA (continued)
Mr Slope, with an air of much indifference, rose from his seat, and, walking into the next room, became greatly interested in Mrs Stanhope's worsted work.
And then the child was brought in. She was a little girl, about eight years of age, like her mother, only that her enormous eyes were black, and her hair quite jet. Her complexion too was very dark, and bespoke her foreign blood. She was dressed in the most outlandish and extravagant way in which clothes could be put on a child's back. She had great bracelets on her naked little arms, a crimson fillet braided with gold round her head, and scarlet shoes with high heels. Her dress was all flounces, and stuck out from her as though the object were to make it lie off horizontally from her little hips. It did not nearly cover her knees; but this was atoned for by a loose pair of drawers which seemed made throughout of lace; then she had on pink silk stockings. It was thus that the last of the Neros was habitually dressed at the hour when visitors were wont to call.
'Julia, my love,' said the mother,--Julia was ever a favourite name with the ladies of the family, 'Julia, my love, come here. I was telling you about the beautiful party poor mamma went to. This is Mr Thorne; will you give him a kiss, dearest?'
Julia put up her face to be kissed, as she did to all her mother's visitors; and then Mr Thorne found that he had got her, and, which was much more terrible to him, all her finery, into his arms. The lace and starch crumpled against his waistcoat and trousers, the greasy black curls hung upon his cheek, and one of the bracelet clasps scratched his ear. He did not at all know how to hold her. However, he had on other occasions been compelled to fondle little nieces and nephews, and now set about the task in the mode he always used.
'Diddle, diddle, diddle, diddle,' said he, putting the child on one knee, and working away with it as though he were turning a knife-grinder's wheel with his foot.
'Mamma, mamma,' said Julia, crossly. 'I don't want to be diddle diddled. Let me go, you naughty old man, you.'
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