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Madame Flirt - A Romance of 'The Beggar's Opera' by Charles Edward Pearce
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"As pretty a wench as man ever clapped eyes on. Wake up, Lance, and look
at her."

The portly man of genial aspect sitting in the corner of the bow window
of the Maiden Head Inn at the High Street end of Dyott Street in the
very heart of St. Giles, clapped his sleeping friend on the shoulder and
shook him. The sleeper, a young man whose finely drawn features were
clouded with the dregs of wine, muttered something incoherently, and
with an impatient twist shifted his body in the capacious arm-chair.

"Let him alone, Mr. Gay. When a man's in his cups he's best by himself.
'Twill take him a day's snoring to get rid of his bout. The landlord
here tells me he walked with the mob from Newgate to Tyburn and back and
refreshed himself at every tavern on the way, not forgetting, I warrant
you, to fling away a guinea at the Bowl, the Lamb, and the 'Black Jack'
over yonder, and drink to the long life of the daring rogue in the cart
and the health of the hangman to boot."

"Long life indeed, my lord. A couple of hours at most. Not that the
length of life is to be measured by years. I don't know but what it's
possible to cram one's whole existence into a few hours, thanks to that
thief of time," rejoined John Gay pointing to the bottle on the table.

The poet's placid face saddened. John Gay had always taken life as a
pleasure, but there is no pleasure without pain as he had come to
discover. Maybe at that moment a recollection of his follies gave his
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