|Chapter Title||I AM TAKEN TO A TAVERN.-LEFT IN A HACKNEY-COACH.|
|Newspaper Title||The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)|
|Trove Title||The Story of a Feather|
THE STORY OE A FEATHER.
JSjj JBaualni Sttvalv.
(A Story from " PUNCH.")
(Continued from our last.)
I AM TAKEN TO A TAVERN.-LEFT IN A
OUR lost chapter left Madame Spanneu in the arms of her husband. In less time than a leaf of this small history could be turned, the lady released herself from that sweet bondage ; and that, too, with a decision that flung her helpmate, sound- ing, against the wainscot. Never did woman more vigorously illustrate the fallacy of that vulgar saying, that man and wife are of one flesh; for never was division more clearly mani-
" My heart is broke !" exclaimed Monsieur Spanneu. That his ribs also were not fractured was a mercy and an astonish- ment. The husband looked entreatingly at his wife-there was no responsive glance-and, in another second, the wretched man had seized his hat, and stood the statue of despair upon his own door-step 1
In that moment, actUe was the great fiend : for twenty little imps, the devil's footboys, rose about the Frenchman ; some crying halter-some poison-some climbing his shoulder, and gently whispering in his ear, razors : and some again, with a sweet diabolic smirk, pointing their fingers in the direction of the Thames. Monsieur Spanneu instantly resolved on death. What place but tile grove for a broken heart ? He would die : his only difficulty was the choice of means. Thus, hanging, poisoning, drowning, abscission of artery-one and all of these modes recommended themselves; but their merits appeared so equal, that the Frenchman was too much puzzled to choose. He at once broke from the besetting difficulty, by-turning into an ale-house. Distrusting death, he rushed to drunken- ness. Monsieur Spanneu drowned his reason twenty fathom deep ; but with wise reservation kept his clayey self safe from the coroner. Never was the inexperience of man so shock- ingly displayed ; for almost before llacchus could have w inked, the Frenchman was disastrously drunk. This great evil was attributable to his temperance. Ile had never, poor mon 1 taught himself the use of the bottle, and, therefore, the expo- sure of his ignorance was sudden and complete. He had been wont to dally with water, qualified with sugar, for luxurious tippling, and now stood he beside that burning Lethe-gin I
Have I not beard the story ? Is it not Esop's ? The story of a stag, that drinking at the stream, still murmured at the shadow of its antlers ? In like manner did Monsieur Spanneu drink and drink,-yet sec nought within his glass but an exaggeration of his wrongs,-wrongs shadowed from false thoughts that thronged his head. Hence, the Frenchman-the gin distilling from his eyes-would drink and cry, "traîtresse," "cocu"-"cocu," "traîtresse,"-and then, in the very idleness of despair, sing forth the snatch of some infidel song defying love, and satirical of wedded truth. Thus, the wretched husband passed with greatest facility through all tile degrees of drunkenness, until he was in a state of professorial imbe- cility. He cried, laughed, raved-became maudlin, and then affectionate with his own hat, calling it " sa belle Elise," then dashing it to the end of the room with new disgust ; and then, some pause allowed, whistling-or spluttering a whistle at his foot, as throwing it up and down he swore it was his fuvourite poodle dancing a jig. At length, passion would shift no longer; and so, norn out, the poor Frenchman sat,in his chair, a very skin of gin, and snored.
Let it not be thought that Monsieur Spanneu was solus. By no means. He played his various antics to the rejoicing shout of the customary visitors of the Horse and Anchor, many of whom witnessed the growing inebriety of a French- man with the same zest and curiosity with which they would have made drunk a monkey, a dancing bear, or any other animal endowed with certain powers imitative of some gestures of humanity. These true-hearted lintons ¡n the pride of patriotism, considered it something like impertinence, conceit, in a Frenchman to get beastly drunk ; It was very like a liberty In a foreigner. Therefore, they manfully marked their censure of the circumstance, by filling the offender's pockets with soot, by blackening his face with the same substance whilst an Indignant wag smeared the Frenchman's skull with mustard, telling him, to the screaming enjoyment of the party, that yellow hair became him beautifully.
These insults the Frenchman felt not-knew not. Gin had done its best and worst ; and ho sat, the world spinning with him-the breathing block of a man. He had, however, paid what was called his reckoning ; and being incapable of swallow- ing another drop, the landlord of the Horse and Anchor-a humane man-thought it best to have the drunkard carried home ; the sot himself having, in his frantic cups, published, again and again, the «hereabouts of the particular fireside where, in his own tragic words, he had been stabbed "In de vitals of his peace." A hatkne>y-coach was called, and the Frenchman carried by the waiter and boots from the room, the company therein roaring " Rule Britannia," as the foreigner was borne to the vehicle. "All right-you'll know," said the waiter to the coachman, the driver being very imper- fectly instructed in the dwelling-place of Monsieur Spanneu. " A Frenchman-you'll find out," bawled the waite'r from the steps of the tavern, and ihe coachman with, as I thought, a fine faith in the doctrine of chance, persuaded by dint of voice and whip, his horses to gather up their legs, and move fune-
How far we went 1 know not; but the day was waning, and it grew darker and darker ; and the coachman-strange to say -more and more impatient. «Is this it?" he would cry, stopping at a house, and thrusting his head Into the coach ; and once or twice Monsieur Spanneu, dee>p in his dreams, would answer something which the driver insisted upon inter- preting as a negative, and, therefore, bellowed an oath-asked himself why foreigners didn't stay in their own country whipped his horses anew, and still went on.
In the course of our journey, the coachman stopt at three houses, insisting that Monsieur Spanneu was the master of «ach of them, and that he had nothing to do, but to get out, undress himself, and go to bed like a Christian.
My belief is, that Monsieur Spanneu had every desire to resign himself to goose-feathers. More, I am half convinced that-whilst in the coach-he thought he was at home, and once more smiled upon his forgiving wife. For he kissed, ravenously kissed, the tips of his own fingers, and muttered " Ma belle ange I" Then, I am sure, thought he of his peaceful bed and preparing to repose himself therein ; for lie unbuttoned his waistcoat, and I fell into the straw at the bottom of the coach. At this moment the coachman roared some unintel- ligible words-the Frenchman grunted some unintelligible answer-and the coach stopt. With great alacrity the coach- men leapt from the box, and thundered-knocker in hand-at
" GenTman drunk," said the coachman, as the maid pre-
" Here's master again !" cried the maid.
" I wish I was in my grate 1" exclaimed the mistress.
Hereupon, after some delay, a light was brought, and the maid carne to the coach, and the driver was about to lift out his passenger, «hen the girl screamed out, "La! let him be -this isn't my master, but somebody else's."
Again the coachman was compelled to mount the box-again to drive on. Again and again he stopped _; again and again he knocked at doors. Again he said, " GenTman drunk ;'. again domestic published to the house, " Here's master again :" and again the mistress thereof wished herself out of this most comfortable abiding* place, the world.
luven the patience of hackney-coachmen may pass away. This truth I learned ou the third appeal to the third knocker; for the driver, on being for the third time assured that Mon- sieur Spanneu was " somebody else's master," lost all self restraint-«II philosophy. He roared like o satyr; and coup, ling the most disrespectful words with the immortal essence of Monsieur Spanneu. swore that he would cause that essence to evaporate to a very ungenteel and, doubtless, disagreeable locality, unless the Frenchman would Instantly, and in the very
best English, declare the house where be might lawfully and j conjugally put on his night-cap. It was very strange ; but the I
fervour of the coachman acted upon the drunken man like a bucket of cold water. For a moment, and a moment only, the soul of Monsieur Spanneu-or rather, sense, for as pigs and goats jn*j get drunk, the soul can have nothing to do with that very popular operation-came back into its proper place, .»berner it may fee, with all iii win about it, prepared to
consider anything that might be demanded of it. I am sure that a momentary excess of reason may be wrought out from an excess of drunkenness ; in the same way that a momentary spark, a fire, may be struck from out the cold, cold flint. Thus, when the coachman laid hold of Monsieur Spanneu, and with certain circumlocutory phrases, insisted upon a straight- forward, and most direct, and most reasonable response, Mon- sieur Spanneu sat bolt upright, opened his eyes and mouth, and looking more sensible, and articulating the English lan- guage better than I had ever heard him before, made answer, at once satisfying the driver as to the truthfulness of his reply.
Dissatisfied is man ; for no sooner had the coachman learned
what he had been an hour and more vainly seeking for, than he uttered phrases very condemnatory of not only the intellect but the eyes of his passenger, and with renewed vigour, plied the whip. In a very short time the vehicle was drawn up at Monsieur Spanneu's door.
Again the coachman knocked, and the door opened ; again he spoke, in tones as though he had brought some new luxury
home-" GenTmati drunk."
" It can't be master," cried the maid ; Spanneu never having before offended. She had scarcely uttered the words, however, when she rushed to the coach, and in amazement cried-" Why, missus, if it isn't!"
I then heard Madame Spnnneu very distinctly wish herself in the grave. The coachman inquired if "he should bring thegenTman in?"
1 heard not the answer, but the driver took the Frenchman iu his arms, and carried him towards the house, leaving mc a waif, a stray, upon the world in the bottom of a coach. The door still remained open.
" Men are brutes, my dear," said Mrs. Gaptooth.
"Lay him on the door-mat," said Madame Spaitncu.
(To uo continued.)