|Chapter Title||MONSIEUR SPANNEU AND HIS SCHOLARS.- I AM ILL-USED BY A POODLE.|
|Newspaper Title||The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)|
|Trove Title||The Story of a Feather|
THE STOEY OF A FEATHER.
jSy JDauglag Retrain.
.-^A Story from " Posen.")
(Continued from our lost,)
MONSIEUR SPANNEU AND HIS SCHOLARS.
I AM ILL-USED BY A POODLE.
DEAR Mrs. Gaptooth felt for the double calamity of Madame Spanneu all the sympathy of asistcr. The heart of the matron, upon her own grave assurance, bled for her friend ; albeit, no woman ever sit a bleeding heart with sweeter composure. "It's abad world, my dear," said Mrs. Gaptooth, "but we're in it-we're in it, and must make the best of it." With this expression of philosophy the old gentlewoman quitted the room, followed by Madame Spanncu.
I had that day been turned over andover by several hands, and had been carelessly thrown upon a chair, the price Madame Spanneu placed upon my beauty being considered too extravagant by those who carne to purchase. 1 confess it, my situation became irksome to me : I longed once more to be in the world : I had had sufficient of retirement, and yeurncd for society. Whilst these thoughts possessed me, one of Monsieur Spanneu's poodles frisked into the room. The little beast was a most mischievous and volatile animal, despite the daily lessons of a master to correct the vices of his constitution. He was never so happy as when gnawing the edgeof a carpet-jumping up and tearing at the maids' aprons-biting the cat in the nape of the neck and, in fact, committing every license within the wicked powers of puppyhood ; n more irreclaimable little dog was never bom to the luxuries of life. As the poodle entered the room, 1 'felt a strange shudder. He came in with a light cautious air' treading on the very tips of his toe-nails, and lifting up his jet black nose, as though he snuffed delicious mischief somewhere ; then, in very self-abandonment, he chased his tail, spinning round like any opera-dancer. Then, tired of the sport, he approached a table with sudden seriousness, and staring full at a blue riband or cap-string, twitched the muslin on the floor, and in an instant buried his head, fighting it the while with his fore-paws, in the cap itself. Never did a dog seem more delighted-never was puppy so completely caught by a cap. At length, by the very force of his admiration, the poodle tore the cap into strips, and sated with that peculiar pleasure, looked round about him for another victim. It was but an instant, and I was in the poodle's mouth. That I, who had helped to decorate the Prince of Wales, should be made the plaything of a dog 1 I felt that my last moment was come-that my igno- minious end was near. How the poodle snapped at me and tossed me 1 Then, dropping me on the floor, he barked and barked at me; and then, after a momentary pause, he caught mc up in his mouth, and ran with me out of the room. In another minute, the heedless puppy unseen by his mnster car- ried mc into Monsieur Spauncu's academy, for there was the Frenchman, kit in hand, playing the Minuet de Ia Cour to a couple of poodles, stamping, vociferating, swearing, whilst he
I have no doubt that the action of the Frenchman had sudden operation on the fears of the animal that had carried mc off, for the dog crouched under a chair with me between his paws, now pulling me through his teeth, and now contemplating in curious silence the motions of his canine schoolfellows. I have little doubt, too, that a somewhat ponderous whip, which the Frenchman remorselessly applied to the backs of his students, had its due effect upon the transgressing poodle ; for ns the whip cracked, and the culprits yelped and howled, the poodle trembled throughout every hair, and yelped in sympathy.
It was, however, delightful to witness the affectionate manner -with which Monsieur Spanneu inflicted punishment on his students, " Ha 1 ha 1 mon mignon," he would cry, and the thong would wind round the darling's body with force enough to crack it. " Viens, mon ami," the master would exclaim, at the same time kicking the pupil to the other end of the school-room He divided his time between soft endearing phrases and hard thwacks. His lips dropt oil, but his hand still bore a whip.
The poodle having left me beneath a chair, although I was somewhat flustered by the rough treatment I lind received, I nevertheless soon recovered sufficient composure to look about me. I then noted, what I have since a thousand times re- marked, the difference-even to extremes-between a man in his reality and a man as we may, in our imagination, have painted him. Here was Monsieur Spanncu, a short, obese Frenchman ; yet surely never did man carry so much fat so lightly. He was about four feet six in height, with a face ample ns the moon at the full, a broad forehead and bald head, its nudity half discovered by a nightcap half-slipped from its resting-place. Nothing could have been more ludicrous than the aspect and manner of the teacher, had they not been redeemed by an cnetgy, a certain enthusiasm of purpose, that imparted to him something like dignity. It was impossible to laugh outright at Monsieur Spanncu ; the earnestness of the teacher would repress the giggle of the scoffer. It is true, he taught nothing but dogs ; but then he convinced you that there were no creatures on this earth so worthy of teaching. " A dog," Monsieur Spanneu would say, " is de only true friend of de man," and this opinion the master would dignify by laying -on the whip to the best friend of our species.
Whether Monsieur Spanneu's pupils were more than ordi- narily dull, or the master himself more than usually irascible, I cannot determine; but never during my stay in the house had I beard such crackings of the whip, such yelpings and howlings from the dogs, as whilst I lay unseen beneath the chair, a witness of the discipline of my host. Monsieur had arranged his pupils for a cotillon, when, after the sweetest evi- dence of temper on his part,-after the master had twenty times called the dogs "mes petits," "mesamis," "mes mignons," " mes enfans,"-after he had lavished upon them all sorts of endearing syllables,-he lost his benevolence, and seising his whip, he went in among the poodles and laid about him Ike a thresher. '
It was at this moment, when the very tiles of the house-top were ringing with the howling of the dogs, and their master was raging like a tempest, his face scarlet, and his forehead «training with passion, when Madame Spanneu rushed into the room, ceremoniously followed by Mrs. Gaptooth.
"Monsieur Spanneu, I'll put up with this nuisance no longer," cried Madame ; and if ever woman looked in earnest,
H was the wife of the teacher.
Monsieur Spanneu was instantly composed. He stooped to pick up the nightcap which in his energy had dropped From his head, and folding it delicately, tenderly between his hands, he suffered a smile to break all over his face, and bending with graceful devotion, he said-" Ma belle Elise." There was no- thing in the words. Any other husband might hnvc called his wife his beautiful Eliza, but in the manner of Monsieur Spanneu there was the devotion of a life. Never was there such fealty paid to Ihe wedding-ring. I saw it at once : the poodles, whatever were their sufferings, were fully revenged by the wife of their tyrant and teacher. The meekest, poorest dog there,was a lion in heart and independence before Monsieur Spanneu, compared to Monsieur Spanneu before his wife. Hence, the husband met the ferocity of his helpmate with nothing more than a deprecating bend of the back, and " Ma
" None of your nonsense," cried Madame Spanneu,-that lofty-minded woman rejecting what the weakness of her sex might have deemed a compliment. " 1 won't have my house turned into a kennel any longer. The dogs shall pack ; and .11 the better if their master packs with them."
"Mon angel" cried Monsieur Spanneu, his meekness, if possible, increasing with the violence of his wife.
" Yes, you're a pretty fellow to call anybody your angel, you are ; I'm none of your angels, I can tell you,"-exclaimed Madam» Spanneu, with a vigorous tossing of the head.
" Now, my dear," said Mt*. Gaptoolb, apparently with the 'bett spirits in the world, " now, don't go on so-though, to be sure, so many dogs must put any house in a most terrible
" Fickle I" cried Madame Spanneu, with intense shrillness of
organ ; " Tickle t"
" Ma ekère," said the husband with . lost look, as though that one word pickle bad conjured about him a throng of terrors wbicb he felt it were in vain to straggle with. Had Madame Spanneu not been the poor man's wife, she must have pitied him; aa it was pity was the last feeling to be wasted on him.
" Pickle 1" for the third time, screamed Madame Spanneu, and I could perceive as she moved from the door, that her hus- band shifted himself, preparing to make a retreat. " I wonder
that in« floor doesn't' open and swallow you al toe word," she
" Ma btlle Elise I" said the Frenchman, but he spoke in vain. " I wonder that you can have the impudence to exist-you, that I have given house and home to-you that I harbour with your filthy curs-you that-"
The Frenchman was about to fly, when casting his eye about, he observed me lying tumbled and bitten beneath the chair. The poor man turned ghastly pale when he saw me. He was at once assured of the ill behaviour of one of his dogs, and of the increased abuse which would fall upon him, should his wife discover the accident. He must suffer anything, rather than permit the chance of such disclosure ; hence, with false courage, he approached the chair beneath which I lay, and seat, ing himself, so arranged his legs as to keep me out of sight.
And then Madame Spanncu began again to abuse her hus- band, whilst he-poor man 1-began to tune his fiddle. Again did the wife call out " False, vile wretch 1-miserable French- man 1" whilst the Gaul, affecting philosophy, drew his bow, and sang-" Nous n'avons qu'un terns à vivre."
(To tie continued.)