Chapter 2947582

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Chapter NumberXV
Chapter Url
Full Date1845-08-27
Page Number4
Word Count2190
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)
Trove TitleThe Story of a Feather
article text



JSö Bouglarf ¿errata.

(A Story from "PUNCH.") - - - CHAPTER XV.

(Continued from our lost.)




' 'WHKN I next saw the light, I found myself among the cast-off finery which formed the stock in trade of ¡Madame Spanneu. There 1 was, in tolerable good company, to be sure ;. but with füllen companions : with degraded silks -, cashiered taffeties; expelled satins; velvets, thrust for ever from the society of the great. Now was I alone-a solitary plume. There were, feathers, thick as snow-flakes, upon Madame Spanneu's shelves. Thus, though at first 1 felt a sinking of the spirit-though, as I remembered my former glory, when I nodded above the baby prince, I felt a sort of sickness 'from the close, musty atmosphere about me, I soon became reconciled to my condition. Indeed, there was great jollity among us. For tu o or three nights-for it wa« only at night that the talk and fun began-1 and my companions maintained the dignity of sulks. We were, however, speedily laughed into good temper ; and then we ourselves laughed with the loudest. JEtery day Madame Spanneu added to her stock : thus, every night gave us fresh matter of enjoyment. We were wont to receive the newcomers as hardened jail- birds welcome culprits on their first captivity ; grinning them out of their sorrow ; jesting them into obduracy. Indeed, so hardened, so reckless »as I become, that hud 1 been selected

for the head or even Garrick, I do not think-such is tho j

infection of lawless company-I should have been sensible of

the abasement,

,1 am not about to reveal the secrets blabbed by my com- panions: but this adiice, my love for mankind-badly as I have been treated by the race-compels me lo give. Never, gentle reader, so long as you have a stitch about your anatomy, believe yourself alone. If thoughtless people could only know what their left-off clothes say about them, sure I am, they would resolve upon one of tno things; either to reform their lives, or to go naked. Let no man harbour a black spot in his breast, and believe that his waistcoat is »holly ignorant of the stain. Let no man drop an ill-gotten guinea into his pocket, and think the poke unconscious of the wrong. His very glove-though it reek with civet-shall smell anti babbie of the bribe that has burnt his hand. His cravat shall tighten about his throat, if that throat be seared with duily lies. lgno. ranee of man ! to believe that what is borne upon the body has no intelligence with the moral good or evil dwelling in the «oui ; to think that the purple of a Dives Utuns not the inner- most arrogance ol'its bearer ; that the rag tint flutters upon Lazarus breathes net the sweetness of a blossom. I know that people who believe themselves courageous thinkers, may call this a superstition. I will not argue it: but I will gay, there may be worse. Houevcr, it is perhaps well for poorer men that the rich put no faith in such bigotry ; for it folks were once assured that their cast-off' garments could reveal all the deeds and speculations of the wearers, great, indeed, would be the man who could afford to give away an old coat! No1 we should have even prime ministers and kings> conscieiice-keepets burning their clothes in their bolted bed. chambers, cautiously and secretly as a gallant burns his Paphian

letters the night before pistols.

The stories I heard whilst on the shelf of Madame Span neu made the white down upon me stand upright as the down of a thistle. How the gowns were wont to discourse 1 How the short cloaks would giggle with merriment I How the very gloves would lisp their little adventures I" Nay, there was a high scarlet-heeled shoe-an odd one,-can I forget the story with which it would make every gown and petticoat heave and flap again with laughter, as it told-and we had the story with every newcomer-the curious incident by which, in a scuffle it lost its fellow 1 This shoe was a very old shoe : it had been'in the possession of Madame Spanneu's predecessor, flun^ Ug¡de amongst other odds and ends, and having for many years out lived the fashion, and being in a state of widowhood, had no hopes of returning to the world again. Hence, the great de. light of this scarlet-heeled shoe was to prattle all the scandal it could remember and, I believe, invent, of the sphere from which it was irrevocably banished. N.iy, often the shoe would receive a smart reprimand from a peach-coloured satin, which would declare itself ready to turn red at the absurd prattle of " the old wretch," that would extend its sides with Ijiighter, mocking the censure. Then, I remember, there was a grave' Jong trained pompadour that would continually beg to know what the scarlet-heeled shoe took them for; adding that its fittest place, after what it had seen, or professed to sec. in this naughty world, would be a convent, and to go the rest of its life down-at-heel in penance for past iniquities. At these re bufces the shoe would laugh immoderately, its high, glowing heel rapping, in a spasm of merriment, against the shelf like a street-door knocker. The worst of it was, the shoe would never let any other companion tell its history ; the shoe insist- ing that the narrator had, in the course of the story, determine edly omitted various matters which tlie said shoe, with more loquacity than charity, would insist upon supplying. There was, 1 particularly remember, a darling little smoke°-colourcd satin cloak, trimmed with death-black lace-a beautiful, quiet

modest thing, that Diana herself might have worn of riinhts' when she slipped out to chat with Endymion ; well, the envi-' ous shoe would never let the smoke-coloured cloak tell its story. Five successive nights it tried hard to do so, but still the shoe would so pervert the motives of the cloak-would so minutely finish particulars, where the cloak merely intended a general sketch-would so insist upon Dutch painting, when the cloak, for reasons of its own, merely wished an outline in the faintest chalk-tlmt at length, the patience of the cloak was worn out, and the tender little thing in a rumple of passion that astonished a very staid lutestnng-a late Udy Mayoress by the-bye-began to use its tongue so rapidly, and to call such names, that there was a general rising and shaking of gowns to smother the invective. I particularly remember, too, that a pompadour, with all the mojesty of the court of Louis Qua

torze, begged the smoke-coloured cloak, if only for the sake of other ladies, to remember that " there were feathers present'' nnd then there was a sudden hush-and then a murmur-at'id then whispering sounds, in which, however, I clearly distin- guished the words-« don't know where it may go to"

« wretches of men"-« amongst all sorts of people ;" and then

for the first time, ásense of my equivocal position came upon' me. I then felt myself as belonging to no party. To-day I might be in the bead of a chaste and gentle countess, to-morrow in the hat of some masque-huntlng, unprincipled gallant I could not but acknowledge the prudence of the pompadour I felt myself a kind of being of a harem ; endured, but never to be taken cordially into confidence. I own the thought sad dened me; but I was speedily drawn from myself by the loud î.a'«MV,!!.C??f,,he.8Carlel-heek,d iUoe> who «led-« Fwiher. be fiddled I I don t care what they hear I So swear away, little smoke-colour; say your worst, roy darling; and then let me

try it 1 can t beat you P

ueloak, folding itself i" dignity, deigned no answer; and for a time, there was a pause, only interrupted by the low mahclou. chuckle, and witch-like snigger, of the scarlet-heeled' shoe. 1 hope, however, that without being treasonous to my trust, I have sufficiently warned my beloved female readers. Again-and again let me tell them, there is peril in «ilk there is danger in satin-yea, jeopardy in a bit of riband. When they are assured that cast-off gowns can babble-thst

ci "âf t&thngUr,hat «,0m -**".«»retinsid

out,-nay, that I have-known even the tag of a stay-lace stab .reputation -when tbey.know .11 .hi,. ,rt them be [be ",,, * Sf ÍÍ' îî.k,D Cl0Ud" tb*tSwin« bctwcen th*«» ."<« «he world.-and in the innocency of their thought«, defy the gossip

.»en of those who have most closely known them

£re. however I quit this part of my subject, I cannot refuse to myself the desire,of giv|n¿, i" the words I heard it_av

more than twenty times :_ "

,THE SHOUT jHsroar or TUB maa-aEKLto SHOE. 'The shoe speaks,"

" Once upon a time-for I shall give no other register-. there wai borne in the English count,» beautiful female child. She was t^e[daughter of à king'«' minister; but whether the first or the tenth, what does it matter? I have heard it said, however, that it was the minister (whoever be was,) who first puta taa¡ upon aboa{léaUlelr'¡Tor UM which, if there beany truth In history,, tka pátilihmímt of corns «rta Ant tent down upanalfh'p»oi?k." ' 'i-'')"i ¡)t .- > '" >

0111 A

" This child was christened ; and great was the revelry at the baptism. AU the fairies then in 'England,-for upon some huff or other the greater number of the good folk had quitted Britain, flying, like a flight of s wallows, from a cliff of Dover, like

the swallows no one knew whither-ait the fairies who were too old to travel, and so were left behind, came tothechrlstening ; and according to their custom, as shown in many histories, brought an especial gift of goodness for the little suckling. One brought the voice of a nightingale-one the grace of a lawn. One the simplcness of a lamb-one the gaiety of a kid. And then she had all sorts of fairy clothing ; with a good gift and a blessing worked in every article. In truth, she was clothed from top to toe from the workshops of the good people. Silo wanted nothing, nothing but shoes. They had been forgotten ; and great-great was the sorrow of the fairies; for unless the baby were instantly shod, and that by fairy hands, it was doomed that the child should go barefoot all its life. Unseemly and most uncomfortable would this have been to the beauteous daughter of the minister of the king. Everybody was in grief, and everybody asking everybody what was to be done; when an old woman, where she came from nobody can tell, appeared in the court, carrying myself and my little sister, both ol' us then of baby siie. ' Here,' said the strange old woman-'here, an it please you, are the shoes I' But all the fairies cried out witch-hag-devil,-and swore by all their fairy rings, by moonlight, and by whatever else the good people hold solemn, thot the babe would be lost, if suffered to wear the old woman's shoes. What, however, was to be resolved! Either the child must have the shoes Ihen provided, or go barefoot. Now bare feet for the daughter of a minister of a king was not to be thought of-the child might as well have been born a gipsy beggar. Whereupon the king's minister rose, and with u pas- sionate voice ciied-'Put on the shoes, put on the shoes)' und immediately al! the fairy foil; vanished with a howl ; leaving the little old woman to (it her gill upon the child.

" Wonderful shoes were we : for we were no sooner on the feet of the minister's daughter than we became fixed as her flesh, growing hour hy hour and day by day as her feet grew, and so we grew, and so we agreed, for about seventeen years.

It was impossible that there could be a more loving |Miirof shoes. We were always whispering in each other's ear ; kissing one another: and behaving with the greatest closeness ol'affec- tion. This lasted tor seventeen years ; and then, I know not how it was, a sudden aversion arose between us-and, in the end, we never felt so happy ai when we were apart.

" At length, it matters not how, 1 lost my companion, and the minister's daughter in grief, in misery died. She hud re- ceived every good gift, but all was as nothing ; what was each virtue under the sun, when a beldame fairy had bestowed upon her wrangling shoes I "

This was the story of the Higb-hcelcd shoe. I heard it over and over again; but never without sounds of anger, contempt, or scorn from the gunns, boddices, cloaks, and

stomachers about mc.

(To be continued.)