|Chapter Title||DRURY LANE THEATRE.-A BROKENHEARTED WOMAN.-THE COUNTESS IS SUMMONED HOME.-AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.|
|Newspaper Title||The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)|
|Trove Title||The Story of a Feather|
ÏHE STORY OF A FEATHER |
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(A Story from " PUNCH.")
IComlnued from our lost)
DRURY LANE THEATRE.-A BROKEN-
HEARTED WOMAN.-THE COUNTESS IS SUMMONED HOME.-AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE.
The Countess was in raptures with Garrick. Her friend,
Lady Dinah, too-a widow of four-and-thirty, whose chief favourite in this life was her own broken heart-was softened to the extreme of tenderness by the passion, the energy, the . enthusiasm of the little man. I have said it-Lady Dinah had
a broken heart. Happy woman, that it was so: for that shattered organ stood to her in the place of a parrot, a spaniel a precious pet, to be fondled and fed upon the choicest morsels. , It was this attention to the craving appetite of her broken heart that brought Lady Dinah to Romeo and Juliet. Sym- pathy was a necessity of her nature-but then it must be sympathy with the wants and woes of love. At eighteen she hod been married to a nobleman of large estate, sixty years old, and a pair of crutches. The daughter of a fox-hunting squire, she had been legally sold to his lordship-vended to the »intor stricken peer, like any peach in January, She had been a ' 'WidoW only four years ; her husband, willi a stubborness often ' peculiar to the ailing, determining not to cancel the contract a
single day before. " And so, my dear, that is how my heart waa broken." This waa the constant theme of Lady Dinah ; who would continually show her broken heart to her friends and acquaintances, as other women would show their china. It was, indeed, her only solace-her only comfort. Her face had in it frank good temper j her eyes were swimming in laughter; lier lips ever curling with smiles-she was alto- gether a ripe, plump piece of-frolic nature, yet to her five Jiundred bosom friends she insisted upon being known as a "blighted thing; indeed, a disappointed woman, with a broken heart." And then she would bint at the mystery of an early passion-of what in her girlhood she bad suffered fora first love. This mystery was never cleared; for I give no -credence to the vulgar gossip of her nurse, who, as 1 heard, declared that her ladyship before marriage had " never loved anything that signified, except green gooseberries."
The play proceeded, and with every scene the admiration of Lady Blushrose, the emotion of Lady Dinah, increased. " 'Tis very nice," said Lady Blushrose ata part of the balcony scene.
" Nice, my dear I it's delicious," cried Lady Dinah, and for a moment spreading her fan before her face, she sighed deeply. Very different were the feelings of the two ladies. The one sat as a patroness of the poet and the actor-now and then graciously according an approving smile; the other was in the «cene; was, indeed,-or assuredly tried to think so-Juliet herself. " It's very foolish," said Lady Dinah, and witli an attempt at vivacity, she brushed her handkerchief across lier -eyes, 'I do verily believe, thinking there was at least one tear
in each of them.
"Dost thou/love mo ? I know üiou wilt any-Ay ;
And I will take Uiy word."
Thus spoke Juliet, and. immediately Lady Dinah in a whisper to her friend exclaimed, " Just like me when quite a girl."
" Good nlglit, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it he morrow."
Here Juliet disappeared from the balcony, and Lady Dinah, throwing herself back in her seat, slowly shook her head, observing-" 1 f it doesn't take me quite to my father's orchard !"
" My dear cWild," said Lady Blushrose, looking round the house-" you distress me, you do, indeed, to find you thus give way to your feelings. You know-it's only a play. "
" Very true-1 know that-but memory, memory, my dear ! In this life we-ar'n't they the Clevelands opposite? Lud! no, I'm getting blind I think-in this life, woman has but one
heart, and when that is broken"
"To be sure. Why, there's that wretch Huntingtopper," cried Lady Blushrose, who, whilst sympathising -with her friend, had carefully surveyed Ute boxes.
" He mus'n't come into the box-positively, ho mus'n't come - into, the^hox*--L-u/nuia»'-* 4MMK» him -«.. «. «.- u*» «.».u,
where is he ?" Lady Blushrose immediately pointed out to her broken-hearted friend the situation of his lordship, who, on the Instant recognising the ladies, kissed his hand to them, and left the box. " He'll never come to us," cried Lady Dinah, ns though she expected a reply.
" No doubt he will-and why not?" asked Lady Blushrose. " Oh, my dear-I quite loathe the man," said Lady Dinah. " He's very handsome," said Lady Blushrose, believing in
that she had said everything.
"But then his sentiments, my dear; so coarse-so little respectful of sympathy-so utterly ignorant or careless of the
«motions of the heart."
A knock at the box-door, and immediately enter his lordship. He seemed a man of about two-and-thirty. His features were handsome-very handsome; in point of regularity, faultless. A well-formed, a well-painted lamp, but with no light in it. As I shortly discovered, his lordship was the veritable Hunt- ingtopper, the lordly master of Mr. Curlwell, whose generosity towards the little feather-dresser was so touchingly displayed
in St. Martin's watch-house.
" Well, ladies, how do you like it ? Garrick wants a little of the dash of a giant for my notions of a lover. He's mean plaguy mean," said Huntingtopper, plunging at once into the
"Does your lordship measure hearts by a foot-rule?" asked
" Not exactly-but then, one wants a sort of style in these things-when we talk of heroic poetry, of course, we want people of heroic look to utter it-otherwise it's nonsense, quite nonsense." Thus spoke the lordly critic.
" But altogether, what does your lordship think of Romeo and Juliet?" inquired Lady Dinah, with a downcast look, and in
the gentlest tone of voice-yea, almost in the accents of a
"There's some good things in it; cant deny that-very decent things in it ; but then there's a good deal of stuff. Now, all that we've listened to about the fairy's coach-can any reasonable person make it clear ? Come, here's the book," and
his lordship read in a loud tone,
< Her waggon-spokes made of long ¿pinners' legs. The cover of tie wings of grasshoppers ; Her traces of the smallest spiders web ;
Her collars of the moonshine s watery'
" Silence in that box I" roared . voice from the gallery, and j looking upward, I recognised my old, honest friend, Loka Knuckle, Mr. flamingo's porter. Luke, otherwise a peace, able fellow, was too much Interested in the fate of the lovers to pay any deference to anybody in any box ; and therefore, almost unconsciously rebuked the talker«. His lordship cast a contemptuous look towards the audience, as though one of the dearest prerogatives of high box company-namely, to talk loud at a play to the annoyance of actors and auditors-had
been most impudently interfered with. So indignant was his j lordship, yet withal so defying of vulgar opinion, that he was ?bout to continue the quotation, when a hurried knock struck at the box-door. It was opened, when one of the Earl's ser- vants delivered a letter to her ladyship.
" It's impossible I" said her ladyship, with slight agitation, having read the note. Then, turning to Lady Dinah, «be aaid -" My dear, you must excuse me-I am summoned home."
" What has happened ?" cried Lady Dinah.
" Oh, nothing; that If, nothing but his lordship's groundless
fear-1 will be back in a short time."
" Pray don't miss the tomb-scene," urged Lady Dinah, " but
what-what is the matter?"
" 'Tis only to frighten me, I know-it cant be otherwise ; but his lordship writes that dear little Edward is dying. But it'ean't be-he was so much better this morning. I shall be
able to come back, I'm sur«."
-Tobe »ure you will," said Lady Dinah, with a comforting manner; and very willing to be so comforted, Lady Blushrose «u0bre4 faenelf to fee handed to her carriage by tard Hunting.
" Vauti baw no catii« to remain at home, I trust," said his iordtàin; M and'till you return, 111 Ulk Shakspeate to the tHokM.liéarted widow. " A« hi« lordship, with a peculiar smite, utured ttMM words, Lady BlushroM raised her före-flngcr in ptoyful -nprod/offfuntingtopper's intention. Era, however, 'hit 'cootd repty'to this, tiwi carriage rolled away.
Arriving at hi« lordship's mansion, th« door was already open, asult«T««*t« already watching tb« coming of their mistress. , T*«re'wvs¿««i34tttoQkoX na) i«rioii*oeu in «a« or two fact«;
in others, worn as a part ofthe earl's livery, for the occasion ; a
look that convinced mc death was in tho house. Mrs. Pillow >
was on the" staircase, having descended at thesound of the car- ! riuge-wheels. She stood with clasped hands, pursing her mouth, dndstriving to look smitten to the heart. 'All she said was "Oh, my lady 1 so sweet a babyl" The countess slightly
trembled at the aspect of the matron, then rapidly passed her. j
In a minute she was in the room where'lay the dying child. .
The earl sat at the bedside. Never shall I forgot the look i with which he met his wife-the mother of his infant. There ' was no reproof in it-none-but the very eloquence of pity. :
The countess was running to the bed, when the carl rose and j
folding her in his arms, led her aside.
" He's not ill-not so very ill?" cried the countess, hysteri- ¡ colly. j
" Patience, Margaret, patience," said the earl, with apparent > calmness. " He may be better-but he is, I fear so at least,
much changed." I
" My dear-dear child 1" screamed her ladyship. " He will ' be spared us?"
" Let us hope it, let us pray for it," said the carl ; still we must be patient." He then led his wife to the bed-side ; and instantly the grief and cries of the countess were redoubled.
She threw herself upon the bed, and called Heaven to witness'
how she loved her child. '
" A letter, my lord, from Dr. Wilson," said a servant, pre- '
senting a note to the earl.
" Where-where is the doctor?" exclaimed the countess.
" Be calm, my love ; I sent for him-he sends this letter,'1
answered the earl.
" A letter 1 Why does ho not come ?-a letter 1" cried the
" He will not come," said the earl. "Listen." His lord- ship then read the note of the physician ;- >
" * My Lord,-It is with unaffected pain that I cannot feel It due to my professional character to attend your summons. After what fell Oom her ladyship this morning, I should forfeit all sense of self-respect were I again to do so. Her ladyship expressed a total want of confidence) in my skill I-' "
" I never meant it-he knew 1 never meant it I'' cried the countess, in a rage of grief.
" ' Permit me, however, to recommend to your lordship, the gentleman who is the bearer of this. 1 have frequently met him in the course of my professional experience, and have great pleasure in herewith testifying to his high ability. I know no man to whose skill I would so readily entrust the health of my
" ' I remain, your obedient humble servant,
" ' CHARLES WILSON.' " " Conduct the gentleman here," said the Karl. " Is he a physician ?" asked the Countess.
" The doctor does not tell me, but I have all faith in Wilson, let the gentleman be who he may." As the Earl spoke this, the servant ushered in an old acquaintance of the reader's, no other than apothecary Lintley. The Countess glanced at his plain outside-for in the days whereof I write, the physician
had a more marked exterior than in these one-coated times
and loudly whispered to her husband, " I'm sure he's not a physician."
Lintley, overhearing this, observed-" No, madam, I am not. Doctor Wilson has, however, informed me of the case ; it is one I have treated a thousand times among the poor."
At the word "poor" the Countess looked toward her husband, as though, of course, he would instantly resent the insult. The Earl, however, immediately addressing himself to Lintley, said -" I am happy, sir, that my child will have the benefit of so much experience."
Lintley then approached the little patient : in an instant I saw in the eye of the apothecary the fate ofthe babe.
" He is not so very ill, sir ?" asked the Countess. " He is very ill, madam," answered Lintley.
" But not dangerous-nothing dangerous-you will answer for his recovery-of course, with your experience, you can
answer ?" cried the Countess.
Lintley did not speak, but glanced at the Earl. The father saw there was no hope, and endeavoured to soothe the mother, whose extravagant grief burst forth in the wildest expressions. She hung about the child, and vowed she would never survire it-no, she would be buried with it. She, who had lored it so she who had so treasured her dear, blessed darling t At these' words, the Earl hid his brow in his hands, and groaned bitterly.
-is mere naming, auctor-tuuniuu, timv-.ni save mm r enea the Countess.
Lintley still evaded an answer ; still the mother asked. At length the apothecary replied-" Nothing, madam-nom."
" Oh 1 1 know what you would say-Doctor Wilsou has said so, but it was impossible. How could I nurse it-how could I, blessed dear babe that it is,-but how could I nurse it ?"
" Patience, patience. Margaret," said the Earl, taking his wife's hand. And so for hours they sat. As the clock struck
six the child died.
And then again and again the Countess mother vowed she
would be buried with it.
(To be continued.)