Chapter 2947662

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Chapter NumberXII
Chapter Url
Full Date1845-08-16
Page Number4
Word Count2306
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)
Trove TitleThe Story of a Feather
article text



JBéuiitítf ¿m-nrt.

(A Story from " POSCH.")


lu (Continued from our last)




"1 beg jou¿ladyship's"pardon-but will your ladyship's good* nets allow a word with your ladyship ?" . v

. Thus spoke Mrs. Pillow, the housekeeper, following the Countess from the apartment ; and her ladyship, by a motion of the'head, implied consent io the petition.

"1 shall never forgive myself, never, till my dying day." said Mrs. Pillow, immediately she found herself closeted with

the Countess.

'? What has happened now, Pillow ?" asked her ladyship


" Matter, your ladyship I Well, was there ever such a kind, forgiving mistress I I'm sure, my lady. 1"-but here the grow- ing emotion of the housekeeper broke forth in short, quick


" Another robbery, I suppose 1" said the Countess, with

affected resignation.

" By no means, my lady," answered Mrs. _ Pillow. " Now Susan's gone-not that she shall leave the house, my linly, before her boxes are well tumbled-I'd answer with my life for the honesty of all us "

" Well ?" snid the Countess, in n fretful tone, and imme- diately the housekeeper knew she must be brief.

"But, your ladyship,"-and here the tears trickled down Mrs. Pillow's face like rain-drops down a window-pane "when 1 think of my own assurance-my-my-my morse than that, in busting in as I did before your ladyship and my


" Well, well, see 'tis not repeated. I suppose it was your

zeal for"

" That's it, your ladyship, that's it. I thought if that hussy -saving your presence-only had the first word, for first words with a braten face go io far-she might deceive your ladyship ; and, like her impudence, *he would come to you-but then, what do such trollops know «hnt Providence really made'em for ?-Then I followed her, your ladyship-and there she would stand In the hall, your ladyship, trying to cry, and aggravating me past Christian flesh and blood with her assurance-and then I-oh, my lady, character's such a jewel and makes us forget what's proper io ourselves and our betters." And Mrs. Pillow concluded this fragmentary sentence with a new supply of

rolling tear-drops.

" That will do-no more-that will do," said the Countess, and her lips almost broke into a forgiving smile. Magical was their effort upon the housekeeper; for Mrs. Pillow wiped her face which; on the instant, was smooth, passionless and glossy, as a fabe of ornamental china. " Air. Inglewood leaves

us," said the Countess.

" I am not surprised at that, my lady, if Susan goes." Her ladyship, turning quickly round, bent a haughtily inquiring gaze upon her servant. Mrs. l'illow felt she had been too abrupt. " That is, I don't think Susan would have stayed long after him. His reverence once gave the girl a prayer-book, my lady ; well, would your ladyship believe it, the wench was always a reading that book. I always thought it strange, my lady, still I hoped it was nothing but religion. Hut when people turn thieves, and rob such a sweet baby-oh, your lady- ship, what a darling, darling lamb his lordship is I So quiet, too I I'm the worst of sinners, if he doesn't cut his teetli like

any blessed spirit."

This energetic praise of ibe baby seemed to touch the maternal instincts of the Countess; for, suddenly remembering that she had a child, she said-" Let his lordship be brought to me "

I would fuin pass over the emotion of such a mother. The -hiiho-nas btoilKht ; the mother kissed her child-kissed it as a she was about to return It into its nurse's arms, when the fretful I creature-it seemed wasting and pining, an offering prepared

for death-threw out lu tiny band, ena fined Ha Ongera in Its 'mother's bair, whining and pulling willi all its little strength. .. Take him «Way," cried the Countess, with a slight laugh ' i «' the-the little rebel !" and as the babe was borne to the

nursery, the mother turned quickly to a mirror, and arranged .a few disordered raven threads delicately, tenderly, as though

they were vital as her heartstrings.

* What knew such a mother of ber child ? She had heard its 'first «nil-that inconvenience she could not avoid. It was Trdm that moment divorced from her cures. It grew not beneath her eye, taking its hourly life from her ; she never knew that sweet communion, when nature touches every nerve 'to tenderest music, still drawing forth new love, repaid by love increasing; by dawning consciousness; by looks of brightening knowledge ; by fitful, broken murmuring», deep with a sense of brooding joy; by all that interchange of mother love and baby happiness ; and more, by all those pulses of the soul which, in the thrilling present, assure the blissful future. The Coun tcss saw her child but at stated intervals ; she knew she was a

mother only by the clock. Her sole offspring was her beauty ; ¡ that sbe nursed, that she watched, that she tended ; that, with every furtive glance, she with deep affection worshipped. For her child, that was entombed in her face. It was this that to my 'thought made her hideously lovely-that threw the cankerous

aspect of the witch upon the features of a goddess. Of all I ' "have known, the Court («s stood apart. !

Whilst in the possession of her ladyship I saw all to bo seen . of the high world. Drawing-rooms-assemblies-balls-the

opára-all the shifting scenes, all the beautiful and brilliant | things, that make what is called society. I have seen true nobility of heart add lustre to the jewel ou its breast; I have

seen the man of birth, whose great ancestors were to bim as . continually present ; whose memories were as protecting angels,

denying aught of mean, or low, or Selfish to approach the sane- i Urary of his soul; men with hearts and minds sneetened and purified by that everlasting fragrance breathing from good and great men's graves. And I have seen the caitiff whose stars' and trinkeis, like blazoned coffin-plates, glittered on nothing 'biit'corruption ; men, with souls dead and noisome, in moving carcases With indignation did I first behold them : with scorn and a fierce hatred. I called fortune filthy names, and arraigned directing fate of gross venality. This was the passion of very ignorance. Since I have seen the world in its many inequali- ties, hav« known and seen how much the selfish lose in what they deem intensity of gain, I have looked upon them with compassion-with a deep, mute pity. Poor small things,] infinitely small in their imagined greatness; men who, like 'the maggot in a nut, feed and grow gross in darkness, unwitting Of the world of light and beauty, without that petty shell of) self that circles them. |

I bave seen, too, woman in her sweetest, noblest aspect ; a \ thing of highest thoughts and deepest tenderness, still elevated -made softer still by ministering tastes, almost refined aivay from earth-a creature priceless and unpurchaseable as the .'angels I Yet have I seen her sold-bartered ; paid for with golden guineas-with tinkling title-with flashing coronet I have heard something of the slave-markets of Cairo-of Alex- andria ; tales of snow-skinned Georgians and Circassians-of 'fairest victims «ended by avarice to lust. Tile tales were touching-very, very touching. But hearing them. I have 'smiled at'tbe wilful ignorance, the smug self-complacency of

Vritons-I have smiled and remembered me of the slave markets of Saint James's " What I" cries the reader, and his lip turns slightly purple with indignation, " St. James's I" Yes, sir, Saint James's I I have seen blue eyes, pink cheeks,

scarlet lips'sold-ay, as you would sell a nosegay-fathers and ! mothers luring on the customer, but having by a bishop, Who .ball bless the bargain. There is this difference between the

;©éórg«Wand the British merchandise-a smalt circle bf gold j win 'about It, 'no moro. H ave I not seen creatures with ¡ "sirspbfc looks-beings tW in 'real loveliness of form «n<i !

aspect, in living harmony of gesture-hate almost "made the

'tmagt'niitliJn btj-ren ; báve I not seen them sold to some para- ; lítíc Plutus-some half-palsied earl? No-not sold; they! .?rare' married... Their parents made for them good matches;: they were married in a church-married with all the honours, ; ) ' Thetirlti ti(Îj('oàt a mery peal-look at 'the bride, ber colour j 7éoi*e«rátóip>«s,'sihd her lip shakes like a rdse-leaf in the'wirid ; ! ffiA'brh^Jlifrièyet; 'and, at ibe steps from the carriage, the j earth whirls about her! Is that the church-door ? Surely, It j 3».&',entm'tói,ofa,toiBb. She «ghuwith clos«lllps_rntttely' i^^n^ Ber ewtTUng ocirt. Ww raises h.r »yéwsb. strs

her father's stony face glittering with a trnhV-a ttatne in the sun; beholds her mother's simper-her weight of great con- tent ; she Jurns-more horrible than all-and catche* then the look of him, in some brief minutes to be made her owner ; he smiles, and her heart dies at his Pan^like leer ? Well, they are married t The bargain is completed-the receipt, a marriage certificate, is duly passed. The happy couple start for his lord- ship's Hall. An ox is roasted-butts of ale are tapped-all is

joy and rioting among his lordship's happy people; happy, too, I the happiest of the happiest, is his lordship's self I What an | excellent match for the bride ! How many praise the wisdom -the policy-of her parents I How nobly they " have done their duty" by her. Is it not proved by after years ? does not her ladyship make an immaculate wife? Is she not chaste as Iceland snows? Can even midnight drunkenness dare to pass a jest upon her ? Is she not a pattern of all the choice proprie- ties ? True-very true. Her father and mother are proud of the match-proud of the spotless virtue of their daughter. And she is virtuous. She may, with most serene defiance, think of Westminster Hull ; but what has her prudent father to answer, what her most politic mother to reply to that harlotry of soul they have forced upon her-to that inevitable, daily falsehood «hich they have made her act-to that constant lie-that agonizing ulcer eating in her heart, most eating when a smile is flickering at her lips?

Is she not a white slave-a Christian slave-a bondwoman bodght in a St. James's drawing-room, albeit wedded after at St. James's Church? 1 have heard of «omen slaves toiling in rice-grounds; heard of the planter's whip winding like whetted steel around poor woman's form ; of these things 1 have heard. But I have seen white slaves in carriages-have known the agonies inflicted on them by the scourge of their own mind, by the worm preying in their hollowing temples, by the very quietude of their despair.

These scene« I mingled in-these things I saw whilst in the possession of Lady Blushrose. 1 have, however, trespassed by a long digression-have again committed my usual fault of wandering from the direct line of my story. Let me hasten to

return to it.

Some three months after I uns stolen-no, taken is the word -from the palace, the Earl's infunt, the heir of his house, fell

ill, very 111.

" 1 am somewhat uneasy about Edward," said the Earl to his wife, who « as drest for the theatre,

" I'm sure he's looking a great deal better-a great deal," answered the Countess, pressing her little finger to li beauty patch which threatened to full from her chin. " But if you

think it necessary, why not send lor Doctor Wilson ?"

"Madam," and the Earl slightly coloured, "alter your con duct to the doctor this morning, i really have not tho courage

to send for bim."

" Conduct 1 Was not the man insolent ?-did he not accuse

me of"

" I fear, madam, his great offence was-he told the truth,"

answered the Earl.

" Doctor Wilson is, doubtless, a man of the world-a shrewd man, and passes off brutality of manner, thal some people may mistake it for the independence of genius. For my part, I have no very high opinion of bim. Did ho not say that I should kill the child? The wretch 1-kill it-because I had not nursed it myself? Has the mau no feeling ? Did not all my friends say that I should bring myself to the grave if 1 did nurse it? And you yourself', know my constitution ?"

" Yes, madam," answered the Enrl gravely; "I have often «ondered at its excellence-often, too, after the labours of the card-table at four in the morning."

" Now, do not let us quarrel. You shall not spoil my even- ing-that I um determined. 1 have made a party with Lady Dinah to see Garrick's Borneo-1 have not yet seen it, and really one might as well be out of the world. You might have accompanied me. I know the time."-and the Countoss acted S little pouting smile-«that to have seen Romeo and Juliet with me-ha! well, well, marriage turns the poetry of hope into the very prose of reality."

"And you golosee Girrick's Romeo ?" asked his lordship


" I'm told it's delicious; so full of fueling!" answered the


lordship, with a soraphic smile.

- Tne nari raised lit« «yen to his wife. Still sha smtlad, and i held forth a fairy palm. The Earl sighed, and taking his ' wife's hand as he would have taken a thistle, led her to the

carriage. ¡j

(To bo continued )