|Chapter Title||I AM CARRIED OFF FROM THE PALACE.- THE COUNTESS BLUSHUOSE AND HER CHAPLAIN.|
|Newspaper Title||The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)|
|Trove Title||The Story of a Feather|
THE STOEY OF Á FEATHER
33y Oouslttó Set-roi"».
(A Story from " PUNCH.")
(ContinuetMrom our last)
I AM CARRIED OFF FROM THE PALACE.
THE COUNTESS BLUSHUOSE AND HER
FEW and brief were my days of glory in the palace. Long ere the Prince of Wales cut his first tooth-what a chapter might be written on the teeth of princes 1-I was removed from my high, intoxicating place of state-plucked from the coronet. Nevertheless, a splendour still hung about me; 1 was still enriched by the recollections of the past. I had waved above the slumbers and the waking smiles of the Prince of Wales I had been a type of state and honour-I had been glorified by position-and was, therefore, a relic dear to the associations of those who trod the carpet of a palace as though they walked the odorous turf of Eden. It was to this love, this veneration, that, I am convinced, I owed my speedy removal from St. James's. Had the Countess Blushrose felt less devo- tion towards the Prince of Wales, I might for years have remained in the palace ; it may be, thrown aside to pass into the stomachs of palace moths. 1 was, however, doomed to a more various destiny. The Countess Blushrosc refined away the vulgarity of mere honesty by the excess of loyalty. A phi- losopher, or-ii he were duly hired for the coarse word-an Old Bailey practitioner would say the Countess stole me. Well ; in hard, iron pliruse, she did so; but surely the spirit that prompted the felony, made the theft a divine one 1 Even the accusing angel must have put his finger lo his lip, and inwardly laid " Mum I" as the Countess, in a flutter of triumph, bore me from the palace. How her heart beat-for, snugly con- cealed under her short satin cloak, I felt the throbbing organ beat, as the beautiful robber entered her carriage.
I doubt not, there are simple folks who will marvel at this story-nay, it may be, give no belief to it. They may ask " What I a countess filch a feather, when a word in the proper place would doubtless have made it her lawful chattel 1 Such petty pilfering might have been looked for at the hands of .Mrs. Scott, the prince's wet nurse-of Jane Simpson or Catherine Johnson, rockers-but from Countess Blushrose 1"
I confess it: in my inexperience of the world, such were the very thoughts that oppressed me ; now it is otherwise. Not without melancholy 1 own it; but I have found that with some natures it would pain and perplex their moral anatomy to move direct to an object : like snakes, they seemed formed to take pleasure in indirect motion ; with them the true line of moral beauty is a curve. Had Queen Charlotte herself bestowed me upon the Countess, the free gift, I am sure of it, had not con- veyed so much pleasure as the pilfered acticle.
Borne from the palace, I speedily arrived at the mansion of the Countess, in-Square. A curious adventure met me, I may .ay, at the threshold. Asher ladyship passed through the hall, she was met by a mild, gentlemanly locking person. There was a certain meaning in his look-a something significant of dis- quietude softened and controlled by constlttiiion.il calmness. "May I speak some words with your ladyship ?" he asked.
'.'Certainly, Air.Inglevvoo(I,"nnswered the Countess; and, turn- ing into an apartment, she let her clonk drop from her shoulders, cast me upon the table, and then, with the voluptuous majesty of Juno, sank upon a chair. " Have you heard how the dear bishop is to-day?" she inquired; and then, without waiting for an answer, she continued : " poor man ! what he's made of I can't think-mere flesh and blood had never lasted till now."
" His lordship has been a great sufferer," replied Air. Ingle- wood : " but to-day lie is better."
" But there's no hope-impossible. He mends, and he mends ; bnt then he breaks, and he breaks. That cough of his ought to have killed anybody. Well, Mr. Inglewood,"_and here the Countess, lifting me from the table, and now idly fun- ning her cheek with me, and now breathing upon me, and smiling as at her breath I trembled-" well, .Mr. Inglewood," ?be said, " I suppose we must all die."
" Thank God I" was the answer.
" Really now," asked her ladyship, still waving me lo and
fro in her white hand, " don't you think this world would be a I much prettier place if death never showed his wicked features
Mr. Inglewood gravely shook his head, and then with a gentle ?mile asked-" Ought we to say wicked, madam ?"
" I can't tell-perhaps not ; you as' a clergyman are hound, you know, to have other opinions. And yet," added her lady thip, condescending to glance with brilliant archness at the reverend man,-"and yet, I dare say death, though at times he may be thought a tolerable sort of thing by a curate, is ugly tnough-oh, a perfect fright-to a bishop."
" I hope not, madam," answered the private chaplain of the
" You have no notion," asked her ladyship, " who will have the vacant mitre? Very good, Mr. Inglewood; by that look of humility I can perceive that mitres make no part of your dreams. You arc above such vanities."
"In truth, your ladyship, though I'm not of worse sturt than bishops are sometimes made of-"
"Certainly not," interrupted the Countess quickly, " I don't tee why you should despair. There is the bishop of -; he was only chaplain, and taught-what is it?-Aie, hce to the children. You are certainly as good as he-and then you can swim so well 1 How lucky it was that you brought his lord- ship's nephew out of the Isis I How very lucky for your pros- pects-though I doubt if the younger brother will ever thank you for it. How strange now, if some day it should prove that you fished a mitre from a river 1" Thus spuke her ladyship to the dependant parson-spoke in a cold, icy tone of banter, that -I could see it-made the man wince as he listened.
"Madam,"said Inglewood, "I have no such hope; I will
add, no such wish. Contentment-"
"To be sure," cried her ladyship.."contentment is the pret- tiest thing in the world. Oh, it saves people such a deal of
trouble ! 'Tis an excellent thing-a beautiful invention for the I lower orders ; and then it's so easy for them to obtain-easy as their own bacon, milk, and eggs."
" Very often, madam," replied Inglewood, with some em- phasis ; " nay, too often, quite as easy."
" But with us, who arc constantly troubled with n thousand things, contentment would be 99 out of place as a gipsy in a court suit. I think, if ever in my life I was to feel perfectly *nd truly content, 1 should expire on the instant."
" We pray against sudden death," said Inglewood, solemnly. M Lud 1" cried the Countess, startled by her chaplain's tone "don't name it; Ido, most heartily. Don't talk of it-I'd forgot-you had something to say, Mr. Inglewood?"
" Will you forgive me, madam," said the chaplain, "if, pre- suming on my function, I interfere with matters in this house, .j I bave been told, not within my duties?"
"Mr. Inglewood 1" cried the Countess, with some surprise, throwing me upon the table, " pray go on, sir : as a clergyman .othing, sir, should be below your interference that_"
"ThutafTects the peace of mind-the happiness of a fellow creature," added Inglewood.
" Very right, sir : very right: as o Christian minister of the Established Church, nothing less should be expected of you. 1 huve the greatest opinion of your morals, Mr. Inglewood the greatest. 1 only hope that the Earl-for I can perceive by your manner, that it is of his lordship you are about to
" Indeed, madam-I-"
The interruption was in vain. The Countess, with increas- ing rapidity of speech-accompanied with gestures that left nothing for the chaplain to do, save to wait with resignation the silence of the talker-continued to repeat her sentiments of confidence in the judgment, vigilance, and devotion of the ¿Wine, together with hints and suspicions directed at the con- nubial loyalty of his lordship, towards whom her vanity took the place of love. It was her instant and fixed belief that her chaplain-the man of peace-was about to vindicate his func- tions by becoming . domestic tell-tale; that he was about to prove himself her faithful friend, by making her " the most
wretched of women."
At length-for even the tongue of a vain and jealous woman will stop (an invincible proof of the ending of all mortal things)-at length the Countess was silent ; and, throwing her- self back in her chair, with the deepest devotion of a domestic heroine, was prepared for the worst. She had always felt thac shs was reserved by fate for something dreadful, and the mc« ?MM was arrived 1 The Earl wat a fickle, false, and selftb
man, and she-sweet martyr to the marriage service-she,
alas ! was his wife.
"Madam," said Inglewood, somewhat abashed and con- founded by the energy of the Countess, "were 1 base enough -but no"-and the chaplain stammered, and his face for a minute flushed-" I have no word to speak of the Earl : «yere there that to say of him which your ladyship's fears, most groundless fears I am sure, would listen to. it would little suit my place or nature, madam, to utter it."
" What does the man mean ?" asked the Countess. " Did
you not say that you had to speak of something that affected happiness and peace of mind-and all that?"
" True, madam," answered Inglewood.
" Well, then-and to ««hose happiness, to whose peace of mind could you possibly allude, if-"
" Will your ladyship hear me? I will be very brief," said the chaplain, with an inward twinge-a rising of the heart-at the inborn, ingrained selfishness of the beautiful creature be-
"Oh, say what you like-I suppose I must hear you," an- swered the Countess, again taking me from the table, and pettishly waving me about her.
"A person in your ladyship's household bas committed a
" Of course," said the Countess-" such creatures do nothing
"She has proved not trustworthy in the duty confided lo her." " I hear of nothing else," cried the Countess, waving me more violently. " Let her be turned away immediately."
"You will pardon me, madam: she was about to be cast from the house-cast out broken-hearted and with a blighted name-when I took it on myself to stand between her, nnil, for what I know, destruction, and to plead her cause before you."
The Countess looked at the chaplain impatiently-angrily, and then suid, " Mr. Inglewood, I am sorry for it. I «vishyou would contine yourself to your duties."
"And what, may it please your ladyship-what are they ?" asked the clergyman, with calm voice and fixed look.
" 1 trust, sir, you kno«v them-to say prayers, and to make or read a sermon," answered the Countess.
" And nothing more, madam ?'' inquired Inglewood.
"Surely not. What else?" cried her ladyship, tvitli raised voice and «vondcring eyes.
" At lease, madam, tu strive to practise what I pray and preach," answered the cliuplain.
" Mr. Inglewood, his lordship, out of esteem for you, placed you here ; you were lucky enough to save n relative's life, and perhaps it was right-I don't say it wasn't-tei .tcktiowledgo the intention; nevertheless, I wilt have no monkish, papistical principles put forward in this house. If you eau comport yourself with respect and decency, as a chaplain ought lo do, remain where you are, if not-I say, if not, sir-but you of
course know what must follow."
" Perfectly well, madam. I am either to remain a salaried mockory-an inward apostate-a blaspheming thing of outward
" I beg, sir," cried the Countess, impatiently-" I beg you will use bettet language."
" A creature, wealing the skin-deep livery of truth," con- tinued Inglewood, his face glowing, and his eye flashing ns lie spoke-"foul and leprous within-a hideous mountebank, owing the daily bieatl of daily hypocrisy to an adroit juggling «vith words,- I tun to (io this, tu lake the place ol the fool of other times in his lordship's household, or 1 am to quit it. His
But M this moment Earl Dhishrose entered the apartment.
(To lie continued.)