Chapter 2947826

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Chapter NumberVII
Chapter Url
Full Date1845-07-30
Page Number4
Word Count2127
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)
Trove TitleThe Story of a Feather
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JS» Batistas' Jerrara.

(A Story from " PUNCH.")


(Continued from our last.)



When Mr. Flamingo had fairly crossed the threshold of the Tound-house, ho paused, and throwing as much solemnity M lay in his power into his figure, voice, and manner, asked of Putty, " What she thought would become of her ?"

Poor girl ! that, thought was then busy at her heart-that 'thought then bewildered her : she answered not a M ord-but sobbed bitterly.

" See what it is to have fallen into the hands of a Christian," ?continued the feather-merchant. " If Mr. CurlwclPhadonly pressed his charge,"-that worthy person being too modest to listen to his praises, had walked quickly on-" what, what could 'have saved you from oakum and Bridewell ? If you're not quite

lost to shame and virtue, you'll pray for that good man."

" Pray for him 1" cried Knuckle. " Well, master, If you don't make the flesh shako upon one's bones-1 tell you, as I've told you before, it was the old fellow himself who iusulted the

-child-it was"

" Silence, sir-silence I That shocking habit you have of speaking against your betters will some day take you to Tyburn. Don't I know the gentleman well ? A man with money in the Hank? A man in the confidence of one of my best customers ! A man with such a fatherly look I-wears powder, and everything respectable 1 Is it likely, eh ?" asked the feather-merchant, with an invincible air. " As for you" and Flamingo turned to Patty.-" as a Christian, I hope you'll not want bread : but-no !-I owe it to Mrs. Flamingo-1 owe it to the virtuous young people about me-you never eat ano-

ther crumb of minc. "

" I did nothing, sir-I said nothing-Indeed, sir-I-oh, sir I -you don't know what I've suffered."-Patty could stammer

?out no more.

" Suffered I And what have I suffered ? Is ft nothing tor

;have one's property flaunted about in a round-house? ,Ç~?"*üUS mel if the world knew what had happened..'» '"lSe feathers' where would be my reputation-and tr,;" where *°uld «.» «V connexion? The feathers now n-rf Wmningo, "ar'nt worth

"W11 T«'-- -« been fumbled a little," urged Knuckle, tt - dtty put 'em all to rights again ?"

"Yes, indeed, sir," cried Patty, earnestly-"indeed I will_ I'll not sleep first."

"Humph I" said Flamingo, "and how do I know that the property will be safe ?" Patty spoke not a word ; but she looked in the face of Flamingo-in his hard, swoln, prosperous face-and the look made his eye blink, and his lip work; he violently rubbed his chin, and said hurriedly, " Well, well, I hope after all, that you are honest ; and so, under the circum- stances-I've no doubt I'm setting a bad example-still, under the circumstances," (it was thus delicately Flamingo touched upon the death of Putty's mother,) " 1*11 bring myself to trust you. Now, go home ; say your prayers, be a good girl, and particularly mind that I have the feathers to-morrow._Luke, I want you-quick."

Saying this, Mr. Flamingo walked towards his westward habitation. Now, the feather-merchant was, when all is said, not really so coarse and selfish as his words and manner seem- ingly proclaimed him. He did not credit all the story told, or rather cunningly hinted, by Curlwell, of Fatty; nevertheless, he would not trust himself to disbelieve Lord Huntingtoppcr's valet: he was so respectable, so well-placed, and more, he was in the establishment of a nobleman, whose lady had such a lau- dable love of feathers I Therefore, Flamingo suffered his belief to be nicely balanced between the valet and the girl; both might be right-both might be wrong. Flamingo was, how- ever, one of those politic folks, who think the surest way to make people, that is, people depending upon them, better than than they are, is to treat them as if they were infinitely worse. A workman had only to commit some heinous fault, and so entirely forfeit the confidence of his master, to learn for the first time what an estimable person the feather-merchant had once thought him. A man had only to turn thief, to make Flamingo earnestly declare that " he would have trusted that man vtith untold gold." Such trust, however, it had never really been his weakness to put in the human animal.

Knuckle, having said a few hurried words of comfort to Putty, followed his master. Patty, then, with quickened steps, turned towards her home. Yes, with lightened heart, she almost ran along the street, gliding and shrinking from every passer-by, as though dreading some new impediment, some ter- rible delay, to keep her from a hearth, where death alone re- mained to greet her. So happy, so strangely hjppy was she at her escape from the den she had quitted, so relieved from the paralysing dread that the last-last consolation would have been denied her, that, in her assurance of liberty, she seemed

to lose a conviction of that irreparable misery at home; she j

ran once more to find her mother, hardly for the time remem- bering, that that mother had passed away for ever.

The bell of St. Martin's tolls two, and Patty, with swoln eyes and anxious, bloodless face, is working alone. She is sewing some piece of dress, a mourning garment, a piece of decent outside black, purchased by the sacrifice of almost all necessary apparel-of the very bed-covering, for which in the coming winter nights she may starve with winter cold ; she is working, mechanically working, her face dead, blank with misery-her fingers only moving.

(What a hideous vanity may leer from out the ornamental mourning of the rich-what elaborate mockery of woe in gauze and flounce, bought over fashion's counter 1-but what a misery on the misery of death-what sacrifice upon suffering in the black of the poor, bought with money lent-that is, sold -by the money-broker I)

The church-bell had scarcely ceased to sound, when a low, distinct knock struck on the door ; again, and again, yet Patty heard it not ; but continued at her work, absorbed and uncon- scious. The door opened, and a female, silently as a shadow,

glided in.

" Patty, Patty," said the visitor.

Patty lifted up her head, was about to shriek, when, by a violent effort, she subdued her emotion, and, laying down her work and rising from her chair, she asked with trembling voice-" In the name of God, who, what are you ?''

"Do you not know me, Patty," said the woman with a slight shudder.

" Can It be Jessy ?" cried Patty.

" It is that wretch ; though God bless you for calling me '

Jessy, that's something."

" 1 should not have known you ; what has happened, are you not well ?" asked Patty, hurriedly, becoming alarmed at the unearthly aspect of her visitor.

Indeed her appearance was changed and terrible. Her face looked clay-cold, and clay-wet: white and reeking from the agony of brain and heart. Her black eyes had something awful in their wild energy, and her discoloured lips were pressed as one together, as though to master and control the passionate grief that struggled to burst from her. Thus changed, thus possessed, it was no wonder that Patty paused ere she recognised in her visitor the lost, the wretched girl, whose sympathy had awakened in her sorrowing heart a feeling of sisterly pity, of mournful gratitude. Poor creature 1 the look of trading misery, the reckless, flaunting air that a few hours since she deemed a fitting, necessary grace, was lost, destroyed in the intensity of mental suffering. Contrasting her past aspect with ber present, she seemed a thing of vulgar vice, elevated and purified by agony: the hideous farce of wretchedness affecting mirtb, heightened to the solemnity of

mortal tragedy.

"What's the matter? What do you want_here?" asked Fatty, timidly, and endeavouring not to shrink back from the figure which-despite of her attempted firm ness-seemed to dilate and grow more terrible before her. " What do you want here 9" repeated Patty, and she glanced at the coffin. The look, on the sudden, changed the woman to meekness ; and

the next moment touched her into tear*.

" I would not for the world, dear Patty-ob, let me for this night call you to-I would not disturb you, and at such a time -I would not, but there's something at my heart-do let me tell it-do, or my heart will break." With gushing eyes, the poor outcast made this passionate request; and Patty, with pitying loo]»» offered ber a chair.

" What is the matter?" asked Patty with her sweet, tender voice, made more cordial by the uncontrollable sorrow that

possessed her visitor. I

" I'll tell you," said the woman with an effort; and in a few moments, with dry eyes, but with a voice deep and husky with subdued emotion, she thus proceeded. " 1 come, Patty, first to ask your forgiveness."

" You never offended me-indeed, no," said Patty.

" I tell you, yes ; many a time, 1 have laughed at you sneered at you-called you foul names. And why ? It was to relieve my heart-it would have burst if I had not. When I saw you to young, MO innocent, so cheerful, working early and late for the dear soul thal now lies there"-Patty uncon- sciously stretched her hands towards the coffin-" Ha I" cried Jessy, " you may look there-you may pray there I 1 could not dare to do it-for my mother would rise in her shroud and

curse me."

" No, no-do not think so," said Patty, " it is not goodness

to think 60."

" Hut let me say," cried Jessy, *. what I came to say. You did not know when 1 sneered and laughed at you, how much I loved you ; but was it for such as I was to say so ? No: and so 1 relieved my heart with madness and vile words, and-but that is over ; I have seen that to-night"-here the woman shuddered, and her cheek quivered with terror-"seen what has changed me."

" Thank heaven for it, Jessy," cried Patty, with a look of gladness.

"You forgive me?" Patty took the speaker's hand, and pressed it between her own. " And will you, before we part for ever, let me-it will case my heart-let me tell you my miserable story ?"

" If'twill please you, yes," said Patty,

" It shall be in few words-for I am in torment while I speak; yet it is a torment, that a something, I know not what, will make mc suffer. I am country-born ; my childhood was one long happy holiday : 1 was an only child, and w.i« - ''IV father as his heart was to his bosom. All >'~ t0 lne was

nothing but happy sounds and happy st»'""" ^y ""rst trouble was the departure of a ncighbp'"* son for tnc soa' but ,ve parted with a vow of lastii-»,ovc- and ,hat vow was aPP">ved by our parents. I-1- <wo ycars Passca-my bert was changed ; some devil i-»«'"hered my nature-I became vain, headstrong, selfi«H.^~1 lcft my futner's house a wicked, guilty thing, and for ..?ree years have tried to hide my shame here, in London. Oh I those three years I Had the sky for that time rained fire upon mc, I had not suffered half so much. Aly story is nearly done. Two hours since I was in the street-laughing, loudly laughing, from an empty and corrupted heart. A man slowly passed mc ; with a laugh, I laid my hand upon his shoulder he turned his head-oh, Christ I-it was my father I"

With these words the wretched woman sank back in the chair, and with fallen mouth, fixed eyes, and ghastly features, looked, on the sudden, death-struck. Patty was about to rise to seek assistance, when Jessy grasped her by the hand, and held her with convulsive strength.

In a Cow minutes she became composed, and then pro

ceeded :

" Patty, I am now determined. 1 quit this life of horror. I will pray to find something like peace-like goodness. I have done you harm-will you forgive me-forgive the wretched Magdalen-and-yes-pray for her?"

Suying this, Jessy, in . passion of grief, dropt upon her knees; Putty, starting from her chair, and hiding her face in

her hands, sobbed

" I do forgive you-I prey for you-I-God in heaven bless and strengthen you !"

(To be continued.)