Chapter 2947853

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter Url
Full Date1845-07-26
Page Number4
Word Count1973
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)
Trove TitleThe Story of a Feather
article text



(A Story from " PCNCH.' )


(Continued from our lost.)



" What's the charge ?" asked Mr. Naplightly, night-constable «f the parish of St. Marti'n-in-the- Fields.

" Picking pockets," replied one of the watchmen, trippingly. " Hal I see-yes, an old friend, eh, watchman ?" «aid Nap lightly, looking with brazen significance at the little feather dresser, pale, trembling, and dumbfounded by the suddenness of the event that had placed her in the foul, dim dungeon« where justice, for a time laying aside a half-smoked tobacco pipe, was to decide upon the accusation.

" You know this young lady, of course?" asked the constable. " Bless your heart, sir,-know her 1 Do I know my own rattle? The most troublesome and abusingest girl.on my beat," answered the watchman.

"That's plain enough-plain with half an eye. Now, sir, if you please "-and the night-constable looked towards the tall man, the assailant of Patty. " Now, sir, everything according to business. What's your name?"

"Julius Curl well," answered the ruffian, looking loftily around him, as though very proud of his name, and pulling up his manifold white neckcloth, as if still prouder of the cambric.

" And where do you live, and what arc you ?" asked the functionary.

" I at present reside," answered Mr. Curl well, with mono- syllabic majesty, "with my friend, my lord Huntingtopper."

The face of the night-constable-before, arched with dignity -relaxed into a courteous smirk, and he felt his voice grow mellow in his throat: tbe watchmen too drew themselves up> glancing respectfully at Lord Huntingtopper's friend, who doubtless unconscious of tho impression he had made, jerked, with languid, lackadaisical air, his heavy gold chain and seals between his right thumb and finger.

" And you charge this young girl, Mr. Curl well, with pick- ing your pocket ?-you "

Here the constable was interrupted, as he called it, by Fatty ; for she fell in a heap upon the watch-house floor, as though stabbed to the heart. In an instant, Knuckle raised her in his arms, and removing her bonnet, the yellow light of a flaring light fell upon her death-pale, innocent face; mida tear rolled down her white cheek on the rough hand of Luke, who, as though molten lead had dropt upon his flesh, started round, and with a look of pain and passion glared now at the constable, and now at Mr. Julius Curlwell. " You stony- hearted vipers," cried Luke at last,-"will you let the poor girl die-will none of you get some water?"

''Yes, it's all right," muttered one watchman, leering and laughing, " when the evidence is strong, they always tries a


Worn out, exhausted by the anguish of the previous da>s, oppressed with that feeling of desolation which makes the world far worse than valueless,-terrified, astounded by her situation-Patty had remained in a half-stupor-her mind and senses numbed by the apathy of misery. The nords of the constable for a moment called her back to consciousness, and then she sank beneath the torture.

" There-she'll do with a little «ater," jested one of the watchmen, as Luke sprinkled Fatty's face-" and if she won't I'm sorry for her ; seeing as the parish finds no hartshorn. I told you she'd do," repeated the fellow, as Fatty unclosed her eyes, and breathing heavily, looked mournfully about her.

"Oh, Luke," she exclaimed at length, bursting into tears, as the implied accusation of the constable flashed upon her.

" Oh, Luke 1"

" Silence I" cried the night-officer, knitting his brows ; and then turning to the injured man-Lord Huntingtopper's friend-he broke into a grim smile, sajing, " Now, sir, if you please? Come to the robbery." Again Patty moaned, and aga n the night-constable roared " Silence 1"

" 1-I-I can't precisely make a-a what you call-a crimi- nal charge against that young woman in particular-no, under- stand me, not in particular-certainly not-nevertheless, I have been robbed-s very handsome family snuff-box-robbed and knocked down-or knocked down and robbed ; for under- stand me, I wish to be exact ; a very handsome, gold-mounted, tortoise-shell box-couldn't go without fingers-with family crest-dolphin with tail in his mouth, Latin under it, and everything proper." Such was what Mr. Julius Curlwell evidently considered to be his charge.

The night-constable indulged in a heavy shake of the head and glancing at Fatty, observed, " If things of this sort isn't put down by the strong hand, there's an end of respectability. I think there's evidence enough to lock the girl up till the morning."

"Oh, for the love of mercy !" shrieked Patty; and then, convulsed and heart-stricken, she could speak no more ; but held forth her clasped hands to the night-constable.

" Stop-stop )" cried the officer, as Luke was about to speak ; " let us do everything in order ; first search the girl ; the pro perlymay be about her." Fatty looked cntreatingly at the constable, who waved his hand as though his public virtue were proof against looks. She then turned with streaming eyes to Mr. Curlwell, who, with a slight cough, and averting his face from the glance of the accused, somewhat hurriedly drew his handkerchief from his pocket, and with considerable energy,

blew his nose.

"But to begin with-Watchman, what's that?" asked the constable, pointing to the case,* where reposed myself and companions : " what's that ?"

" My work, sir-it is, indeed ; I was going to take it home," said Fatty, " when that gentleman,"-her voice faltered " when that gentleman-Oh, God help me I"-she could say

no more.

" Ha I" and the night-constable breathed hard, sucked his underlip, and then said, speaking as an oracle-'* The thing looks very black agin her. Watchman," and he raised his voice, " what's in that case ?"

Immediately the watchman drew me from my companions, and with a look of admiration that ought to have pleased me, cried, " Well I what a bit o' snow I '

" Young woman," said the night-constable-he also smitten with my beauty ; young woman, I do hope these things are honestly come by ; I say, I do, as a father, hope it," lie re- peated, with a manner that proved he had no hope whatever on the subject.

w Honestly come by-to be sure they are-as I'd show you in five minutes if I was only out of this dog-hole," cried


" By the bye," said the night-constable, at length really awakened to the presence of Knuckle-" What is the charge against this man 1 What is your charge, sir 1"

I cannot exactly say what it was that prompted the answer to Mr. Julius Curlwell, but that person having placed his hand in his coat side pocket, raised his eyelids with a slight motion of astonishment, and replied in the softest voice-" Charge,

none, whatever."

" I thought you were knocked down, sir, and"_

"unquestionably; but I wish to be particular, and-no, I wouldn't make a mistake for the world-and I-that is, against tbe man-I have no charge whatever."

"You may go," said the night-constable, adding, with a leer, "and you may thank this noble gentleman for his good-


Luke evidently deemed such politeness unnecessary, for taking no notice of Curlwell, and saying in a hurried whisper to Fatty, "Just you wait a minute," he impatiently made his

way from the watch-house.

« Upon second thoughts," said Mr. Curlwell, " 1 do think, Mr. Nigbt-ConsUble, you bad better let the girl go too; she may amend-she may reform-and for my part, I pardon her -I do, indeed ; so, you'd better let her go."

Mr. Naplightly, the constable, certainly felt desirous to entertain the humane idea suggested by Mr. Julius Curlwell, but at that philanthropist did not back his arguments by other reasons, vary current in the good old days or nights of the good old roundhouse, Mr. Naplightly relapsed into official virtue, and said ha should certainly lock the girl up till the

morrow morning.

Her« Patty entreated the constable to wait the return of Luke; ka would be back immediately. Mr. Curlwell also

as the night was very hot, ' well-ventilated, he would joined in the request, adding that as

aad the -rratrh hnsjaà s^'ipèftJcnlarlv \

i-i s-n. I,V!."''J~T*">ui«nj i

wait outside until he saw better reason either to forego or press his charge. Here Mr. Curlwell slipt a crown Into the band of a watchman, and the lock of the door was turned. Mr. Curl well sagaciously observing, as ho stept into the moonlight, that "there was nothing so sweet as fresh air."

And yet there was another sweetness which Mr. Curl welt lost no time ere he enjoyed ; for he drew from his side-pocket the tortoise-shell gold-mounted snuff-box-the box, bearing the dolphin with its tail in its mouth, the Latin under it, and everything proper-the box which he had deemed lost in the mob that had gathered round him on his prostration ; but which happily he had found whilst in the watch-house, though being on certain occasions what is called a close man, he did not then make known the discovery.

To return to Patty in the watch-house. .She ¡8 not thrust

into the den in which half-a-dozen wretched creatures have been screaming and shouting, but is permitted a seat among the watchmen, who, leaving his Majesty's subjects to the in- fluence of their own impulses, good or bad, sit at the hearth and drink porter, the ulule they admire myself and fellows.

" 1 say, Barney," cries an old guardian, sticking me in his greasy hatband, and straddling about the floor; " here's a thing to go a courlin' in !"

The shout excited by this magic touch of humour was checked by violent knocking nt the w.itcli-liouse door. It was no sooner opened, than Luke Knuckle, Mr. Flamingo the feather-mer- chant, and-though not too willingly.-Air. Curlwell entered.

Mr. Flamingo, seeing me turned pale at the desecration, and tremblingly asked the watchman how he dared to pollute his property ?

The night-constable was now satisfied-Patty's story was true, und if she would only ask Mr. Curl« ell's pardon for having accosted him in the street, she might go about her business.

" Never 1" exclaimed Patty, her face reddening to scarlet.

It so happened that Curlwell-the faithful valet of Lord Huntingtopper- had no intention to appear again in the watch-house, but hud unhappily met his acquaintance, the feather-merchant, on his way thither, accompanied by Knuckle, who had compelled him to return. Being brought back, he felt he was obliged to appear the injured person.

" Bless my soul I" said Flamingo, in a half-whisper to the valet-" and that creature addressed you in the street 1 How Mrs. Flamingo's deceived in her t This is the .last bit of work she does for us." Then turning to the night-constable, he exclaimed,-" If she won't ask the gentleman's pardon, lock her up."

Patty thought of her home-poor stricken creature, what a home I-of the lost night she was to pass beneath a roof with her dead mother ; and with this thought in her face, her eyes, her voice,-she approached Curlwell, and in a tone that must have made bim soul-sick, said -

" I ask your pardon, sir. "

" Tiic charge is dismissed," erics Naplightly, the night-con-


* The render may ask, " How is it, pood Master Feather, that whilst in darkness, whilst shut up ia a portfolio, you ni-o enabled to speak tims circumstantially to the outward appearances of things about you?" And

the Feather answers-" You shall know this aud more at the cud."

(To be continued.)