Chapter 2947883

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Chapter NumberV
Chapter Url
Full Date1845-07-23
Page Number4
Word Count1614
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)
Trove TitleThe Story of a Feather
article text



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(A Story from " PUNCH.")


(Continued from ÜJO " Courier" of July 12.)


Patty's loss of her mother was quickly known ; and as quickly »as the chamber of death filled with poor neighbours -the needy, suffering, squalid, ny, and even vicious denizens of that miserable, fetid alley. Touched by sympathy, in the very fullness of heart, utter destitution proffered service and assistance to the motherless girl-w hen its only aid w as a com- forting look ; its only means the starting tear ; nature, forget- ful of its wordly destitution, spoke only from the abundance «fits pity. Old, care-lined faces-with the ugliness oflinbitual want sharpening and deforming them-looked kind and gentle, for the time refined and humanised by the awakened spirit of human love. These pressed about the sufferer, and with trite words of comfort-with old and common phrases of compassion .-(the best rhetoric the talkers had to offer,) tried to soothe the stricken girl. " God help her I" cried an old crone, with melting looks, though with the features of a sybil. " God «wB help her !" cried a young creature, sobbing, whilst the tears ran down her cheeks, washing from them the branding rouge that set apart the speaker. So earnest was the voice that Patty raised her bead from her hands, and her eyes meeting the ejes of her girl neighbour-of the poor, reckless thing, often so heedless and laughing in her very despair ; of her, who a hundred limes when passing in the lane, by venom words and brassy looks, had taunted and out-stored the simple, gentle fealher-dresscr-Fatty felt a communion of heart in the deep sincerity ofthat assurance of God's help, and through her tears smiled dimly, yet thankfully, affectionately on her comforter. The blighted girl, thus recognised, was about to seise Patty to her arms with the folding of a sister : she then shrunk back as at a ghost, and, as though poison had suddenly shot through all her veins, trembled from head to fool, whilst the paleness of death rose beneath the paint, in ghastly contrast of mortality and shame. With a half-suppressed moan, the girl darted down stairs, and rushed to fier only place of refuge-the horrid


Happily, the kindness of Mr. Lintly, the apothecary, ren- dered the assistance of the neighbours-could they have offered any beyond the kindness of mere words-needless.

Lintly was doomed to, perhaps, the most ponai condition of poverty ; that is, to an outside show of comfort, with that gnawing, snapping fox, penury, eating to the bowels within ; was one of the thousand grown-up Spartans who, with aching hearts and over-jaded faculties, turn a sliding outside look on London streets. Nevertheless, Lintly determined that Patly's mother should not go to the earth in workhouse deals; for though his philosophy smiled at the vanities of the undertaker, it had still, in its very elevation, the better part of philosophy, a benign and charitable consideration for the weakness, the prejudice, yea, for the folly of others. Thus, nil things neces- sary for that last scene of life-in which the man, though dead, still plays a part-were duly ordered at the charge of Mr. Lintly, and-how few the hours 1-Patty sat and worked beside

her coffined mother.

" Now, child-do come down stairs-do, now ; you'll be comfortable there," urged an old woman, a lodger, to Patty, seeking to win her from the place of death.

" Thank you, I am better here-happier-indeed I am," said Patty, with sweetest meekness.

" Well, but it's getting late and dark," said the woman, " and ain't you afraid ?"

" Afraid ! Of what should I be afraid ?" asked the girl.

" Well, to be sure, for a young thing you've a bold heart ; but when 1 was a girl, I could have no more staid alone with

anybody dead-"

" Not if you loved them ?" interrupted Patty.

"Why, love's something, to be sure; but still death, my dear, you know-"

.* Takes fear from love, and as 1 feel it, makes love stronger. I loved her when she was here, and must I not love her-still more love her-now she is an angel ? I tell you, it comforts me to be alone-it does indeed," said Patty.

"Well, to be sure 1 if ever! who could have thought 1'' and the old woman would have proceeded in her exclamations.

" But if you'll be kind enough to stay here till I come back from Mr. Flamingo-"

"To be sure; Mrs. Shroudlyand me will stay," said the


.'You will so serve me 1 In half an hour I shall have finished my work ; 1 shall soon be back."

" And you'll sleep here alone in this room to-nigbt ?" asked

the querist.

For a moment Patty could not speak ; then, with a torrent of tears, and a voice of anguish, she answered-" It is the

last, it is the last"

The well-meaning neighbour left the room, and by the last light of a golden August evening, Patty completed her task. Her work was done; and the room darkened, darkened about her. She sat fearless, self-sustained in the gloom ; her thoughts made solemn and strengthened by the atmosphere of death which fell upon her spirit. She felt as in a holy presence. That poor, weak, ignorant creature-in the exaltation of her soul, communed with her mother in the skies ; talked, wept, prayed to her, and was comforted. And for that which lay apart-for that mute, dull semblance of the thing that was-it was for a time forgotten in the rapturous grief that sorrow ed at ita loss. Thus passed the girl an hour of darkness, made bright by spiritual dreams; and then, calmed and sustained, she prepared to venture into the roaring street, to take home

her work completed.

Unseen, unknown, are the divinities that-descending from garrets-tread the loud, foul, sordid, crowding highways of London 1-Spiritual presences, suffering all things, and in the injustice-most hard to turn to right-of our social purpose, living and smiling, daily martyrs to their creed of good. Young children, widowed age, and withered singleness-the ardent student, flushed and fed with little else but hope-the disappointed, yet brave, good old roan, a long, Jong loser in the worldly fight, who has retired apart, to bleed unseen, and uncomplaining die-the poor and stern man, only stern in truth-sour of speech, with heart of honied sweetness-all of these, in all their thousand shades of character and spirit-the "army of martyrs" to fortune, and the social iniquities that, drest and spangled for truths, man passes off on man-all of this bright band have, and do, and will consecrate the garrets of London, and make a holy thing of poverty by the sacrificial spirit with which they glorify her. Many of these are to be known-but more escape the searching eyes of the quickest mortal vision. There is a something-a " look of servite" in the aspect of some ; a depression that elevates, a dogged air of courage that speaks the fighting man in poverty's battalions an honourable, undisguised threadbarcdncss that marks the old campaigner I Are not bis darns more beautiful than best work of Sidonian needles-is there a patch about bim that is not, morally assayed, true cloth of gold ? And has not such Poverty its genii, its attending spirits? Oh, yes 1 a bloodless glory is Its body-guard, and its tatter-bearer an angel.

And does not some such presence walk with Patty Butler down the Strand, on to the bouse of Peter Flamingo, feather

merchant to the Court? Stay: who is it that now addresses


There is a tall creature hanging about her steps-now, shifting to the right side, now the lett ; now behind and now before. And now he inclines himself, and says something to the ear of Patty, who-with ber thought» in tliat room of misery and desolation-cannot heed him, but with her tears in lier throat, walks quicker and quicker, silent and choking.

" If y ou havn't a tongue, I'll sec if you've lips l"_exclaimed, aot the good angel of Patty Butler,-and the speaker threw lils am» about the girl, who shrieked with misery and terror. Era, however, the sound had died upon his ear, the ruffian -bid mtaaured his length upon King George the Third's

tilg» way.

, , Luke Knodtfe, Mr. Flamingo'* porter, bad been sent to .Patty to barry ber with ber work. Arriving st toe house but two or thro« minutes after ber departure, be bad followed >ct*<*b/,on-bar staatv and was thus io a moat advantageous tatataiioa te taw papar tyattcaUon of bis flit, ata most dra

caatlc patatar toa.

" Watch 1 watch I" roared the fellow, still upon his back ; for with evidently a quick sense of the magnanimity of Britons* he felt that the only means of escaping a second blow was to use nothing but his lungs.

" What's the matter?" asked a watchman, who miraculously 'happened to be near the spot.

" I'm robbed," was the answer.

" Robbed I" and the watchman sprung his rattle.

" Robbed" was the He repeated; "and I desire you to take to the watch-house that pickpocket"-and the speaker pointed to Knuckle-" and that" but the word was lost in the noise of a newly-sprung rattle.

The watchmen gathered together, and Patty Butler, with her honest champion, was taken to the watch-house of St, M artin-in-tho-Fields.

(To be continued.)