Chapter 2947966

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Chapter NumberIV
Chapter Url
Full Date1845-07-12
Page Number4
Word Count1710
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840 - 1859)
Trove TitleThe Story of a Feather
article text



»jj Bouffltut Srtrel*B.




(Continued from our last)

TUB week that followed the 12th of August, 1762, was a time of jubilee foi rejoicing throughout England. A Prince of Wales was born; and as I heard, numberless patriotic sages had, at public dinners, already prophesied in him another Alfred. In his time all the virtues would walk the highways, dropping flowers in theevery-day paths of mortals and rejoicing Plenty unloose her golden sheave« for the no more repining poor. The sky would wear a purer azure-the gladdening sun once more beam with the sanctifying fight it cast on Eden the whole earth lie nearer Paradise, and once more

, "-angels talk familiaUy with men,"

as men were wont to talk with one another. The Prince It was predicted from the tables of a thousand taverns-would be the paragon of mortals ; in his own great acts indicating to the highest the divine origin and end of man, and showing the felly, the littleness, of all human mallee, and all human selfish- ness. George the Fourth yet slept in his cradle, when the spirit of prophesying thus walked abroad, and played the sweetest notes upon its silver trumpet ; and tailors and gold iacemen felt a strange, mysterious gladness-a lightening of tbe heart and pleasant spasm of the pocket 1

Patty Butler dwelt in a long, dark lane on the north side of the Strand ; in one of those noisome, pestilent retreats abutting on, yet hidden by, the wealth and splendour of the metropolis ; one of the thousand social blotches covered by the perfumed, gold-worked trappings of the harlot London. Even to this place did the birth of the Prince of Wales bring gladness : for Patty Butler smiled, al dreaming grief might smile upon an angel, aa Luke Knuckle, Mr. Flamingo'« light-porter, some- what suddenly stood before her.

" Hush 1" said Patty, advancing to him, with upraised finger. M How's mother?" asked Luke, with a quiet earnestness.

" Better-better, Luke, and asleep. Have you brought work?" inquired the girl with trembling voice, and the tears already In her eyes.

" Hav'nt you heard the news?" asked Flamingo's porter. " What news should I hear in this place?" said Patty.

" Why, to be sure, you might as well be clean out of the world I Not to have heard all about it 1 Well, I wouldn't ha* believed it 1 Can't you guess?" Patty, with a wan smile, shook her head. " Well, then," said Luke, " not to teace you any longer-for God help you 1 poor babe, you've enough trouble for any sic-what do you think?-there's a Prince of Wales

born I"

" Indeed ?" said Patty, unmoved by the blissful intelligence. " Why, where could you ha' been not to have heard the bells ringing, and the guns-tobe sure, this isn't much of a place for merry bells to be heard in at all-but where could you ha'


" Where could I have been-where could I go?" said Patty m little impatiently-and then forcing a smile to her fading Ups, she asked-"and what, Luke, can a Prince matter to folks

like us?"

" Well 1-why you used to be a quick girl-don't you see, the Prince of Wales as is come will make the fortin of feathers ? It's what they call one of his royal prerogatives-though, for myself, I can't say I know what they quite are. I know this much, though; old Flamingo's all upon the wing agin.

There's work for three months certain," added Luke.

Fatty clasped her hinds in gratitude, but said nothing.

" Master said you must come to the shop and work, or go without it ; but I talked to missus-ha I she'd ha' been a nicer woman after all, if luck hadn't given her such good board and lodging,-1 told her how ill your mother was-how you'd starve beside her, but wouldn't leave her ; so I got her to abuse master into a bit of goodness, and so that you mayn't leave mother, I've brought the work to you." Here the honest porter dis. played myself and others to Patty Butler.

" You are always so good-natured, Luke," cried Patty.

" I don't know about that," said Knuckle, " but after all, it teems to me so easy to be good.natur'd, I wonder anybody takes the trouble to be anything else. Good bye, Putty : I say, the work must be done directly-for master says he don't

know when it won't be wanted."

" I won't stir, Luke, till I've finished it, that you may be ?ure of," said Putty, with new cheerfulness ; and wishing her a cordial farewell, and speedy, health to her mother, Luke Knuckle-the light-porter to Flamingo, the court feather, mer chant-descended the dark narrow staircase with the feeling of the finest gentleman; for he trod gently, anxiously, lest he «hould wake the sleeping sick.

Released from the case, I could now look about me. I am sure I felt a thrill of pain as the place broke upon me. An August sun struggled through a narrow lattice, as though stained and tainted by the gloom it had to pierce ; dimly show. ing the space of the apartment, a space not encumbered by useless furniture. In a recess, a nook of the room, was a bed ; and I could hear thehard breathing of a sleeper-but only hear ; for a curtain of surprising whiteness hung between us. Indeed, every object wai wonderfully clean, and displayed itself in con. trast to the meanness, the homeliness of the material. All was penury,-but penury in housewife attire.

Patty Butler took me from my other companions, looking earnestly at me. I have seen eyes exulting under coronets ; have felt throughout my frame the magic breath of beauty, born with all earth's pleasures for its handmaids ; have waved above and touched the velvet cheek of lady greatness ; yet have I never felt such deep emotion at when gated upon by the poor feather-dresser-the girl of fifteen years-the drudge of a Karret

in . pestilent and fever-breathing alley.

Fatty would never have been beautiful : bom in down, and fed upon the world's honey-due, she would have passed for nothing handsome ; but she bad in her countenance that kind of plainness, to my mind, better than any beauty heaven has yet fashioned. Her sweet, gentle, thin face trembled with sensibility-with sensibility that sent its riches to her eyes, glittering for a moment there, beyond all worth of diamonds. I bave said, she was really but fifteen ; she would have passed for twenty. From earliest childhood, she was made to read the hardest words-" Want," '* Poverty,"-in the iron book of daily life; and tbe early teaching had given to her face a look

.f years beyond ber age. With her, daily misery bad anticipated j time. '

And she sits, in that almost empty garret, a lovely sacred thing-a creature that redeems the evils and the wrongs of earth ; and in her quiet suffering-in her devotion, constant to her heart as ber heart's blood-give* best assurance of a future heaven. She sits, glorified by patient poverty-by the sustain- ing meekness of her soul, by the unconquerable strength of her affections, Beautiful are queens on thrones-but is there not a beauty (eternal M the beauty of the stars 1) in placid want, smiling with angel looks, and gathering holiest power, even from the misery that consumes it?

For two nights, Patty scarcely took one constant hour's re- pose. Still she worked; her labour only intermitted by her frequent visits to the bed-side where lay her sick mother. I baa« seen the feet of the best opera-dancers ; heard them praised for their life, ay for their intelligence-their sentiment. Vet have I seen nothing like Patty Butler's foot, touching the garret floor from her chair to the bed-side ; so gentle, so affec- tionate, so noiseless, yet so trembling at its motion, lest she

should wake her mother.

Caen day, the doctor-not the parish doctor-came. A. neighbour had told bim of, the sick, woman ; and he bad acci- dentally seen the gentle Patty. Mr. Lintly was a poor apotbe cary. It was at times a hard struggle for him not to tell the man who called for the tates,-«o call again. He had no boot of a shilling from Airs. Bailer, «ten could his skill restore ber ; but more-rise knew theses! of death waaon her; consumption Patty knew k not-withered iier.

The third day, I passed in UM garret, the doctor paid his morning visit» Patty had been up all night : that night, she had wtpt-bitterly wept-had risen «very Ova minutes to hover .boat har soother, who would still latj«ra har she was better,

touch batter.

Mr. Lintly, the apothecary, entered the garret. What chapista an woven rar mm of slaughter I What statuts enacted tomtn-sUyingconqswrors! What notts of glory sounded «raatJUtapfaratiaa; prtltaa to tbt gnupa of Mood-aheddlng I I

have seen much of the ceremonies dedicated to these things, and contrasting my late feelings with roy present, with what new homage do I venerate the race of Lint ley»-the men who, like minor deities, walk the earth-and in the homes of poverty, where sickness falls with doubly heavy hand, fight the disease beside the poor man's bed, their only fee the blessing of the poor t Mars may have his planet, but give me what-in the spirit of the old mythology might be made a star iu heaven the night lamp of apothecary Lintly.

" And how-how is your mother ?" asked the apothecary, shown into the room by Patty, who, with me in her hand, had risen to open the door.

" She is better, sir," said Patty-"better and asleep."

The apothecary looked with a mild sadness on the girl, and

drew aside the curtain. Her mother was dead.

In tears and agony and numbness of heart, and death about me, I was prepared-"drest" for

But of that in another chapter.

(To bo continued.)