Wlliam Gilmore Simms
Stories and Tales >> The Prima Donna: A Passage from City Life >> Page 174

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Short Stories | U of South Carolina P | 1974
Transcription 174THE PRIMA DONNA
humble adventurers. She was not my only acquaintance among the
inhabitants of this motley settlement. There was a great, hulking,
heavily built person most like a sailor in appearance, but one, evi-
dently too well fed to relish a frequent journey to the cross-trees,
who also secured some portion of my daily consideration. He, too,
presented himself under different aspects, at his diurnal periods of
egress and return. In the first case, he went forth, feeble, tottering,
slightly lamed, and, I think, irrecoverably blind ;—a decided im-
provement, however, always followed his morning visit to the city.
He evidently met with Brandreth, the pill dealer, and Williams, the
oculist, by the way. His eye-sight left him in no doubt about his
"homeward bound" course; and his legs were then better able to
pursue it. This was the more remarkable, as, at such periods, his
arms were usually filled with stuffs, clothes, food and fragments of
one description or another, in such quantity and weight as might
have given a more vigorous person reason to stagger beneath the
burden. He evidently pursued his craft with a success which con-
vinced me that he might have arrived, in other days, at a post of
high command even in Alsatia. There were other persons in this
community, who, in their places and periods, also provoked, though
in a far less degree, my observation and inquiry; and it would not,
perhaps, be a very difficult matter, were I so minded, to awaken a
similar interest in most of my readers in behalf of one or more
individuals of its population, quite as mysterious as that of the
"Stout Gentleman," of one of our most graceful writers, whom all
are pleased to honour. Certainly, there were physical allotments
among my friends of the `rookery,' which, alone, were sufficient to
impress the spectator with heedful deference. Brawny arms of
Hibernian vigour brandished the broom, and flourished in the suds.
Voices, of aristocratic authority, rose suddenly and stunningly upon
the senses, and never did the damsels of Eleusinia declare themselves
in a dialect of more unctuous emphasis and spirit in the hearing of
assembled Greece. Of the mysterious character of those business
operations which were pursued among them, I have already spoken.
A very curious scandal-monger in literature might live for months
in the periodicals by examining the domestic records of my suburban
neighbourhood.