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being subjected to the torture of an iron comb,
and others stretched on a board and beaten with
a flat wooden bat, till our capsules were all
removed and nothing was left of us but the dry
stems on which they grew. Collected into
bundles, we were then, without the least regard
to our own convenience, set up alternately on
our heads and tails, and closely jammed into a
large oaken frame, which was sunk in the river
Lys, heavy stones being placed upon us to keep
us down. Here we remained until, in the
language of our persecutors, we were thoroughly
"steeped"—a heartless word for expressing our
pitiful noyade. Removed from the water, our
ligatures were taken off, comparative liberty
was allowed us, and we were spread upon the
grass. But we had not been there long, before
our tormentors were at us again, pushing us
about with long thin rods, and not suffering us
to enjoy a moment's rest, except when they
themselves went to bed. After about a fortnight
of this treatment, we were taken under
cover and broken into four, and stuck into
narrow slits, and "scutched" (as they call it)
with wooden swords; and, as if this were not
enough, they "heckled" us with a square piece
of wood studded with rows of iron teeth about
four inches long, scratching and scarifying our
fibre until not a particle of manly roughness
remained in our composition. They then said
that we were "finished"—by which they meant
marketableand on the very first opportunity,
not being able to devise any more tortures, or
do us any further harm, they sold us to a linen-
manufacturer, who lost no time in converting us
into the substance in which he dealt. The
process we were now submitted to, if less cruel
than the first, was equally tedious and annoying;
and after having been drawn, doubled, carded,
roved, and spun, we finally assumed the texture
which, under the name of linen, plays so
important a part in all well-regulated households.
As my personal fibreif I may be allowed the
expressionwas of a far robuster nature than
that of any of my companions, I shall henceforward
speak of myself only, in describing our
subsequent career.

I never knew exactly how the transfer took
placebeing sewn up for some time in a coarse
packing-clothbut one morning the bale to
which I belonged came down with a heavy
thump on what I have since learnt was a counter
in a merchant's warehouse in Paris; and before
I could recover from my surpriseand I may
add, from the pain I feltI heard voices chaffering
over my body, like the Greeks and Trojans
contending for the corse of Patroclus. A bargain
was being struck between the warehouseman
and the retail dealer, and the result was
my removal to the shop of the latter, where, one
fine day, I was cut up into lengths and carried
off by a porter to the establishment of Mademoiselle
Clotilde, a celebrated seamstress, whose
sign was the Toison d'Or, in the Rue de la Paix.
They were a merry, hard-working lot the
couturières over whom Mademoiselle Clotilde
presided, and if martyrdom could at any time be
made pleasant to the sufferers, I, for one, might
have enjoyed being made a martyr under the
sharp scissors and needles of the lively chattering
damsels, whose province it was to convert
me and my relatives into shirts.

An English nobleman, called by Mademoiselle
Clotilde, "Milor," and nothing else, had long
been a customer at the "Toison d'Or," and,
passing through Paris after a long journey, during
which his stock of linen had become greatly
reducedlet us say through the negligence of
washerwomen, without accusing his valetfound
it necessary to give an order for an immediate
supply. Milor, who paid handsomely, required
garments of the very finest quality, and I (speaking
collectively) was the article destined to
adorn his person. My particular maker was a
girl named Aglaë, a fine tall Brugeoise, with a
large share of the beauty which is the peculiar
inheritance of her townswomenthe only
women, by the way, who can boast of beauty in
my native Flandersand I confess it was with
something like a pangfor shirts are often as
sensitive as the hearts they coverthat I felt
for the last time the pressure of her slender
fingers and quitted the lap on which I had
happily reposed, to take my place in the wardrobe
of Milor. I had been admirably "got up"
by the blanchisseuse whom Mademoiselle
Clotilde employed, and unsunned snow was not
whiter than my delicate form, as, with swan-like
bosom, proudly displayed, over which floated
a cloud-like frill of transparent muslina
collar full six inches high, and sharp all round
as the edge of the exterminating instrument of
Monsieur de Parisand my arms somewhat
singularly folded behind my back, I lay on the top
of my companions; white, I repeat, as Alpine
snow, but as cold as that which rests on the
herbless granite. Excuse fine writing at this
point of my story, for I am thinking of Aglaë,
and contrasting her joyous society with the
splendid misery of being for ever after associated
with the dull, heavy, pompous, unintelligent,
obstinate old nobleman whose property
I became. "For ever after," do I say? No,
thank goodness, not that exactly, but long
enough in all conscience, if I had not been a
remarkably smart piece of linen, to have made
me as dull, heavy, pompous, unintelligent and
obstinate as himself.

That these epithets are not misplaced will, I
think, be admitted by every candid person in
these enlightened days, when I state that my
proprietor was perhaps the most thoroughgoing
Tory that ever sat in the House of Lords,
the most determined placeman, the most
uncompromising sinecurist, and the most resolute foe
that ever breathed to everything that wore a
look of change. His political creedhe had
been born in that creed, and in that creed he meant
to die, on the floor, too, of the august House of
which he was a member, if necessarywas
taxation: that is to say, taxation of all the
necessities of life; for on its luxuries he looked
with an indulgent eye. If his advice had been
takenand he very frequently offered it,