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Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

by

Suzy Stewart Dubot

Copyright ©September 2015 Suzy Stewart Dubot

Published at Shakespir

 

 

An Anglo/American who has been living in France for over 30 years, she began writing as soon as she retired. She recently spent seventeen months in London, UK caring for an aged relative. She is now back in France. Writing follows her as easily as her laptop. With her daughters, she is a vegetarian and a supporter of animal rights. She is also an admirer of the British abolitionist, William Wilberforce, who was also a founding member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (S.P.C.A.).

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http://suzystewartdubotbooks.weebly.com

 

ISBN:

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead is entirely coincidental.

 

 

Shakespir License Notes

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This eBook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy from Shakespir. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

 

Cover design: Suzy Stewart Dubot

 

What is the fascination that pushes us to create collections?

Over the years I have collected beaded bags, brass candlesticks, paperweights, teapots, Fire King Glassware and even lead figurines of characters from ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ There have been other smaller ‘ensembles’ including stamps and picture cards.

None of the collections, however, have been able to keep my enthusiasm peaked for more than a couple of years. They are still there, somewhere, probably in boxes under my bed or in a closet. I have forgotten exactly where I have put them. I know, however, that wherever they are, along with age and dust their values are increasing. When the market is right, they will be sold, because now a new collection, a new infatuation, consumes me.

Upon close scrutiny, there is not one identical to another. Each is unique because they have been individually crafted, the work of an artist.

They watch me as I come into the room.

As with portraits of people whose gaze follows you wherever you are in the room, I am aware that the pieces of my collection do the same. It is as though I were a magnet for them — or, perhaps, a lifeline.

Beautiful antique glass eyes take in my every movement. They shine with some inner emotion, so I am able to detect a sparkle in their eye, perhaps a tear. I know they have seen things in their life.

If only they could speak…

Collectors will tell you that the value of any item will increase if there are documents to add information about its origins. The item, whether it be an army medal, a silver cup or even a piece of jewellery, will be of more interest to a potential buyer if they know its story. Whenever possible, I have bought eyes with background information. Consequently, I know that the brown eye with flecks of gold in the iris belonged to a shopkeeper. The one next to it, which is more green than brown, belonged to a solicitor. A plain brown one with hardly any variation in colour of the iris belonged to a soldier who’d survived the Boer war but who had lost an eye in the process. His plain prosthesis would have been in the lower price range because of his reduced income.

Several of my eyes might be considered ‘chefs-d’oeuvre,’ masterpieces, as they were certainly made by masters in the craft, rather than their apprentices. A real eye is not uniform. There are sometimes fine veins in the white of the eye and the white is never perfectly white. The finer the detail in the eye, the more expensive it will be.

One eye in particular outshines them all.

There are several things that make this eye exceptional. The workmanship alone is outstanding as the eye is perfectly realistic, which means that it had cost a lot of money to make to match the real eye, its pair. Unusually, the craftsman’s name, Jacob Pryor, is known thanks to correspondence arranging for an appointment with him. But, the trump card accompanying the eye is the photograph of its owner wearing it!

The picture shows a large family event in a garden on a bright summer’s day. Someone has conscientiously noted the date of June 7th, 1890 on the back in pencil as well as the location. It is in Bournemouth, which is on England’s south coast. Below that are the names of the people in the photo from left to right.

It is obvious that the family is wealthy. Their clothes alone cry money, and the hats worn by several of the older women are elaborate. Everyone is holding their pose for the photographer and looking at the camera. Even the small black dog, sitting in between the knees of a young lad on the ground, is clear. No one is smiling, though, probably as it isn’t easy to hold a smile for a long pose.

The glass eye isn’t easily discernible in the picture. Thanks to the names on the back, one can locate its owner, and once found, it becomes obvious, because it appears a wee bit wider open than the real eye next to it. The sunny day had caused the real eye to squint a little.

I believe that over the years it has been relatively easy to accumulate all the information that came with the eye, because The Morning Post newspaper wrote extensively about Freya May Warren when she lost her eye on a Londonian omnibus…

It was one of those tragic misadventures that could happen to anyone when certain circumstances come together to create bad luck.

The Morning Post related the following sad tale.

The Warren family had gone to London for a week and were staying with relatives. On the Friday, they had wanted to visit St. James’ Park but not long after entering the horse-driven omnibus, it had begun to rain. Other passengers boarded prepared for the bad weather so that when the Warren family got up to get off at their stop, there was a lot of bustle and awkwardness with umbrella-laden folk manoeuvring to get off the bus too.

A middle-aged man in front of the Warren family had wanted to help an elderly woman to step down, so unthinkingly, he’d put his umbrella under his arm, which immediately turned it into a spear. That alone would have been easily circumvented if there had not been a loud bang in the street at that precise moment. Later it was revealed to be a brewer’s empty barrel that had fallen making a loud hollow boom.

The horses, startled by the sudden noise so near, jerked the bus forward but their driver had kept perfect control over them and had prevented them from bolting. The sudden movement had, however, destabilised the descending passengers so that the spike on the umbrella had entered Freya’s left eye.

Pandemonium followed the screaming,’ the Morning Post reported, ‘with several women fainting at the sight of the blood and the horror of the consequences.

This newspaper, along with the other passengers on the omnibus, would, nonetheless, like to express their admiration for the driver’s masterly handling of the horses, who remained stationary while the distressed victim was taken away to the nearest hospital…’

For a collector, the story certainly adds to the value of my beautiful glass eye. The fact that Freya May Warren lost her eye at the age of four, also explains why the eye is smaller and more delicate than the others in my collection.

One may presume that as an adult, she had another slightly larger glass eye made to replace the first. She may have kept this eye in her personal affairs once it had been replaced by another. That removes the morbidity usually attached to glass eyes recovered from corpses by undertakers, although one can understand the temptation in Victorian times to possibly sell such an object rather than sending it to a grave. They are works of art.

Whatever the eye’s journey to arrive here, it is now I, the proud owner. I sometimes contemplate that old photograph of Freya as a child, wondering if there would be even the tiniest chance that I might come across her second eye for my collection?

 


Birds of a Feather

  • ISBN: 9781370470099
  • Author: Suzy Stewart Dubot
  • Published: 2016-11-06 14:05:09
  • Words: 1448
Birds of a Feather Birds of a Feather