When the Princess Angelica was born, her parents not only did not ask the Fairy Blackstick to the christening party, but gave orders to their porter absolutely to refuse her if she called. This porter’s name was Gruffanuff, and he had been selected for the post by their Royal Highnesses because he was a very tall fierce man, who could say “Not at home” to a tradesman or an unwelcome visitor with a rudeness which frightened most such persons away. He was the husband of that Countess whose picture we have just seen, and as long as they were together they quarrelled from morning till night. Now this fellow tried his rudeness once too often, as you shall hear. For the Fairy Blackstick coming to call upon the Prince and Princess, who were actually sitting at the open drawing-room window, Gruffanuff not only denied them, but made the most ODIOUS VULGAR SIGN as he was going to slam the door in the Fairy’s face! “Git away, hold Blackstick!” said he. “I tell you, Master and Missis ain’t at home to you;” and he was, as we have said, GOING to slam the door.
But the Fairy, with her wand, prevented the door being shut; and Gruffanuff came out again in a fury, swearing in the most abominable way, and asking the Fairy “whether she thought he was a-going to stay at that there door hall day?”
“You ARE going to stay at that door all day and all night, and for many a long year,” the Fairy said, very majestically; and Gruffanuff, coming out of the door, straddling before it with his great calves, burst out laughing, and cried, “Ha, ha, ha! this IS a good un! Ha — ah — what’s this? Let me down — oh — o — h’m!” and then he was dumb!
For, as the Fairy waved her wand over him, he felt himself rising off the ground, and fluttering up against the door, and then, as if a screw ran into his stomach, he felt a dreadful pain there, and was pinned to the door; and then his arms flew up over his head; and his legs, after writhing about wildly, twisted under his body; and he felt cold, cold, growing over him, as if he was turning into metal; and he said, “Oh — o — h’m!” and could say no more, because he was dumb.
He WAS turned into metal! He was, from being BRAZEN, BRASS! He was neither more nor less than a knocker! And there he was, nailed to the door in the blazing summer day, till he burned almost red-hot; and there he was, nailed to the door all the bitter winter nights, till his brass nose was dropping with icicles. And the postman came and rapped at him, and the vulgarest boy with a letter came and hit him up against the door. And the King and Queen (Princess and Prince they were then) coming home from a walk that evening, the King said, “Hullo, my dear! you have had a new knocker put on the door. Why, it’s rather like our porter in the face! What has become of that boozy vagabond?” And the housemaid came and scrubbed his nose with sand-paper; and once, when the Princess Angelica’s little sister was born, he was tied up in an old kid-glove; and, another night, some LARKING young men tried to wrench him off, and put him to the most excruciating agony with a turn screw. And then the Queen had a fancy to have the color of the door altered; and the painters dabbed him over the mouth and eyes, and nearly choked him, as they painted him pea-green. I warrant he had leisure to repent of having been rude to the Fairy Blackstick!
As for his wife, she did not miss him; and as he was always guzzling beer at the public-house, and notoriously quarrelling with his wife, and in debt to the tradesmen, it was supposed he had run away from all these evils, and emigrated to Australia or America. And when the Prince and Princess chose to become King and Queen, they left their old house, and nobody thought of the porter any more.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00