from The Century Dictionary.
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She feared the young man was but amusing himself, or at best enjoying Hester's company as some wary winged thing enjoys the flame, courting a few singes, not quite avoiding even a slight plumous conflagration, but careful not to turn a delightful imagination into a consuming reality, beyond retreat and self-recovery.
Lastly, I have had a partridge with twenty-two grains of dry earth on one foot, and to my surprise a pebble as big as a tare seed; and I now understand how this is possible, for the bird scratches itself, [and the] little plumous feathers make a sort of very tenacious plaister.