Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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good Benefico with the news, which they knew would be so
welcome to him and all his guests, and with one voice
agreed that Fidus should bear the joyful tidings ; and then
returned to observe the monster, and to wait the coming
of Benefico. The nimble Fidus soon reached the giant's
dwelling, where, at a little distance from the castle, he met
the good Benefico witli a train of happy friends enjoying
the pleasures of the evening, and the instructive and cheerful
conversation of their kind protector. Fidus briefly told his
errand ; and instantly Benefico, with all his train, joyfully
hastened to behold the wonders he had related ; for now
many hearts leapt for joy, in hopes of meeting some friend
of whom they had been bereft by the cruelty of the savage

They were not long before they arrived at the horrid cave,
where Benefico, proceeding directly to the monster's cham-


l)er, suddenly appeared to him at tlie side of his couch.
Barbarico, on seeing him, gave a hideous yell, and rolled
his glaring eyes in such a manner as expressed the height
of rage and envious bitterness.

Eenefico, turning to all the company present, thus spoke,
' How shall I enough ])raise and admire the gentle Mignon
for having put in my power to do justice on this execrable
wretch, and freeing you all from an insufferable slavery, and
the whole country from their terror 1 ' Then reaching the
monster's own sword, which hung over his couch, his hand
yet suspended over the impious tyrant, he thus said, ' Speak,
wretch, if yet the power of speech is left thee; and with
thy latest breath declare, what advantage hast thou found of
all thy wicked life.'

Barbarico well knew that too bad had been that life, to
leave the least room for hope of mercy ; and therefore, in-
stead of an answer, he gave another hideous yell, gnashing
his horrid teeth, and again rolling his ghastly eyes on all

Benefico seeing him thus impenitent and sullen, lifted on
high the mighty sword, and with one blow severed his odious
head from his enormous body.

The whole assembly gave a shout for joy; and Benefico
holding in his hand the monster's yet grinning head, thus
addressed his half-astonished companions : ' See here, my
friends, the proper conclusion of a rapacious cruel life. But
let us hasten from this monster's gloomy cave; and on the
top of one of our highest mountains, fixed on a pole, will I
set up this joyful spectacle, that all the country round may
know themselves at liberty to pursue their rural business or
amusements, without the dread of any annoyance from a
devouring vile tormentor. And when his treasures, whicli
justly all belong to the good patient Mignon, are removed,
we will shut up the mouth of this abominable dwelling; and,
the casting on the door a heap of earth, we hope, that both
place and the remembrance of this cruel savage may in time
be lost.

The sweet little Mignon declared, that he should never
think of accepting more than a part of that mighty wealth ;


for it was his opinion, that every captive who had suffered
by the tyrant's cruelty had an equal right to share in all the
advantages of his deatli; but if they thought he had any just
title to those treasures, he begged they might instantly be
removed to Benefico's castle ; ' for,' continued Mignon, ' he
who has already shown how well he knows the true use
of power and riches, by employing them for the happiness
of others, 'tis he alone who has the just and true claim to
them ; and I doubt not but you all will willingly consent to
this proposal.'

Every one readily cried out, ' that to Benefico, the good
Benefico, alone belonged the tyrant's treasures ; that Bene-
fico should ever be, as heretofore, their governor, their father,
and their kind protector.

The beneficent heart of the good giant was quite melted
with this their kind confidence and dependence upon him,
and assured them he should ever regard them as his chil-
dren. And now, exulting in the general joy that must
attend the destruction of this savage monster, when the
whole country should find themselves freed from the terror
of his rapine and desolation, he sent before to his castle, to
give intelligence to all within that happy place of the grim
monster's fall, and little Mignon's triumph ; giving in charge
to the harbinger of these tidings, that it should be his first
and chiefest care to glad the gentle bosom of a fair dis-
consolate (who kept herself retired and pent up within
her own apartment) with the knowledge that the inhuman
monster was no more ; and that henceforth sweet peace and
rural innocence might reign in all their woods and groves.
The hearts of all within the castle bounded with joy on
hearing the report of the inhuman monster's death, and the
deliverance of all his captives ; and with speedy steps they
hastened to meet their kind protector ; nor did the melan-
choly fair one, lest she should seem unthankful for the gene-
ral blessing, refuse to join the train.

It was not long after the messenger that Benefico and
those his joyful friends arrived; but the fiithful Fidus alone,
of all this happy company, was tortured with the inward
pangs of a sad grief he could not conquer, and his fond


lieart remained still captivated to a melting sorrow ; nor could
even the tender friendship of the gentle Mignon quite re-
move, though it alleviated his sadness ; but the thoughts of
his loved lost Amata embittered every joy, and overwhelmed
his generous soul with sorrow.

When the company from the castle joined Benefico, he
declared to them in what manner their deliverance was
effected; and as a general shout of joy resounded through
the neighbouring mountains, Fidus, lifting up his eyes, be-
held in the midst of the multitude, standing in a pensive
posture, the fair disconsolate. Her tender heart was at that
instant overflowing in soft tears, caused by a kind participa-
tion of their present transport, yet mixed with the deep sad
impression of a grief her bosom was full fraught with. Her
face, at first, was almost hid by her white handkerchief, with
which she wiped away the trickling drops, which falling
had bedewed her beauteous cheeks ; but as she turned her
lovely face to view the joyful conquerors, and to speak a
welcome to her kind protector, what words can speak the
raptures, the astonishment, that swelled the bosom of the
faithful youth, when in this fair disconsolate he saw his loved,
his constant, his long lost Amata ! Their delighted eyes in
the same instant beheld each other; and, breaking on each
side from their astonished friends, they flew like lightning
into each other's arms.

After they had given a short account of what had passed in
their separation, Fidus presented to his loved Amata the kind,
the gentle Mignon, with lavish praises of his generous friend-
ship and steady resolution, in hazarding his life by disobeying
the injunctions of the cruel tyrant. No sooner had Amata
heard the name of Mignon, but she cried out, ' Surely my
happiness is now complete, and all my sorrows, by this jo}fuI
moment, are more than fully recompensed ; for, m the kind
preserver of my Fidus, I have found my brother. My mother
lost her little Mignon when he was five years old, and
pining grief, after some years' vain search, ended her ^^Tetched

The generous hearts of all who were present shared the
raptures of the faithful Fidus, the lovely Amata, and gentle


Mignon, on this happy discovery; and in the warmest con-
gratulations they expressed their joy.

Benefico now led all the delightful company into his
castle, where freedom was publicly proclaimed, and every
one was left at liberty either to remain there with Benefico,
or, loaded with wealth, sufficient for their use, to go where
their attachments or inclinations might invite them.

Fidus, Amata, and the little Mignon hesitated not one
moment to declare their choice of staying with the generous

The nuptials of the faithful Fidus and his loved Amata
were solemnised in the presence of all their friends.

Benefico passed the remainder of his days in pleasing
reflections on his well-spent life.

The treasures of the dead tyrant were turned into bless-
ings by the use they were now made of Little Mignon
was loved and cherished by all his companions. Peace,
harmony, and love reigned in every bosom ; dissension,
discord, and hatred were banished from this friendly dwell-
ing; and that happiness, which is the natural consequence of
goodness, appeared in every cheerful countenance through-
out the castle of the good Benefico ; and as heretofore
affright and terror spread itself from the monster's hateful
cave, so now from this peaceful castle were diffused tranquil-
lity and joy through all the happy country round.

Thus ended the story of the two giants ; and Miss Jenny
being tired with reading, her little company left the arbour
for that night, and agreed to meet there again the next day.

As soon as they had supped, Mrs. Teachum sent for Miss
Jenny Peace into her closet, and desired an exact account
from her of this their first day's amusement, that she might
judge from thence how far they might be trusted with the
liberty she had given them.

Miss Jenny showed her governess the story she had read;
and said, ' I hope. Madam, you will not think it an imj)roper
one ; for it was given me by my mamma ; and she told me
that she thought it contained a very excellent moral.'

Mrs. Teachum having looked it over thus spoke : ' I have


no objection, Miss Jenny, to your reading any stories to
amuse you, provided you read them with a disposition of
a mind not to be hurt by them. A very good moral may
indeed be drawn from the whole, and likewise from almost
every part of it ; and as you had this story from your
mamma, I doubt not but you are very well (qualified to
make the proper remarks yourself upon the moral of it to
your companions. But here let me observe to you (which I
would have you communicate to your little friends) that
giants, magic, fairies, and all sorts of supernatural assist-
ances in a story, are introduced only to amuse and divert ;
for a giant is called so only to express a man of great power ;
and the magic fillet round the statue was intended only to
show you, that by patience you will overcome all difficulties.
Therefore by no means let the notion of giants or magic
dwell upon your minds. And you may further observe that
there is a different style adapted to every sort of ^vriting ;
and the various sounding epithets given to Barbarico are
proper to express the raging cruelty of his wicked mind.
But neither this high-sounding language, nor the supernatural
contrivances in this story, do I so thoroughly approve as to
recommend them much to your reading ; except, as I said
before, great care is taken to prevent your being carried away
by these high-flown things, from that simplicity of taste and
manners which it is my chief study to inculcate.'

Here Miss Jenny looked a little confounded ; and, by her
down-cast eye, showed a fear that she had incurred the dis-
approbation, if not the displeasure, of her governess ; upon
which Mrs. Teachum thus proceeded :

' I do not intend by this, my dear, to blame you for what
you have done ; but only to instruct you how to make the
best use of even the most trifling things ; and if you have
any more stories of this kind, with an equally good moral,
when you are not better employed, I shall not be against
your reading them, always remembering the cautions I have
this evening been giving you.'

]\Iiss Jenny thanked her governess for her instructions and
kind indulgence to her, and promised to give an exact account
of their daily amusements ; and taking leave retired to her rest.




At Miss Jenny's meeting with her companions in the
morning after school, she asked them how they hked the
history of the giants. They all declared they thought it a
very pretty diverting story. Miss Jenny replied, ' though she
was glad they were pleased, yet she would have them look
farther than the present amusement ; for, continued she, my
mamma always taught me to understand what I read : other-
wise, she said, it was to no manner of purpose to read ever
so many books, which would only stuff my brain without
being any improvement to my mind.'

The misses all agreed that certainly it was of no use to
read without understanding what they read ; and began to
talk of the story of the giants to prove they could make
just remarks on it.

Miss Sukey Jennet said, ' I am most pleased with that
part of the story where the good Benefico cuts off the
monster's head, and puts an end to his cruelty, especially as
he was so sullen he would not confess his wickedness ;
because you know, Miss Jenny, if he had sense enough to
have owned his error, and have followed the example of the
good giant, he might have been ha])py.'

Miss Lucy Sly delivered the following opinion : ' My
greatest joy was whilst Mignon was tying the magic fillet
round the monster's neck, and conquering him.'

' Now I (said Miss Dolly Friendly) am most j^leased with
that part of the story, where Fidus and Amata meet the
reward of their constancy and love, when they find each
other after all their sufterings.'

Miss I'olly Suckling said, with some eagerness, 'My great-
est joy was in the description of Mignon ; and to think that
it should be in the power of that little creature to conquer
such a great monster.'

Miss Patty Lockit, Miss Nanny Spruce, Miss Betty Ford,
and Miss Henny Fret, advanced no new opinions ; Ixit
agreed some to one, and some to another, of those that were


already advanced. And as every one was eager to maintain
her own opinion, an argument followed, the particulars of
which I could never learn ; only thus much I know, that it
was concluded by Miss Lucy Sly saying, with an air and
tone of voice that implied more anger than had been heard
since the reconciliation, ' that she was sure Miss Polly
Suckling liked that part about Mignon only because she
was the least in the school; and Mignon being such a little
creature, put her in mind of herself

Miss Jenny Peace now began to be frighted lest this con-
tention should raise another quarrel ; and therefore begged
to be heard before they went any further. They were not
yet angry enough to refuse hearing what she had to say; and
then Miss Jenny desired them to consider the moral of
the story, and what use they might make of it, instead
of contending which was the prettiest part ; ' for other-
wise,' continued she, ' I have lost my breath in reading
to you, and you will be worse rather than better for what
you have heard. Pray observe that Benefico's happiness
arose entirely from his goodness ; he had less strength,
and less riches, than the cruel monster ; and yet, by the
good use he made of what he possessed, you see how he
turned all things to his advantage. But particularly remem-
ber that the good Mignon, in the moment that he was
patiently submitting to his sufferings, found a method of
relieving himself from them, and of overcoming a barbarous
monster who had so cruelly abused him.

' Our good governess last night not only instructed me in
this moral I am now communicating to you, but likewise
bid me warn you by no means to let the notion of giants or
magic dwell upon your minds ; for by a giant is meant no
more than a man of great power ; and the magic fillet round
the head of the statue was only intended to teach you, that
by the assistance of patience you may overcome all diffi-

' In order, therefore, to make what you read of any use to
you, you must not only think of it thus in general but make
the application to yourselves. For when (as now) instead
of improving yourselves by reading, you make what you read


a subject to quarrel about, what is this less than being like
the monster Barbarico, who turned his ver)^ riches to a
curse ? I am sure it is not following the example of
Benefice, who made everything a blessing to him. Re-
member, if you pinch and abuse a dog or cat, because it is
in your power, you are like the cruel monster, when he
abused the little Mignon and said,

I am a giant, and I can eat thee ;

Thou art a dwarf, and thou canst not eat me.

* In short, if you will reap any benefit from this story
towards rendering you happy, whenever you have any power,
you must follow the example of the giant Benefico, and do
good with it ; and when you are under any sufterings like
Mignon, you must patiently endure them till you can find a
remedy ; then, in one case, like Benefico, you will enjoy
what you possess ; and, in the other, you will in time, like
Mignon, overcome your sufferings ; for the natural conse-
quence of indulging cruelty and revenge in the mind, even
where there is the highest power to gratify it, is misery.'

' Here Miss Sukey Jennett interru})ted Miss Jenny, say-
ing, ' that she herself had experienced the truth of that
observation in the former part of her life ; for she never
had known either peace or pleasure till she had conquered
in her mind the desire of hurting and being revenged on
those who she thought did not, by their behaviour, .show the
same regard for her that her own good opinion of herself
made her think she deserved.' Miss Jenny then asked her,
'If she was willing to lead the way to the rest of her
companions by telling her past life % ' She answered, ' she
would do it with all her heart; and, by having so many
and great faults to confess, she hoped she shoukl, by her
true confessions, set them an example of honesty and inge-


Miss Sukey Jennet, who was next in years to Miss Jenny
Peace was not quite twelve years old ; but so very tall of
* K


her age. that she was within a trifle as tall as Miss Jenny
Peace ; and, by growing so fast, was much thinner ; and
though she was not really so well made, yet, from an
assured air in her manner of carrying herself, she was called
much the genteelest girl. There was, on the first view, a
great resemblance in their persons. Her face was very
handsome, and her complexion extremely good ; but a
little more inclined to pale than Miss Jenny's. Her eyes
were a degree darker, and had a life and fire in them which
was very beautiful ; but yet her impatience on the least
contradiction often brought a fierceness into her eyes, and
gave such a discomposure to her whole countenance, as
immediately took off your admiration. But her eyes had
now, since her hearty reconciliation with her companions,
lost a gi^eat part of their fierceness ; and v/ith great mildness
and an obliging manner she told her story as follows :


' My mamma died when I was so young that I cannot
remember her ; and, my papa marrying again within a half-a-
year after her death, I was chiefly left to the care of an old
servant that had lived many years in the family. I was
a great favourite of hers, and in everything had my own way.
When I was but four years old, if ever anything crossed me,
I was taught to beat it, and be revenged of it even though
it could not feel. If I fell down and hurt myself, the very
ground was to be beat for hurting the sweet child ; so that,
instead of fearing to fall, I did not dislike it ; for I was
pleased to find that I was of such consequence, that every
thing was to take care that I came by no harm.

' I had a little playfellow in a child of one of my papa's
servants, who was to be entirely under my command. This
girl I used to abuse and beat whenever I was out of
humour ; and when I had abused her, if she dared to
grumble, or make the least complaint, I thought it the
greatest impudence in the world; and, instead of mending
my behaviour to her, I grew very angry that she should
dare to dispute my power; for my governess always told her


that she was but a servant's girl, and I was a gentleman's
daughter ; and that therefore she ought to give way to me,
for that I did her great honour in playing with her. Thus I
thought the distance between us was so great, that I never
considered that she could feel ; but whilst I myself suffered
nothing, I fancied everything was very right ; and it never
once came into my head that I could be in the wrong.

' This life I led till I came to school, when I was eleven
years old. Here I had nobody in my power, for all my
school-fellows thought themselves my equals ; so that I
could only quarrel, fight, and contend for everything; but
being liable to be punished, when I was trying to be
revenged on any of my enemies as I thought them, I never
had a moment's ease or pleasure till Miss Jenny Avas so
good to take the pains to convince me of my folly, and to
make me be reconciled to you, my dear companions.'

Here Miss Sukey ceased ; and Miss Jenny smiled with
pleasure at the thought that she had been the cause of her

Mrs. Teachum being now come into the arbour, to see in
what manner her little scholars passed their time, they all
rose up to do her reverence. Miss Jenny gave her an
account how they had been employed ; and she was much
pleased with their innocent and useful entertainment ; but
especially with the method they had found out of relating
their past lives. She took little Polly Suckling by the hand,
and bidding the rest follow, it being now dinner-time, she
walked towards the house attended by the whole company.

Mrs. Teachum had a great inclination to hear the history
of the lives of all her little scholars; but she thought that her
presence at those relations might be a balk to the narration,
as perhaps they might be ashamed freely to confess their
past faults before her ; and therefore that she might not be
any bar in this case to the freedom of their speech, and yet
might be acquainted with their stories (though this was not
merely a vain curiosity but a desire, by this means, to know
their different dispositions), she called Miss Jenny Peace
into her parlour after dinner, and told her, ' she would ha\e


her get the hves of her companions in writing, and bring
them to her ;' and Miss Jenny readily promised to obey her

In the evening our little company again met in their
charming arbour ; where they were no sooner seated, with
that calmness and content which now always attended them,
than the cries and sobs of a child, at a little distance from
the garden, disturbed their tranquillity.

Miss Jenny, ever ready to relieve the distressed, ran im-
mediately to the place whence the sound seemed to come,
and was followed by all her companions. When at a small
distance from Mrs . Teachum's garden-wall, over which from
the terrace our young company looked, they saw, under a
large spreading tree, part of the branches of which shaded a
seat at the end of that terrace, a middle-aged woman beating
girl, who looked to be about eight years old, so severely
that it was no wonder her cries had reached their arbour.

Miss Jenny could not forbear calling out to the woman
and begging her to forbear. And little Polly Suckling cried
as much as the girl, and desired she might not be beat any
more. The woman, in respect to them, let the child go ;
but said, ' Indeed, young ladies, you don't know what a
naughty girl she is ; for though you now see me correct her
in this manner, yet I am in all respects very kind to her, and
never strike her but for lying. I have tried all means, good
and bad, to break her of this vile fault ; but hitherto all I
have done has been in vain ; nor can I ever get one word of
truth out of her mouth. But I am resolved to break her of
this horrid custom, or I cannot live with her ; for though I
am but poor, yet I will breed up my child to be honest both
in word and deed.'

Miss Jenny could not but approve of what the poor
woman said. However, they all joined in begging forgive-
ness for the girl this time, provided she promised amend-
ment for the future ; and then our little society returned to
their arbour.

Miss Jenny could not help expressing her great detes-
tation of all lying whatsoever ; when Miss Dolly Friendly,
colouring, confessed she had often been guilty of this fault,
though she never scarcely did it but for her friend.


Here Miss Jenny interrupting her said, ' that even that
was no sort of excuse for lying ; besides that the habit of

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 12 of 43)