Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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it on any occasion, even with the appearance of a good
intention, would but too likely lead to the use of it on many
others; and as she did not doubt, by Miss Dolly's blushing,
that she was now very sensible of the truth of v>'hat she had
just been saying, she hoped she would take this opportunity
of obliging them with the history of her past life ; which re-
quest she made no hesitation to grant, saying, ' The shame
of her past faults should by no means induce her to conceal


Miss Dolly Friendly was just turned of eleven years of
age. Her person was neither plain nor handsome. And
though she had not what is properly called one fine feature in
her face, yet the disposition of her features was so regular, that
her countenance was rather agreeable than otherwise. She
had generally something ver}- quiet, or rather indolent, in her
look, except when she was moved by anger, which seldom
happened but in defence of some favourite or friend ; and
she had then a fierceness and eagerness which altered her
whole countenance, for she could not bear the least re-
flection or insult on those she loved. This disposition made
her always eager to comply with her friends' requests ; and
she immediately began as follows :


' I was bred up till I was nine years of age, with a sister
who was one year younger than myself. The chief care ot
our parents was to make us love each other ; and, as I was
naturally inclined to have very strong affections, I became
so fond of my sister Molly, which was her name, that all
my delight was to please her ; and this I carried to such an
height, that I scrupled no lies to excuse her faults; and what-
ever she did, I justified, and thought right, only because she
did it.

' I was ready to fight her quarrels, whether right or wrong ;
and hated everybody that oftended her. My parents winked


at whatever I did in defence of my sister ; and I had no no-
tion that anything done for her could be unreasonable. In
short, I made it my study to oblige and please her, till I
found at last it was out of my power, for she grew so very
humoursome, that she could not find out what she had most
mind to have ; and I found her always miserable, for she
would cry only because she did not know her own mind.

' She never minded what faults she committed, because
she knew I would excuse her; and she was forgiven in con-
sideration of our friendship, which gave our parents great

' My poor little sister grew very sickly, and she died just
before I came to school; but the same disposition still con-
tinued ; and it was my friend's outcries of being hurt that
drew me into that odious quarrel that we have all now re-
pented of.'

Here Miss Dolly Friendly ceased ; and Miss Jenny said,
' She hoped Miss Dolly would remember, for the rest of her
life, what her good mamma had always taught her, namely,
that it was not the office of friendship to justify or excuse
our friends when in the wrong, for that was the way to
prevent their ever being in the right ; that it was rather
hatred or contempt, than love, when the fear of other
peoples' anger made us forego their good, for the sake of
our own jDresent pleasure ; and that the friends who expected
such flattery were not worth keeping.'

The bell again summoned our little company to supper;
but, before they went in, Miss Dolly Friendly said, ' If Aliss
Jenny approved of it, she would the next morning read
them a story given her by an uncle of hers, that, she said,
she was sure would please her, as its subject was friendship.'
Miss Jenny replied, ' That she was certain it would be a
great pleasure to them all, to hear any story Miss Dolly
thought proper to read them.'




As soon as school was over in the morning, our little
company were impatient to go into the arbour to hear Miss
Dolly's story. But Mrs. Teachum told them they must be
otherwise employed; for their writing master, who lived
some miles off, and who was expected in the afternoon, was
just then come in, and begged that they would give him
their attendance, though out of school-time ; because lie
was obliged to be at home again before the afternoon, to
meet a person who would confer some favour on him, and
would be highly disobliged should he not keep his appoint-
ment. ' And I know (said Mrs. Teachum), my little dears,
you would rather lose your own amusement than let any
one suffer a real inconvenience on your accounts.' They
all readily complied, and cheerfully set to their writing ; and
in the afternoon Mrs. Teachum permitted them to leave off
work an hour sooner than usual, as a reward for their
readiness to lose their amusement in the morning ; and
being met in their arbour, Miss Dolly read to them as
follows :


Cffilia and Chloe were both left orphans at the tender
age of six years. Amanda their aunt, who was very rich
and a maiden, took them directly under her care, and bred
them uj) as her own children. Cselia's mother was Amanda's
sister, and Chloe's fatlier was her brother; so that she was
equally related to both.

They were left entirely unprovided for ; were both born
on the same day ; and both lost their mothers on the day
of their birth : their fathers were soldiers of fortune and were
both killed in one day in the same engagement. But the
fortunes of the girls were not more similar than their persons
and dispositions. They were both extremely handsome: and
in tlieir childhood were so remarkable for liveliness of i)arts


and sweetness of temper, that they were the admiration of
the whole country where they lived.

Their aunt loved them with a sincere and equal affection,
and took the greatest pleasure imaginable in their education,
and particularly in encouraging that love and friendship
which she perceived between them. Amanda being (as was
said) very rich, and having no other relations, it was sup-
posed that these her nieces would be verj^ great fortunes ;
and as soon as they became women, they were addressed
by all the men of fortune and no fortune round the neigh-
hood. But as the love of admiration, and a desire of a
large train of admirers, had no place in their minds, they
soon dismissed, in the most civil and obliging manner, one
after another, all these lovers.

The refusing such numbers of men, and some such as
by the world were called good offers, soon got them the
name of jilts; and by that means they were freed from any
farther importunity, and for some years enjoyed that peace
and quiet they had long wished. Their aunt, from being
their mother and their guardian, was now become their
friend. For, as she endeavoured not in the least to force
their inclinations, they never kept anything concealed from
her; and every action of their lives was still guided by her
advice and approbation.

They lived on in this way, perfectly happy in their own
little community, till they were about tAvo-and-tvventy years
old; when there happened to be a regiment quartered in
the neighbouring town, to which their house was nearly
situated ; and the lieutenant-colonel, a man about four and-
thirty years old, hearing their names, had a great desire to
see them. For when he was a boy of sixteen he was put
into the army under the care of Chloe's father, who treated
him with the greatest tenderness ; and, in a certain famous
engagement, received his death's wound by endeavouring
to save him from being taken by the enemy. And gratitude
to the memory of so good a friend was as great an induce-
ment to make him desire to see his daughter, as the report
he had heard both of her and her cousin's great beauty.

Sempronius (for so this colonel was called) was a verj^


sensible, well-bred, agreeable man ; and from the circum-
stances of his former acquaintance, and his present proper
and polite behaviour, he soon became very intimate in the
family. The old lady was particularly pleased mth him ;
and secretly wished, that, before she died, she might be so
happy as to see one of her nieces married to Sempronius.
She could not, from his behaviour, see the least particular
liking to either, for he showed equally a very great esteem
and regard for both.

He in reality liked them both extremely ; and the reason
of making no declaration of love was, his being so undeter-
mined in any preference that was due to either. He saw
plainly that he was very agreeable to both ; and with plea-
sure he observed, that they made use of none of those arts
which women generally do to get away a disputed lover;
and this sincere friendship which subsisted between them
raised in him the highest degree of love and admiration.
However he at last determined to make the following trial :

He went first to Chloe, and (finding her alone), told her,
that he had the greatest liking in the world to her cousin,
and had really a mind to propose himself to her; but as he
saw a very great friendship between them, he was willing to
ask her advice in the matter ; and conjured her to tell hini
sincerely, whether there was anything in Ccelia's temper (not
discoverable by him) which as a wife would make him un-
happy. He told her, ' that if she knew any such thing it
would be no treachery, but rather kind in her to declare it.
as it would prevent her friend's being unhappy ; which must
be the consequence, in marriage, of her making him so.'

Chloe could not help seeing very plainly, that, if Caelia
was removed, she stood the very next in Sempronius's
favour. Her lover was present — her friend was absent —
and the temptation was too strong and agreeable to be
resisted. She then answered, ' that since he insisted upon
the truth, and had convinced her that it was in reality act-
ing jusdy and kindly by her friend, she must confess that
Ccelia was possessed (though in a very small degree) of what
she had often heard him declare most against of anything
in the world, and that was an artfulness of temper and
some few sparks of envy.'


Chloe's confused manner of speaking, and frequent hesi-
tation, as unwilling to pronounce her friend's condemnation
(which, as she was unused to falsehood, was really un-
affected), Sempronius imputed to tenderness and concern
for Cailia, but he did not in the least doubt but, on his
application to her, he should soon be convinced of the
truth of what Chloe had said.

He then went directly to the arbour at the end of the
garden, and there to his wish he found Cselia quite alone ;
and he addressed her exactly in the same manner con-
cerning her cousin, as he had before spoken to Chloe con-
cerning her. Cffilia suddenly blushed (from motives I leave
those to find out who can put themselves in her circum-
stances) and then fetched a soft sigh, from the thought that
she was hearing the man she loved declare a passion of
which she was not the object. But, after some little pause,
she told him, ' that if Chloe had any faults, they were to her
yet undiscovered ; and she really and sincerely believed her
cousin would make him extremely happy.' Sempronius then
said, ' that of all other things, treachery and envy were
what he had the greatest dislike to;' and he asked her, 'If
she did not think her cousin was a little tainted with these ?'

Here Caelia could not help interrupting, and assuring
him that she believed her totally free from both. And,
from his casting on her friend an aspersion which her very
soul abhorred, forgetting all rivalship, she could not refrain
from growing quite lavish in her praise. ' Suppose then,'
said Sempronius, ' I was to say the same to your cousin con-
cerning my intentions towards you as I have to you con-
cerning her, do you think she would say as many fine
things in your praise as you have done in hers V

C^lia answered, ' that she verily believed her cousin
would say as much for her as she really deserved; but
whether that w^ould be equal to what with justice she could
say of Chloe, her modesty left her in some doubt of

Sempronius had too much penetration not to see the real
and true difference in the behaviour of these two women,
and could not help crying out, ' O Caslia ! your honest
truth and goodness in every word and look are too visible


to leave me one doubt of their reality. But, could you be-
lieve it ? this friend of yours is false. I have already put
her to the trial, by declaring to her my sincere and un-
alterable passion for you. When on my insisting, as I did
to you, upon her speaking the truth, she accused you of
what nothing should now convince me you are guilty of I
own that hitherto my regard, esteem, and love have been
equal to both ; but now I offer to the sincere, artless, and
charming Caelia my whole heart, love, and affection, and
the service of every minute of my future life; and from this
moment I banish from my mind the false and ungrateful

Cffilia's friendship for Chloe was so deeply rooted in her
breast, that even a declaration of love from Sempronius
could not blot it one moment from her heart ; and on his
speaking the words ' false Chloe,' she burst into tears and
said, ' Is it possible that Chloe should act such a part
towards her Caelia? You must forgive her, Sempronius : it
was her violent passion for you, and fear of losing you,
which made her do what hitherto her nature has ever ap-
peared averse to.'

Sempronius answered, ' that he could not enough admire
her great goodness to her friend Chloe ; but such proofs of
passion, he said, were to him at the same time proofs of its
being such a passion as he had no regard for; since it was
impossible for any one to gain or increase his love by an
action which at the same time lessened his esteem.' This
was so exactly Caelia's own way of thinking, that she could
not but assent to what he said.

But just as they were coming out of the arbour, Chloe,
unseen by them, passed by ; and from seeing him kiss her
hand, and the complacency of Cailia's look, it was easy for
her to guess what had been the result of their private con-
ference. She could not however help indulging her curiosity,
so far as to walk on the other side of a thick yew hedge, to
listen to their discourse ; and as they walked on, she heard
Sempronius entreat Caelia to be cheerful, and think no more
of her treacherous friend, whose wickedness, he doubted not,
would sufficiently punish itself. She then heard Ca;lia say,


' I cannot bear, Sempronius, to hear you speak so hardly of
my Chloe. Say that you forgive her, and I will indeed be

Nothing upon earth can be conceived so wretched as poor
Chloe, for on the first moment that she suffered herself to
reflect on what she had done, she thoroughly repented,
and heartily detested herself for such baseness. She went
directly into the garden in hopes of meeting Sempronius, in
order to throw herself at his feet, confess her treachery, and
to beg him never to mention it to Caelia ; but now she was
conscious her repentance would come too late ; and he
would despise her, if possible still more, for such a recanta-
tion after her knowledge of what had passed between hnn
and C^elia.

She could indeed have gone to him, and not have OA\Tied
what she had seen and heard ; but now her abhorrence of
even the appearance of treachery or cunning was so great,
that she could not bear to add the smallest grain of false-
hood or deceit to the weight of her guilt, which was already
almost insupportable : and should she tell him of her re-
pentance, with a confession of her knowledge of his engage-
ment with Caelia, it would (as has been before observed)
appear both servile and insincere.

Nothing could now appear so altered as the whole face of
this once happy family. Sempronius as much as possible
shunned the sight of Chloe ; for, as she was the cause of all
the confusion amongst them, he had almost an aversion to
her. Though he was not of an implacal^le temper, yet, as
the injury was intended to one he sincerely loved, he found
it much harder to forgive it than if it had even succeeded
against himself; and as he still looked upon Chloe as the
cause of melancholy in his dear Crelia, he could hardly have
any patience with her.

No words can describe the various passions which were
expressed in the sad countenance of Chloe, when first she
met her friend. They were both afraid of speaking. Shame,
and the fear of being (and with too good reason) suspected
of insincerity, withheld Chloe ; and an unwillingness to ac-
cuse or hurt her friend withheld the a:entle Caslia. She


sometimes indeed thought she saw repentance in Chloe's
face, and wished for nothing more than to seal her pardon.
But till it was asked, she was in doubt (from what had
passed) whether such pardon and proffered reconciliation
might not be rejected. She knew that her friend's passions
were naturally stronger than hers ; and she therefore trem-
bled at the consequences of coming to an explanation.

But there was hardly a greater sufferer in this scene of
confusion than the poor old lady Amanda. She saw a sort
of horror and wildness in the face of Chloe ; and in Caelia's
a settled melancholy, and such an unusual reserve in both
towards each other, as well as to herself, as quite astonished

Sempronius came indeed to the house as often as usual ;
but in his countenance she could perceive a sort of anger
and concern which perfectly frightened her. But as they
did not speak to her, she could not bring herself to ask the
cause of this woful change, for fear of hearing something
too bad to bear.

Caelia had absolutely refused granting to Sempronius
leave to ask her aunt's consent, till she should come to
some explanation with Chloe, which seemed every day
farther off than ever.

The great perturbation of Chloe's mind threw her into a
disorder not many degrees short of madness ; and at last
she was seized with a violent fever so as to keep her bed.
She said she could not bear to look on Amanda; but begged
Coelia to be with her as much as possible ; which she did,
in hopes of bringing herself to ease her mind by speaking
to her what had given them all this torment.

Coelia watched with her night and day for three days,
when the physician who attended her pronounced that
there was no hope of her life. Cselia could not any longer
bear to stay in the room, and went downstairs, expecting
every moment to hear she was expired.

Chloe soon perceived by Ca^lia's abrupt leaving the room,
and by the looks of those who were left in it, that her fate
was pronounced ; which, instead of sinking her spirits, and
making her dejected, gave a tranquillity to her mind; for she


thought within herself, ' I shall now make my dear cousin
happy, by removing out of her way an object that must em-
bitter all her joy; and now likewise, as she is convinced I
am on my death-bed, she will once more believe me capable
of speaking truth ; and will, in the manner I could wish, re-
ceive my sincere repentance.' Then sending for Ca^lia up
to her bedside, she in a weak voice, with hardly strength for
utterance, spoke in this manner : ' My dear Cselia, though
you know me to be a worthless base wretch, yet do not
think so hardly of me as to imagine I would deceive you
with my last breath. Believe me then when I tell you, that
I sincerely repent of my treachery towards you; and as sin-
cerely rejoice that it has in reality been the cause of your
happiness with Sempronius. Tell him this; and then, per-
haps, he will not hate my memory.' Here she fainted away,
and they forced Caelia out of the room, thinking Chloe's
breath was for ever flown. But in some time she came
again to herself, and cried out, ' What ! would not my dear
Ccelia say that she forgave me % Methinks I would not die
till I had obtained her pardon. She is too good to refuse
her friend this last request.' Her attendants then told her
that, seeing her faint away, they had forced Ctelia out of the
room ; and they begged her to try to compose herself, for
they were sure that seeing her friend again, at this time,
would only disturb her mind and do her an injury.

Chloe, from the vent she had given her grief in speaking
to Cselia, found herself something more easy and composed;
and desired the room to be made perfectly quiet, she fell
into a gentle sleep which lasted two hours ; and when she
awaked she found herself so much better, that those about
her were convinced, from her composed manner of speaking,
that she was now able to bear another interview.

They again called for Cislia, and told her of her cousin's
amendment. She flew with all speed to her chamber; and
the moment she entered, Chloe cried out, ' Can you forgive
me, Caelia V ' Yes, with the greatest joy and sincerity ima-
ginable, my dearest Chloe,' answered Crelia, ' and never let
it be again mentioned or remembered.'

The sudden recovery of Chloe was almost incredible ;


for in less than a week she was able to quit both her beil
and room, and go into her aunt's chamber. The good old
lady shed tears of joy to see such a return of Chloe's health,
and of cheerfulness in the family ; and was perfectly con-
tented, now she saw their melancholy removed, not to en-
quire into the late cause of it, for fear of renewing their
trouble even one moment by the remembrance of it.

Sempronius, in the meantime, upon some affairs of his
duty in the army, had been called away, and was absent
the whole time of Chloe's illness, and was not yet returned.
Coelia spent almost her whole time with Chloe ; but three
weeks passed on, and they were often alone ; yet they had
never once mentioned the name of Sempronius, which laid
Caelia still under the greatest difficulty how to act, so as to
avoid giving her friend any uneasiness, and yet not disoblige
Sempronius; for she had promised him at his departure,
that she would give him leave to ask her aunt's consent im-
mediately upon his return. But, the very day he was ex-
pected, she was made quite easy by what passed between
her and her friend.

Chloe in this time, by proper reflections, and a due sense
of Cselia's great goodness and affection to her, had so en-
tirely got the better of herself in this affair, that she found
she could now, without any uneasiness, see them married ;
and calling C^elia to her she said with a smile, ' I have, my
dear friend, been so long accustomed to read in that in-
telligible index, your countenance, all your most inmost
thoughts, that I have not been unobserving of those kind
fears you have had on my account ; and the reason I have
so long delayed speaking Avas, my resolution, if possible,
never again to deceive you. I can with pleasure now assure
you, that nothing can give me so much joy as to see your
wedding with Sempronius. I make no doubt but if you ask
it, you will have my aunt's consent ; and if any intercession
should be wanting towards obtaining it, I will (if you can
trust me) all my influence in your behalf. Be assured,
my dear Ca^Iia, I have now no farther regard left for Sem-
pronius than as your huslxand ; and that regard will increase
in proportion as he is the cause of your happiness.'


They were interrupted in their discourse by news being
brought of the arrival of Sempronius, and Chloe received
him with such cheerfuhiess as convinced Cceha her profes-
sions were unfeigned.

CasHa related to Sempronius all that had passed between
her and Chloe ; and, by her continued cheerfulness of be-
haviour, the peace and tranquillity of the family were per-
fectly restored, and their joy greatly increased by Amanda's
ready consent to the marriage of Sempronius and Coelia,
having first settled all her fortune to be divided at her death
equally between her nieces; and in her lifetime there was
no occasion of settlements, or deeds of gift, for they lived
all together, and separate property was not so much as
mentioned or thought of in this family of harmony and

Here Miss Dolly ceased reading ; and all her hearers sat
some little time silent, and then expressed their great joy
that Caelia and Chloe were at last happy; for none of them
had been able to refrain from tears whilst they were other-
wise. On which Miss Jenny Peace begged them to observe
from this story, the miserable effects that attend deceit and
treachery: 'For,' continued she, 'you see you could not

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 13 of 43)