Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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by his brother's appointment, he was protector of the realm,
and guardian to the young princess his niece ; and the
queen taking him and the princess his wife for her best
friends, suspected nothing of their designs, but in a manner
gave herself up to their power.

The protector Abdulham, having the whole treasure of the
kingdom at his command, was in possession of the means
to make all his schemes successful ; and the Princess Tropo,
by lavishly rewarding the instruments of her treachery,
contrived to make it generally believed, that the queen had
poisoned her husband, who was so much beloved by his
subjects, that the very horror of the action, without any
proof of her guilt, raised against the poor unhappy queen a
universal clamour, and a general aversion throughout the
whole kingdom. The princess had so well laid her scheme,
that the guards were to seize the queen and convey her to a
place of confinement, till she could prove her innocence ;
which, that she might never be able to do, proper care was
taken by procuring sufficient evidence to accuse her on


oath ; and the Princess Hebe, her daughter, was to be
taken from her. and educated under the care of her uncle.
But the night before this cruel design was to have been i)Ut
in execution, a faithful attendant of the queen's, named
l.oretta, by the assistance of one of the Princess Tropo's
confidants (who had long professed himself her lover) dis-
covered the whole secret, of which she immediately informed
her royal mistress.

The horrors which filled the (jueen's mind at the relation
of the Princess Tropo's malicious intentions, were inexpres-
sible, and her perturbation so great, that she could not form
any scheme that appeared prol)able to execute for her own
preservation. Loretta told her that the person who had given
her this timely notice, had also provided a peasant who
knew the country, and would meet her at the western gate
of the city, and, carrying the young Princess Hebe in his
arms, would conduct her to some place of safety ; but she
must consent to put on a disguise, and escape that very
night from the palace, or she would be lost for ever. Horses
or mules, she said, it would be impossible to come at
without suspicion ; therefore she must endeavour (though
unused to such fatigue) to travel a-foot till she got herself
concealed in some cottage from her pursuers, if her enemies
should think of endeavouring to find her out. Loretta
offered to attend her mistress, but she absolutely forbad her
going any farther than to the Avestern gate ; where deliver-
ing the little Princess Hebe into the arms of the peasant,
who was there waiting for them, she reluctantly withdrew.

The good queen, who saw no remedy to this her terrible
disgrace, could have borne this barbarous usage without
much repining, had she herself been the only sufterer by it;
for the loss of the good king her husband so far exceeded all
her other misfortunes, that everything else was trifiing in
comparison of so dreadful affliction. But the young Princess
Hebe, whom she was accustomed to look on as her greatest
blessing, now became to her an object of pity and con-
cern ; for, from being heiress to a throne, the poor infant,
not yet five years old, was, with her wretched mother, become
a vagabond, and knew not whither to fly for protection.


Loretta had prevailed on her royal mistress to take with
her a few httle necessaries, besides a small picture of the
king and some of her jewels, which the queen contrived to
conceal under her night-clothes, in the midst of that hair
they were used to adorn, when her beloved husband de-
hghted to see it displayed in flowing ringlets round her
snowy neck. This lady, during the life of her fond husband,
was by his tender care kept from every inclemency of the
air, and preserved from every inconvenience that it was
possible for human nature to suffer. What then must be
her condition now, when, through bypaths and thorny ways,
she was obliged to fly with all possible speed, to escape the
fury of her cruel pursuers : for she too well knew the
merciless temper of her enemies, to hope that they would
not pursue her with the utmost diligence, especially as she
was accompanied by the young Princess Hebe ; whose life
Avas the principal cause of their disquiet, and whose destruc-
tion they chiefly aimed at.

The honest peasant, who carried the Princess Hebe in
his arms, followed the queen's painful steps ; and seeing the
day begin to break, he begged her, if possible, to hasten on
to a wood which was not far off, where it was likely she
might find a place of safety. But the afflicted queen, at the
sight of the opening morn (wliich once used to fill her mind
with rising joy) burst into a flood of tears, and, quite
overcome with grief and fatigue, cast herself on the ground,
crying out in the most affecting manner, ' The end of my
misfortunes is at hand. My weary limbs will no longer
support me. My spirits fail me. In the grave alone must I
seek for shelter.' The poor princess, seeing her mother in
tears, cast her little arms about her neck, and wept also,
though she knew not why.

Whilst she was in this deplorable condition, turning round
her head, she saw behind her a little girl, no older in
appearance than the Princess Hebe ; who, with an amiable
and tranquil countenance, begged her to rise and follow
her, and she would lead her where she might refresh and
repose herself

The queen was surprised at the manner of speaking of this


little child, as she took her to be ; but soon thought it was
some kind fairy sent to protect her, and was very ready to
submit herself to her guidance and protection.

Thclitde fairy (for such indeed was the seeming child who
had thus accosted them) ordered the peasant to return back,
and said that she would take care of the queen and her young
daughter ; and he, knowing her to be the good fairy Sybella,
very readily obeyed.

Sybella then striking the ground three times with a little
wand, there suddenly rose up before them a neat plain car
and a pair of milk-white horses ; and placing the queen
with the Princess Hebe in her lap by her side, she drove
with excessive swiftness full westward for eight hours ; when,
(just as the sun began to have power enough to make the
queen almost faint with the heat and her former fatigue,)
they arrived at the side of a shady wood ; upon entering of
which the fairy made her horses slacken their speed ; and,
having travelled about a mile and-a-half through rows of elms
and beech trees, they came to a thick grove of firs, into
which there seemed to be no entrance. For there was not
any opening to a path, and the undenvood, consisting chiefly
of rose-bushes, white-thorn, eglantine, and other flowering
shrubs, was so thick, that it appeared impossible to force
her way through them. But alighting out of the car (which
immediately disapj)eared) the fairy (bidding the queen foll6w
her) pushed her way through a large bush of jessamine, whose
tender branches gave way for their passage and then closed
again, so as to leave no traces of an entrance into this charm-
ing grove.

Having gone a little way through an extreme narrow path,
they came into an opening (quite surrounded by these firs
and sweet underwood) not very large, but in which was
contained everything that is necessary towards making life
comfortable. At the end of a green meadow was a ])laia
neat house, built more for convenience than beauty, fronting
the rising sun ; and behind it was a small garden, storetl only
with fruits and useful herbs. Sybella conducted her guests
into this her simple lodging ; and, as repose was the chief
thing necessary for the poor fatigued queen, she prevailed


with her to He down on a couch. Some hours' sound
sleep, which her weariness induced, gave her a fresh supply
of spirits ; the ease and safety from her pursuers, in which
she then found herself, made her for a short time tolerably
composed ; and she begged the favour of knowing to whom
she was so greatly obliged for this her happy deliverance;
but the fairy, seeing her mind too unsettled to give any due
attention to what she should say, told her that she would
defer the relation of her own life (which was worth her ob-
servation) till she had obtained a respite from her sorrows ;
and in the meantime, by all manner of obliging ways, she
endeavoured to divert and amuse her.

The queen, after a short interval of calmness of mind,
occasioned only by her so sudden escape from the terrors of
pursuit, returned to her former dejection, and for some time
incessantly wept at the dismal thought, tiiat the princess
seemed now, by this reverse of fate, to be for ever excluded
all hopes of being seated on her father's throne ; and,
by a strange perverse way of adding to her own grief, she
afflicted herself the more, because the little princess was
ignorant of her misfortune ; and whenever she saw her
diverting herself with little childish plays, instead of being
pleased with such her innocent amusement, it added to her
sorrow, and made her tears gush forth in a larger stream
than usual. She could not divert her thoughts from the
palace from which she had been driven, to fix them on any
other object ; nor would her grief suffer her to reflect that
it was possible for the princess to be happy without a crown.

At length time, the great cure of all ills, in some measure
abated her sorrows \ her grief began to subside ; and, in
spite of herself, the reflection that her misery was only in
her own fancy, would sometimes force itself on her mind.
She could not avoid seeing, that her little hostess enjoyed as
perfect a state of happiness as is possible to attain in this
world ; that she was free from anxious cares, undisturbed
by restless passions, and mistress of all things that could be
of any use to make life easy or agreeable. The oftener this
reflection presented itself to her thoughts, the more strength
it gained ; and, at last, she could e\eu bear, to think, that


her beloved child might be as Imppy in such a situation as
was her amiable hostess. Her countenance now grew more
cheerful ; she could take the Princess Hebe in her arms,
and, thinking the jewels she had preserved would secure her
from any fear of want, look on her with delight ; and began
even to be convinced that her future life might be spent in
calm content and pleasure.

As soon as the voice of reason had gained this power
over the queen, Sybella told her, that now her bosom was
so free from passion, she would relate the history of her
life. The queen, overjoyed that her curiosity might now be
gratified, begged her not to delay giving her that pleasure
one moment ; on which our little fairy began in the follow-
ing manner.

But there Mrs. Teachum told Miss Jenny that the bell
rung for dinner ; on which she was obliged to break oft".
But meeting again in the same arbour in the evening, when
their good mistress continued to them the favour of her
presence, Miss Jenny pursued her story.


' My father,' said the fairy, ' was a magician : he married a
lady for love, whose beauty for outshone that of all her
neighbours ; and by means of that beauty, she had so great
an influence over her husband, that she could command
the utmost power of his art. But better had it been for her,
had that beauty been wanting ; for her power only served to
make her wish for more, and the gratification of every desire
begot a new one, which often it was impossible for her to
gratify. My father, though he saw his error in thus indulging
her, could not attain steadiness of mind enough to mend it,
nor require resolution enough to suffer his beloved wife once
to grieve or shed a tear to no purpose, though in order to
cure her of that folly which made her miserable.

' My grandfather so plainly saw the temper and disjjosition
of his son towards women, that he did not leave him at
liberty to dispose of his magic art to any but his posterit\-,
that if might not be in the power of a wife to tease him out

' * Ji


of it. But his caution was to very little purpose ; for
although my mother could not from herself exact any magic
power, yet such was her unbounded influence over her
husband, that she was sure of success in every attempt to
l)ersuade him to gratify her desires. For if every argument
she could invent happened to fail, yet the shedding but one
tear was a certain method to prevail with him to give up his
reason, whatever might be tlie consequence.

' When my father and mother had been married about a
year, she had a daughter, to whom she gave the name
of Brunetta. Her first request to my father was, that he
would endow this infant with as much beauty as she herself
was possessed of, and bestow on her as much of his art as
should enable her to succeed in all her designs. My father
foresaw the dreadful tendency of gi'anting this request, but
said he would give it with this restriction, that she should
succeed in all her designs that were not wicked ; for, said he,
the success of wicked designs always turns out as a punish-
ment to the persons so succeeding. In this resolution he
lield for three days, till my mother (being weak in body)
worked herself with her violent passions to such a degree
that the physicians told my father, they despaired of her
life, unless some method could be found to make her mind
more calm and easy. His fondness for his wife would
not suffer him to bear the thoughts of losing her, and the
horror with which that apprehension had but for a moment
possessed his mind, prevailed with him to bestow on the
little Brunetta (though foreseeing it would make her mise-
rable) the fatal gift in its full extent. But one restriction it
was out of his ])ower to take off, namely, that all wicked
designs ever could and should be rendered ineffectual by
the virtue and perseverance of those against whom they
were intended, if they in a proper manner exerted that

' I was born about two years after Brunetta, and was
called Sybella : but my mother was so taken up with her
darling Brunetta, that she gave herself not the least concern
about me ; and I was left wholly to the care of my father.
In order to make the gift she had extorted from her fond hus-


band as fatal as possible to her favourite child, she took care
in her education (by endeavouring to cultivate in her the
spirit of revenge and malice against those who had in the
least degree offended her) to turn her mind to all manner
of mischief; by which means she lived in a continual

' My father, as soon as I was old enough to hearken to
reason, told me of the gift he had conferred on my sister ;
said he could not retract it ; and therefore, if she had any
mischievous designs against me, they must in some measure
succeed ; but he would endow me with a power superior to
this gift of my sister's, and likewise superior to any thing
else that he was able to bestow, which was strength and
constancy of mind enough to bear patiently any injuries I
might receive ; and this was a strength, he said, which would
not decay, but rather increase, by every new exercise of it ;
and, to secure me in the possession of this gift, he also gave
me a perfect knowledge of the true value of everything around
me, by which means I might learn whatever outward acci-
dents befel me, not to lose the greatest blessing in this
world, namely, a calm and contented mind. He taught me
so well my duty, that I cheerfully obeyed my mother in all
things, though she seldom gave me a kind word, or even a
kind look ; for my spiteful sister was always telling some lies
to make her angry with me. But my heart overflowed with
gratitude to my father, that he should give me leave to love
him, whilst he instructed me that it was my duty to pay him
the most strict obedience.

' Brunetta was daily encouraged by her mother to use me
ill, and chiefly because my father loved me ; and although
she succeeded in all her designs of revenge on me, yet was
she very uneasy, because she could not take away the cheer-
fulness of my mind \ for I bore with patience whatever
happened to me : and she would often say, must I witli all
my beauty, power, and wisdom (for so she called her low
cunning) be suffering ])erpetual uneasiness ? and shall you,
who ha\e neither beauty, power, nor wisdom, pretend to be
hajjpy and cheerful % Then would she cry and stamp, and
rave like a mad creature, and set her invention at work to

M 2


make my mother beat me or lock me up, or take from me
some of my best clothes to give to her ; yet still could not
her power extend to vex my mind : and this used to throw
her again into such passions as weakened her health, and
greatly impaired her so much boasted beauty.

' In this manner we lived, till on a certain day, after
Bnmetta had been in one of her rages with me for nothing,
my father came in and chid her for it ; which, when my
mother heard, she threw herself into such a violent passion
that her husband could not pacify her. And, being big with
child, the convulsions, caused by her passions, brought her
to her grave. Thus my father lost her, by the same uncon-
trolable excesses, the fatal effects of which he had before
ruined his daughter to preserve her from. He did not long
survive her ; but, before he died, gave me a little wand,
which, by striking three times on the ground, he said, would
at any time produce me any necessary or convenience of life,
which I really w\anted, either for myself or the assistance of
others ; and this he gave me, because he was \try sensible,
he said, that, as soon as he was dead, my sister would never
rest till she had got from me both his castle and everything
that I had belonging to me in it. But, continued he, when-
ever you are driven from thence, bend your course directly
into the pleasant wood Ardella ; there strike with your wand,
and everything you want will be provided for you. But
keep this wand a profound secret, or Bmnetta will get it
from you ; and then (though you can never, while you pre-
serve your ;)atience, be unhappy) you will not have it in your
power to be of so much use as you would wish to be, to those
who shall stand in need of your assistance. Saying these
words he expired, as I kneeled by his bedside attending his
last commands, and bewailing the loss of so good a father.

' In the midst of this our distress, we sent to my uncle
Sochus, my father's brother, to come to us, and to assist us
in an equal division of my deceased father's effects ; but
my sister soon contrived to make him believe that I was
the wickedest girl alive, and had always set my father
against her by my art, which, she said, I pretended to call
wisdom ; and by several handsome presents she soon per-


suaded him (for he did not care a farthing for either of us)
to join with her in saying, that, as she was the eldest sister,
she had a full right to the castle and everything in it ; but
she told me I was very welcome to stay there, and live with
her, if I pleased ; and while I behaved myself well, she
should be very glad of my company.

' As it was natural for me to love all people that would
give me leave to love them, I was quite overjoyed at this
kind offer of my sister's, and never once thought on the
treachery she had so lately been guilty of; and I have
since reflected, that happy was it for me that passion
was so much uppermost with her, that she could not exe-
cute any plot that required a dissimulation of any long
continuance ; for, had her good humour lasted but one
four-and-twenty hours, it is very probable that I should have
opened my whole heart to her; should have endeavoured
to have begun a friendship with her, and perhaps have
betra)'ed the secret of my wand ; but just as it was sunset,
she came into the room where I was, in the most violent
passion in the world, accusing me to my uncle of ingratitude
to her great generosity, in suffering me to live in her castle.
She said, " that she had found me out, and that my crimes
were of the blackest dye," although she would not tell me
either what they were, or who were my accusers. She
would not give me leave to speak, either to ask what my
offence was, or to justify my innocence ; and I plainly per-
ceived, that her pretended kindness was designed only to
make my disappointment the greater ; and that she was
now determined to find me guilty, whether I pleaded or not.
And after she had raved on for some time, she said to me
with a sneer, ' Since you have always boasted of your calm
and contented mind, you may now try to be contented this
night with the softness of the grass for your bed ; for here in
my castle you shall not stay one moment longer.' And so
saying, she and my uncle led me to the outer court, and
thrusting me with all their force from them, they shut up the
gates, bolting and barring them as close as if to keep out a
giant ; and left me, at that time of night, friendless, and, as
they thought, destitute of any kind of support.


' I then remembered my dear father's last words, and made
what haste I could to this wood, which is not above a mile
distant from the castle ; and being, cs I thought, about the
middle of it, I struck three times with my wand, and
immediately up rose this grove of trees which you see, this
house, and all the other conveniences which I now enjoy;
and getting that very night into this my plain and easy bed, I
enjoyed as sweet a repose as ever I did in my life, only
delayed, indeed, a short time, by a few sighs for the loss of
so good a parent, and the unhappy state of a self-tormented
sister, whose slumbers (I fear) on a bed of down were more
restless and interrupted that night than mine would have
been, even had not my father's present of the wand preven-
ted me from the necessity of using the bed of grass, which
she, in her wrath, allotted me. In this grove, which I call
Placid Grove, is contained all that I want ; and it is so well
secured from any invaders, by the thick briars and thorns
which surrotmd it, having no entrance but through that
tender jessamine, that I live in no apprehensions of any
disturbance, though so near my sister's castle. But once,
indeed, she came with a large train, and, whilst I was asleep,
set fire to the trees all round me ; and waking, I found
myself almost suffocated with smoke, and the flames had
reached one part of my house. I started from my bed,
and striking on the ground three times with my wand, there
came such a quantity of water from the heavens, as soon
extinguished the fire ; and the next morning, by again
having recourse to my wand, all things grew up into their
convenient and proper order. When my sister Brunetta
found that I had such a supernatural power at my command,
though she knew not what it was, she desisted from ever
attempting any more by force to disturb me ; and now only
uses all such arts and contrivances to deceive me, or any
persons whom I would wish to secure. One of my father's
daily lessons to me was, that I should never omit, any one
day of my life, endeavouring to be as serviceable as I possibly
could to any person in distress. And I daily wander as far
as my feet will carry me in search of any such, and hither I
invite them to peace and calm contentment. But my father


added also this command, that I should never endeavour
doing any further good to those whom adversity had not
taught to hearken to the voice of reason, enough to enable
them so to conquer their passions as not to think themselves
miserable in a safe retreat from noise and confusion. This
was the reason I could not gratify you in relating the history
of my life, whilst you gave way to raging passions, which only
serve to blind your eyes, and shut your ears from truth. But
now, great queen (for 1 know your state from what you
vented in your grief), I am ready to endow this little princess
with any gift in my power, that I know will tend really to her
good ; and I hope your experience of the world has made
you too reasonable to require any other.'

The queen considered a little while, and then desired
Sybella to endow the princess with that only wisdom which
would enable her to see and follow what was her own true
good, to know the value of everything around her, and to be
sensible that, following the paths of goodness, and perform-

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 15 of 43)