Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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ing her duty, was the only road to content and happiness.

Sybella was overjoyed at the queen's request, and imme-
diately granted it, only telling the Princess Hebe, that it was
absolutely necessary towards the attainment of this great
blessing, that she should entirely obey the queen her mother,
without ever pretending to examine her commands ; for
' true obedience (said she) consists in submission ; and when
we pretend to choose what commands are proper and fit for
us we don't obey, but set up our own wisdom in opposition
to our governors вАФ this, my dear Hebe, you must be very
careful of avoiding if you would be happy.' . She then
cautioned her against giving way to the persuasions of any
of the young shepherdesses thereabouts, who would endea-
vour to allure her to disobedience by striving to raise in her
mind a desire of thinking herself wise, whilst they were
tearing from her what was indeed true wisdom. ' For (said
Sybella) my sister Brunetta, who lives in the castle she drove
me from (about a mile from this wood) endows young shep-
herdesses with great beauty, and everything that is in appear-
ance amiable and likely to persuade, in order to allure away
and make wretched those persons I would preserve: and


all the wisdom with which I have endowed the Princess
Hebe will not prevent her falling into my sister's snares,
if she gives the least way to temptation ; for my father's gift
to Brunetta in her infancy, enables her (as I told you) to
succeed in all her designs, except they are resisted by the
virtue of the person she is practising against. Many poor
wretches has my sister already decoyed away from me,
whom she now keeps in her castle; where they live in
splendour and seeming joy, but in real misery, from per-
petual jars and tumults, raised by envy, malice, and all the
train of tumultuous and tormenting passions.'

The Princess Hebe said, she doubted not but she should
be able to withstand any of Erunetta's temptations. Her
mother interrupting her, cried out, ' Oh, my dear child,
though you are endowed with wisdom enough to direct you
in the way to viitue, yet if you grow conceited and proud of
that wisdom, and fancy yourself above temptation, it will
lead you into the worst of all evils.' Here the fairy inter-
jjosed, and told the Princess Hebe, that if she would always
carefully observe and obey her mother, who had learned
wisdom in that best school adversity, she Avould then, in-
deed, be able to withstand and overcome every temptation ;
and would likewise be happy herself, and be able to dispense
happiness all around her. Nothing was omitted by the fairy
to make this retirement agreeable to her royal guests ; and
they had now passed near seven years in this delightful
grove, in perfect peace and tranquillity ; when one evening,
as they were walking in the pleasant wood which surrounded
their habitation, they espied under the shade, and leaning
against the bark of a large oak, a poor old man, whose limbs
were withered and decayed, and whose eyes were hollow and
sunk with age and misery. They stopped as soon as they saw
him, and heard him, in the anguish of his heart, with a loud
groan, utter these words : ' When will my sorrows end ]
AVhere shall I find the good fairy Sybella?' The fairy imme-
diately begged to know his business with her; and said, if his
sorrows would end on finding Sybella, he might set his heart
at ease ; for she stood now before him, and ready to serve
him, if his distresses were such as would admit of relief,


and he could prove himself worthy of her friendship. The
old man appeared greatly overjoyed at having found the
fairy, and began the following story :

' I live from hence a thousand leagues. All this tiresome
way have I come in search of you. My whole life has been
spent in amassing wealth, to enrich one only son, whom I
doated on to distraction. It is now five years since I have
given to him all the riches I had laboured to get, only to
make him happy. But, alas ! how am I disappointed ! His
wealth enables him to command whatever this world pro-
duces; and yet the poorest wretch that begs his bread
cannot be more miserable. He spends his days in riot and
luxury; has more slaves and attendants than wait in the
palace of a prince ; and still he sighs from morning till
night, because, he says, there is nothing in this world worth
living for. All his dainties only sate his palate and grow
irksome to his sight. He daily changes his opinion of
what is pleasure; and, on the trial, finds none that he can
call such ; and then falls to sighing again, for the emptiness
of all that he has enjoyed. So that, instead of being my
delight, and the comfort of my old age, sleepless nights, and
anxious days, are all the rewards of my past labours for him.
But I have had many visions and dreams to admonish me,
that if I would venture with my old frame to travel hither
a-foot in search of the fairy Sybella, she had a glass which,
if she showed him, he would be cured of this dreadful
melancholy, and I have borne the labour and fatigue of
coming this long tiresome way, that I may not breatlie my
last with the agonising reflection, that all the labours of my
life have been thrown away. But what shall I say to engage
you to go with me ? Can riches tempt, or can pleasure
allure you % '

' No (answered the fairy) neither of them has power to
move me; but I compassionate your age; and if I thought
I could succeed, would not refuse you. The glass which I
shall bid him look in, will show him his inward self; but if
he will not open both his eyes and heart enough to truth, to
let him understand, that the pleasures he pursues not only
are not but cannot be satisfactory, I can be of no sort of


service to him. And know, old man, that the punishment
you now feel is the natural result of your not having taught
him this from his infancy; for, instead of heaping up wealth,
to allure him to seek for happiness from such deceitful means,
you should have taught him, that the only path to it was to
be virtuous and good.'

The old man said, he heartily repented of his conduct;
and then on his knees so fer\-ently implored Sybella's assist-
ance, that at last she consented to go with him. Then
striking on the ground three times with her wand, the car
and horses rose up ; and placing the old man by her, after
taking leave of the queen, and begging the Princess Hebe to
be careful to guard against all temptations to disobedience,
she set out on her journey.

It being now come to the latest hour that Mrs. Teachum
thought proper for her little scholars to stay out in the air,
she told Miss Jenny that she must defer reading the remaining
part of her story till the next day. Miss Jenny always, with
great cheerfulness, obeyed her governess, and immediately
left off reading ; and said she was ready to attend her ; and
the whole company rose up to follow her.

Mrs. Teachum had so much judgment, that perceiving
such a ready obedience to all her commands, she now
endeavoured, by all means she could think of, to make her
scholars throw off that reserve before her which must ever
make it uneasy to them for her to be present whilst they
were following their innocent diversions ; for such was the
understanding of this good woman, that she could keep up
the authority of the governess in her school, yet at times
become the companion of her scholars. And as she now
saw, by their good behaviour, they deserved that indulgence,
she took the little dumpling by the hand, and, followed by
the rest, walked towards the house, and discoursed fiimiliarly
with them the rest of the evening, concerning all their past




It was the custom on Saturdays to have no school in the
afternoon, and it being also their writing day from morning-
school till dinner, Mrs. Teachum, knowing how eager Mis;;
Jenny's hearers were for the rest of the story, accompanied
them into the arbour early in the afternoon, when I\Iiss
Jenny went on as follows :


The queen and the Princess Hebe remained, by the good
fairy's desire, in her habitation during her absence. They
spent their time in serenity and content ; the princess daily
improving herself in wisdom and goodness, by hearkening to
her mother's instructions, and obeying all her commands,
and the queen in studying what would be of most use to her
child. She had now forgot her throne and palace, and
desired nothing farther, than her present peaceful retreat.
One morning, as they were sitting in a little arbour at the
corner of a pleasant meadow, on a sudden they heard a
voice, much sweeter than they had e\-er heard, warble through
the following song :


^ Virtue, soft balm of every woe,

Of ev'ry grief the cure,
'Tis thou alone that canst best bestow

Pleasures unmix'd and pure.
The shady wood, the verdant mead,

Are Virtue's flow'ry road ;
Nor painful are the steps which lead

To her divine abode.
'Tis not in palaces or halls,

She or her train appear ;
Far off she flies from pompous walls ;

Virtue and Peace dwell here.

The queen was all attention, and, at the end of the song,
she gazed around her, in hopes of seeing the person whose
enchanting voice she had been so eagerly listening to, when
she espied a young shepherdess, not much older than the


Princess Hebe, but possessed of such uncommon and dazzling
beauty, that it was some time before she could disengage her
eyes from so agreeable an object. As soon as the young
shepherdess found herself observed, she seemed modestly to
offer to withdraw; but the queen begged her not to go till
she had informed them who she was, that, with such a com-
manding aspect, had sc much engaged them in her favour.

The shepherdess coming forward, with a bashful blush
and profound obeisance, answered, that her name was
Rozella, and she was the daughter of a neighbouring shep-
herd and shepherdess, who lived about a cjuarter-of-a-mile
from thence; and, to confess the truth, she had wandered
thither in hopes of seeing the young stranger, whose fame for
beauty and wisdom had filled all that country round.

The Princess Hebe, well knowing of whom she spoke, con-
ceived from that moment such an inclination for her acquaint-
ance, that she begged her to stay and spend that whole day
with them in Placid Grove. Here the queen frowned upon
her; for she had, by the fairy's desire, charged her never to
bring anyone, without her permission, into that peaceful grove.

The young Rozella answered, that nothing could be more
agreeable to her inclination ; but she must be at home by
noon, for so in the morning had her fat-her commanded her,
and never yet in her life had she either disputed or disobeyed
her parents commands. Here the young princess looked
on her mother with eyes expressive of her joy at finding a
companion, which she, and even the fliiry herself, could not

When Rozella took her leave, she begged the favour that
the little Hebe (for so she called her, not knowing her to be a
princess) might come to her father's small cottage, and there
partake such homely fare as it afforded ; a welcome, she said,
she could insure her; and though poor, yet, from the honesty
of her parents, who would be proud to entertain so rare a
beauty, she was certain no sort of harm would happen to the
pretty Hebe from such a friendly visit ; and she would be
in the same place again to-morrow, to meet her, in hopes,
as she said, to conduct her to her humble habitation.

When Rozella was gone, the queen, though highly possessed


in her favour, both by her beauty and modest behaviour, yet
pondered some time on the thought, whether or no she was
a fit companion for her daughter. She remembered what
Sybella had told her concerning Brunetta's adorning young
shepherdesses with beauty and other excellencies, only to
enable them the better to allure and entice others into
wickedness. Rozella's beginning her acquaintance too with
the princess by flattery, had no good aspect; and the sudden
effect it had upon her, so as to make her forget or wilfully
disobey her commands, by inviting Rozella to Placid Grove,
were circumstances which greatly alarmed her. But, by the
repeated entreaties of the princess, she gave her consent
that she should meet Rozella the next day, and walk with
her in that meadow, and in the wood ; but upon no account
should she go home with her, or bring Rozella back with
her. The queen then, in gentle terms, chid the princess for
her invitation to the young shepherdess, which was contrary
to an absolute command ; and said, ' You must, my dear
Hebe, be very careful to guard yourself extremely well
against those temptations which wear the face of virtue. I
know that your sudden affection to this apparent good girl,
and your desire of her company, to partake with you the
innocent pleasures of this happy place, arise from a good
disposition; but where the indulgence of the most laudable
passion, even benevolence and compassion itself, interferes
with, or runs counter to, your duty, you must endeavour to
suppress it, or it will fare with you as it did with that hen,
who, thinking that she heard the voice of a little duckling
in distress, flew from her young ones, to go and give it
assistance, and, following the cry, came at last to an hedge,
out of which jumped a subtle and wicked fox, who had
made that noise to deceive her, and devoured her in an
instant. A kite at the same time taking advantage of her
absence, carried away, one by one, all her little innocent
brood, robbed of that parent who should have been their pro-
tector. The princess promised her mother t-eit she would
jJuncUially obey all her commands, and be S..y^ -watchful
and observant of everything Rozella said and did, till she had
approved herself worthy of her confidence and friendship.

. s


The queen the next morning renewed her injunctions to
her daughter, that she should by no means go farther out of
the wood than into the meadow, where she was to meet
Rozella ; and that she sliould give her a faithful account of
all that should pass betvveen them.

They met according to appointment, and the princess
brought home so good an account of their conversation,
which the queen imagined would help to improve rather
than seduce her child, that she indulged her in the same
pleasure as often as she asked it. They passed some hours
every day in walking round that delightful wood, in which
were many small green meadows, with little rivulets run-
ning through them, on the banks of which, covered with
primroses and violets, Rozella, by the side of her sweet
companion, used to sing the most enchanting songs in the
world : the words were chiefly in praise of innocence and a
country life.

The princess came home every day more and more
charmed with her young shepherdess, and recounted, as
near as she could remember, every word that had passed
between them. The queen very highly approved of their
manner of amusing themselves; but again enjoined her to
omit nothing that passed in conversation, especially if it had
the least tendency towards alluring her from her duty.

One day, as the Princess Hebe and Rozella were walking
alone, and talking, as usual, of their ow'n happy state, and
the princess was declaring how much her own happiness
was owing to her thorough obedience to her mother, Rozella
with a tone of voice as half in jest said, ' But don't you think,
my little Hebe, that if I take a very great pleasure in anything
that will do me no hurt, though it is forbidden, I may dis-
obey my parents by enjoying it, provided I don't tell them
of it to vex them with the thoughts that I have disobeyed
them 1 And then, my dear, what harm is done?'

' Great harm (answered the })rincess, looking grave and
half angry) : ' _ am ashamed to hear you talk so, Rozella. Are
you not guilty of treachery, as vrell as disobedience % Neither
ought you to deteni ine that no harm is done, because you
do not feel the immediate effects of your transgression; for
the consequence may be out of our naiTow inexperienced



\ iew ; and I have been taught whenever my mother lays
any commands on me, to take it for granted she has some
reasons for so doing; and I obey her, without examining
what those reasons are; otherwise, it would not be obeying
her, but setting up my own wisdom, and doing what she bid
me only when I thought proper/

They held a long argument on this head, in Avhich Rozclla
made use of many a fallacy to prove her point; but the
princess, as she had not yet departed from truth, nor failed in
her duty, could not be imposed upon. Rozella seeing every
attempt to persuade her was in vain, turned all her past
discourse into a jest; said she had only a mind to try her;
and was overjoyed to find her so steady in the cause of truth
and virtue. The princess resumed her usual cheerfulness
and good humour. Rozella sung her a song in praise of
constancy of mind ; and tliey passed the rest of the time
they staid together as they used to do.

But, just before they parted, Rozella begged she would not
tell her mother of the first part of the conversation that had
jiassed between them. The princess replied, that it would
be breaking through one of her mother's commands, and
therefore she dared not grant her request. Then, said
Rozella, ' Here I must for ever part with my dear little
Hebe. Your mother, not knowing the manner in which I
spoke, will have an ill opinion of me, and will never trust
you again in my company. Thus will you be torn from me,
and my loss will be irreparable.' These words she accom-
panied with a flood of tears, and such little tendernesses as
quite melted the princess into tears also. But she still said,
that she could not dare to conceal from her mother anything
that had happened, though she could not but own, she
believed their separation would be the consequence. ' Well
then (cried Rozella) I will endeavour to be contented, as our
separation will give you less pain than what you call this
mighty breach of your duty : and though I would willingly
undergo almost any torments that could be invented rather
than be debarred one moment the company of my dearest
Hebe, yet I will not expect that she should suffer the
smallest degree of pain or uneasiness, to save me from losing
what is the whole pleasure of my life.'


The princess could not bear the thought of appearing
ungrateful to such a warm friendship as Rozella expressed;
and, without farther hesitation, promised to conceal what
she had said, and to undergo anything, rather than lose so
amiable a friend.

After this they parted. But when the princess entered
the grove, she did not, as usual, run with haste and joy into
the presence of her indulgent mother; for her min'd was
disturbed : she felt a conscious shame on seeing her, and
turned away her face as wanting to shun the piercing look of
that eye, which she imagined would see the secret lurking in
her bosom. Her mother observed with concern her down-
cast look and want of cheerfulness. And being asked what
was the matter, she answered, her walk had fatigued her,
and she begged early to retire to rest. Her kind mother
consented ; but little rest had the poor princess that whole
night, for the pain of having her mind touched with guilt, and
the fear she was under of losing her dear companion, kept
her thoughts in one continued tumult and confusion. The
fairy's gift now became her curse ; for the power of seeing
what was right, as she had acted contrary to her knowledge,
only tormented her.

She hastened the next morning to meet Rozella, and told
her all that had passed in her own mind the preceding night ;
declaring that she would not pass such another for the whole
world ; but yet would not dispense with her promise to her
without her consent; and therefore came to ask her leave to
acquaint her good mother with all that had passed : 'For (said
she), my dear Rozella, we must, if we would be happy, do
always what is right, and trust for the consequences.' Here
Rozella drew her features into the most contemptuous sneer
imaginable, and said, ' Pray what are all these mighty pains
you have suffered % Are they not owing only to your want
of sense enough to know, that you can do your mother no
harm by concealing from her this, or anything else that will
vex her? and, my dear girl (continued she), when you have
once entered into this way of thinking, and have put this
blind duty out of your head, you will spend no more such
restless nights, which you must see was entirely owing to
your own imaginations.'



This startled the princess to such a degree, that she was
breaking from her ; but, putting on a more tender air,
Rozella cried, 'and can you then, my dear Hebe, determine
to give me up for such a trifling consideration]' Then
raising her voice again, in a haughty manner, she said, " I
ought to despise and laugh at you for your folly, or at best
pity your ignorance, rather than offer a sincere friendship to
one so undeserving.'

The princess, having once swerved from her duty, was
now in the power of every passion that should attack her.

Pride and indignation, at the thought of being despised,
bore more sway with her than either her duty or affection
to her fond mother; and she was now determined, she said,
to think for herself, and make use of her own understanding,
which, she was convinced, would always teach her what was
right. Upon this, Rozella took her by the hand, and, with
tears of joy, said, ' Now, my dearest girl, you are really wise,
and cannot therefore (according to your own rule) fail of
being happy. But, to show that you are in earnest in this
resolution, you shall this morning go home with me to my
father's cot; it is not so far off, but you will be back by the
time your mother expects you ; and as that will be obeying
the chief command, it is but concealing from her the thing
that would vex her, and there will be no harm done.' Here
a ray of truth broke in upon our young princess; but as a
false shame, and fear of being laughetl at, had now got
possession of her, she with a soft sigh consented to the

Rozella led the way. But just as they were turning round
the walk which leads out of the wood, a large serpent dar-
ted from one side out of a thicket directly between them,
and turning its hissing mouth towards the princess, as
seeming to make after her, she fled hastily back, and ran
with all her speed towards the grove, and panting for breath
flew into the arms of her ever kind protectress.

Her mother was vastly terrified to see her tremble and
look so pale; and as soon as she was a little recovered,
asked her the occasion of her fright; and added (with tears
running down her cheeks) ' I am afraid, my dear Hebe,

* N



some sad disaster has befallen you, for indeed, my child, I

but too plainly saw last night '

Here the princess was so struck with true sharne and
confusion for her past behaviour, that she fell down upon
her knees, confessed the w^hole truth, and implored forgive-
ness for her fault.

The queen kindly raised her up, kissed and forgave her.
' I am overjoyed, my dear child (said she), at this your sweet
repentance, though the effect of mere accident, as it appears;
but sent, without doubt, by some good fairy to save you
from destruction ; and I hope you are thoroughly convinced
that the serpent, which drove you home, was not half so
dangerous as the false Rozella.'

The princess answered, that she was thoroughly sensible
of the dangers she had avoided, and hoped she never
should again, by her own folly and wickedness, deserve to
be exposed to the danger from which she had so lately

Some days passed without the princess's offering to stir
out of the grove; and in that time she gave a willing and
patient ear to all her mother's instructions, and seemed
thoroughly sensible of the great deliverance she had lately
e.\perienced. But yet there appeared in her countenance
an uneasiness, which the queen wishing to remove, asked
her the cause of it.

'It is, dear madam,' answered the princess, 'because T
have not yet had it in my power to convince you of my
repentance, which (though I know it to be sincere) you
have had no proof of, but in words only; and, indeed, my
heart longs for an occasion to show you, that I am now able

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 16 of 43)