Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

. (page 18 of 43)
Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 18 of 43)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


were forced to put on laid them under so great a restraint,
that they knew not which way to turn themselves, or how to
utter one word; and great was their joy when Lady Caroline,
as the eldest, led the way, and with a swimming curtsey, her
head turned half round on one shoulder, and a disdainful
eye, took her leave, repeating two or three times the word
' misses,' to put them in mind that she was a lady. She was
followed by her sister Lady Fanny, who made a slow dis-
tinct curtsey to every one in the room, that she might be the
longer under observation. And then' taking Miss Jenny by
the hand said, ' Indeed, miss, you are very pretty,' in order
to put them in mind of her own beauty.

Our little society, as soon as they were released, retired to
their arbour, where, for some time, they could talk of nothing
but this visit. Miss Jenny Peace remarked how many
shapes vanity would turn itself into, and desired them to
observe how ridiculously Lady Caroline Delun turned her
whole thoughts on her dress and condition of life; and how
absurd it was in Lady Fanny, who was a very plain girl, to
set up for a beauty, and to behave in a manner which would
render her contemptible, even though she had that beauty
her own vanity made her imagine herself possessed of.

Miss Nanny Spruce said, ' She was greatly rejoiced that
she had seen her folly; for she could very well remember
when she had the same vanity of dress and superiority of
station with Lady Caroline, though she had not, indeed, a
title to support it ; and in what manner (she said) she would
tell them in the' stor}^ of her life.'


Miss Nanny Spruce was just nine years old, and was the
very reverse of Patty Lockit in all things; for she had
little limbs, little features, and such a compactness in her
form, that she was often called the little fairy. She had the
misfortune to be lame in one of her hips; but by good
management, and a briskness and alacrity in carrying herself,
it was a very small blemish to her, and looked more like an
idle childish gait than any real defect.



'My delight,' said Miss Nanny Spruce, 'ever since I can
remember, has been in dress and finery; for whenever I did
as I was bid, I was promised fine coats, ribands, and laced
caps; and when I was stubborn and naughty, then my fine
things were all to be locked up, and I was to wear only an
old stuft' coat; so that I thought the only reward I could
have was to be dressed fine, and the only punishment was to
be plainly dressed. By this means I delighted so much in
line clothes, that I never thought of anything but when I
should have something new to adorn myself in; and I have
sat whole days considering what should be my next new
coat, for I had always my choice given me of the colour.

' We lived in a country parish, my papa being the only
gentleman, so that all the little girls in the parish used to
take it as a great honour to play with me. And I used to
delight to show them my fine things, and to see that they
could not come at any but very plain coats. However, as
they did not pretend to have any thing equal with me, I was
kind enough to them. As to those girls whose parents were
so very poor, that they went in rags, I did not suffer them
to come near me.

' Whilst I was at home, I spent my time very pleasantly,
as no one pretended to be my equal; but as soon as I came
to school, where other misses were as fine as myself, and
some finer, I grew very miserable. Every new coat, every
silver riband that any of my schoolfellows wore, made me
unhappy. Your scarlet damask. Miss Betty Ford, cost me
a week's pain; and I lay awake, and sighed and wept all
night, because I did not dare to spoil it. I had several plots
in my head to have dirtied it, or cut it, so as to have madj
it unfit to wear; but by some accident my plots were pre-
vented; and then I was so uneasy, I could not tell what to
do with myself; and so afraid, lest any body should suspect
me of such a thing, that I could not sleep in peace, for fear
I should dream of it, and in my sleep discover it to m ,'
bedfellow. I would not go through the same dreads anJ


terrors again for the world. But I am very happy now in
having no thoughts but what my companions may know; for
since that quarrel, and Miss Jenny Peace was so good as to
show me what I'm sure I never thought of before, that is,
that the road to happiness is by conquering such foolish
vanities, and the only way to be pleased is to endeavour
to please others, I have never known what it was to be

As soon as Miss Nanny had finished speaking. Miss
Betty Ford said, that she heartily forgave her all her former
designs upon her scarlet coat; but, added she. Lady Fanny
Delun put me no less in mind of my former life, than Lady
Caroline did you of yours; and if Miss Jenny pleases, I
will now relate it.


Miss Betty Ford was of the same age with Miss Nanny
Spruce, and much of the same height, and might be called
the plainest girl in the school; for she had nothing pleasing
either in her person or face, except an exceeding fair skin,
and tolerably good blAck eyes; but her face was ill-shaped
and broad, her hair very red, and all the summer she was
generally very full of freckles; and she had also a small
hesitation in her speech. But, without preamble, she began
her life as follows:


'My life,' said Miss Betty Ford, 'has hitherto passed very
like that of Miss Nanny Spruce, only with this difference,
that as all her thoughts were fixed on finer)-, my head ran
on nothing but beauty. I had an elder sister, who was, I
must own, a great deal handsomer than I; and yet, in my
own mind, at that time, I did not think so, though I was
always told it was not for me to pretend to the same things
with pretty Miss Kitty {which was the name of my sister);
and in all respects she was taken so much more notice of
than I was, that I perfectly hated her, and could not help


wishing that, by some accident, her beauty might be spoiled:
whenever any visitors came to the house, their praises of
her gave me the greatest vexation; and as I had made
myself believe I was a \Qxy great beauty, I thought that it
was prejudice and ill-nature in all around me, not to view
me in that light. My sister Kitty was very goodnatured;
and though she was thus cried up for her beaut)', and more
indulged on that account, yet she never insulted me, but
did all in her power to oblige me. But I could not love her,
and sometimes would raise lies against her, which did not
signify, for she could always justify herself. I could not
give any reason for hating her but her beauty, for she was
very good; but the better she was, I thouglit the worse I
appeared. I could not bear her praises, without teasing and
vexing myself. At last, little Kitty died of a fever, to my
great joy; though, as every body cried for her, I cried too
for company, and because I would not be thought ill-

' After Kitty's death, I lived tolerably easy, till I came to
school. Then the same desire of beauty returned, and I
hated all the misses who were hanrlsomer than myself, as
much as I had before hated my sister; and always took
every opportunity of quarrelling with them, till I found my
own peace was concerned in getting the better of this dis-
position ; and that, if 1 would have any content, I must not
repine at my not being so handsome as others.'

When Miss Betty Ford ceased, Miss Jenny said, ' Indeed,
my dear, it is well you had not, at that time, the power of
the eagle in the fable; for your poor sister might then, like
the peacock, have said in a soft voice, " You are, indeed, a
great beauty: but it lies in your beak and your talons, which
make it death for me to dispute it." '

Miss Betty Ford rejoiced that her power did not extend
to enable her to do mischief, before she had seen her folly.
And now, this litde society, in good humour and cheerful-
ness, attended their kind governess's summons to supper ;
and then, after the evening prayers, they retired to their
peaceful slumbers.

* o




Early in the morning, after the public prayers which Mrs.
Teachum read every day, our httle company took a walk in
the garden, whilst the breakfast was preparing.

The fine weather, the prospects round them, all conspired
to increase their pleasure. They looked at one another
with delight; their minds were innocent and satisfied ; and
therefore every outward object was pleasing in their sight.

Miss Jenny Peace said, she was sure they were happier
than any other society of children whatever, except where
the same harmony and love were preserved, as were kept in
their minds: 'For (continued ^he) I think now, my dear
companions, I can answer for you all, that no mischievous,
no malicious plots disturb the tranquillity of your thoughts ;
plots which, in the end, constantly fall on the heads of those
who invent them, after all the pains they cost them in form-
ing and endeavouring to execute.'

Whilst jNIiss Jenny Peace was talking, Miss Dolly Friendly
looked at her very earnestly. She would not interrupt
her; but the moment she was silent, Miss Dolly said, ' My
dear Miss Jenny, what is the matter with you? your eyes
are swelled, and you look as if you had been crying. If
you have any grief that you keep to yourself, you rob us
of the share we have a right to demand in all that belongs
to you.'

>No, indeed (answered Miss Jenny), I have nothing that
grieves me ; though, if I had, I should think it increased,
rather than lessened, by your being grieved too; but last
night, after I went upstairs, I found amongst my books the
play of the Funeral, or Grief-a-la-Mode; where the faithful
and tender behaviour of a good old servant, who had long
lived in his lord's family, with many other passages in the
play (which I cannot explain unless you knew the whole
story) made me cry, so that I could hardly stop my tears.'

'Pray, Miss Jenny, let us hear this play, that had such an
effect on you,' was the general request; and Miss Jenny


readily promised, when they met in their arbour, to read it
to them.

They eagerly wn to their arbour as soon as school was
over, and Miss Jenny performed her promise, and was
greatly pleased to find such a sympathy between her com-
panions and herself; for they were most of them affected
just in the same manner, and with the same parts of the
play as had before affected her.

By the time they had wiped their eyes, and were rejoicing
at the turn, at the end of the play, in favour of the cha-
racters with which they were most pleased, Mrs. Teachum
entered the arbour, and inquired what they had been reading.
Miss Jenny immediately told her, adding, ' I hope, madam,
you will not think reading a play an improper amusement
for us; for I should be very sorry to be guilty myself, or
cause my companions to be guilty, of any thing that would
meet with your disapprobation.' Mrs. Teachum answered,
that she was not at all displeased with her having read a
play, as she saw, by her fear of offending, that her discretion
was to be trusted to. 'Nay (continued this good woman), I
like that you should know something of all kinds of writings,
where neither morals nor manners are offended ; for if you
read plays, and consider them as you ought, you will neglect
and despise what is light and useless, whilst you'll imprint
on your minds every useful lesson that is to be drawn from
them, I am very well acquainted with the play you have
been reading; but that I may see whether you give the
proper attention to what you have heard, I desire, my little
girls, that one of you will give me an account of the chief
incidents in the play, and tell me the story, just as you
would do to one of your companions that had happened to
have been absent.'

Here they all looked upon Miss Jenny Peace as thinking
her the most capable of doing what their governess required.
But Mrs. Teachum, reading their thoughts in their looks,
said, ' I exclude Miss Jenny in this case; for, as the play was
of her own choosing, I doubt not but she is thoroughly
enough acquainted with every part of it; and my design
was to try the memory and attention of some of the others.'

o 2


They all remained silent, and seemed to wait for a more
particular command, before any one would offer at the un-
dertaking; not through any backwardness to comply with
Mrs. Teachum's request, but each from a diffidence of
herself to perform it.

Miss Jenny Peace then said, that she had observed a
great attention in them all; and she did not doubt but every
one was able to give a very good account of what they had
heard. ' But, as Miss Sukey Jennett is the eldest, I believe,
madam (continued she), if you approve it, they will all be
very ready to depute her as their speaker.'

Each smiled at being so relieved by Miss Jenny; and
Mrs. Teachum, taking Miss Sukey Jennett by the hand, said,
'Come, my dear, throw off all fear and reserve; imagine me
one of your companions, and tell me the story of the play
you have been reading.'

Miss Sukey, thus encouraged by l;er kind governess, with-
out any hesitation spoke in the following manner:

' If I understand your commands, madam, by telling the
story of the play, you w^ould not have me tell you the acts
and scenes as they followed one another; for that I am
afraid I can hardly remember, as I have heard it only once;
but I must describe the chief people in the play, and the
plots and contrivances that are carried on amongst them.'

Mrs. Teachum nodded her head, and Miss Sukey thus

' There is an old Lord Bnimpton, who had married a
young wife, that had lived with him some years, and by
her deceitful and cunning ways had prevailed with him to
disinherit his only son Lord Hardy (who was a very sensible
good young man) and to leave him but a shilling. And
this Lord Brumpton was taken in a fit, so that all the house
thought he was dead; and his lady sent for an undertaker,
one Mr. Sable, to bury him. But coming out of his fit,
when nobody but this Mr. Sable and an old servant, called
Trusty, were by, he was prevailed upon by the good old
Trusty to feign himself still dead (and the undertaker pro-
mises secresy) in order to detect the wickedness of his wife,
which old Trusty assures him is very great; and then he


carries his lord where he overhears a discourse between the
widow (as she thinks herself) and her maid Tattleaid; and
he hears his once beloved wife rejoicing in his supposed
death, and in the success of her own arts to deceive him.
Then there are two young ladies, Lady Charlotte and Lady
Harriet Lovely, to whom this Lord Brumpton was guardian;
and he had left them also in the care of this wicked woman.
And this young Lord Hardy was in love with 1-ady Charlotte;
and Mr. Camply, a very lively young gentleman his friend,
was in love with Lady Harriet; and Lady Brumpton locked
the two young ladies up, and would not let them be seen by
their lovers. But. there at last they contrived, by the helj:)
of old Trusty, who had their real guardian's consent for it,
both to get away; and Lady Harriet married Mr. Camply
directly; but Lady Charlotte did not get away so soon, and
so was not married till the end of the play. This Mr.
Camply was a very generous man, antl was newly come to a
large fortune; and in the beginning of the play he contrives, in
a very genteel manner, to give his friend Lord Hardy, who
very much wanted it, three hundred pounds; but he takes
care to let us know, that my lord had formerly, when he
wanted his assistance, been very kind to him. And there at
last, when Lady Brumpton finds out that the two young
ladies are gone, she goes away in a rage to Lord Hardy's
lodgings, and in an insulting manner she pays all due lega-
cies, as she calls it, that is, she gives Lord Hardy the
shilling, which, by her wicked arts, was all his father had
left him; and she was insulting the young ladies, and glory-
ing in her wickedness, when honest old Trusty came in, and
brought in old Lord Brumpton, whom they imagined to be
dead, and all but Lady Brumpton were greatly overjoyed to
see him alive; but when he taxed her with her falsehood,
she defied him, and said that she had got a deed of gift
under his hand, which he could not revoke, and she 7vouId
enjoy his fortune in spite of him. Upon which they all
looked sadly vexed, till the good old Trusty went out and
came in again, and brought in a man called Cabinet, who
confessed himself the husband to the pretended Lady
Brumpton, and that he was married to her half a year
before she was married to my Lord Brumpton; but as my


lord happened to fall in love with her, they agreed to keep
their marriage concealed, in order that slie should marry my
lord, and cheat him in the manner she had done; and the
reason that Cabinet came to confess all this was, that he
looked into a closet and saw my lord writing, after he
thought he was dead, and taking it for his ghost, was by
that means frightened into this confession, which he first
made in writing to old Trusty, and therefore could not now
deny it. They were all rejoiced at this discovery, except
the late pretended Lady Brampton, who sneaked away with
Cabinet her husband; and my Lord Brumpton embraced
his son, and gave his consent that he should marry Lady
Charlotte; and they were all pleased and happy.'

Here Miss Sukey ceased, and Mrs. Teachum told her
she was a very good girl, and had remembered a great deal
of the play. ' But (said she) in time, with using yourself
to this way of repeating what you have read, you will come
to a better manner, and a more regular method, of telling
your story, which you was now so intent upon finishing,
that you forgot to describe what sort of women these two
young ladies were: though, as to all the rest, you have been
particular enough.'

' Lideed, madam (said Miss Sukey), I had forgot that,
but Lady Charlotte was a very sensible, grave young lady
and Lady Harriet was extremely gay and coquettish; but Mr.
Camply tells her how much it twisbecomes her to be so;
and she having good sense, as well as goodnature, is con-
vinced of her folly, and likes him so well for his reproof,
that she consents to marry him.'

Mrs. Teachum addressing herself to them all, told them,
that this was a method she wished they would take with
whatever they read ; for nothing so strongly imprinted
any thing on the memory as such a repetition; and then
turning to Miss Jenny Peace she said, 'and now, Miss
Jenny, I desire you will speak freely what you think is the
chief moral to be drawn from the play you have just read.'

Miss Jenny, being thus suddenly asked a question of
this nature, considered some time before she gave an


answer; for she was naturally very diffident of her own
opinion in anything where she had not been before in-
structed by some one she thought wiser than herself. At
last, with a modest look and a humble voice, she said,
* Since, madam, you have commanded me to speak my
sentiments freely, I think, by what happened to each cha-
racter in this play, the author intended to prove what my
good mamma first taught me, and what you, madam, since
have so strongly confirmed me in; namely, that folly,
wickedness, and misery, all three, as constantly dwell to-
gether, as wisdom, virtue, and happiness do.'

' 'Tis very true (answered Mrs. Teachum); but this moral
does not arise only from the happy turn in the conclusion
of the play, in favour of the virtuous characters, but is
strongly inculcated, as you see all along, in the peace of mind
that attends the virtuous even in the midst of oppression
and distress, while the event is yet doubtful, and seemingly
against them ; and, on the contrary, in the confusion of
mind which the vicious are tormented with, even whilst they
falsely imagine them triumphant.'

Mrs. Teachum then taking the book out of Miss Jenny's
hands, and turning to the passage, said, ' How does Lady
Brampton show us the wretched condition of her own mind,
when she says,

, ' " How miserable it is to have one one hates always
about one ! And when one can't endure one's own reflec-
tions upon some actions, who can bear the thoughts of an-
other upon them % "

' Then with what perturbation of mind does she proceed,
to wish it Avas in her power to increase her wickedness,
without making use enough of her understanding, to see
that by that means she would but increase her own misery.

' On the other hand, what a noble figure does Lord Hardy
make, when, by this wicked woman's contrivances, he thinks
himself disinherited of his whole fortune, ill-treated, and neg-
lected by a father he never had in thought offended ! He
could give an opportunity to a sincere friend, who would
not flatter him, to say,

' " No ; you arc, my lord, the extraordinary man, who, on


the loss of an almost princely fortune, can be master of a
temper that makes you the envy, rather than pity, of your
more fortunate, not more happy friends."

' This is a fine distinction between fortunate and happy;
and intimates that happiness must dwell in the mind, and
depends upon no outward accidents.

' Fortune, indeed, is a blessing, if properly used ; which
Camply shows, when by that means he can assist and re-
lieve his worthy friend.

' With what advantage does Lady Charlotte appear over
her sister, when the latter is trifling and dancing before the
glass, and the former says,

' " If I am at first so silly as to be a little taken with my-
self, I know it is a fault, and take pains to correct it % "

' And on Lady Harriet's saying, very giddily, that it was
too soon for her to think at that rate, Lady Charlotte pro-
perly adds,

' " They that think it too soon to understand themselves,
will very soon find it too late."

' In how ridiculous a light doth Lady Harriet appear,
while she is displaying all that foolish coquetry ! And how
difterent a figure does she make, when she has got the better
of it 1

' My Lady Brumpton, when alarmed with the least noise,
breaks out into all the convulsive starts natural to conscious

' " Ha ! what noise is that вАФ that noise of fighting? Run,
I say. Whither are you going 1 What, are you mad 1 Will
you leave me alone 1 Can't you stir 1 What, you can't take
your message with you 1 Whatever it is, I suppose you are
not in the plot, not you ; nor that now they are breaking open
my house for Charlotte, not }-ou. Go, see what's the matter,
I say ; I have nobody I can trust. One minute I think this
wench honest, and the next false. Whither shall I turn
me 'I "

' This is a picture of the confused, the miserable mind of a
close, malicious, cniel, designing woman, as Lady Brumpton
was, and as Lady Harriet ver}- properly calls her.

' Honesty and faithfulness shine forth in all their lustre


in the good old Tnisty. We follow him throughout with
anxious wishes for his success, and tears of joy for his ten-
derness. And when he finds that he is likely to come at
the whole truth, and to save his lord from being deceived
and betrayed into unjustly ruining his noble son, you may
remember that he makes this pious reflection :

All that is ours, is to be justly bent ;

And heav'n in its now time will bless th' event.

* This is the natural thought that proceeds from innocence
and goodness; and surely this state of mind is happiness.

' I have only pointed out a few passages to show you
that, though it is the nature of comedy to end happily, and
therefore the good characters must be successful in the
last act; yet the moral lies deeper and is to be deduced
from a proof throughout this play, that the natural conse-
quence of vice is misery within, even in the midst of a
seeming triumph ; and the natural consequence of goodness
is a calm peace of mind, even in the midst of oppression
and distress.

' I have endeavoured, my little dears, to show you, as
clearly as I can, not only what moral is to be drawn from
this play, but what is to be sought for in all others ; and
where that moral is not to be found, the writer will have
this to answer for, that he has been guilty of one of the
worst of evils ; namely, that he has clothed vice in so beau-
tiful a dress, that, instead of deterring, it will allure and

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 18 of 43)