Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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draw into its snares the young and tender mind. And I
am sorry to say, that too many of our dramatic perfomiances
are of this latter cast ; which is the reason that wise and
prudent parents and governors in general iliscourage in very
young people the reading of plays. And though by what I
have said (if it makes a proper impression) I doubt not but
you will all have a just abhorrence of such immoral plays,
instead of being pleased with them, should they fall in your
way; yet I would advise you rather to avoid them, and
never to read any but such as are approved of, and recom-
mended to you, by those who have the care of your edu-


Here good Mrs. Teachum ceased, and left her little
scholars to reflect on what she had been saying; when Miss
Jenny Peace declared, for her ])art, that she could feel the
truth of her governess's observations ; for she had rather be
the innocent Lord Hardy, though she was to have but that
one shilling in the world, which was so insolently offered
him as his father's last legacy, than be the Lady Brumpton,
even though she had possessed the fortune she so trea-
cherously endeavoured to obtain.

' Nay (said Miss Dolly Friendly) I had rather have been
old Trust}', with all the infirmities of age, following my Lord
Hardy through the world, had his poverty and distress been
ever so great, than have been the malicious Lady Brumpton,
in the height of her beauty surrounded by a crowd of lovers
and flatterers.'

Miss Henny Fret then declared how glad she was that
she had now no malice in her mind ; though she could not
always have said so, as she would inform them in the his-
tory of her past life.


Miss Henny Fret was turned of nine years old. She
was very prettily made, and remarkably genteel. All her
features were regular. She was not very fair, and looked
pale. Her upper lip seemed rather shorter than it should
be ; for it was drawai up in such a manner as to show her
upper teeth ; and though this was in some degree natural,
yet it had been very much increased by her being con-
tinually disturbed at a very trifling accident that offended
her, or at every contradiction that was offered to her. When
you came to examine her face, she had not one feature but
what was pretty; yet, from that constant uneasiness which
appeared in her countenance, it gave you so little pleasure to
look at her, that she seldom had common justice done her,
but had generally hitherto passed for a little insignificant
plain girl, though her very face was so altered since she was
grown goodnatured, and had got the better of that foolish
fretfulness she used to be possessed of, that she appeared


from her good-humoured smiles quite a difterent person;
and, with a mild aspect, she thus began her story :


' I had one brother,' said Miss Henny, ' as well as Miss
Jenny Peace; but my manner of living with him Avas quite
the reverse to that in which she lived with her brother. All
my praise or blame was to arise from my being better or
worse than my brother. If I was guilt of any fault, it was im-
mediately said, " Oh! fie, miss! Master George (that was my
brother's name) would not be guilty of such a thing for the
world." If he was carried abroad and I stayed at home, then
I was bemoaned over, that poor Miss Henny was left at
home, and her brother carried abroad. And then I was told
that I should go abroad one of these days, and my brother
be left at home ; so that, whenever I went abroad, my greatest
joy was, that he was left at home; and I was pleased to see
him come out to the coach-door with a melancholy air that
he could not go too. If my brother happened to have any
fruit given him, and was in a peevish humour, and would
not give me as much as I desired, the servant that attended
me was sure to bid me take care, when I had anything he
wanted, not to give him any. So that, I thought, if I did
not endeavour to be revenged of him, I should show a want
of spirit, which was of all things what I dreaded most. I
had a better memory than my brother, and whenever I
learnt anything, my comfort was to laugh at him because
he could not learn so fast ; by which means I got a good
deal of learning, but never minded what I learnt, nor took
any pains to keep it ; so that what I was eager to learn one
day, to show George how much I knew more than he, I
forgot the next. And so I went on learning, and forgetting
as fast as I learnt ; and all the pains I took served only to
show that I could learn.

' I was so great a favourite, that I was never denied any-
thing I asked for; but I was very unhappy for the same
reason that Miss Dolly Friendly's sister was so ; and I have
often sat down and cried, because I did not know what I


would have, till at last I own I grew so peevish and humour-
some, that I was always on the fret, and harboured in my
mind a kind of malice that made me fancy whatever my
brother got I lost ; and in this unhappy condition I lived
till I came to school, and here I found that other misses
wanted to have their humours as well as myself This I
could not bear, because I had been used to have my own
will, and never to trouble myself about what others felt.
For whenever I beat or abused my brother, his pain did
not make me cry; but I believe it was thinking wrong
made me guilty of these faults ; for I don't find I am ill-
natured ; for now I have been taught to consider that my
companions can feel as well as myself, I am sorry^ for their
pain, and glad when they are pleased, and would be glad to
do anything to oblige them.'

Here Miss Henny ceased and Miss Jenny Peace then
told her how glad she was to hear that she had subdued
all malice in her mind ; adding, ' These weeds, my dear,
unless early plucked up, are (as I have heard our good
governess observe upon a like occasion) very apt to take
such deep root as to choke every good seed around them ;
and then who can tell whether, with the same opportunities,
they might not become Lady Brumptons before the end of
their lives % '

Little Polly Suckling remembered that all the company
had told the history of their past lives except herself ; and
she was determined not to be left out ; but yet she had a
mind to be asked to tell it, hoping that her companions
thought her of consequence enough not to leave her out of
any scheme; therefore, addressing herself to !Miss Jenny,
she said she thought it was very pleasant to hear people tell
the history of their own lives. Miss Jenny saw her meaning,
and answered, ' So it is, my little dear ; and now, if you
please, you shall oblige us with relating the history of yours.'
Polly smiled at this request, and said she was ready to



Miss Polly Suckling was just turned of eight years old,
but so short of her age, that few people took her to be
above five. It was not a dwarfish shortness ; for she had the
most exact proportioned limbs in the world, very small bones,
and was as fat as a little cherub. She was extremely fair,
and her hair quite flaxen. Her eyes a perfect blue, her
mouth small, and her lips quite plump and red. She had
the freshness of a milkmaid ; and when she smiled and
laughed, she seemed to show a hundred agreeable dim-
ples. She was, in short, the very picture of health and
good-humour, and was the plaything and general favourite
of the whole school.


' Now,' said little Polly, ' I will tell you all my whole his-
tory. I hardly remember anything before I came to school,
for I was but five years old when I was brought hither.

'All I know is, that I don't love quarrelling, for I like
better to live in peace and quietness. But I have been
always less than any of my companions, ever since I have
been here ; and so I only followed the example of the rest;
and as I found they contended about everything, I did so
too. Besides, I have been always in fear that my school-
fellows wanted to impose on me, because I was little ; and
so I used to engage in every quarrel rather than be left out,
as if I was too little to give any assistance ; but, indeed, I
am very glad now we all agree, because I always came by
the worst of it. And, besides, it is a great pleasure to me to
be loved, and every miss is kind and good to me, and ready
to assist me whenever I ask her. And this is all I know of
my whole life.'

When litde Polly ceased, she was kissed and applauded
by the whole company for the agreeable simplicity of her
little history.

And thus ended the eighth day's amusement.




Miss Jenny rose early in the morning, and having collected
the lives of her companions (which she had wrote down
each day as they related them), she carried them, after
morning-school, according to her promise, to her governess.

Mrs. Teachum, when she had perused them, was much
pleased; and said that she perceived, by the manner in
which her scholars had related their lives, how much they
were in earnest in their design of amendment. ' For (con-
tinued she) they have all confessed their faults without re-
serve; and the untowardly bent of their minds, which so
strongly appeared before the quarrel, has not broke out in
these their little histories ; but, on the contrary, they all
seem, according to their capacities, to have endeavoured to
imitate your style, in the account you gave of your own life.
I would have you continue to employ your leisure hours in
the manner you have lately done, only setting apart a proper
time for exercise ; and to-day I will dispense with your at-
tendance in the school-room, and indulge you this afternoon
in another walk, either to the dairyhouse or to the cherry-
garden, whichever you all agree on. But as I shall not go
with you myself, and shall only send a servant to take care
of you, I hope to hear from you. Miss Jenny, so good an
account of the behaviour of your little friends and compa-
nions, that I shall have no cause to repent my indulgence.'

Miss Jenny Peace respectfully took leave of her governess,
and hastened to the arbour, where her little friends were met
in expectation of her coming. She told them how well
pleased their governess was with them all, for the ingenuous
confession of their faults in their past lives ; and she then
declared Mrs. Teachuni's kind i)ermission to them to take
another walk that afternoon.

As no one had at present any story to read or relate, they
employed their time till dinner, some in walking and mnning
about the garden ; others, in looking after and tending some
plant or flower, that they had taken particularly under their


care, which Mrs. Teachum both permitted and encouraged
them in ; whilst Miss Jenny Peace, Miss Sukey Jennett, and
Miss Dolly Friendly remained in the arbour, the two latter
asking a thousand questions of the former, both concerning
all the instructions she had ever learned from her mamma,
and by what means they should be best able to preserve that
friendship and happiness which had of late subsisted amongst
them; saying, how pleased their friends and relations would
be to see such a change in their temper and behaviour, and
how much they should be beloved by everyone.

When they met at dinner, Mrs. Teachum asked them,
whether they had determined upon the choice she had given
them in their afternoon's walk ; and they were all desirous of
going to the dair)-house ; for, little Polly said, she longed to
see the good-humoured old woman again, and indeed she
would not now say anything to her of her shaking head, or
her grey hair. ]\Irs. Teachum was pleased that little Polly so
gratefully remembered the old woman who had been so kind
to her; and readily consented to their choice, and approved
of their determination.

Being soon equipped for their walk, they set out, attended
by two maidservants ; and, as soon as they arrived, the good
old woman expressed the highest joy on seeing them, and
told little Polly that she should have plenty of cream and
strawberries, for her daughter had been that day in the
wood, and had brought home three baskets of very fine ones.
Mrs. Nelly, her daughter, said very crossly, that she supposed
there would be fine work amongst them now their governess
was not with them; but 'twas her mother's way to let all
children be as rude as they pleased. Miss Sukey Jennett,
with some indignation in her look, was going to answer her;
but Miss Jenny Peace, fearing she would say something less
mild than she wished, gave her a nod ; and turning to the
young woman, with great modesty and temper, thus said :
* You shall see, Mrs. Nelly, that our good governess's in-
structions are of more force with us than to lose all their
effect when we are out of her presence ; and I hope you will
have no cause, when we go away, to complain of the ill-
behaviour of any of us.'


The good old woman declared she never saw such sweet
tempered children in all her life; and after they had eat
their strawberries and cream, and were loaded with pinks
and roses by the good woman's bounty (for they did not
gather one without her permission), they took their leave with
the utmost civility, and Miss Jenny handsomely rewarded
the old woman for her good cheer. Mrs. Nelly herself was
so pleased with their regular and inoffensive behaviour, that
she could not help telling Miss Jenny, that she and all her
companions had, indeed, behaved as well as if their gover-
ness had been with them : on which Miss Jenny (as they
were walking home) observed to Miss Sukey Jennett (whom
she had prevented from making any reply to Mrs. Nelly's
speech) how much better it was to gain another's good will
by our own endeavours to be obliging, than to provoke
them to be more cross by our angry answers and reproaches.

When this little company, employed in pleasing talk and
lively observations, were come within about a mile of Mrs.
Teachum's house, and within view of a nobleman's fine
seat. Miss Jenny said, that the next time their governess
permitted them to walk out, she would ask her leave that
they might go and see that fine house ; for some time ago
she had told them that they should go thither when the
family were absent. Mrs. Wilson, the housekeeper, who by
chance was walking that way, and heard what Miss Jenny
said, came up to them, and told Miss Jenny that her lord
and lady were now both absent, having set out, one for
London and the other for another fine seat, forty miles off,
that very morning ; and as she knew вЦ† them to be Mrs.
Teachum's well regulated family, they should be welcome to
see the house and gardens now if they liked it. Miss Jenny
thanked her, and said, as it was near two hours sooner than
their governess expected them home, she would accept of
her kind offer. The housekeeper led them through an
avenue of tall elm-trees into this magnificent house, in
which were many spacious apartments, furnished with the
utmost grandeur and elegance. Some of the rooms were
adorned with fine pictures, others were hung with tapestry
almost as lively as those paintings, and most of the apart-


ments above stairs were furnished with the finest sorts of
needlework. Our Httle company were struck into a sort of
silent wonder and admiration at the splendid appearance of
everything around them; nor could they find words to
express the various reflections that passed in their minds, on
seeing such a variety of dazzling gaudy things : but when
they came to the needlework, Miss Jenny could not help
smiling, to see how everyone seemed most fixed in attention
upon that sort of work, which she herself was employed in,
and she saw in the faces of all a secret wish, that their own
piece of work might be finished with equal neatness and
perfection. The housekeeper was greatly pleased to see
them so much delighted, and answered all their questions
concerning the stories that were represented in the pictures
and tapestry, as fully as the time would permit ; but Miss
Jenny, being fearful of exceeding the hour in which they
would be expected home, told them they must not now stay
any longer, but if their governess would give them leave, and
it would not be troublesome to Mrs. Wilson, they would come
another time. She answered that it was so far from being
troublesome, that she never had more pleasure in her life,
than to see so many well-behaved young ladies, who all
seemed not only pleased with what they saw, but doubly
delighted and happy, in seeing each other so ; and, for her
part, she could wish they were to stay with her all their
lives j and, in short, they should not go till they had been in
her room, and eat some sweetmeats of her own making.
The good woman seemed to take so much delight in giving
them any pleasure, that Miss Jenny could not refuse accept-
ing her offer ; and when they were all in her room, Polly
Suckhng said, ' Well, this is a most charming house ; I wish
we could all live here for ever. How happy must the lord
and lady of this fine place be ! '

' Indeed, my little Polly (said Miss Jenny), you may be
very much mistaken ; for you know our good governess has
taught us, that there is no happiness but in the content of
our own minds; and perhaps we may have more pleasure in
viewing these fine things, than the owners have in the posses-
sion of them.'


' It is very true (said the housekeeper); for my lord and
lady have no delight in all this magnificence ; for, by being
so accustomed to it, they walk through all these apartments,
and never so much as observe, or amuse themselves with the
work, the pictures, or anything else ; or if they observe them
at all, it is rather with a look that denotes a sort of weariness,
at seeing the same thing contmually before them, than with
any kind of pleasure.' And then, with a deep sigh, she
added, ' You are indeed, young lady, perfectly in the right,
when you say, grandeur and happiness do not always go
together.' But turning off the discourse, Mrs. Wilson forced
them to take as many dried sweetmeats as they could carry
away with them, and insisted upon their promise (with Mrs.
Teachum's consent) that they should come another time to
see the gardens. They then took their leave with many
thanks, and the greatest civility ; and discoursed all the way
home on the fine things they had seen. Miss Betty Ford
said, that the fine gilding, and so many glittering looking-
glasses, made her think herself in Barbarico's great hall,
where he kept all his treasure.

' No (says Miss Nanny Spruce), it was not half so much
like that, as it was like Brunetta's fine castle ; and I could
not help thinking myself the Princess Hebe, and how much
I should have been pleased with such a fine place at first,
just as she was.'

'Indeed (says Miss Betty Ford), you are in the right of
it, Miss Nanny ; for it was more like the description of
Brunetta's castle, than what I said myself

Miss Jenny was pleased to hear Miss Betty so ready to
own herself mistaken ; and said to Miss Nanny Spruce, ' I
am glad, my dear, to find that you so well remember what
you read ; for it is by recalling frequently into our memories
the things we have read, that they are likely to be of any
service to us.'

Being now come home, they entered into the presence of
their governess with that pleasure and proper confidence
which ever attends innocence and goodness ; and Mrs.
Teachum received them with a pleasing smile.

Miss Jenny gave her governess a faithful account of all


that had passed, with the agreeable entertainment they had

accidentally met with, of seeing Lord X 's fine house, and

the great civility of Mrs. Wilson, ' Which I hope, madam
(said Miss Jenny) I did not do wrong in accepting.' ' You
did very properly, my dear (said Mrs. Teachum), for when
people are willing to oblige you, without any inconvenience
to themselves, it is always right to accept their offer, as you
thereby gratify them, by putting it into their power to give
you pleasure.'

Miss Jenny then, with great cheerfulness and freedom,
told her governess all that had passed in conversation, both

in their walk to the dairyhouse and at Lord X 's, what

little Polly had said in the housekeeper's room, as also Mrs.
Wilson's answer ; and said, by Mrs. Wilson's downcast look,

she was afraid that poor Lord X and his lady were not so

happy as might be wished. ' But (continued she) I did not
ask Mrs. Wilson any questions ; because you have taught
me, madam, carefully to avoid the least appearance of im-
pertinent curiosity.'

' You were very right, my dear (said Mrs. Teachum) in
asking no farther questions ; nor would she, I dare say, as
she is a prudent woman, have gratified you if you had ; for
though the unhappy story is too well known all over the
country, yet it would have been very unbecoming in one of
the family to have published it.' Mrs. Teachum saw in her
little scholar's eyes a secret wish of knowing what this story
was ; and, after a short pause, she said, ' Since I find you
disposed, my good girls, to make the proper use of what
you hear, I will indulge your curiosity.'

Lord X and his lady have been married seven years ;

Lord X is the wretchedest creature breathing, because he

has no children, and therefore no heir to his title and large
estate. He was naturally of a haughty, impetuous temper
and impatient of any the least disappointment; and this
disposition not being subdued in his youth, has led him into
all sorts of excesses. His lady is not much better tempered
than himself, and valuing herself highly upon her beauty, and
the large fortune she brought him, greatly resents his some-
times insolent, and always neglectful, usage of her. They


have hitherto Hved on in the most jarring, disputing manner,
never minding to conceal their quarrels from the world ; but
at last they have agreed to part by consent ; and the differ-
ent journeys they this morning took were taken, I suppose,
with an intent of a final separation.

' That grandeur and happiness do not always go together
(as Mrs. Wilson observed to you) is seen by this story ;
which I was the more willing to tell you, as it was a proper in-
troduction to a fable I have been collecting together from
others for your use. You know that all my endeavours to
make you good are only intended to make you happy ; and
if you thoroughly reflect upon the truth of this maxim, which
I so often endeavour to inculcate, you will doubtless reap no
small advantage from it.'

Here Mrs. Teachum ceased speaking, and, giving Miss
Jenny Peace a paper, she bid her read it aloud ; which she
did, and it contained the following fable :


In ancient days there was a great contention amongst the
birds, which, from his own perfections, and peculiar advan-
tages, had the strongest title to happiness ; and at last they
agreed to refer the decision of the debate to the eagle.

A day was appointed for their meeting ; the eagle took
his seat, and the birds all attended to give in their several

First spoke the parrot. Her voice so nearly resembling
human speech, which enabled her to converse with such a
superior race, she doubted not (she said) would have its just
weight with the eagle, and engage him to grant a decree in
her favour ; and to this plea she also added, that she dwelt
in a fine oige adorned with gold, and was fed ever}' day by
the hands of a fair lady.

And pray, Mrs. Poll, said the eagle, how comes it, since
you fare so sumptuously, that you are so lean and meagre,
and seem scarcely able to exert that voice you thus make your
boast of] 'Alas ! (replied the parrot), poor Poll's lady has
kept her bed almost this week ; the servants have all forgot


to feed me, and I am almost stan-ed.' ' Pray observe (said
the eagle) the folly of such pride ! Had you been able to have
conversed only with your own kind, you would have fared in
common with them ; but it is to this vaunted imitation of
the human voice, that you owe your confinement, and conse-
quently (though living in a golden cage) your dependence
upon the will and memory of others, even for common ne-
cessary food. Thus reproved, the parrot, with shame, hastily
retired from the assembly.

Next stood forth the daw, and, having tricked himself in
all the gay feathers he could muster together, on the credit

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 19 of 43)