Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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on her neck. Jemima promised an observance of her in-
junctions, and being now dressed, attended a summons from
!:er mamma, who was alone in her chamber, the company
having left her to walk in the garden, whither .she was unable
to accompany them. ' I see, my dear girl,' said she, holding
out her hand as she sat in an easy chair by the window, ' I
see that you are sorry to leave me ; and indeed, Jemima, I
am much grieved that such a separation is necessary ; but I
hope I shall be better when I return ; and I am sure you
would wish me to be quite well ; I hope, therefore, that you
will be a good child while you stay with your uncle and aunt,
and not give more trouble than you can avoid. You know,
my love, that although you are going amongst strangers, yet
you will be properly and kindly taken care off; and though
I don't say it is so agreeable as to be at home with your
nearer friends, yet, as we cannot have everything we wish for,
we must not be fretful, because that will not give us what
we desire, and will certainly make us more uncomfortable,
and be disliked by all those we are connected with. There
are a great many little things, Jemima, which you knov/ I
frequently tell you of, and which you must endeavour to
remember when I am not with you : therefore don't forget
to hold up your head, and behave gracefully; and when you
are at dinner, if you should be offered anything improper,
that is, what you are not permitted to have at home, be sure
civilly to refuse it, and say, your mamma does not choose
you should eat any. My only reason, you must be con-
vinced, for denying you any indulgence of that kind is,
because it would disagree with, and make you ill ; and you
are so good, I dare say, as never to do those things when
your papa and I are absent, which we should prevent if we
were present. Miss Placid assured her mamma of her obe-
dience, and her firm resolution to mind all her admonitions.
When she resumed her injunctions, and added, ' there is one
thing, my dear, of more importance than the rest, which I


would have you chiefly attend to: whatever may be your
temptation to the contrary, remember to speak the truth.
Your absence from me will be no excuse for the neglect of
your duty ; and if once you forfeit your honour, I can have
no farther dependence upon you ; and never venture to rely
on the concealment of a fault ; for, you may depend upon it,
such things are found out when least expected. But if they
should not be, the unhappiness you would feel at having
behaved wrong, would be a great punishment of itself Yet
I need not, I dare say, have mentioned this to my Jemima,
as she is at all times so good as to deserve reliance ; only
as you are going to be left quite to yourself, I thought it
necessary to put you particularly upon your guard.' Mr.
Finer returning at this period interrupted any farther dis-
course, only Mrs. Placid affectionately pressed her hand,
and after giving her a kiss, she sat down on a little stool by
her side.

When the hour of her departure was nearly arrived she
retired into the garden to take leave of her brothers, and
went round with them to all the different places she had
been accustomed to play in. They visited together the
poultry-yard, and Jemima fed her bantams before she left
them, bidding them all adieu, and looking behind her as she
shut the gate for the last time. They then walked round by
some walnut trees, where a seat had been put up for them
to sit in the shade. ' I wish you were not going,' said
Charles, 'for I put this box, and drove in these nails, on
purpose for you to hang up your doll's clothes, and now they
will be of no further use to us.' ' I wish so too,' replied his
sister ; ' but I can't help it.' ' Well, don't cry,' added
William ; ' but come this way by the brewhouse, and bid my
rabbits good-bye, and take this piece of lettuce in your hand
to feed the old doe, and here is some parsley for the young
ones : we shall have some more before you come back, and
I will send you word, if I can, how many there are.' ' And,
Jemima,' said Charles, ' I wish I was going with you to
London ; for I should like to see it, 'tis such a large place :
a great deal bigger than any villages which we have seen ;
and, they say, the houses stand close together for a great

y 2


way; and there are no fields or trees, and the houses have
no gardens to them. But then there is a great number of
shops, and you might perhaps get a collar for Hector. Do
pray try, Jemima, and buy him one, and have his name put
upon it, and that he belongs to the Rev. Mr. Placid at
Smiledale ; for then, in case we should lose him, folks would
know where to return him.' 'And would it not be better to
have a bell,' said William, ' as the sheep have % I like a bell
very much, 'twould make such a nice noise about the house ;
and then we should always know where he was when we
were reading, as my father will not let us look after him.
What else do we want her to buy, Charles ? Can't you write
a list ?' ' That will be the best way,' replied he, taking out his
pencil, and, very ungracefully to be sure, he put the point of
it to his mouth two or three times before it would write;
and then having but a small scrap of paper, he despatched
his brother, as the shortest way, to fetch a slate, and he would
transcribe it afterwards with a pen and ink, for he had, in
endeavouring to cut a new point to his pencil, broke it off
so frequently, that the lead was all wasted, and nothing re-
mained except the wood. William soon returned with the
slate under his arm. Charles took it from him, and then went
to work to prepare a bill of necessary things, which his sister
was to purchase in London. He leaned so hard as to
scratch in such a manner, as, had any grown people been of
the party, would have set their teeth on edge (a sensation,
I believe, with which children are unacquainted, for they
never seem to notice it at all). * First then,' said he, ' I am
to mention a collar for Hector, with his name and place of
abode ; and I should like very much to have some Indian
glue to mend our playthings, such as papa uses, and which
Ave can't get here, you know.'

William assented, and Jemima was as attentive as if she
had been to remember all the things he was writing, without
the assistance of his list. They sat some time in silence to
recollect the other necessary commissions, when she re-
minded them that a new pencil would be a useful article ;
but Charles said his father would supply that want, and
there was no need to spend his own money for things he


could have without any expense; but if any how I could get
a gun with a touchhole, I should be quite happy.' ' No, you
would not,' returned William, 'for then, Charles, you would
want gunpowder, which you never could have ; and if you
had, might never use it.' ' Why, that's true ! I have long
wished for it ; but, as you say, I will be contented without
it; so don't concern yourself about that, and I need not set
it down.' I shall not trouble you with the rest of the
consultation on this important subject, but transcribe the
list itself, which, with the account of the preceding conversa-
tion, I received from a young lady, who frequently spent
some months with Mrs. Placid, and to whose kindness I am
indebted for many of the various incidents which compose
this history.


'A collar for Hector. — Indian glue. — Some little pictures
to make a show of. — A pair of skates ; as we shall like skating
better than sliding. — A large coach-whip for Charles, be-
cause John wont lend us his ; — and some little books
which we can understand, and which mamma told Mrs.
West may be bought at Mr. Marshall's, somewhere in some
chuchyard; but Jemima must inquire about it.'

Such were the orders which Miss Placid received from
her brothers on her first journey to the metropolis. They
then attended her to bid adieu to her canary-bird, which she
very tenderly committed to their care, and desired they
would feed it every day, and give it water in her absence ;
and mind to turn the glass the right way, other^vise the poor
thing might be starved. While she was taking her leave of
little Dick, who hung in the hall by the window, her cat
came purring to her, and rubbed its head against her frock,
and pushed against her feet ; then lying down on one side,
and while Jemima stroked it with her hand, she licked her
fingers, and at last jumped up into the window-seat to be
still nearer to its mistress, who taking it into her arms,
particularly desired her brothers to give Puss some of their
milk every morning, and to save some bits of meat at dinner


to carry to it ; for my Pussy, added she, I am quite sorry to
leave you ! — Another job remained, which was, to put
away all her playthings; but this she had deferred so long,
that the carriage was ready before she had concluded, so
with that, likewise, she was obliged to entrust her brothers ;
and looking round her with a heavy heart upon every object
she had been accustomed to, she quitted the room with
regret; and after receiving the affectionate kisses of the
whole family, her papa lifted her into the carriage ; and the
tears running down her cheeks, she looked out of the window
as long as the house was in sight, and her brothers continued
to stand at the gate till, the road to London turning into a
contrary direction, they could no longer see each other.
She then, with a melancholy countenance, watched the
fields and lanes she passed by, till at last, quite fatigued, she
sat down, and soon after fell asleep.

AVhen they stopped at the inn where they intended to
rest that night, she was so much fatigued, having been
up very early, that she did not wake till she was nearly un-
dressed ; when finding herself in a house where she had
never before been, she looked about, but was too good to
fret at such a circumstance, though she wished to be at home
again. The next morning they renewed their journey, and
in two days arrived at Mr. Piner's house, about eight o'clock
in the evening.

Jemima, who had not seen her cousins since she was two
years old, had entirely forgotten them ; and as they ex-
pected to find her as much a baby as at their last interview,
tliey appeared like entire strangers to each other. They
welcomed their papa and mamma, and looked at IMiss
Placid with silent amazement : both parties, indeed, said
the civil things they were desired, such as, 'How do you
do, cousin?' rather in a low and drawling tone of voice ;
and Miss Sally, who was eight years old, turned her head on
one side, and hung on her papa's arm, though he tried to
shake her off, and desired her to welcome Miss Placid to
I^ondon, and to say, she was glad to see her, to inquire
after her papa, mamma, and brothers, and, in short, to
behave politely, and receive her in a becoming manner.


To do this, however, Mr. Finer found was impossible, as
his daughters were not at any time distinguished by the
graces, and were ahvays particularly awkward, from their
shyness, at a first introduction. — In this place, my dear Eliza,
you must excuse me, if I stop to hint at a like error in your
own conduct, and which, indeed, young ladies in general are
too apt to be inattentive to ; that, as first impressions are
usually the strongest, it is of great consequence to impress
your company with a favourable opinion of your appearance.
As you are acquainted with the common forms of good
breeding, you should consider that it is quite immaterial
whether you address a lady you have before seen, or one
with whom you are unacquainted, since the compliments of
civility are varied only by the circumstances of your know-
ledge, or the diff"erent connexions of the person to whom
you are speaking. When, therefore, you are in company
with strangers, you should accustom yourself to say what is
proper (which Avill be to answer any question they may ask
you) without at all considering how long you have known
them ; and, be assured, that as an easy behaviour is at all
times most agreeable, you will certainly please when 3-ou
speak with a modest degree of freedom. Do not, therefore,
make yourself uneasy with the idea of appearing awkward,
for by that means you will defeat your wishes; but endeavour
to retain your natural voice, and express yourself with the
same unconcern as you do in common conversation ; since
every species of affectation is disagreeable, and nothing will
so strongly recommend you as simplicity.

Our young traveller became, by the next morning, very
sociable with her cousins, and complied with their customs
with that cheerful obligingness which has ahvays so much
distinguished her character. She was much surprised at the
bustle which she saw in the street, and the number of
carriages so agreeably engaged her attention, that it was
with reluctance she quitted her seat on a red trunk by the
window, to enjoy the plays in which her cousins were solici-
tous to engage her. Mrs. Finer had been for some time en
gaged to dine with a lady of her acquaintance, where she could
not conveniently take either of her children, and they both


fretted and pined at the disappointment so as to render
themselves uncomfortable, and lose the pleasure of a holiday,
which their mamma had allowed them in consequence of
their cousin's arrival. Miss Nelly, the eldest, was con-
tinually teasing to know the reason why she might not go,
though she had repeatedly been told it was inconvenient ;
and Jemima beheld with astonishment two girls, so mucli
older than herself, presume to argue with their mamma
about the propriety of her commands, when their duty
should have been quiet submission. When her aunt was
gone, she took all the pains in her power to engage them to
be good-humoured, presented them with their toys, and
carried them their dolls; but they sullenly replied, to all
her endeavours, they did not want them ; and told her not to
plague them so, for they had seen them all a hundred times.
At last, Sally taking up a little tin fireplace, which belonged
to her sister. Miss Nelly snatched it from her, and said, 'she
should not have it!' Sally caught it back again, and they
struggled for it with such passion, as to be entirely careless
of the mischief they might do each other.

Poor Jemima, who had never disagreed with her brothers,
nor been witness to such a scene in her life, was terrified to
see them engaged with a degree of violence which threatened
them with essential hurt. She endeavoured to appease their
fury, and ventured, after she had stood still for some time
between two chairs, to try if, by catching hold of one of
their hands, she could be able to part them ; but they only
gave her some blows, and said, 'she had no business in their
quarrel !' She then retired to the farther part of the room,
and ardently wished herself at home. When spying another
fireplace under the table, she took it up with goodnatured
transport, and running to Miss Finer, told her, there was one
for her ; which she was in hopes would have put an end to the
dispute. This, however, proved to be the property of Miss
Sally, who declared, in her turn, that her sister should not touch
any of her playthings ; and finding she was not strong enough
to retain it, she threw it with all her force to the other end of
the room, and unfortunately hit Miss Placid a blow with one
of the sharp corners, just above her temple. This at once


put an end to the battle, for the blood immediately trickled
down her cheek, and alarmed the two sisters, who, forgetting
the subject of the debate, began to be uneasy at the eftects
of it ; only Miss Nelly, who considered herself as more innocent
(merely because she had not been the immediate cause of
the accident), with a recriminating air said, 'There, miss,
you have done it now. You have killed your cousin, I
believe !' Jemima, though in a good deal of pain, and much
frightened, did not cry ; as she seldom shed tears, unless
from sensibility, or at parting with her friends. She held her
handkerchief to the place, and became more alarmed,
in proportion as she saw it covered with blood ; till at last,
finding it was beyond their art to stop the effusion, Miss
Nelly, with trembling steps, went upstairs to tell the servant
of their misfortune. Dinah, -which was the maid's name,
had been so often accustomed to find her young ladies in
mischief, that she did not descend in very good humour,
and upon her entrance exclaimed, ' that they were all the
naughtiest girls in the world !' without inquiring how the
accident happened, or making any exception to the in-
nocence of Jemima, who could only again most sincerely
wish to be once more at Smiledale with her mamma. Dinah,
after washing her temple with vinegar, which made it smart
very much (though she did not complain), told them, 'They
had been so naughty they should not go to play any
more ; nor would she hear Miss Placid's justification, but
crossly interrupted her by saying, 'Hold your tongue, child !
and don't want to get into mischief again ; for my mistress
will make a fine piece of work, I suppose, about what you
have done alrearly !' — Jemima was too much awed, by the
ill-nature of her looks and the anger of her expressions, to
vindicate her conduct any further ; but quietly sitting down,
she comforted herself with the reflection, that her displeasure
was undeserved, and that to fret at what she could not avoid,
would not make her more happy; and therefore, with great
good humour, took up a bit of paper, which contained the
rough drawing of a little horse, which Charles had given her
on the day of her departure, and which she had since care-
fully preserved.


In justice to Mrs. Dinah I must here observe, that she
was not naturally ill-natured; but the Miss Piners were so
frequently naughty as to give her a great deal of trouble,
and tire out her patience; and their mamma, by not taking
the proper methods to subdue the errors of their dispositions,
had made them so refractory, that it soured her own temper,
and occasioned her to blame her servants for the consequence
of those faults which it was her duty to have prevented. So
you see, my dear Eliza, from such instances, how mistaken is
that indulgence, which, by gratifying the humours of chil-
dren, will make them impatient and vindictive, unhappy in
themselves, and a trouble to every one with whom they are
connected. The amiable Jemima was always contented and
good-humoured, even when she was not in a state agreeable
to her wishes ; and, by learning to submit to what she did
not like, when it could not be altered, she obtained the love
of everybody who knew her, and passed through life with
less trouble than people usually experienced ; for, by
making it a rule to comply with her sitiiation, she always
enjoyed the comforts it afforded, and suffered as httle as
possible from its inconvenience. In the present case, her
cousins, by their ill-temper and fretfulness, had quarrelled
with each other ; and when Dinah would not let them play,
as indeed they justly deserved to be punished, they did no-
thing but grumble and cry the whole day, and were so con-
scious of their bad behaviour, as to be afraid of seeing their
mamma ; while Miss Placid, serene in her own innocence,
entertained herself for some time with looking at the horse
above-mentioned, and afterwards with pricking it, till Dinah
set her at liberty ; which, seeing her good temper, she soon
did, and gave her besides some pretty pictures to look at,
and some fruit to eat, of all which her cousins were deprived.
By the next morning Jemima's temple had turned black;
and IMrs. Piner inquired how she had hurt herself? She
coloured at the question with some confusion, not willing
to inform her aunt of any thing to Miss Sally's disadvantage;
but as she was too honest to say anything but the truth, she
begged Mrs. Piner would not be angry if she informed her ;


which she having promised, Jemima told her, adding that
her cousin had no intention to hurt her.

Mrs. Finer kissed and commended Jemima very much ;
and Dinah having Hkewise given a high account of her
goodness, she told her daughters she was much displeased
with them ; but, in consequence of their cousin's intercession,
would not punish them that time, and desired them for tlie
future to imitate her example.

As soon as breakfast was over, they were dismissed to
school, while Jemima remained with her aunt; who after having
heard her read, gave her a handkerchief to hem, which she
sat down by her to do ; and when she had done work, very
prettily entered into conversation. — ' I should be much
obliged to you, ma'am (said she), as I don't know my
way about London, if you would go with me to buy some
things for my brothers, which I promised to carry back when
I return. I have got some money to pay for them, for
Charles gave me a sixpence, and three halfpence, and a far-
thing; and William gave me three-pence ; and I have got
a silver-penny, and a two-pence of my own, all screwed
safe in a little red box.'

Mrs. Finer inquired what the articles were which she
wished to purchase, and smiled on pemsing the list which
Charles had written. — 'And pray, my dear,' said she, 'how do
you intend to cany- the coach-whip, for you will not be able
conveniently to pack it up ; and as to the skates, I do not
think your papa would choose your brothers should make
use of them till they are much older, as they are very
dangerous, and particularly so to little boys. The other
things I will endeavour to procure, and you shall take a
walk with me to Mr. Marshall's to buy the books, and
choose them yourself, and I will pay for them ; so you may
save your money in the little box, for you are a very good
girl, and therefore deserve to meet with encouragement'
Jemima thanked her aunt for her kind intentions, and said,
'if she could get a coach-whip, she thought she could carry it
to Smiledale in her hand ; and as her brothers were always
kind to her, she wished to do every thing in her power to
oblifre them.'


The next day was to be a holiday at her cousins' school,
on account of their dancing-master's ball, to which Miss
Piners were invited ; and Mrs. Finer had promised Jemima
she should be of the party. They rose in the morning with
the pleasing hopes of enjoying a dance in the evening; and
Miss Nelly went a dozen times in the day to look at her new
cap, wishing it was time to put it on (for she was a silly, vain
girl), and was so foolish as to imagine herself of more con-
sequence, because she was better dressed than other children.
' O Miss Placid !' said she, 'you will look so dowdy to-night
in your plain muslin frock, while all the rest of the ladies will
wear either gauze frocks or silk coats full trimmed. Have
you seen how handsome our dresses will be? Do pray look
at them,' added she, opening the drawer, and extending the
silk, and then, glad of an excuse to survey it, she went to a
box, and taking out her cap, held it on her hand, turning it
round and round with a degree of pride and pleasure which
was very silly.

Jemima goodnaturedly admired her cousin's finery, without
wishing for any addition to her own. ' I am sure,' replied
she, ' my mamma has provided what is proper for me, and
is so kind as to afford me everything necessary, and my
frocks are always clean, and will do extremely well for the
present occasion, or else my aunt would have bought me
another.' 'But should not you like such a cap?' said Miss
Nelly, putting it on Jemima's head; you look very pretty in
it, indeed !' ' No, 1 think it is too large, for me,' returned
Miss Placid, 'and there is a piece of wire in it which
scratches when you press it down ; you should alter that, or
it will be very uncomfortable.' In short, the ball was the
only subject of conversation during the whole day; and
although Miss Piner felt an uncommon headache and sick-
ness, yet she would not complain, for fear her mamma should
think proper to leave her at home. The pain, however, in-
creased greatly, and she frequently left the parlour to give
vent to her complaints, and avoid her mamma's notice. The
heaviness of her eyes, and alternate change of countenance
from pale to red, at last took Mrs. Piner's attention, and she
tenderly inquired after her health ; but Miss Nelly affected

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 21 of 43)