Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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to treat her indisposition as a trifle, though, as she was by no


means patient in general, she would at any other time have
made incessant complaints. She attempted to laugh and
play, but to no purpose ; for her illness became too violent
to be suppressed : however, upon her papa's hinting at dinner
that she seemed to have no appetite, and had better, if not
well, go to-bed, she forced herself, against her inclination,
to eat some meat and pudding, and went up afterwards to
conceal her uneasiness, and put on her clothes, thinking
that if she was in readiness it would be an additional reason
for her going. But alas ! so foolish is vanity, and so insig-
nificant are outward ornaments, that when Miss Nelly was
decked out in the gauze frock which had so long engaged
her thoughts, she felt such a degree of uneasiness from her
sickness, as to make her disregard what she had before
wished for with such ill-placed ardour.

Having eat more than was proper for her stomach in
such a disordered state, it increased her illness very much ;
but being determined to go, though her mamma advised her
to the contrary, and pretending she was something better,
she stepped into the coach, the motion of which soon pro-
duced a most terrible catastrophe; and before she could
speak for assistance, occasioned such a violent sickness as
totally spoiled her own and her cousin's clothes, who sat
opposite to her; nor did Miss Sally's quite escape the dis-
aster; for as she had spread them over Jemima, with an
intent to display their beauties, they shared in part that
calamity which had so unfortunately overtaken the others.

Mrs. Finer, though she was grieved at her daughter's in-
disposition, was likewise extremely angry at the consequence
of her obstinacy. ' If you had stayed at home, as I bade
you,' said she, somewhat ongrily, 'nothing of this would
have happened;' and pulling the checkstring added, 'We
must turn about, coachman, for we cannot j)roceed in this con-
dition !' Miss Sally, notwithstanding her sister's illness, con-
tinually teased her mamma to know whether they shouki go
when Nelly was set down, and her own dress wiped, without
attending to her sister's complaints. When the carriage
reached Mr. Piner's, he came himself hastily to the door, to
know what accident had occasioned their unexpected return;
and upon being informed, lifted poor Nelly into the house,


while her sister declared she would not walk indoors, as
she wanted to go to the ball. Dinah was, however, called
down, and with much resistance conveyed the young lady
crying and kicking upstairs.

Jemima stood by unnoticed in the general confusion, and
Miss Finer was undressed with the utmost expedition, and
sincerely rejoiced to be rid of the incumbrance of that finery
which in another situation would have excited her envy.
Our little heroine, whose sense as well as serenity was un-
common, reflected that gay clothes must certainly in them-
selves be of little value, since they could not prevent the
approach of disease, or suspend for a moment the attacks of
pain ; that the pleasure they bestowed, as it was ill-founded,
was likewise extremely transient, as Miss Sally's passion, on
her disappointment, was sufficient to prove, since she was now
mortified in proportion as she had before been elated. And
though her sister's reflections were for the present suspended
by the violence of pain, yet her vexation, when she was re-
stored to the abihty of contemplating the state of her clothes,
would be equally poignant and without remedy.

While Miss Placid, in obedience to her aunt, took off" the
frock which had suffered so much in its short journey, INIiss
Sally sat roaring and crying in an easy chair, into whicli she
had thrown herself, declaring she would go, and pushed
Dinah away as often as she attempted to take out a pin.
Nor would she be pacified by any endeavours which were
used to please and amuse her ; till her mamma, quite tired
with her noise and ill-humour, declared she v/ould send word
to her governess the next morning, if she did not do what
she was desired; upon which threat she submitted to be
undressed, but petulantly threw every article of her attire
upon the ground, and afterwards sat down in one of the
windows in sullen silence, without deigning an answer to
any question which was proposed to her. Jemima was as
much disappointed as her cousin could be, and had formed
very high expectations of the pleasure she should receive at
the ball; but she had been always accustomed to submit to
unavoidable accidents without repining, and to make herself
happy with those amusements in her power, when she was
deprived of what she might wish for, but could not procure.


Some time after this, Mr. Steward, a gentleman who lived
at Smiledale, came up to town about business, and called
upon Mr. Finer with an intention of seeing Miss Jemima,
who was much distressed that she happened to be absent,
as she wished to hear some news of her papa and brothers.
However, he returned again the next day, and Miss Placid
very gracefully paid her respects to him, and inquired after
the friends she had left. He satisfied her as to their health,
and presented her >\ith a letter from her brother Charles,
which, as soon as she could find an opportunity, she retired
to read. The contents were as follow :


* My dear sister, ^ — -As William writes so very slow, and as
I)apa does not think he should scribble at all, he has desired
me to inform you of everything which has passed since you
left us. And first I must acquaint you with a sad accident,
which will render one of your commissions useless. Poor
Hector ! the day after you went away was lost for several
hours : we went to every house in the village, and hunted
behind every tomb in the churchyard, called Hector !
Hector! through all the fields, and then returned and sought.,
him in our own garden again ; looked under the bench in
the poultry-yard, nay, even in the cellar and coal-hole, but
no Hector returned. We sat down together on the bottom
stair in the hall, and William cried ready to break his heart.
Papa said he was sorry, but told us our tears would not
bring him back, and advised us to bear the loss of him with
more fortitude took Will on his lap, and read a story to
divert him. ''We got tolerably cheerful, and went down to
tea; but as soon as my brother took up his bread, the
tiioughts of how Hector always jumped up to him for a bit,
and how he would bark, and snap in play at his fingers,
quite overcame his firmness, and he could not touch a
morsel. Well, to make short of the story, the next morning
Jolin came in and told ])apa that Squire Sutton's game-
keeper, not knowing to whom he belongeci, had shot him
for running after the deer. " Why now," said I, " if he had
but staid away from the park till Jemima had brought him


a collar, he would not have been killed. Poor Hector ! I
shall hate Ben Hunt as long as I live for it." " Fy, Charles !"
said my father. " Hector is dead, sir," said I; and I did not
then stay to hear any farther. But since that we have talked
a great deal about love and forgiveness, and I find I must
love Ben Hunt, even though I now see poor Hector's tomb
in the garden. For John went to fetch him, and we buried
him under the laylock"' tree, on the right hand side, just by
the large sunflower; and we cried a great deal, and made a
card tombstone over his grave ; and papa gave us an old
hatband, and we cut it in pieces, and we went as mourners.
His coffin was carried by Tom Wood, the carpenter's son,
whose father was so kind as to make it for us ; while Jemmy
Splitlungs, the clerk's nephew, my brother, and I followed
as chief mourners; and old Nurse and Peggy put on their
black hoods, which they had when Jenny Thompson died,
and went with us ; and we had the kitchen tablecloth for a
pall, with the old black wrapper put over it which used to
cover the parrot's cage ; but we did not read anything, for
that would not have been right ; as you know after all he
was but a dog. Papa, however, to please us, wrote the fol-
lowing epitaph, which I very carefully transcribed, and affixed
over his grave :

Here Hector lies, more blest by far

Than he who drove the victor's car ;

Who once Patroclus did subdue,

And suffered for the conquest too.

Like him o'ercome by ci"uel fate,

Stern fortune's unrelenting hate ;

An equal doom severe he found,

And Hunt inflicts the deadly wound.

Less cruel than Pelides, he

Permits his manes f interr'd to be ;

And satisfied to see him fall.

Ne'er dragg'd him round the Trojan -wall.

'I am very sorry for the poor fellow's untimely end; and
so, I dare say, you will be. Our rabbit has kindled; and

* We cannot correct this into the modem form of lilac. Our coimtry
folk are constant to the pronunciation laylock. — [Ed.]

t Mr. Placid must have pronounced this manes, and had a veiy odd
notion of the meaning. — [Ed.]


we have one in particular whose skin is white, with black
spots, the prettiest I ever saw; and which we have called
Jemima, and will give it you when you return. Peggy
has sprained her ancle by a fall downstairs. I forgot my
wooden horse, and left it in the way; and she came down
in the dark, and stumbled over it. I was very sorry, and
my papa was much displeased, as it is what he has so often
cautioned us against. Jack Dough, the baker's boy, brought
me a linnet yesterday, which I have placed in a cage near
your canary-bird, who is very well. I don't think I have
much more to say, for writing is such tedious work that I am
quite tired, though what I have done has been a fortnight in
hand. I have a great many things I want to tell you if
we could meet; and I should wish to know how you like
London. Good bye. William desires his love to you, and
bids me say that he, as well as myself, will ever be

' Your affectionate brother,

'Charles Placid.'

' P.S. Inclosed I have sent you a sketch of Hector's funeral
procession, which your favourite, Ned Kindly, who was one
of the party, drew on purpose for you.'

You may be sure that the intelligence of Hector's death
gave Jemima some uneasiness; more especially as, at the
first time Mr. Steward had called, she was out with her aunt,
and actually purchased a collar for him, which, before the
receipt of her letter, she had contemplated with great satis-
faction, in the idea of having so well executed her brother's
commission, and the pleasure it would aftbrd them.

When Miss Placid had been in town about four months,
and her mamma was returned from Bristol, Mr. Placid came
up to fetch her home, and invited her cousins to accom-
pany her to Smiledale, promising to take great care of thenx,
and to teach them to read and write ; and that Mrs. Placiil
would instruct them in every other part of their learning.
To which Mr. and Mrs. Piner consented. The pleasure
which Jemima felt at seeing her papa after so long an ab-
sence can be better imagined than described. She looked


at him with such transport, that the tears started to her
eyes ; and wanting words to declare the feelings of her heart,
could only express her joy by stroking and kissing his hand,
as she sat on a stool by his side ; and pressing it with fer-
vour between both hers, exclaimed that she was glad to see
him. Her uncle and aunt gave her the highest praise for
her good behaviour, and assured her papa that they had
never, during the whole time of her visit, seen her once out
of humour, or at all fretful upon any occasion. Mr. Placid
said he was extremely happy to hear so good an account of
his little girl ; but that he expected everything am.iable from
the sweetness of her disposition, adding, it would be verj'
strange if she had behaved otherwise with you, as I assure
you she is at all times equally tractable and engaging. The
evening before her departure, her aunt was so obliging as to
l^resent her with a new doll, which she had taken great
pains to dress, and had made for it two dimity petticoats,
with a nice pair of stays, a pink satin coat, and a muslin
frock. She liad likewise purchased some cotton stockings,
and a pair of red shoes with white roses, white gloves tied
with pink strings, and a gauze cap with pink satin ribbons.
Jemima, with a graceful courtesy, paid her acknowledgment
to Mrs. Finer for that favour, and all the kind attention she
had received since she had been in town, and saw it packed
up with great care in a box by itself, pleasing herself with
the joy it would afford her to show it to her mamma. She
then busied herself in putting up the Indian glue and a great
quantity of pictures which had been given her ; poor Hector's
collar, and several books which she had bought at Mr. Mar-
shall's, and had already perused with much delight, panicu-
larly his ' Course of Lectures for Sunday Evenings,' ' The
Village School,' and ' Perambulation of a Mouse,' two vols,
each ; togedier with the ' First Principles of Religion' and the
' Adventures of a Pincushion.' All these mighty volumes
she took with her to Smiledale, and Mr. Placid w^as so much
pleased with them, as to send for an additional supply to
present his friends with. As to the skates, he had desired her
not to think about them, as he should by no means approve
of her brothers using them ; nor would they have occasion


for a coach-whip ; but as he knew Charles had broken his
bat, she might carry him one instead. Jemima entreated
permission to convey to them a drum, as she thought it
would be a plaything they would much enjoy; to this he
immediately consented, and went himself to procure one.

Miss Piners, who were in as great a hurry with their pre-
parations as Jemima, behaved with less composure on the
occasion: they tossed everything out of their drawers in
search of such toys as they could possibly take with them,
and wanted to pack up their whole stock of playthings
(which, indeed, was a very large one), and then as fast as
Dinah put what they desired into their trunk. Miss Nelly
snatched it out if it belonged to her sister, and Miss Sally
did the same unless it happened to be her own. So that,
quite tired with their teasing, naughty behaviour, she turned
it topsyturvy, and declared she would not put up any one
thing except their clothes; and added, she wished they were
gone, with all her heart.

I shall not take up your time with any account of their
journey, nor endeavour to describe the places which they
passed through in their way to Smiledale, whither they ar-
rived about five o'clock in the afternoon. Jemima ran to
her mamma with a degree of rapture which evinced the sin-
cerity of her joy, in returning to her embraces as soon as her
brothers would permit her to disengage herself from their
caresses; for as they knew the day which was fixed for her
return, and could nearly guess at the time she would arrive,
they had taken their stand at the very place where they had
parted with her; and as soon as the carriage came in sight,
they ran with their utmost speed to meet it, and came back
again, jumping by the side ; and when the coach stopped
were so eager to welcome their sister, that they would scarcely
leave room for her to get out. They were in such a hurry
to show her every new acquisition they had made since her
departure, that they would not allow her time to speak to
anybody but themselves.

Charles wanted her to go into the hall to look at his linnet,
and William was as earnest to take her to his ral^bits; while
Jemima, who was equally ready to oblige them both, stood


still, without knowing which she should first consent to
follow; till Mr. Placid, taking hold of her hand, thus mode-
rated the impatience of his sons : — ' My dear boys, I am
much delighted to see your mutual affection for each other,
and the pleasure you express at your sister's return ; but do
not be in such a hurry to show her those things which she
will to-morrow have sufficient time to inspect. We all wish
at present to enjoy her company, and therefore defer your
intention of taking her from us to-night, as I hope you will
have no occasion to fear a speedy separation ; besides, I
think you are a little wanting in politeness not to take notice
of your cousins.'

Charles said he did not know them, and William declared
he did not want them, and both acknowledged they had no-
thing to say to them.

Mrs. Placid blamed them for the rudeness of such decla-
rations, and took the young ladies and Jemima upstairs to
their apartment while tea was getting ready. During this
interval, William climbed upon his father's knee, and as Mr.
Placid was holding both his hands while he leaned back his
head till it nearly touched the ground, he pulled him up, and
kissing him said, ' I am surprised, my boys, that you have
not more politeness than to neglect Miss Piners in such a
manner, and endeavour to excuse it by further rudeness.'
' Why, I don't want them,' replied William, ' and must not
I speak the truth % You always tell me that the naughtiest
thing I can do is to tell lies; and I am sure I am very sorry
they are come, for I like to have Jemima to ourselves ; so
pray, sir, what would you choose I should do?' 'I would
have you, my dear,' returned his papa, 'always endeavour to
behave with goodnature and politeness. You cannot think
how much it will recommend you to general approbation;
nor of how great importance an attention to the trifling graces
of your conduct will prove in future life. And although you,
William, may not be glad of your cousins' company (which,
in my opinion, is rather a churlish speech), yet you might
have behaved with civility; might have inquired after your
uncle and aunt, have fetched them each a chair to sit do\\'Ti
upon ; and if you had not (as you cannot do it with truth)


said you was glad to see them, yet you might have taken
such notice, by speaking kindly to them, as to vindicate
yourself from the charge of rudeness and ill manners which
you have now incurred.' ' But as we are boys, sir,' said
Charles, ' such a neglect is not so bad in us, as it does not
so much signify. We are not, you know, expected to sit
prim all the day, as the girls do, and play the lady. O !
how I should hate to sit with my hands before me, bridling
like them for a whole afternoon together, without moving
any more than my stick when I put it up in the corner! I
would not be a girl to go into company in such a manner for
the world ! ' 'I am glad to see you satisfied with your desti-
nation,' replied Mr. Placid; 'but you are much mistaken, I
assure you, if you think the study of politeness is unnecessary
to a man ; and however you may flatter yourselves with an
exemption from those more confined rules of behaviour
which young ladies are expected to observe, yet I would
advise you to remember that a constant attention to your
carriage is at all times necessary, if you would Avish to be
loved and esteemed, or to meet with success in your under-
takings. You, Charles, have frequently remarked the amazing
difference which is visible between Colonel Armstrong and
Sir Hugh Forester, though the one is a man of more sense,
of larger fortune, and equally worthy as the other ; yet you
regard the colonel with admiration, and are too apt to treat
the baronet with ridicule and contempt : so great are the
advantages of that polish which can only be acquired in
early youth by diligent and constant attention ; for if you
accustom yourself to lounge about, to eat with your fingers,
or hold your knife and fork so low that they scarcely save
them from the grease; if you slovenly dirt your clothes,
either omit to bow at all, or else bend your body as awk-
wardly as Jack Carter, the ploughboy ; in short, if by any
such trifling neglect you acquire a habit of clownish ill
manners, you will fail to gain that respect which is only paid
to true merit when accompanied by the graces. Custom
has made it necessary for you to be particularly attentive
to the wants of those you are in company with : you
should use yourselves to watch when a lady's cup is empty,


that you may be ready to take it from her ; or anything has
fallen down by accident, that you may with briskness pick
it up ; when a chair is wanting, to fetch it ; or to give any
assistance in your power in those trifles which occur every
day, and which, by attending to, you will learn a habit of
doing as it were mechanically; that is, without the trouble
of thinking about it, in the same manner as you eat your
dinner, without reflecting all the time what you are doing.'
' I confess,' said Charles, ' that Colonel Armstrong has
always struck me as the most agreeable man I ever saw;
but he does not seem to take any peculiar trouble to behave
better than other people. On the contrary, I have heard
my mamma say that he is more easy in his manners than Sir
Hugh, who labours to be polite, without in the least looking
like a gentleman.' ' That ease which you mention,' said his
lather, ' is the degree of perfection which I am so solici-
tous to have you acquire, and is the most difficult thing to
attain, though it appears to be exercised without trouble or
attention. You must therefore endeavour, by the influence
of custom, to gain those natural advantages which can only
be learnt in the early season of youth, and to the neglect
of which it is to be ascribed that so few men (comparatively
speaking) are either polite or graceful.

Tea being now ready, Mrs. Placid and the young ladies
made their appearance ; and Master Placids, to show they
had profited by their papa's advice, both ran to fetch a chair
for Miss Sally, and reaching it at the same time, pushed with
such force against each other, that Charles hurt William's
forehead, and very nearly threw him down ; at which he, ex-
pressing great sorrow, declared the accident was by no means
intended. ' I wish I had not been so polite,' said William,
rubbing the place; 'but I know, brother, you would not
hurt me designedly ; so pray don't say any more about it,
for I don't mind such a trifle.' ' I hope not,' said his papa,
' and I would not have you discouraged at the effects of your
awkwardness ; for, my dear boy, it is to that, rather than
your politeness, that this terrible disaster is owing ; for had
\'0u minded where you were going, you would not so vio-
lently have encountered each other, and either of you might


have carried the chair unhurt to your cousin, who has been
waiting all this time without one. And this is a proof of
what 1 just now mentioned, that the grace which you admire
in Colonel Armstrong will not be easily obtained, unless you
are careful to attend to what you are doing.' As Air. Placid
concluded this sentence, he was interrupted by the entrance
of Master Wagstaff, a young gentleman of about thirteen,
who had been for some years at Eaton, but was then re-
turned for the vacation. His father was a near neighbour
to the vicar, and had sent his son to invite the family to dine
with him the next day, to which Mr. and Mrs. Placid con-
sented ; and at the time ai)pointed they set out for the Grove,
which was the name of Mr. WagstafPs house. On tlieir ar-
rival, they found the company walking before dinner in the
garden. The party consisted of Mr., Mrs., and Miss Wag-
staff, and an old gentleman of the name of Crossly, and
a young lady who was his niece. She was just turned of
fifteen, was very pretty and genteel, but extremely affected
in her manner and conversation; pretended to be afraid of
animals and insects, and tossed herself into a thousand ridi-
culous attitudes at the sight of a spider, an earwig, or a wasj).
They were soon joined by Master Wagstaff and one of his
school-fellows, who was on a visit to him during the holidays:
he was about the same age, and was called Bob Sprightly.

When they had walked for some time, they returned into
the drawing-room; and Mr. Crossly took up his snuff box,
which he had left on the table, declaring he was rejoiced to
find it, for that he was always uncomfortable in its absence.
Miss Myra, the young lady above-mentioned, expressed her
dislike to such a disagreeable habit, and declared that to be
in the room when it was open always made her sneeze.
Her uncle looked at her with some displeasure, and ascribed
it to her fanciful maggots, saying, it was the best remedy for
a headache he had ever experienced, and that it never had

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 22 of 43)