Charlotte Mary Yonge.

A storehouse of stories : storehouse the first online

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' make the experiment without any delay. Careless as you
always were al)Out the lessons which have been given you in
geography, you cannot but know that the P'ortunate Island
makes a part of my dominions; it is a small, but well in-
habited district; its people are active, industrious, good-
tempered, and thoroughly attached to their sovereigns. Go,
child, reign over them; I shall order a yacht to be instantly
D D 2


fitted up to convey you to your capital.' Then making a
most profound reverence to the Httle sovereign, ' Adieu,
madam,' said he, with difificulty conceaHng a smile.

Myra for some time thought that the king meant only
to divert himself, but soon found her mistake, and that every-
thing was preparing for her voyage. She was even per-
mitted to form a court to her own mind; and accordingly
she picked out a dozen of her playfellows to accompany
her. ' These young people,' said she to her father, ' are so very
rational and sedate, that there can be no need of their being
attended by governesses or tutors.' The king, however,
thought otherwise, and ordered the teachers to embark with
their pupils. The young sovereign, on her part, took care
there should be abundance of musicians for her balls, and
that a company of players should be provided for the
amusement of herself and her court. On the morn of her
departure, she took an affectionate leave of her father; but
the few tears which she shed were soon dried up by the
consideration of her being going to a place where she should
do 'just what she pleased.' 'The only advice that I shall
give you,' said the king, at parting, ' is that you would follow
the advice of Aristus (the governor of the island over which
you are to reigja) in everything of importance. He is a man
for whom' I have a high esteem, and with reason, as he is
discreet, honest, and humane. I could wish that you would
make him your first minister; I mean that you should con-
sult him in everything, and entrust him with the execution
of all your orders.'

This direction no way suited the taste of our young queen,
who wished to have given that important charge to one of
her favourites, Philintus, a tall genteel lad, not indeed many
years oluer than herself, but one who, to tolerable skill in
dancing and singing, added the very agreeable talent of
elegaiii' ifattery. He was himself as a\erse to study, and of
consequence as ignorant as his royal mistress; but he had
knowledge enough of his own interest to excite him never
to omit assuring her that everyone looked on her as a model
of a perfect princess, although he was conscious that, out of
her hearing, she was universally blamed for being so totally


unlike her excellent father, and for spending her whole time
in trifling amusements.

As soon as the little sovereign reached her island, she
beheld with pleasure troops of shepherds and shepherdesses,
in elegant fancy dresses of rose colour and w^hite, who sung
carols in praise of their new queen, strewed sweet-scented
flowers in her path, and presented her with odoriferous nose-
gays. Myra, charmed with this specimen of her subjects'
gallantry, ordered money to be distributed amongst them ;
and, under the conduct of Aristus, repaired to a lovely,
though small palace, fitted up for her reception. Fatigued
with the voyage, the queen and her young court made haste
to their repose , but her majesty forgot not to order, for the
next day, a comedy to be acted, followed by a ball and a
splendid entertainment. On the next morn, Myra and her
court amused themselves by walking into the capital town,
which lay not far from the palace. ' Observe,' said Aristus
to his sovereign, ' the air of content which reigns in every
face we meet.' ' That,' said Philintus, ' we should attribute
to the presence of our lovely queen.' ' Without doubt,'
replied Aristus, ' they are sensible of that honour ; but I
ought to inform you that their gaiety is chiefly owing to
their being conscious of the excellent government under
which they live, and of the wisdom of tliose laws by which
their king, whom they look upon as their father, governs the
country.' ' Let us now,' said Myra, 'extend our walks into
the country.' They did so. An orchard in full bloom now
tempted her to take a nearer view of its beauty. ' What.'
said she to Aristus, ' occasions the buzzing sounds which
I hear]' 'The bees,' rei)lied he; 'a useful tribe of your
majesty's subjects.' At that instant most unfortunately one
of these animals, not perfectly acquainted witlc die respect
due to royalty, and disgusted at the queen's approaching too
near to his hive, settled on her hand and made hetJSfeel his
sting! 'Shocking creatures, these bees!' exclaimed Myra;
'one of them has half killed me!' 'The presumptuous,
ungrateful wretches ought,' said Philintus, ' to be utterly
extirpated.' 'You are right,' said the queen; 'I will have
them destroyed, not on my own account, but to preserve my


poor people from receiving such cruel wounds, when they
are pursuing their occupations in the country.' ' Permit me,'
said Aristus, ' to observe, that these accidents happen but very
seldom, and that the pain which the bees occasion by their
stings is trifling when compared with the vast advantage
which accrues from their labours \ your subjects, madam,
will suffer severely indeed, if they are deprived of that use-
ful creature.' Here he was interrupted by Philintus, who,
bursting with laughter, cried out, ' A pretty tale you tell us,
Aristus ! why, sure you take us all for children ! Suffer, in-
deed ! what ! because that nasty insect is kept from stinging
them! Make us believe that, if you can.' 'I will have
every bee in my kingdom put to death,' said the young
queen, with an air of dignity. ' Possibly,' said Aristus,
'your majesty may see cause hereafter to repent of this
hasty command.' ' Nevertheless,' repeated Myra, ' it shall
be executed.' Aristus retired with a sigh, and Philintus
loudly applauded the mingled humanity and firmness of his
infant sovereign. That evening the queen entertained her-
self at the play, and afterwards was present at the ball,
which, with a magnificent supper, lasted until two in the

Unluckily, among the ladies of the bedchamber were two
who, not having reached their eleventh year, had been used
to eat little or no suppers, to take moderate exercise, and to
go to bed early. But the royal banquet had been so tempting,
the ball so charming, and the whole so perfectly new to
them, that they had despised the admonitions of their
governesses, who had very naturally remonstrated against
their launching at once into this new system. In conse-
sequence, they were both extremely ill the next morning.
The physician attended and ordered proper medicines, which
they refused to take. ' They were permitted by the queen,'
they said, ' to do what they liked best, and they hated nasty
physic' Their complaints, however, increased ; they could
neither eat, drink, or sleep, and one of the two felt the
attack of a fever. On this the governesses were obliged to
have recourse to the royal authority, and the queen having


commanded the young ladies to submit to discipline, they
took what was ordered and all went right again.

One day that the young queen was walking in the garden
of her palace, she was disgusted at the devastation which
had been made by caterpillars on the leaves of the trees.
'What vile creatures are these!' said she to Philintus. ' Did
you 0ver see such a piece of work as they have made here ? '
' I think,' replied the courtier, ' that it would be a good
deed to root them out of the island, and to proclaim rewards .
for those who would undertake to destroy them.' ' What
say you to that, Aristus? said Myra;' 'can my subjects exist
without cateri:)illars ?' ' Your majesty,' replied Aristus, ' has
not forgot the bees, I find, but here the case is widely dif-
ferent. The caterpillars which have stript those trees do
much mischief, and are of no one use to society.' ' I am
heartily glad,' said the queen, 'that we coincide in opinion,
for I am determined to have all the caterpillars in my
dominions destroyed; I hate them, nasty creatures!' 'Your
majesty,' said Aristus, ' certainly means to except from this
general massacre, that kind of caterpillar which produces the
silk worm.' ' Do but hear him,' said Philintus, in the queen's
ear; 'that fellow makes a point of contradicting your
majesty in everything.' ' Let every caterpillar in my realm
be put to death,' exclaimed the pifjued sovereign.

' I am tired to death,' said Myra, one day, ' of this eternal
verdure. These walks of turf, and these clumps of laurel,
though I like them well enough on the whole, yet, being
repeated so often, they fatigue my eyes — green, and green,
and nothing but green. Why can I not have a rose-colour
bower r Philintus now turned all his thoughts towards the
accomplishment of his sovereign's rational wish. He had
observed in a distant part of the garden an arbour where a
honeysuckle overspread the green frame-work. He ordered
the leaves to be stripped off, the wood to be painted rose-
colour, and he covered the whole with artificial roses hang-
ing by crimson ribbons. The queen was enchanted with
this gaudy retreat, and as soon as she saw it, ordered her
dinner to be set out upon that very spot. The sun shone


out with -great power, and scarce had the company sate ten
minutes at their meal, before some complained of aching
heads, some of dazzled eyes; all lost their appetites, and
the whole was a confusion of heat and glare. Aristus advised
the whole party to abandon the flaring scene, and to refresh
their eyes by gazing on the turf in some shady place. They
did so, and all went well again. In consequence, it was
settled by her majesty in council, that during the summer
it were better for the leaA-es of trees to be green than to be

M)Ta was so enchanted with the pleasures of her palace,
that she gave herself little trouble as to what passed in the
island at large. Her whole time was employed in schemes
for increasing and varying her amusements; sometimes, in-
deed, she walked into the country; but her presence no
longer appeared to give any pleasure to her subjects; there
were no more songs in her praise — no more cries of ' Long
live our Queen!' 'What,' said Myra, 'can occasion this
strange alteration in the behaviour of my people % Are they
displeased with any part of my government?' ' If,' said Phi-
lintus, ' they are out of humour with such an amiable sove-
reign, they do not deserve the honour of her inquiries.' This
answer was not entirely satisfactory to the Queen; she was
even for some time buried in thought; but the efforts of
Philintus (who had observed the gloom on her countenance),
and the gay turn of his conversation, together with the
novelty of an entertainment which he proposed for the next
evening, drove away all serious thoughts, and sprightliness
resumed its reign again. The plan was that all the court
should appear in pastoral dresses, and that the company
should dance on one of those elegant lawns with which the
palace garden abounded. INIyra approved of this plan, only
desiring that the habits might be as elegant as the plan
would allow. ' They can only be made of linen, madam,'
said one of the bedchamber women. ' How so % ' said the

' There is not, in your majesty's dominions, silk enough
for one dress.'

'You must be mistaken. On my taking the government


into my hands, I observed shops without end, well furnished
with silk.'

' It is true, madam, there were such ; but they are now all
shut up, and the owners have left the island.'

' And why so, pray % '

'Since your majesty's orders for the destruction of all
caterpillars, the silk manufacture is entirely stopped.'

' Ay ! why, what have those nasty vermin to do with the
manufacture of silk ?'

'There is one species of those caterpillars which produces
the materials, without which silk cannot be made; and as
the sellers of silk in the towns are in general connected, by
marriage or relationship, with the breeders of the silkworms,
th6y have determined altogether to quit a country where they
are deprived of the means of subsisting.'

That very evening the queen observed with a surprise,
which almost equalled horror, that the apartments of the
palace were lighted with tallow can^Ues. 'Heavens!' ex-
claimed the affronted sovereign, ' what means this filthy
sight?' She was told that there were no waxen tapers to be
found in the isle. ' 'Tis impossible,' she cried; ' let Aristus
be sent for.' He appeared. ' Have you not told me, sir, that
my island abounded with wax?' 'Madam, it did so, when
I gave you that information.' 'And how happens it that it
is not so now?' 'Because, since your majesty ordered the
bees to be extirpated, no more wax is to be found.' Phi-
lintus sneered at this reply, and Myra asked with astonish-
ment, what was the connection between bees and tapers ?
' Without them,' said Aristus, ' the tapers cannot exist, since
the bees supply the materials of which the tapers are com-
])Osed.' ' Antl what is become of those who used to get
their living by making those tapers?' ' Poor souls!' rej^lied
Aristus, ' they are on the point of quitting a place wliere
they cannot earn their bread.' 'Alas!' added he, 'were
your majesty to make, at this time, the tour of your domi-
nions, you would find the face of the whole country de-
plorably altered.' Philintus would have turned this account
into ridicule, but Myra, by a look, stopped his buffoonery,
and retired to her chamber with a hea\y heart.


The next morning she took Aristus with her, and drove
into the environs of her capital. ' You were too much in
the right,' she said, ' when you bade me expect a deplorable
alteration among my people. I hear no more acclamations!
no more songs ! but I see the painfullest of sights ; crowds
of people in rags, begging their bread.' ' Formerly,' said
Aristus, 'no beggars were to be found here; there was a
large building erected for the poor, where the old were
maintained, the sick cured, and all the young folks set to
work; but since your majesty has allowed twelve to be the
age of discretion, many of these children have refused to be
employed, and choosing to wander about the country, with-
out knowing how to get their bread, they are of course
reduced to rags and misery.'

The queen, having given some relief to these ^vretched ob-
jects, proceeded to ask Aristus what was become of the crowds
of busy people who were used to throng in the streets of the
capital; ' for,' said she, ' half the houses seem to be shut
up, and the whole town appears deserted, in comparison of
its state when I first saw it.' The minister told her that
there was a mutual dependence of one trade upon another,
and that, in consequence of the departure of the silk and
wax merchants and manufacturers, those who were used to
supply that large body of men with clothes, shoes, and stock-
ings, provisions, and every other accommodation, having now
no market for their goods, had shut up their shops, and were
preparing, one and all, for their departure. He added,
that it was much to be feared that the fanners, who used
to bring to the town corn, hay, butter, eggs, poultr}^, «Scc.,
together with their families, labourers, &c., would soon follow
this example.

Struck with this painful detail, the young queen, whose
goodness of heart was equal to the thoughtlessness of her
head, exclaimed in an agony of distress, ' Oh heavens ! why
ffd I leave my father's court ? why take upon me a task of
which I was so incapable % I suffer severely for my pre-
sumption; but at least I will do no more mischief here.'
Then turning to Aristus, she begged him to hasten the pre-
parations for her return to the kingdom of her father. Her


orders were instantly obeyed, and she, with her whole court,
took leave of the Fortunate Island, and soon reached the
])ort they wished for. As soon as Myra saw the king, she
threw herself at his feet, bathed in tears. 'How is this,'
said he, ' my daughter, are you returned already % are you so
soon weary of sovereign power 1' 'Alas! sire!' replied the
weeping Myra, 'never was any being more wretched than
your daughter. I have childishly thrown away my own
happiness, and that of those whom you entrusted to my
care. The island which I have governed no longer de-
serves the name of Fortunate. I have, by my own mis-
management, reduced an industrious people to beggary and
ruin; but I conjure you, sire, to order all my jewels to be
instantly sold, that I may, by their means, in some sort
relieve the miseries which my infantine folly has brought
upon them.' ' Make yourself easy,' said the good king,
soothing his afflicted daughter; ' the mischiefs which your
want of consideration has caused, are by no means irre-
parable. I foresaw that you would make great mistakes in
government, and managed affairs so as to prevent those
mistakes from having any very bad consequences. Those of
your subjects who have by your errors been forced to quit
your isle, have, by the direction of Aristus, found a com-
fortable retreat in this kingdom, have been sui)plied with all
necessaries, and will now return to their own country, with
proper materials, to re-assume their several trades and occu-
l)ations. You have, my beloved Myra, an e.xcellent heart,
and in all the mischief which you have done, you have had the
best intention in the world. This ought to teach you that
])rinces ought not to trust to their good dispositions alone, but
that they should take counsel with the most intelligent of their
subjects concerning the measures of their government, and,
above all, that they should guard against forming too high
an opinion of their own wisdom. The errors of private
])ersons can only affect a small numl)er of individuals^ but
those of sovereigns may ruin nations.'

Myra profited by this lesson, and by her own experience.
She dedicated, for the future, a considerable part of her time
to study, and forbad Philintus ever to apjjear in her presence




There was once a poor lame old man that lived in the ijiidst •
of a wide uncultivated moor, in the north of England. He
had formerly been a soldier, and had almost lost the use of
one leg by a wound he had received in battle, when he was
fighting against the enemies of his country. This poor man,
when he found himself thus disabled, built a little hut of clay,
which he covered with turf dug from the common. He had
a little bit of ground, which he made a shift to cultivate with
his own hands, and which supplied him with potatoes and
vegetables ; besides this, he sometimes gained a few half-
pence by opening a gate for travellers, which stood near his
house. He did not, indeed, get much, because few people
passed that way. What he earned was, however, enough to
purchase clothes and the its^ necessaries he wanted. But
though poor, he was strictly honest, and never failed night
and morning to address his prayers to God; by which means
he was respected by all who knew him, much more than many
who were superior to him in rank and fortune. This old man
had one domestic. In his walks over the common he one
day found a litde kid that had lost its mother, and was almost
famished with hunger: he took it home to his cottage, fed it
with the produce of his garden, and nursed it till it grew
strong and vigorous. Little Nan (for that was the name he
gave it) returned his cares with gratitude, and became as
much attached to him as a dog. All day she browsed upon
the herbage that grew around his hut, and at night reposed
upon the same bed of straw with her master. Frequently
did she divert him with her innocent tricks and gambols.


She would nestle her little head in his bosom, and eat out of
his hand part of his scanty allowance of bread, which he
never failed to divide with his favourite. The old man often
beheld her with silent joy, and, in the innocent effusions of
his heart, would lift his hands to heaven and thank the Deity
that, even in the midst of poverty and distress, had raised
him up one faithful friend.

One night, in the beginning of winter, the old man thought
he heard the feeble cries and lamentations of a child. As
he was naturally charitable, he arose and struck a light, and,
going out of his cottage, examined on every side. It was not
long before he discerned an infant, which had probably been
dropped by some strolling beggar or gipsy. The old man
stood amazed at the sight, and knew not what to do. ' Shall
I,' said he, ' who find it so difficult to live at present, en-
cumber myself with the care of a helpless infant, that will
not for many years be capable of contributing to its own sub-
sistence % And yet,' added he, softening with pity, ' can I
deny assistance to a human being still more miserable than
myself] Will not that Providence which feeds the birds of
the wood and the beasts of the field, and which has promised
to bless all those that are kind and charitable, assist my
feeble endeavours % At least, let me give it food and lodging
for this night j for without I receive it into my cottage, the
poor abandoned wretch must perish with cold before the
morning.' Saying this, he took it up in his arms, and per-
ceived it was a fine healthy boy, though covered with rags;
the little foundling too seemed to be sensible of his kindness,
and smiling in his face, stretched out his little arms, as if to
embrace his benefactor.

When he had brought it into his hut, he began to be ex-
tremely embarrassed how to procure it food : but looking at
Nan, he recollected that she had just lost her kid, and saw
her udder distended with milk : he therefore called her to
him, and, presenting the child to the teat, was overjoyed to
find that it sucked as naturally as if it had really found a
mother. The goat too seemed to receive pleasure from the
efforts of the child, and submitted without opposition to dis-
charge the duties of a nurse. Contented with this experi-


ment, the old man wrapped the child up as warmly as he
could, and stretched himself out to rest, with the conscious-
ness of having done a humane action. Early the next morn-
ing he was awakened by the cries of the child for food, which,
with the assistance of his faithful Nan, he suckled as he had
done the night before. And now the old man began to feel
an interest in the child, which made him defer some time
longer the taking measures to be delivered from its care.
' Who knows,' said he, ' but Providence, which has preserved
this child in so wonderful a manner, may have destined it to
something equally wonderful in his future life, and may bless
me as the humble agent of His decrees % At least, as he
grows bigger, he will be a pleasure and comfort to me in
this lonely cabin, and will assist in cutting turf for fuel and
cultivating the garden. From this time he became more and
more attached to the little foundling, who in a short time
learned to consider the old man as a parent, and delighted
him with its innocent caresses. Gentle Nanny too, the goat,
seemed to adopt him with equal tenderness as her offspring:
she would stretch herself out upon the ground, while he
crawled upon his hands and knees towards her; and when he
had satisfied his hunger by sucking, he would nestle between
her legs and go to sleep in her bosom.

It was wonderful to see how this child, thus left to nature,
increased in strength and vigour. Unfettered by bandages
or restraints, his limbs acquired their due proportions and
form; his countenance was full and florid, and gave indica-
tions of perfect health; and at an age when other children
are scarcely able to support themselves with the assistance
of a nurse, this little foundling could run alone. It was true
that he sometimes failed in his attempts, and fell to the
ground; but the ground was soft, and little Jack, for so the
old man called him, was not tender or delicate ; he never
minded thumps or bruises, but boldly scrambled up again
and pursued his way. In a short time little Jack was com-
pletely master of his legs ; and as the summer came on, he
attended his mamma, the goat, upon the common, and used
to play with her for hours together; sometimes rolling under

Online LibraryCharlotte Mary YongeA storehouse of stories : storehouse the first → online text (page 37 of 43)