Eva March Tappan.

The Children's Hour, v 5. Stories From Seven Old Favorites online

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son of his old enemy Scyorax. This Caliban Prospero found in the
woods, a strange, misshapen thing, far less human in form than an ape:
he took him home to his cell, and taught him to speak; and Prospero
would have been very kind to him, but the bad nature which Caliban
inherited from his mother Scyorax would not let him learn anything
good or useful: therefore he was employed like a slave, to fetch wood,
and do the most laborious offices; and Ariel had the charge of
compelling him to these services.

When Caliban was lazy and neglected his work, Ariel (who was invisible
to all eyes but Prospero's) would come slyly and pinch him, and
sometimes tumble him down in the mire; and then Ariel, in the likeness
of an ape, would make mouths at him. Then swiftly changing his shape,
in the likeness of a hedgehog he would lie tumbling in Caliban's way,
who feared the hedgehog's sharp quills would prick his bare feet. With
a variety of such like vexatious tricks Ariel would often torment him,
whenever Caliban neglected the work which Prospero commanded him to
do.

Having these powerful spirits obedient to his will, Prospero could by
their means command the winds, and the waves of the sea. By his orders
they raised a violent storm, in the midst of which, and struggling
with the wild sea waves that every moment threatened to swallow it up,
he showed his daughter a fine large ship, which he told her was full
of living beings like themselves. "O my dear father," said she, "if by
your art you have raised this dreadful storm, have pity on their sad
distress. See! the vessel will be dashed to pieces. Poor souls! they
will all perish. If I had power, I would sink the sea beneath the
earth, rather than the good ship should be destroyed, with all the
precious souls within her."

[Illustration: THE VESSEL WILL BE DASHED TO PIECES]

"Be not so amazed, daughter Miranda," said Prospero; "there is no harm
done. I have so ordered it, that no person in the ship shall receive
any hurt. What I have done has been in care of you, my dear child. You
are ignorant who you are, or where you came from, and you know no more
of me but that I am your father and live in this poor cave. Can you
remember a time before you came to this cell? I think you cannot, for
you were not then three years of age."

"Certainly I can, sir," replied Miranda.

"By what?" asked Prospero; "by any other house or person? Tell me what
you can remember, my child."

Miranda said, "It seems to me like the recollection of a dream. But
had I not once four or five women who attended upon me?"

Prospero answered, "You had, and more. How is it that this still lives
in your mind? Do you remember how you came here?"

"No, sir," said Miranda, "I remember nothing more."

"Twelve years ago, Miranda," continued Prospero, "I was duke of Milan,
and you were a princess, and my only heir. I had a younger brother,
whose name was Antonio, to whom I trusted everything; and as I was
fond of retirement and deep study, I commonly left the management of
my state affairs to your uncle, my false brother (for so indeed he
proved). I, neglecting all worldly ends, buried among my books, did
dedicate my whole time to the bettering of my mind. My brother Antonio
being thus in possession of my power, began to think himself the duke
indeed. The opportunity I gave him of making himself popular among my
subjects awakened in his bad nature a proud ambition to deprive me of
my dukedom: this he soon effected with the aid of the king of Naples,
a powerful prince, who was my enemy."

"Wherefore," said Miranda, "did they not that hour destroy us?"

"My child," answered her father, "they durst not, so dear was the love
that my people bore me. Antonio carried us on board a ship, and when
we were some leagues out at sea, he forced us into a small boat
without either tackle, sail, or mast; there he left us, as he thought,
to perish. But a kind lord of my court, one Gonzalo, who loved me, had
privately placed in the boat water, provisions, apparel, and some
books which I prize above my dukedom."

"O my father," said Miranda, "what a trouble must I have been to you
then!"

"No, my love," said Prospero, "you were a little cherub that did
preserve me. Your innocent smiles made me to bear up against my
misfortunes. Our food lasted till we landed on this desert island,
since when my chief delight has been in teaching you, Miranda, and
well have you profited by my instructions."

"Heaven thank you, my dear father," said Miranda. "Now pray tell me,
sir, your reason for raising this sea storm?"

"Know, then," said her father, "that by means of this storm my
enemies, the king of Naples and my cruel brother, are cast ashore upon
this island."

Having so said, Prospero gently touched his daughter with his magic
wand, and she fell fast asleep; for the spirit Ariel just then
presented himself before his master, to give an account of the
tempest, and how he had disposed of the ship's company; and, though
the spirits were always invisible to Miranda, Prospero did not choose
she should hear him holding converse (as would seem to her) with the
empty air.

"Well, my brave spirit," said Prospero to Ariel, "how have you
performed your task?"

Ariel gave a lively description of the storm, and the terrors of the
mariners; and how the king's son, Ferdinand, was the first who leaped
into the sea; and his father thought he saw his dear son swallowed up
by the waves and lost. "But he is safe," said Ariel, "in a corner of
the isle, sitting with his arms folded, sadly lamenting the loss of
the king his father, whom he concludes drowned. Not a hair of his head
is injured, and his princely garments, though drenched in the sea
waves, look fresher than before."

"That's my delicate Ariel," said Prospero. "Bring him hither; my
daughter must see this young prince. Where is the king, and my
brother?"

"I left them," answered Ariel, "searching for Ferdinand, whom they
have little hopes of finding, thinking they saw him perish. Of the
ship's crew not one is missing; though each one thinks himself the
only one saved; and the ship, though invisible to them, is safe in the
harbor."

"Ariel," said Prospero, "thy charge is faithfully performed; but there
is more work yet."

"Is there more work?" said Ariel. "Let me remind you, master, you have
promised me my liberty. I pray, remember, I have done you worthy
service, told you no lies, made no mistakes, served you without grudge
or grumbling."

"How now!" said Prospero. "You do not recollect what a torment I freed
you from. Have you forgot the wicked witch Sycorax, who with age and
envy was almost bent double? Where was she born? Speak; tell me."

"Sir, in Algiers," said Ariel.

"Oh, was she so?" said Prospero. "I must recount what you have been,
which I find you do not remember. This bad witch, Sycorax, for her
witchcrafts, too terrible to enter human hearing, was banished from
Algiers, and here left by the sailors; and because you were a spirit
too delicate to execute her wicked commands, she shut you up in a
tree, where I found you howling. This torment, remember, I did free
you from."

"Pardon me, dear master," said Ariel, ashamed to seem ungrateful; "I
will obey your commands."

"Do so," said Prospero, "and I will set you free." He then gave orders
what further he would have him do; and away went Ariel, first to where
he had left Ferdinand, and found him still sitting on the grass in the
same melancholy posture.

"O my young gentleman," said Ariel, when he saw him, "I will soon move
you. You must be brought, I find, for the lady Miranda to have a sight
of your pretty person. Come, sir, follow me." He then began singing,

"Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark, now I hear them - Ding-dong-bell."

This strange news of his lost father soon roused the prince from the
stupid fit into which he had fallen. He followed in amazement the
sound of Ariel's voice till it led him to Prospero and Miranda, who
were sitting under the shade of a large tree. Now, Miranda had never
seen a man before, except her own father.

"Miranda," said Prospero, "tell me what you are looking at yonder."

"O father," said Miranda in a strange surprise, "surely that is a
spirit. Lord! how it looks about! Believe me, sir, it is a beautiful
creature. Is it not a spirit?"

"No, girl," answered her father; "it eats, and sleeps, and has senses
such as we have. This young man you see was in the ship. He is
somewhat altered by grief, or you might call him a handsome person. He
has lost his companions, and is wandering about to find them."

Miranda, who thought all men had grave faces and gray beards like her
father, was delighted with the appearance of this beautiful young
prince; and Ferdinand, seeing such a lovely lady in this desert place,
and, from the strange sounds he had heard, expecting nothing but
wonders, thought he was upon an enchanted island, and that Miranda was
the goddess of the place, and as such he began to address her.

She timidly answered, she was no goddess, but a simple maid, and was
going to give him an account of herself, when Prospero interrupted
her. He was well pleased to find they admired each other, for he
plainly perceived they had (as we say) fallen in love at first sight,
but to try Ferdinand's constancy, he resolved to throw some
difficulties in their way; therefore, advancing forward, he addressed
the prince with a stern air, telling him he came to the island as a
spy, to take it from him who was the lord of it. "Follow me," said he;
"I will tie you neck and feet together. You shall drink sea-water;
shellfish, withered roots, and husks of acorns shall be your food."
"No," said Ferdinand, "I will resist such entertainment, till I see a
more powerful enemy," and drew his sword; but Prospero, waving his
magic wand, fixed him to the spot where he stood, so that he had no
power to move.

Miranda hung upon her father, saying, "Why are you so ungentle? Have
pity, sir; I will be his surety. This is the second man I ever saw,
and to me he seems a true one."

"Silence," said the father; "one word more will make me chide you,
girl! What! an advocate for an impostor! You think there are no more
such fine men, having seen only him and Caliban. I tell you, foolish
girl, most men as far excel this, as he does Caliban." This he said to
prove his daughter's constancy; and she replied, "My affections are
most humble. I have no wish to see a goodlier man."

"Come on, young man," said Prospero to the prince; "you have no power
to disobey me."

"I have not, indeed," answered Ferdinand; and not knowing that it was
by magic he was deprived of all power of resistance, he was astonished
to find himself so strangely compelled to follow Prospero: looking
back on Miranda as long as he could see her, he said, as he went after
Prospero into the cave, "My spirits are all bound up, as if I were in
a dream; but this man's threats, and the weakness which I feel, would
seem light to me if from my prison I might once a day behold this fair
maid."

Prospero kept Ferdinand not long confined within the cell: he soon
brought out his prisoner, and set him a severe task to perform, taking
care to let his daughter know the hard labor he had imposed on him,
and then pretending to go into his study, he secretly watched them
both.

Prospero had commanded Ferdinand to pile up some heavy logs of wood.
Kings' sons not being much used to laborious work, Miranda soon after
found her lover almost dying with fatigue. "Alas!" said she, "do not
work so hard; my father is at his studies, - he is safe for these three
hours; pray rest yourself."

"O my dear lady," said Ferdinand, "I dare not. I must finish my task
before I take my rest."

"If you will sit down," said Miranda, "I will carry your logs the
while." But this Ferdinand would by no means agree to. Instead of a
help Miranda became a hindrance, for they began a long conversation,
so that the business of log-carrying went on very slowly.

Prospero, who had enjoined Ferdinand this task merely as a trial of
his love, was not at his books, as his daughter supposed, but was
standing by them invisible to overhear what they said.

Ferdinand inquired her name, which she told, saying it was against her
father's express command she did so.

Prospero only smiled at this first instance of his daughter's
disobedience, for having by his magic art caused his daughter to fall
in love so suddenly, he was not angry that she showed her love by
forgetting to obey his commands. And he listened well pleased to a
long speech of Ferdinand's, in which he professed to love her above
all the ladies he ever saw.

In answer to his praises of her beauty, which he said exceeded all the
women in the world, she replied, "I do not remember the face of any
woman, nor have I seen any more men than you, my good friend, and my
dear father. How features are abroad, I know not; but, believe me,
sir, I would not wish any companion in the world but you, nor can my
imagination form any shape but yours that I could like. But, sir, I
fear I talk to you too freely, and my father's precepts I forget."

At this Prospero smiled, and nodded his head, as much as to say, "This
goes on exactly as I could wish: my girl will be queen of Naples."

And then Ferdinand, in another fine long speech (for young princes
speak in courtly phrases), told the innocent Miranda he was heir to
the crown of Naples, and that she should be his queen.

"Ah! sir," said she, "I am a fool to weep at what I am glad of. I will
answer you in plain and holy innocence. I am your wife, if you will
marry me."

Prospero prevented Ferdinand's thanks by appearing visible before
them.

"Fear nothing, my child," said he; "I have overheard, and approve of
all you have said. And, Ferdinand, if I have too severely used you, I
will make you rich amends by giving you my daughter. All your
vexations were but trials of your love, and you have nobly stood the
test. Then as my gift, which your true love has worthily purchased,
take my daughter, and do not smile that I boast she is above all
praise." He then, telling them that he had business which required his
presence, desired they would sit down and talk together till he
returned; and this command Miranda seemed not at all disposed to
disobey.

When Prospero left them, he called his spirit Ariel, who quickly
appeared before him, eager to relate what he had done with Prospero's
brother and the king of Naples. Ariel said he had left them almost out
of their senses with fear at the strange things he had caused them to
see and hear. When fatigued with wandering about, and famished for
want of food, he had suddenly set before them a delicious banquet, and
then, just as they were going to eat, he appeared visible before them
in the shape of a harpy, a voracious monster with wings, and the feast
vanished away. Then, to their utter amazement, this seeming harpy
spoke to them, reminding them of their cruelty in driving Prospero
from his dukedom, and leaving him and his infant daughter to perish in
the sea; saying that for this cause these terrors were suffered to
afflict them.

The king of Naples and Antonio, the false brother, repented the
injustice they had done to Prospero; and Ariel told his master he was
certain their penitence was sincere, and that he, though a spirit,
could not but pity them.

"Then bring them hither, Ariel," said Prospero; "if you, who are but a
spirit, feel for their distress, shall not I, who am a human being
like themselves, have compassion on them? Bring them quickly, my
dainty Ariel."

Ariel soon returned with the king, Antonio, and old Gonzalo in their
train, who had followed him, wondering at the wild music he played in
the air to draw them on to his master's presence. This Gonzalo was the
same who had so kindly provided Prospero formerly with books and
provisions, when his wicked brother left him, as he thought, to perish
in an open boat in the sea.

Grief and terror had so stupefied their senses that they did not know
Prospero. He first discovered himself to the good old Gonzalo, calling
him the preserver of his life; and then his brother and the king knew
that he was the injured Prospero.

Antonio, with tears and sad words of sorrow and true repentance,
implored his brother's forgiveness; and the king expressed his sincere
remorse for having assisted Antonio to depose his brother; and
Prospero forgave them, and upon their engaging to restore his dukedom,
he said to the king of Naples, "I have a gift in store for you, too;"
and, opening a door, showed him his son Ferdinand playing at chess
with Miranda.

Nothing could exceed the joy of the father and the son at this
unexpected meeting, for they each thought the other drowned in the
storm.

"O wonder!" said Miranda, "what noble creatures these are! It must
surely be a brave world that has such people in it."

The king of Naples was almost as much astonished at the beauty and the
excellent graces of the young Miranda as his son had been. "Who is
this maid?" said he; "she seems the goddess that has parted us and
brought us thus together." "No, sir," answered Ferdinand, smiling to
find his father had fallen into the same mistake that he had made when
he first saw Miranda, "she is a mortal, but by immortal Providence she
is mine; I chose her when I could not ask you, my father, for your
consent, not thinking you were alive. She is the daughter to this
Prospero, who is the famous duke of Milan, of whose renown I have
heard so much, but never saw him till now; of him I have received a
new life, - he has made himself to me a second father, giving me this
dear lady."

"Then I must be her father," said the king; "but oh, how oddly will it
sound, that I must ask my child forgiveness!"

"No more of that," said Prospero; "let us not remember our troubles
past, since they so happily have ended." And then Prospero embraced
his brother, and again assured him of his forgiveness; and said that a
wise overruling Providence had permitted that he should be driven from
his poor dukedom of Milan, that his daughter might inherit the crown
of Naples, for that by their meeting in this desert island, it had
happened that the king's son had loved Miranda.

These kind words which Prospero spoke, meaning to comfort his brother,
so filled Antonio with shame and remorse that he wept and was unable
to speak; and the kind old Gonzalo wept to see this joyful
reconciliation, and prayed for blessings on the young couple.

Prospero now told them that their ship was safe in the harbor, and the
sailors all on board her, and that he and his daughter would accompany
them home the next morning. "In the meantime," says he, "partake of
such refreshments as my poor cave affords; and for your evening's
entertainment I will relate the history of my life from my first
landing in this desert island." He then called for Caliban to prepare
some food, and set the cave in order; and the company were astonished
at the uncouth form and savage appearance of this ugly monster, who
(Prospero said) was the only attendant he had to wait upon him.

Before Prospero left the island, he dismissed Ariel from his service,
to the great joy of that lively little spirit, who, though he had been
a faithful servant to his master, was always longing to enjoy his free
liberty, to wander uncontrolled in the air, like a wild bird, under
green trees, among pleasant fruits and sweet-smelling flowers. "My
quaint Ariel," said Prospero to the little sprite when he made him
free, "I shall miss you; yet you shall have your freedom." "Thank you,
my dear master," said Ariel; "but give me leave to attend your ship
home with prosperous gales, before you bid farewell to the assistance
of your faithful spirit; and then, master, when I am free, how merrily
I shall live!" Here Ariel sang this pretty song: -

"Where the bee sucks, there suck I;
In a cowslip's bell I lie;
There I couch when owls do cry.
On the bat's back I do fly
After summer merrily.
Merrily, merrily shall I live now
Under the blossom that hangs on the bough."

Prospero then buried deep in the earth his magical books and wand, for
he was resolved never more to make use of the magic art. And having
thus overcome his enemies, and being reconciled to his brother and the
king of Naples, nothing now remained to complete his happiness but to
revisit his native land, to take possession of his dukedom, and to
witness the happy nuptials of his daughter Miranda and Prince
Ferdinand, which the king said should be instantly celebrated with
great splendor on their return to Naples. At which place, under the
safe convoy of the spirit Ariel, they after a pleasant voyage soon
arrived.


END OF VOLUME V








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Online LibraryEva March TappanThe Children's Hour, v 5. Stories From Seven Old Favorites → online text (page 27 of 27)