The Baldumn LUbrar
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS
AND OTHER TALES.
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS
AND OTHER TALES.
BY MRS. ALFRED GATTY.
Col miele, e non coll' aceto si piglian le mosche.
BELL AND DALDY, 186, FLEET STREET.
TO MY CHILDREN
THESE TALES ARE MOST AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED.
THEY WERE WRITTEN IN HOURS OF
SICKNESS, BUT ARE INTENDED TO BE READ BY THE
HEALTHY AND JOYOUS YOUNG:
AND TO ILLUSTRATE SOME FAVOURITE AND
LONG CHERISHED CONVICTIONS.
27th March, 1851.
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS . .
Joachim the Mimic . . . .
Darkness and Light . . . .
The Love of God . . . .
. . 59
. . 83
. . 120
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
SL N one of the beautiful bays on the coast
of Fairy Land, a party of Fairies was
assembled on a lovely evening in July.
There are many beautiful bays on the
coast of England; and there is one especially, my
dear little readers, which you and I know of, where
a long line of grand old rocks stretches far into the
sea on the left-hand extremity, while in the distance
to the right a warning lighthouse with its changing
lights gives an almost solemn beauty to the scene;
for one cannot help thinking, at the sight of it, of
the poor storm-driven mariner, whom even that
friendly light may fail to save from a sad and sudden
death. But beautiful as this little bay is, of which
I speak, and fond as we are of it, it is nothing, I do
assure you, compared to the bays in Fairy Land !
There, there are no lighthouses reminding one pain-
fully of danger and destruction near, but all is
loveliness and peace; and even the rocks would be
turned into soft pillows by the good-natured Fairies
who inhabit the country, should any strange accident
drive a mortal ship on that shore.
2 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
Also the bays in Fairy Land face to the west,
which is a great advantage, for in an evening there
you may sit and watch the golden sun dipping be-
hind the waves; and the rich red tints he sends out
upon the rocks before he sets, are beyond measure
beautiful and attractive. Especially, I believe, the
Fairies enjoy this time of day, for they are odd
little creatures, rather conceited, and fond of every-
thing pretty ; consequently they like to be floating
about the rocks in their white dresses when the
crimson and golden hues of sunset shine on them,
knowing very well they look like so many bright
flowers on the occasion.
The day I speak of however had been very hot,
and at the time I speak of, the Fairies felt a little
lazy, and were reclining on some rocks covered with
sea-weed, and amusing themselves by talking. In
general the conversation of these little creatures is
rather light and frivolous and gay; but it is really a
fact that they were just then all serious together,
and all were engaged in a very profound conversa-
tion on human happiness.
I am sorry to have so many explanations to give,
but I think it quite necessary to tell you the reason
of so uncommon an event as a party of Fairies being
serious. Well then, there were going to be, very
shortly, several extremely gay christenings in the
world, and some of the Fairies had been invited to
attend at them as Godmothers, in order that they
might bestow Fairy gifts on the different infants.
Four or five of'the christenings were to take place
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 3
the next day, and the Fairies who were going were
discussing with each other what gifts they should
bestow; and as their only object was to ensure the
happiness of the children for whom they were in-
terested, they naturally fell into a discourse as to
what gifts were most likely to have so charming an
effect. Your Godchild is a girl too, I believe,"
said Euphrosyne to lanthe [Fairies are privileged,
you know, to have romantic names]; what do you
think of bestowing upon her ? " Why," answered
lanthe, the old story, I suppose-BEAUTY : at
least such was my intention, but if you can any of
you show me I am wrong in supposing it a cause of
happiness to the mortal race, why, I suppose I must
give her ugliness instead."
Sister, I hope you will do no such thing,"
murmured a young Fairy who lay near twining
sea-weeds into a wreath. I never until this even-
ing heard a doubt upon the subject, and to tell you
the truth, the only time I ever envy a mortal is,
when I see a regular beauty enter a large assembly.
Oh, the triumph of that moment! Every eye
turned upon her; murmurs of admiration, not un-
mixed with envy, greeting her as she sweeps along;
every one courting her acquaintance; a word, a
smile of hers more valued than a pearl or a ruby. A
sort of queen of Nature's own making, reigning
royally in undisputed sway, let her circumstances of
life be what they may Look how mean the richest
woman who is ugly looks by the side of her No,
no, dear lanthe, make your little lady handsome,
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
and you have done the best that Fairy can do for
her. I declare I envy her beforehand! Here
where we are all so beautiful together, there is no
interest or excitement about it-it is quite flat."
And so saying, the young Fairy, Leila, laid herself
down to her wreath again. Why, Leila, you are
absolutely eloquent! observed lanthe, Beauty
it certainly must be."
Oh, I declare," pursued Leila, rousing up
again, I have sometimes really wished myself
ugly, that I might some day have the pleasure of
suddenly finding myself beautiful "
Oh, but then," said a Fairy from behind, is
there no danger of your regular beauty, as you call
her, getting as tired of being beautiful as you are, and
wishing herself ugly too ? "
Certainly not," answered Leila, for, for an
earthly beauty there would always be the excitement
of being envied."
Come, come," persisted the former speaker,
" then the gift of being envied would be the best
thing to bestow, at all events a necessary addition."
Oh," cried Leila, stopping her ears, I can't
argue, I never could-I can't hear any more, I am
quite satisfied that I am right; you can't argue away
the pleasure of being a beauty in a ball-room. Ask
any of them themselves."
Well," said lanthe, we need pursue the sub-
ject no further. I am resolved. My baby is to be
beautiful, beautiful as the dawn of the morning;
they shall call her Aurora! "
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 0
I shall not follow your example," observed
Euphrosyne; I don't at all like that notion of the
necessity of envy to make the beauty's joy complete.
Besides, I'm not at all sure beauty is not much
more charming in idea than in possession. No one
spends her life in entering a ball-room, and one
gets sadly tired of one's own face. I'm sure I do,
beautiful as it is; and as she spoke the Fairy
stooped over a clear tide-pool which mirrored her
lovely countenance; and yet look what a nose I
have It is absolutely exquisite And this hair !"
And she held up her long silken curling tresses and
looked at them reflected in the water as she spoke.
A musical laugh rang through the fairy group.
Euphrosyne resumed her seat. There isn't a
mortal damsel in the world who would not go into
raptures to resemble me," pursued she, and yet-
but, oh dear, I am getting quite prosy, and it is
quite useless, for lanthe has decided. I, on the
contrary, am thinking of something far less romantic
and interesting, but I suspect far more necessary to
the happiness of mortals than beauty I mean
Men are horribly fond of them, certainly," ob-
served the Fairy from behind, whose name was
Ambrosia. I can't endure men on that very ac-
count. Look at the grubby, wretched lives they
lead in counting-houses and banks, and dreadful
dingy holes and corners of great towns, where we
wouldn't set the soles of our feet, and this for forty or
fifty years, perhaps, in order that in the fifty-first, or
6 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
perhaps later still, they may turn into butterflies for
the little bit of life that is left to them. And such
butterflies, too! not knowing what to do with their
gay coats and fine wings when they get them at
I think you are putting an extreme case," ob-
served Euphrosyne. Though the grubs them-
selves may not thoroughly enjoy the riches they
have so laboriously acquired, their children or
grandchildren may, and live at ease and enjoy them.
I should not think of bestowing great riches on un-
educated paupers. But it is another matter to give
them to people whom education has refined, and
who would know how to enjoy and employ them."
I wonder," suggested a very little Fairy,
scarcely grown to her full size, why you don't
just give your Godchildren moderate good health,
and enough money to make them quite comfortable
without puzzling them ? "
You are a complete Solomon," observed Eu-
phrosyne; but you must know, my dear, that
moderate good health and a mere comfortable com-
petency would hardly be considered Fairy gifts by
our friends in the lower world. These things are,
as it were, the absolute necessities of a happy life;
they are the beef and mutton (to borrow an earthly
simile) of the entertainment. Fairy gifts form the
somewhat unnecessary (and questionably whole-
some) second course, the sweets, the bonbons, the
luscious luxuries of the repast.
Very few, by comparison, get them. Very few
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 7
infants, you know, have Fairy Godmothers, but we
make it a rule that those who have shall always be
distinguished from the crowd. Otherwise our power
would not be believed in. No, my little Aglaia,
all our Godchildren start from the point you spoke
of-' cateris paribus,' as those dingy black lawyers
say-all other things being equal-it is a question
now of bestowing extra superfine Fairy gifts."
Aglaia tittered-" I know Sister Euphrosyne is
thinking of the christening suppers, and the whipped
creams, and the syllabubs And away she tripped
to the other end of the bay, lest the older Fairies
should scold her for impertinence.
Certainly," pursued Euphrosyne, I have a
great contempt for riches myself. Bah the idea
of all the troublesome as well as wicked things men
do in order that they may be able to keep a lumber-
ing thing they call a carriage, to drive them round
a dirty town. Just think of that one thing alone !
It is hardly credible." And Euphrosyne laid her
head by the side of Leila's, and looked up into the
deep blue sky.
Remember," said Ambrosia, from behind, it
is a choice with poor mortals between heavy foot-
walking, and the lumbering vehicles you talk of.
Perhaps when their legs ache terribly, the carriages
are no such bad things. We can hardly judge dis-
passionately in such a matter, we who can float and
fly!" And the delicate Ambrosia, springing up,
floated softly round the bay, and then returned
smiling to her companions. It made me almost
8 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
ill to think of aching legs," observed she; how I
do pity the mortal race "
How pretty you looked as the sun shone golden
upon your white robe," exclaimed Leila; it was a
sight for a mortal painter to die of!"
A genius for painting would be a grand Fairy
gift," observed lanthe.
Too doubtful of success," answered Euphro-
syne," and the Musician's power the same; besides,
musicians always die young, and with exhausted
minds. The art is too much for mortal nerves."
Their atmosphere is too thick," said Leila.
" How tired I am of your discussions Let us sing !
Whatever music may be to them, it is food to us."
Then all those beautiful Fairies arose, and, joining
hands on the rocks, they sang to the now dying Sun
a chorus of Fairy Land! Now and then these
ravishing melodies are permitted to reach to mortal
ears: chiefly in dreams to the sick and sorrowful,
for Fairies have great compassion on such, and
allow them a distant taste of this, the most exquisite
of their enjoyments.
There was no more discussion that night, nor did
they argue much the next morning. There was the
rising sun to welcome from the sleeping caves on
the eastern side of their country, and the bath to be
enjoyed, and their wings to plume, and sweet odours
to gather from the early flowers; and the time
passed so quickly, they only met to take a hurried
leave. We must understand each other, however,
before we separate," said Euphrosyne.
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 9
Dear lanthe, your Gift is Beauty ?" It is."
" And mine is Riches," said Euphrosyne. All
the pleasures of life shall be at my Godchild's feet,"
said another Fairy, laughing. If that will not
ensure happiness, I know not what will." Am-
brosia held back.-" Your choice, dear Sister ?"
Come! we have no time to lose."
It must remain a secret," was the reply.
" Our discourse yesterday evening was so thought-
ful, so sad, I could not sleep. I arose hours before
you this morning, ere daylight streaked the sky.
Dear Sisters, how shocked you will be to hear I
wept; but now I have determined. If my gift
succeed, I will tell you all about it, or you shall
guess it yourselves; for I now propose that our
Fairy Gifts this year shall be a sort of experiment on
human happiness. Let us from time to time visit in
company our young charges, and let the result-
that is, which of our Gifts is proved to confer the
greatest amount of happiness-be written in the
archives of our kingdom for the future benefit of the
A murmur of approbation rose, sweet as the vibra-
tion of a harp-chord through the assembly.
There was no time for enquiry about the other
gifts: the travelling Fairies arose and beat their
gauzy wings upon the western breeze. A melodious
rushing was just audible; the distant murmurs of
the earthly sea the most resemble that sweet dream
of sound. In a few moments the departing sisters
10 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
became invisible; and those who remained returned
to float by the sea shore, or make sweet music in
the bowers of their enchanted land.
Time is a very odd sort of thing, dear readers.
We neither know whence it comes, nor whither it
goes:-nay, we know nothing about it in fact, except
that there is one little moment of it called the present,
which we have as it were in our hands to make use
of-but beyond this we can give no account of, even
that little moment. It is ours to use, but not to
understand. There is one thing in the world, how-
ever, quite as wonderful, and quite as common, and
that is, the Wind. Did it never strike you how
strange it was that the strongest thing in the world
should be invisible? The nice breezes we feel in
summer, and the roughest blasts we feel in winter
in England are not so extremely strong you will
say: but I am speaking, besides these, of the winds
called hurricanes that arise in the West Indian Islands,
and in other places in the world. These dreadful
hurricanes have at times done as much mischief as
earthquakes and lightning. They tear down the
strongest trees, overthrow the firmest houses, and
spread ruin and desolation around; and yet this
terrible power, so tremendous, and against which
the cleverest contrivances can provide no defence, is
as invisible as the great Maker of Heaven and Earth.
How unbelieving many people would look if you
told them of a dreadful creature that was coming
to the world, which could be beard to roar, be felt
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 11
to knock down everything in its path-men, women,
and children, houses, churches, towers, castles, cities,
and trees the most firmly rooted-and yet which you
could never catch the faintest glimpse of, for it was
always invisible, even when it roared the loudest!
As invisible then, as when in its mildest moods, it,
as it were, purred softly over the country like a cat.
How the good people would laugh, and tell you,
you were silly to believe in such a thing. Yet I
think this is not at all an incorrect description of
the great invisible Power, WIND. Now the lesson
we may learn from this is to be humble-minded; for
since we live in the constant presence of a Power
we cannot see, we ought to feel it is equally possible
other Powers may exist of which our other senses
cannot take cognizance. There is an old proverb,
" Seeing is believing" but you perceive, dear
readers, we are forced to believe in the wind, though
we never see him at all.
To return to Time, who is travelling fast on
while I am rambling after the wind; he has puzzled
the artists a good deal, I should say, for, with all
their skill at representation, they have never hit
upon any better idea of him than an old man with
wings. An old man with wings Can you fancy
anything so unnatural One can quite understand
beautiful young Angels with wings. Youthandpower
and swiftness belong to them. Also Fairies with
wings are quite comprehensible creatures; for one
fancies them so light and airy and transparent,
living upon honey-dew and ambrosia, that wings
12 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
wherewith to fly seem their natural appendages.
But the decrepitude of old age and the wings of
youth and power are a strange mixture:-a bald
head, and a Fairy's swiftness !-how ridiculous it
seems; and so I think I may well say Time is a
very odd sort of a thing.
Among those who have to deal with Time, few
are more puzzled how to manage him than we story-
tellers. In my first chapter, for instance, I gave
you a half-hour's conversation among some Fairies;
but I think you would be very angry with me were
I to give you as exactly every half-hour that passed
over the heads of the little girls with Fairy God-
mothers, till they grew up. How you would scold,
dear little readers, if I were to enter into a particular
description of each child's Nurse, and tell whether
Miss Aurora, Miss Julia, Miss Hermione, &c.
&c. &c. were brought up on baked flour, groat-gruel,
rusks, tops and bottoms, or revalenta food! Whether
they took more castor-oil, or rhubarb and magnesia;
whether they squalled on those occasions, or were
very good. When they cut their teeth, and how ;
together with all the &c. and ups and downs of
Nursery life which large families, such as you and I
belong to, go through daily.
Well then, suppose I altogether pass over a
period of ten years, and enter into no minute parti-
culars respecting that portion of Time. You must
know that the Fairies had agreed that all the children
should have the same (and rather a large) amount
of intellect, or what you would call cleverness: that
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
is to say, they were all equally capable of learning
anything they chose to learn: also they had all fair
health, plenty to eat and drink, and all the so-called
" necessary" comforts of life.
Now then to our story.
At the end of ten years the Fairies agreed to go
and have a peep how their charges were going on.
They quite knew that nothing decisive could be
found out till the children had come to years of
discretion, and were their own mistresses. Still,
they thought it would amuse them just to go and
see how the charms were working, as it were; so
away they went.
Now picture to yourselves a nice large nursery,
much such a one as your own, in which several
children are playing. The eldest, a girl of ten, you
may see yonder lounging-gracefully, perhaps-but
still lounging in a rocking-chair, which she is swing-
ing backwards and forwards, having set it in motion
by the action of her foot on the floor. What a
lovely face! I do not think you ever saw one so
handsome, except in a print in one of Mamma's
best picture-books. All the features are perfectly
good and in proportion, and the dark blue eyes are
fringed by the longest eyelashes ever seen. The hair
of this little girl too-look at it, as the soft chestnut
ringlets wave about on her shoulders as she swings,
and show the round richness of the curls.
Now if you ask about the expression on her face,
I must tell you it was rather languid, and pen-
sieroso." Pensieroso is an Italian word, really
14 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
meaning thoughtful:-but this little girl was not
thinking, for then the expression of her face would
have been much stronger and firmer, and less
languid ; but the word has got to be used for a sort
of awake-dreamy state, when one lets thoughts
float lazily along, without having any energy to
dwell upon them, and see whether they are good or
The thought that was passing through this little
girl's head at the time I mention, and which made
her look so languid and pensieroso, was,
I wish it was 6 o'clock."
Now here you are ready to laugh, I know, for there
was nothing to look so languid about, in I wish
it was six o'clock!" but the fact was this:-at
half-past six the little girl's Mamma was expecting
a large party to dinner, and the little girl was to
dress at six, and be ready to go down and see the
company:-I might add, and to be seen by them;
for the little girl was, as you will have guessed, the
beautiful Aurora herself; and there had been plenty
of foolish people, though her good Mamma was not
one of them, to tell her how pretty she was, and
how much people admired her.
It is a very pleasant thing to be admired, both
for children and grown-up people. The love of
approbation," as it is called, i. e. the wish to be ap-
proved of and admired, is a feeling which is very
strong in most people; not in quite all, perhaps,
but in most people certainly. But, like all other
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 15
powers of the mind, considered apart from the in-
fluence of the heart and conscience, it is capable of
being used to a very bad or a very good purpose.
Thus you may remember what our Saviour says of
the Pharisees who stood praying at the corners of
the streets, that they might be seen of men : Verily,
they had their reward-viz. that men admired them :
whereas those who do good deeds, and pray pri-
vately, i. e. unseen and unadmired by men, should
verily have their reward in that day when God,
who seeth in secret, himself shall reward them
Here, you see, is the same strong feeling-love
of approbation, exercised in a wrong and a right
direction. The Pharisees wish for the approbation
of men, good people wish for the approbation of
Now, love of approbation exists about much
smaller matters than I have just been mentioning.
But I would warn my young readers, that, to be
always thinking, and bothering yourselves as to
what other people are thinking about you, is one of
the most uncomfortable and injurious habits a person
can get into. It makes them so selfish and egotistical.
And here was one of Aurora's dangers. Because
she knew she was pretty, she was always wondering
what other people were thinking about her; a habit
which, so far from contributing to what the good
Fairy had wished, viz. her happiness, was con-
stantly spoiling her comfort from hour to hour.
And here, at ten years old, was this little lady
16 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
swinging languidly and idly on the rocking-chair,
wishing it was six o'clock, instead of enjoying, as
she might so well have done, that small portion of
time, time present, which is, as I told you before,
the only bit of him we can ever lay hold of, as it
were. Of time present, just then, she thought
nothing. She would have said (had she been asked)
that the old gentleman moved very slowly, in spite
of his wings; for her eye was fixed on that delight-
ful time future, six o'clock. Well! at last the
clock struck, and Aurora sprang from her chair;
her whole face altered in a moment. Now, Nurse,
I may dress, may I not ? she exclaimed, radiant
with animation, and all the languor and dreaminess
gone over like a cloud from before the sun. And
it is true that just then Aurora was happy. It was
a pleasant task to her to arrange and smooth that
curling hair, and to put on the simple white dress
she knew set off her beauty so well. But alas! for
the happiness caused by thoughts of one's self!
The toilet over, she ran down to her Mamma, and
was welcomed with a smile of fondness and appro-
bation. Indeed, when she was happy, a sweeter
face could not be seen, for she was not a naughty
child; and if it had not been for the Fairy gift, I
do think she would have been a very nice one.
The Fairies, who invisibly had witnessed all I
have described to you, were not so loud in their
admiration of Aurora as you or I might have been.
They are so handsome themselves, they think but
little of earthly beauty; and even lanthe could not
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 17
conscientiously say, What a happy looking little
girl she is!" That was just the one thing that was
wanting: ay, and it continued wanting even after
the room was filled with company, and she was
petted, and caressed, and praised on every side.
Her spirits became very high, however, and she
enjoyed herself much ; and it is perhaps only very
very critical folk, bent on spying out a fault that
could have detected the little clouds of anxiety that
now and then shot across her face. A thought of
whether her curls were all right, or her dress un-
tumbled, &c. just now and then disturbed the charm,
and prevented her forgetting herself sufficiently to
allow her to be quite at ease and happy; and she
would glance at herself in the mirror, and put back
the hair from her brow, lest Mrs. I-know-not-who,
who was just then entering the room, should not
a think her quite as lovely as Mrs. Some-body-else
did, who had very foolishly been saying so rather
in a loud tone to her Mamma.
At last the fatal time arrived to go to bed. Aurora
was much too sensible to cry, or be cross, you must
know; but as she closed the door of the drawing-
room, and left the' gay company, a sigh, very heavy
for so young a heart to have breathed, escaped her,
and it was slowly she retraced her steps up-stairs.
She was in reality tired, for it was later than her
usual bed-time, and when she went into her room
she threw herself on the chair and yawned. The
young Nurse who attended to undress her, asked her
if she had enjoyed herself. Oh, yes !" was her
18 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
ready answer. All is so bright, and gay, and
entertaining among those ladies, and they are so
good-natured to me,"-(another sigh coupled with
the recollection of, and how much they admire me!)
-" But I do so hate being a little girl, and having
to go to bed. I wish the time would come quicker
for me to be grown up, and be down stairs alto-
gether, and talk, and enjoy myself all the evening "
Oh, Aurora, Aurora, with that dissatisfied face
where is your beauty ? with that discontented mind
where is your happiness ?
Your charm is not working perfectly, Sister,"
observed Euphrosyne to lanthe.
Her's is not the age for perfect happiness and
enjoyment as a beauty, remember," replied Ianthe;
" and she feels this herself."
Man never is, but always to be, blest,"-cried
Ambrosia, laughing. You see I can quote their
own poets against them."
You are prejudging now, Ambrosia; wait till
another ten years is over : but we must see our little
beauty through the twenty-four hours." lanthe
now waved a tiny wand in a circle around Aurora's
head-the long eyelashes sank over her eyes, and
the beautiful child fell into a sweet and placid
Morning, which awakens all young creatures to
life, enjoyment, and action, awoke Aurora among
the rest; and she arose in health and strength, and
the full glow of animal spirits. This is happiness,
however exclaimed lanthe to her companions, as
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 19
the young girl sprang about, carolling to herself the
while. And so it was; for at that moment no
forecasting into futurity disturbed the comfort of
present pleasure : but an accidental glimpse of her
face, caught in a looking-glass as she passed, re-
called Aurora to the recollection of HERSELF and
the admiration she had obtained the evening before.
At first some pleasure attended the remembrance,
and she gazed with a childish triumph at her pretty
face in the glass. In a few minutes, however, the
voice of her Governess calling her to lessons dis-
turbed the egotistical amusement, and the charming
Aurora frowned-yes, frowned! and looked cross
at the looking-glass before she quitted the apart-
And now, dear little readers, let me remind you
that Aurora was a clever little girl, for the Fairy
had taken care of that. She had every faculty for
learning, and no real dislike to it; but this unlucky
Fairy gift was in the way of everything she did, for
it took away her interest in everything but herself;
and so, though she got through her lessons respect-
ably, it was with many yawns, and not a few sighs,
and wonderings what Mamma was doing; and did
the Governess think there would soon be another
dinner party ? and didn't the Governess, when she
was a little girl, wish very much she was a grown-
up woman ? and, finally, she wished she had been
able to talk when she was a baby at her christening,
because then she would have begged the Fairy God-
mother to give her the gift of growing up to be a
20 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
young lady very quick indeed, and of learning
everything without any trouble at all! And so
saying, Aurora yawned, and laid down her book;
and the poor Governess could hardly keep her tem-
per at such repeated interruptions to the subject in
My dear," she exclaimed, Fairies have no
power to counteract what God has ordained; and
He has ordained that we enjoy but little what we get
at without labour and trouble."
Ah taisez-vous done ma chAre cried Aurora,
stopping her ears with her hands, and running
round the room shaking her long curls furiously.
" Vous me faits absolument fr6mir Excuse my
French, but I am certain you are the eldest daughter
of the old woman in the wood, and you are just
now dropping vipers, toads, newts, and efts from
your mouth at every word you utter "
The good-natured Governess laughed heartily at
the joke, for they had just been reading the old
French fairy tale of Les F6es," and the applica-
tion amused her; but she shook her head gravely
at Aurora afterwards, and reminded her that no
serious truth was well answered by a joke, however
A bell rings, a carriage is at the door. Miss
Aurora is wanted. Visitors Ah here is happiness
again! But it lasts but a short time, and the reac-
tion is the same as before-drooping eyes, languid
eyelids, and a sigh.
Books, drawing, music, work, even domestic re-
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 21
creations, all deprived of their charm through this
idolatry of self !
The curtain closed over this scene.
A charming child, Ianthe, but for your Fairy
Gift, which is spoiling her."
I repeat to you we are no judges yet. Now
for riches, Euphrosyne !"
At the same hour of evening, and under the same
circumstances, of a party about to assemble, let me
introduce you to a beautiful little boudoir, or up-
stairs sitting-room, adjoining an equally pretty sleep-
ing apartment in a magnificent house in a town.
The passages are carpeted all over, and so are the
boudoir and the sleeping-room, and they are fur-
nished with sofas, easy-chairs, and every description
of luxurious comfort; and all this for the accommo-
dation of a little girl of ten years old, who, in one of
the easy-chairs is lying back in front of the fire,
with her tiny feet on a bright brass fender. She
has a gold watch in her hand, which is suspended
round her neck by a chain of the same material, and
she is playing with it, and with the seals, and pretty
ornaments hung to it, that jingle as she moves her
hand. Ever and anon she glances at the face of the
But life is very easy to her, and the chair is very
soft, and her feet are very warm. At last, however,
she gets up and rings a silver bell that is on the
mantel-piece. A servant answers the summons.
" It is time for me to dress, I believe, Annette;
22 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
the company are expected to-day at half-past six.
Has my new frock come home ?"
Let me look at it."
A delicate blue satin, trimmed with the finest lace,
is produced from a band-box.
It is very pretty, I think, Annette."
It is downright beautiful, Miss."
And so expensive," pursued the little girl,
whose name was Julia, that I don't think any one
else I know is likely to imitate it, which is my
And so saying, the rich Miss Julia -, (an only
daughter,) whose comfort seemed to depend on no
one else being as comfortable as herself, commenced
her toilet, i. e. her maid both commenced and finished
it for her; for those who can command the unlimited
assistance of servants are apt to be very idle in help-
Your Julia looks self-satisfied enough," ob-
served lanthe ; but I do not see that this is more
like real happiness than my Aurora's face before the
Perhaps," returned Euphrosyne, the same re-
mark applies to her as to Aurora-the age for
thoroughly enjoying riches is hardly arrived. You
smile, Ambrosia Well, we do not yet know your
experiment, and you yourself do not know how it
has answered. Take care that our turn for laugh-
ing at you does not soon come "
Julia was dressed at the end of the half-hour, but
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 23
not sooner. Her toilet occupied more time than
Aurora's. She could not decide what ornaments
she would wear; and at last getting out of humour
with the embarras des richesses," she fixed on
a necklace which, though extremely handsome, was
scarcely fit for a child. She was neither pretty nor
otherwise; but when good-humoured and happy,
her face, like that of all other creatures of her inno-
cent time of life, was attractive and pleasant to be-
hold. Oh, that children did but know wherein the
secret of being loveable and beloved lies! In hold-
ing fast the innocence and simplicity of their infant
years; in the cheerful spirit, the universal kind-
heartedness, the open honesty, the sweet teachable-
ness and readiness of belief, which are the real cha-
racteristics of childhood, and which wesoloveto trace
in their faces. It was these things our Saviour called
upon grown-up people to imitate, and so to receive
the kingdom of Heaven as little children. And oh,
that grown-up people would imitate these things;
for if they would become in these respects as little
children, the sweet cast of mind would be reflected
in their faces too, and the ugly looks given by
envious discontent, deceitful thoughts, unkind in-
tention and restless want of faith and hope would all
be washed out of the world.
But now, my dear readers, can you call that the
best of Fairy gifts, which had so great a tendency
to bring the naughty passions of grown-up life into
the heart, and therefore on the face, of a little girl ?
Well, but riches have a tendency that way; and
24 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
though Julia was not a very naughty girl, she was
being led into very sad feelings by the Fairy gift.
When she went down to the company, her secret
anxiety was, to examine all the dresses of her
Mamma's friends, and resolve, some day, to surpass
them all. Even as it was, she received much plea-
sure from knowing that her own dress was far be-
yond the reach of ordinary folk. She thought, too,
of her necklace with secret satisfaction, when the
ladies were talking to her, for she perceived their
eyes frequently attracted by its brilliancy and beauty.
Then her mind rambled into futurity-to the day
when she would astonish these very ladies, far more
than now, by the richness of her costume. Ah,
dear readers, would our Saviour, if present, have
called this little child to him, and said, Of such is
the kingdom of Heaven?" But all these selfish
thoughts made her conversation less pleasant and
cheerful than it would otherwise have been; for you
may be sure she was not listening with any interest
to what was said to her, while she was thus planning
silly schemes about herself.
And not having listened with any interest to what
was said to her, you may guess that her answers were
dull and stupid; for when people are talking of one
thing and thinking of another, they become very flat
companions. At times, when she could forget herself,
she became natural, and' then was both pleasant and
pleased, and asked some ladies to let their children
come and see her next day, to which they consented.
But now came a sad drawback. One of the ladies
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. '2
told her that her little girl should bring to show her
a most beautiful gold fillagree work-box set with pre-
cious stones, which one of the maids of honour about
court, who was her Godmother, had given her a few
days before. This lady had saved a few of the
queen's hairs very carefully, and had had them
placed in a little circle of crystal in the middle of
the box, and they were set round with the most
beautiful rubies. It was a present worthy of a
Fairy Godmother, and certainly the donor was the
daughter of a duchess, which perhaps is the nearest
thing to being a Fairy.
You will be shocked, my dear readers, to hear
that the account of this box was as disagreeable as a
dose of physic to poor Julia. Nay, it was worse
than physic, for a peppermint-drop can take the
taste of that away in a minute. But not all the
peppermint-drops in a chymist's shop could take
away the taste of the fillagree-box from Julia. She
had been thinking before of showing all the treasures
of her boudoir to her little friends next day; but this
horrid box was like a great cloud closing over her
sunshine. She knew she was naughty, but she was
so in the habit of being selfish she could not con-
quer her peevish vexation. Annette wondered what
could be the matter, and her Governess sighed as
she perceived her face clouded, even when she was
repeating her evening prayer; but no questioning
could extract from her what was amiss.
Oh, what a condition for a child to go to sleep in !
Euphrosyne was greatly annoyed. They are not
26 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
correcting her evil dispositions," cried she. I do
not allow that this has anything to do necessarily
with being very rich."
Ah, good Fairies, you do not know How hardly
shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of
Look now at that young face, asleep on a downy
pillow, in a bed richly hung with crimson drapery,
in a room filled with luxuries, glowing with warmth
and comfort. You are shocked that the heart within
should be disturbed by nasty little envyings, that
made the good things she possessed of no value to
her. 'Tis well; but remember, we are all rich by
comparison. Go to the poor frost-bitten, wayside
beggar-child, my little readers; bring him into your
comfortable drawing-room, which you sit in every
day, and think nothing about, and he will fancy he
has got into Paradise. It is a luxurious palace to
him. Take him to your snug bed, and let him sleep
there, and it will be to him what a state apartment
in Windsor Castle would be to you. Do not then
let you and me scold too much at Julia, but let us
keep on the watch to drive away from ourselves the
discontented, grumbling thoughts that are apt to
make us all ungrateful to God. Julia did not sleep
well. The fillagree box was a sort of nightmare to
her. She dreamt of its growing up into a great
giant, and thumping her on the head, and calling
out that she ought to be ashamed of herself. Do
you know, I think this dream was owing to her
Godmother, Euphrosyne, for she lingered behind the
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 27
other Fairies as they vanished, and shook, not waved,
her wand over the sleeping child, with a very angry
In the morning Julia, like Aurora, awoke in a
temporary forgetfulness of her troubles. The morn-
ing air is so refreshing, and sleep does one so much
good, and the sun shining through the windows
looks so gay, and all things speak of hope so loudly
in a morning, who can be sullen ? Certainly not
little girls full of life and expectation. But the
thought of the fillagree box by degrees took posses-
sion of her mind, and rankled there as before. She,
too, had a governess, and many lessons to learn, and
much to do, and she did them; but neither English
history, nor French fairy tales could quite drive
away the fillagree box. Indeed it introduced its
horrid face before her into the midst of a multiplica-
tion sum, and Mademoiselle thought she was be-
witched, to have grown so stupid over her arithmetic
all at once. She spent a half-hour over that one
sum; and when it was done, she was so much tired
she gave up lessons for the day. Besides, she had
to prepare for her friends. She went into her
boudoir, opened her cabinets, and unfolded her trea-
sures of various sorts-oh, I can't tell you what
beautiful things! besides interesting collections of
foreign and English shells, and stuffed humming-
birds, which you and I should be charmed to
possess. And Julia was, in general, most happy
when she was looking over her property, but
rather more because she possessed vaulable curiosi-
30 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
her just as much as nice ones, and for her part she
hated them all alike. It was a very silly Fairy gift.
Come with me, then, to Ambrosia's God-daughter,
whom they visited last, and whose Fairy gift the
other Fairies were to guess at!
Neither you nor I, my dears, ever heard a fairy-
laugh. Doubtless it is a sweet and musical sound.
You can perhaps fancy it ? Well then, do fancy it,
and how it rang in silver peals when our fairy
friends, on entering the last nursery they had to
visit, found Ambrosia's protege in a flood of angry
tears, stamping her foot on the ground in a passion !
" You naughty, naughty girl !" exclaimed the old
Nurse, you'll wake the baby, and make your own
eyes so red, you won't be fit to be seen to-night by
I don't care about my eyes being red, though I
don't want to wake the poor baby," sobbed the little
girl, slightly softening her wrath : but the cat has
unravelled all the stocking I have been knitting
at for so many days, and I had nearly just finished
it, and now it's all spoilt;" and she roared with
vexation. Miss Hermione, if you go on so, I
shall certainly send for your Mamma, and the baby
will be quite poorly, he will! and we shall know
who made him so," added Nurse triumphantly. I
can't make the baby poorly with crying, Nurse, so
that's nonsense you know," observed Hermione;
" but I didn't mean to disturb him; only my stock-
ing is gone, and I don't know what to do." And
here she sobbed afresh.
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 31
Do! why ain't you going down to the ladies,
and can't you be brushing your hair and washing
your face, and getting ready ?" "But it isn't time."
" Well, but can't you get ready before the time a
little ? and then, when you're dressed and look so
clean and nice and pretty, you can sit in the chair,
and we can look at you!" and here the good old
Nurse gave a knowing smile, and nodded her head.
Hermione caught sight of the comical coaxing
glance, and, in spite of her misfortune, burst into a
fit of laughter. Hush, hush, hush now you'll
wake the poor thing by laughing, Miss Hermione.
I do wish you'd be quiet:" and here the Nurse
rocked the child on her knee more vigorously than
Then why don't you tell me what I am to do
with my stocking ? cried Hermione. Oh, well, I
know what I will do-something quite as quiet as
a mouse. I will wind up my poor worsted."
Hereupon the little girl picked up the puckered re-
mains of her luckless grey stocking, which a
facetious young cat had spent at least a quarter of an
hour in ingeniously unravelling with his claws. It
was a tiresome, tedious job, we must admit, and
required a strong effort of patient perseverance; but
Hermione soon became engrossed in its difficulties,
and a dead silence ensued. At last, Nurse, who
had, while rocking the sleeping baby on her knee,
been watching the child's proceedings, suddenly ex-
claimed, Well to be sure, Miss Hermione, you
have such patience as I never before did see."
32 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
[The Fairies exchanged glances.
It is Patience, Ambrosia."
What a hurry you are in was the reply.]
No I hav'n't, Nurse, indeed," answered Her-
mione. I had no patience at all when I was in a
passion with the cat just now."
Well, I suppose there are two or three sorts of
Patiences, Miss, then," persisted Nurse, for I'm
certain you have some sorts. But, dear me, it's ever
so much past six o'clock, and you have to be dressed
by half-past. Do put away the worsted and get
yourself ready, Miss, and call Jane to help you."
Here the Nurse and Hermione nearly had a
scuffle over the worsted. Hermione declared the
cat had spoilt her stocking; and the only comfort
left to her now was to roll it comfortably up into a
ball. Nurse, on the contrary, insisted that it didn't
signify a bit what became of the worsted; she must
dress, and go down. The dispute ended by Her-
mione running off with the half-finished ball and
its untidy remains, and cramming the whole concern
into the pocket of her best frock. The people will
soon be tired of talking to me," muttered she to
herself, and then I can finish my ball quietly in
the corner behind Mamma's chair."
The thought of this ingenious plan for her private
amusement down stairs, so tickled Hermione's fancy
that she was on the giggle the whole time she was
being dressed. If Nurse did but know what was
in the pocket of my best frock, and how fat it is,
how she would scold, and what a fight we should
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. W
have!" And she could hardly refrain from loud
laughter at the thought. When she had got her
frock on she sat down, and laying her arm over the
fat pocket, asked Jane to touch up her curls: and
while this operation was going on she began to talk
to the nurse.
Nurse, should you think it a very nice thing to
go to a dinner-party, and sit in chairs all round a
large room, where the coloured covers are taken
away and everything looks very gay, and so tidy,
nobody is allowed to do anything but smile, and talk,
and wear white kid gloves ? "
Very nice, Miss, it's so like a lady," was the
Nurse's ready reply.
Well then, I don't think it's nice at all, Nurse-
I think it's very nasty and stupid."
Dear, Miss Hermione, how you do talk; I
hope you won't tell the ladies so when you get
Oh dear no, that would be rude, and it's wrong
to be rude; but to tell you the truth, I don't know
what I shall do when I grow up, if I am obliged
to be so dull as that is, very often."
Goodness, Miss Hermione, to hear you talk
one would think you'd better be a housemaid at
once, instead of a lady with nothing to do."
Nurse, I should see no objection to be a house-
maid at all, only that I am learning so many things
that wouldn't suit a housemaid; but, without being
a housemaid, there are many pleasanter things to
do than to sit in that stupid sort of way. I like the
34 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
room when all Papa's books and papers are about,
and when he is scribbling away so busy, and when
Mamma has got her microscope out, looking at
sea-weeds or curiosities. I have a chance then my-
self. I don't like ladies who say nothing but Pretty
little dear, what a nice colour she has,'just to please
What Nurse in England could be expected to
enter into so philosophical an investigation of the
habits of society ?
Hermione's did nothing but assure her it was time
to be off, and she only hoped she would sit still and
talk prettily, and never trouble her head whether it
was stupid or not.
When Hermione got into the drawing-room, and
saw the company seated as she had described to her
Nurse, she felt very much disposed to laugh again,
but made an effort and composed herself. Still,
her face was beaming with mirth and fun; and when
some ladies said, What a happy-looking little
girl," they were quite sincere. That sort of face,
too, worked wonders, and her Mamma's friends
liked her much, and talked pleasantly to her; and
she was pleased and happy, and quite forgot the ball
of worsted, as well as the ladies' white kid gloves.
A young lady, however, who had her arm round
Hermione's waist, and was playing with her, sud-
denly felt the round protuberance in her pocket.
"Ah, you little rogue, what have you here ?" It's
a secret," cried Hermione. I think I can unravel
your mysterious secret, little girl; you are a favour-
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
ite with the housekeeper," added she, whispering in
Hermione's ear, and she has just given you an
"You are a very bad guesser of secrets," whispered
Hermione, in return. It's no such thing! "-
" Then it's an apple." No, nor an apple."-
" Then it's a peach, and your new frock will be
spoilt." No, it isn't a peach either, and it's a
secret." The young lady loved fun; and a playful
struggle ensued between her and Hermione; in the
course of which the large grey worsted ball and its
long ravelled tail were drawn from the little pocket.
Hermione had now to tell the history of the ball,
which she did naturally and honestly; but when she
added, quite seriously, that she intended, when they
had done talking to her, to go behind her Mamma's
chair and finish winding it up, you may guess how
Come here, my little dear, and let me look at
you," cried an elderly lady in spectacles, putting
out her hand and laying hold of Hermione's. Why,
what an industrious little soul you must be a per-
fect pattern There now you may go behind my
chair and finish your ball of worsted; nobody wants
to talk to you any longer."
This old lady was rather crabbed, and had not
quite believed Hermione sincere; so she did this to
try her, and expected to see her pout and refuse.
To her surprise, Hermione only said, Oh, thank
you, ma'am," with a quite smiling face; and going
behind her chair, sat down on the floor to her worsted.
36 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
For a few moments the old lady kept thinking, It
won't last long; she'll soon be glad of an excuse
to come out." But no such thing happened; and
just what Hermione expected did happen. The
ladies fell to talking among themselves, and in a
very short time the presence of the little girl was
quite forgotten, even by the old lady, who was
handed out to dinner without once remembering
whom she had left behind her chair.
Hermione stayed in the room till her task was
over, and then rushed up-stairs to the nursery, and
stopping at the door, half opened it, and rolled the
great grey worsted ball so cleverly in, that it hit the old
Nurse's foot as she sat (once more rocking the baby)
over the fire. Goodness, bless me whatever is
that ?" Then spying a laughing face at the door,
" Oh, dear heart, it's you, I declare, Miss Hermione!
will you never leave off waking the baby? I thought
a great black dog was laying hold of my foot."
Nurse," said Hermione, your baby is always
and always going to sleep; why doesn't he go, and
then I could have a bit of fun ? You don't know
where I finished winding the worsted ball? "
Why, goodness me, Miss Hermione, where ?"
"Down in the drawing-room, among all the fine
ladies; so, good-night! and off she ran to avoid
further explanation. A few words with her Gover-
ness; a sober time of evening-prayer; and the happy
child laid her head on her pillow, and needed no
Fairy wand to lull her to sleep. She had been some
time with her Governess in the morning, before her
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 37
Mamma coming to her there, heard a loud discussion
going on within. The voices, however, were those of
good-humour. Hermione," said her Mother, I
am come to say that your Governess told me yester-
day you had been so very good for a long time over
all that you have had to do, that I have arranged
for your having a holiday and a treat to-day, and
several of your young friends are coming to see you.
Among them is Aurora, the granddaughter of the
old lady in spectacles, who, just before she was going
away at night, recollected you, and began to look
for you behind her chair."
Oh, what a goose, Mamma!" "No, not a
goose, my dear-only an oddity, but a very kind
one too-for she desired me to find out whether you
really did roll up the whole of the ravelled worsted
last night; and if you really persevered till it was
finished, I have something to give you from her,
but not otherwise. How was it? " Oh, it's finished,
Mamma; ask Nurse; for when I rolled it against
her foot last night, she took it for a great black dog."
" Well then, I suppose this is yours, Hermione;
but, I must say, I never knew a gold thimble earned
so easily." Yes, dear little readers, it was a pretty
gold thimble; and round the bottom of it there was
a rim of white enamel, and on the enamel were gold
L'industrie ajoute b la beauty."
Mamma," said Hermione, looking at it in delight,
as she found it exactly fitted her finger, it's lovely;
but, do you know, I think the old lady ought to
38 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
have given it to her granddaughter, Aurora, with
such a motto." My dear, she has had it, she told
me, some months in her pocket secretly, for the
purpose you mention, but she cannot ever satisfy
herself that Aurora has got the spirit of real industry
in her; and to bribe her to earn the thimble is not
her object, so you see it has accidentally fallen to
And as she said this, Hermione's mother turned
round to leave the room ; but before she had reached
the door, her little girl stopped her-" Mamma, do
What is the matter, Hermione ? "
I've something I want to say to you."
I am all attention, my dear, particularly as
your face looks so unusually grave."
Why, you and my Governess are always calling
me good for doing my lessons well; and now you
are rewarding me for being good and all that, and
I don't see that I am good at all."
That is a strange idea, Hermione; who, or
what, has put it into your head ?"
I read in a serious book, lately, that nobody
could be good without practising self-denial; and
that, to be really good, one must either do something
that one does not like, or give up something that
one does; so that I am quite sure I cannot be good
and deserve a reward when I do French, and music,
and drawing, and work well; because I am so very
fond of doing everything I do do, that everything
is a pleasure to me. And there is no struggle to do
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
what is tiresome, and no other wish to give up.
The only time when I have to try to be good at all
is when I have to leave off one thing and go to
another. That is always a little disagreeable at first;
but, unfortunately, the disagreeableness goes off in
a very few minutes, and I like the new employment
as well as the last. This is what I was talking
about to my Governess when you came, and she
laughed so loud I felt quite vexed."
My dear Hermione," said her Mamma, you
have quite misapplied what you have read in the
book. Self-denial is always required of us, when
we feel inclined to do anything that is wrong; but
it does not apply to any aptitude you may have for
enjoying the occupations I require of you. That is
only a piece of good fortune for you; for to many
little girls, doing lessons is a very great act of self-
denial, as they want to be doing something else.
But now, as you are so lucky in liking everything
you do, you must practise your self-denial in some
"In not beingvexed when your Governess laughs;
and in not being in a passion with the cat next time
he unravels your stocking."
Hermione blushed. Oh, Mamma, I understand
the difference now."
But this is not all, Hermione."
Why, as you are so fortunate as to be always
happy when employed, and as therefore there is no
40 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
goodness, strictly speaking, in your doing your
business so cheerfully and well, you must do this,
you must spend some portion of time every day in
making your energy of use to other people, and
then you will be doing active good, if not practising
Oh, Mamma, what a nice idea! Perhaps you
will give me some needlework to do for the poor
women you give money to; and, besides, just now
I can do something actively useful, and still a little
really disagreeable,-really it is, Mamma,-what
makes you laugh ? "
Your resolution to do something you don't like.
What is it, Hermione ? "
To knit up again the stocking the cat pulled
out. I quite dislike the idea."
Then set to work by all means, Hermione.
You will at least have the comfort of beginning by
a little aversion;' but I warn you, beforehand, not
to set your heart upon the disagreeableness lasting
very long; and if you find yourself, shortly, as
happy as ever over the stocking, do not be puzzled
and vexed any more, but thank God as I do, that,
so far at least, you are spared one of the troubles of
life:-the trouble of an indolent, discontented mind."
An affectionate embrace was exchanged between
Mother and Daughter; and the latter, with the
assistance of her Governess, recommended the un-
lucky grey stocking, and was working assiduously
at it when her young friends arrived.
It was a curious sight to the Fairies, to see two
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 41
of their God-daughters together, as they now did.
But the conviction was forced upon them, that, for the
present, at least, Hermione had the balance of hap-
piness in hpr favour. Whatever their amusements
were,-whether looking over curiosities, playing
with dolls, or any of the numerous games invented
for the entertainment of the young, Hermione's
whole heart and attention were in the matter, and
she was as much engrossed as over learning at other
times, and quite happy. With poor Aurora it was
not so; the childishness of the play every now and
then annoyed her; there was no food for her vanity,
in playing with children; they cared nothing about
her beauty: the gayest and most good-natured face
has always the most charms for them; and this did
not suit Aurora at all, so that ever and anon her
thoughts wandered, and her wishes too.
For ever straining into the future !
I cannot make out your Fairy gift at all, Am-
brosia," said Euphrosyne, and I begin to suspect
you have not given her one."
We are all growing philosophical, I perceive,"
said Ambrosia, smiling. Who could think you
would have guessed that my happy child has had
no Fairy gift at all. But she has, I assure you.
What do you say to the Philosopher's Stone ? It is
quite clear that she has got something which TURNS
EVERYTHING SHE TOUCHES INTO GOLD."
What is the Philosopher's Stone? I hear my
little readers exclaim. There is no such thing, my
42 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
dears, nor ever was; but the chymists, in old times,
who were very ignorant, and yet knew that many
wonderful things had been done by the mixture of
minerals and metals, and the curious effects some
had upon others, guessed that yet more wonderful
things might be found out by searching; and they
got into their heads that it might be possible to find,
or make, a stone that would have the power of turn-
ing everything it touched into gold. In the same
manner, the doctors of those times fancied there
might be such a thing made as a draught that would
turn old people into young ones again. This was
called The Elixir of Life." But I do assure you
these old fellows never did discover either a Philo-
sopher's Stone, or an Elixir of Life.
So this was only a joke of Ambrosia's.
Now to go on and finish my story. It was ten
years more before the Fairies revisited their God-
children in the lower world; and this time they
were to decide who had given the best Fairy gift.
And I dare say you expect me to give you as long
an account of their visits to the young ladies of
twenty, as I did of their peeps at the little girls of
ten. But I really do not think it worth while. I
would do so indeed in a minute if there were any-
thing quite fresh and new to describe. But on the
faith of a story-teller, I assure you it would be the
old story over again," only on an enlarged scale.
Did you ever look at any interesting object first
with your natural eyes, and then through a micro-
scope or magnifying-glass ? If so, you will remem-
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 43
ber that through the magnifying-glass you saw the
same thing again, only much bigger.
In the same manner the ten years acted as a sort
of magnifying-glass over Aurora, Julia, and Her-
mione. Everything was the same, but increased in
size, and made clearer and plainer.
Aurora's triumphant joy, as she entered the ball-
room as a beauty, was much greater, certainly, than
her pleasure at her Mamma's dinner-party. But
the weariness and anxiety afterwards were increased
also. She was still getting away from our friend,
Time present, and forecasting into some future de-
light. The good time coming" was her, as well
as many other people's bugbear. She never could
feel that (with God's blessing) the good time is
The only time she ever thoroughly enjoyed, was
the moment of being excessively admired. But
judge for yourselves how long than can last. Could
you sit and look at a pretty picture for an hour
together ? No, I know you could not. You cannot
think how short a time it takes to say, Dear me,
what a beautiful girl!" and then, perhaps, up comes
somebody, who addresses the admiring gazer, on the
subject of Lord John Russell's last speech; and the
" beautiful girl," so all-important in her own eyes,
is as entirely forgotten as if she had never been seen.
And then, to let you into another secret, Aurora
was by no means a very entertaining companion:
nobody can be, with their heads full of themselves:
and she had often the mortification, even in that
44 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
scene of her triumph, a ball-room, of seeing her
admirers drop off, to amuse themselves with other
people; less handsome, perhaps, but more interesting
And so the Fairies-having accompanied her
through a day of triumphs mixed with mortifications,
followed by languors, unsettled by hopes of future
joy, clouded with anxieties that all but spoilt those
hopes-came one and all to the conclusion that
Aurora could not be considered as a model of human
Nor could they say much more for Julia. Perhaps,
indeed, there is more equanimity in the pleasures of
a very rich person, than in those of a very beautiful
one: but, oh dear, they are of such a mean sort!
Still, there is a good deal of impertinent comfort in
money, I do admit. Life rolls on upon such well-
oiled hinges The rich say, Do this," to people
around them; and the people do it." But the
Fairies had no sympathy with such an unnatural
fault as the pride of wealth. They saw Julia re-
clining in one of those "lumbering things" they so
much despised: and driving round the "dirty town"
they so much disliked, and along a park a great
deal too smoky for their taste, and they could not
understand the haughty glance of self-satisfaction
with which she looked out upon the walking crowds
she passed; or the affected graciousness with which
she smiled upon the few whom she condescended to
recognize as acquaintances. They thought her very
naughty, and very absurd, for being conceited about
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 45
such matters. They followed her to her Milliner's,
too; and there, I assure you, they had nearly
betrayed their presence by the uncontrollable fits of
laughter they fell into when she was trying on, or
talking about, bonnets, head-dresses, gowns, &c.
with the affected Frenchwoman who showed them
off. Julia cared for nothing because it was pretty
or tasteful, but chose everything by its costliness
and magnificence. Of course the milliner assured
her that everything she took a fancy to from its
rarity, was becoming; and then, oh dear! how the
Fairies were amused for poor Julia looked down-
right ugly in some of the things she selected; and
still went away as self-satisfied as ever, on the old
grounds that the costume was so expensive that none
of her acquaintance could get one like it. This was
still her chief comfort! Euphrosyne actually shook
her fist at her as she was going away, and she
had the toothache for the rest of the day, and was
extremely cross to her husband in consequence.
For, by the way, Julia had married-and married a
nobleman-a man somewhat older than herself; but
he and she had had a sort of mutual conviction that
riches and rank go very well together, and so they
married ; and suited very well in this respect, that,
as their heads were full of other things, they neither
claimed nor required from each other a great amount
Still, was Julia happy ? The Fairies shook their
heads. She had gardens, hot-houses, magnificent
collections of curiosities, treasures that might have
46 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
softened and opened her heart, if she had made a
right use of them. But riches have a very harden-
ing tendency, and she never struggled against it.
Then, too, she could get everything she wanted
so easily, that she cared very little about anything.
Life becomes very stale when your hands are full
and you have nothing to ask for.'
Her greatest pleasure was to create astonishment
and envy among her associates: but, besides the
naughtiness of the feeling, this is a triumph of very
short duration; for most people, when they cannot
get at what they envy, amuse themselves with
something else; and then, what a mortification to
see them do this !
Besides," said the Fairies, we must follow
her into her solitude, to see if she is happy."
Ah! there, lying back once more in the easy
chair, in a dress which-
China's gayest art had dyed,"
do you think that self-satisfied, but still uncheerful-
looking face tells of happiness ?
No she, too, like Aurora, was unoccupied, and
forecasting into futurity for the good time coming,"
which so many spend their lives in craving after
and expecting; but which the proud, the selfish,
and the idle, never reach to.
The Fairies turned from her sorrowful and angry.
In the outskirts of a forest, just where its intricacy
had broken away into picturesque openings, leaving
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 47
visible some strange old trees with knotted trunks
and mysteriously twisted branches, sat a young girl
sketching. She was intently engaged; but as her
eyes were ever and anon raised from her paper to
the opening glade, and one of the old trees, the Fairies
had no difficulty in recognizing their prot6g6e,
Hermione. The laughing face of childhood had be-
come sobered and refined by sentiment and strength ;
but contentment, and even enjoyment beamed in
her eyes, as she pursued her beautiful art. The
little beings who hovered around her in that sweet
spot almost forgot they were not in Fairy land; the
air was so full of sweet odours from ferns and mosses,
and the many other delicious scents you find so
constantly in woods.
Besides which, it amused the good souls to watch
Hermione's skilful hand tracing the scene before
her; and they felt an admiring delight when they
saw the old tree of the forest reappear on the paper,
with all the shadows and lights the sun just then
threw upon it; and they wondered not a little at the
skill with which she gave distance and perspective
to the glade beyond. They felt, too, that though
the drawing they saw rising under the sketcher's
hand was not made powerful by brilliant effects, or
striking contrasts, it was, nevertheless, overflowing
with the truth and sentiment of nature. It was the
impression of the scene itself, viewed through the
poetry of the artist's mind; and as the delicate
creatures who hung over the picture looked at it,
they almost longed for it, slight as it was, that they
48 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
might carry it away, and hang it up in their fairy
palace as a faithful representation of one of the
loveliest spots of earth, the outskirts of an ancient
It is impossible to say how long they might not
have stayed watching Hermione; but that after a
time the sketch was finished, and the young lady,
after writing beneath it Schiller's well-known line in
Wallenstein, arose. Das ist das Loos des Sch6nen
auf der Erde."*
The poor tree was marked for felling! Ambrosia
was almost affected to tears, once more. The
scene was so beautiful, and the allusion so touching,
and there seemed to her such a charm over her God-
daughter, Hermione; she was herself so glad, too,
to feel sure that success had crowned her gift, that
altogether her Fairy heart grew quite soft. You
may do as you like about observing Hermione
further," cried she. But, for my part, I am now
satisfied. She is enjoying life to the uttermost; all
its beauties of sight and sound; its outward loveli-
ness; its inward mysteries. She will never marry
but from love, and one whose heart can sympathize
with hers. Ah, lanthe, what more has life to give ?
You will say, she is not beautiful; perhaps not, for
a marble statue; but the grace of poetical feeling is
in her every look and action. And she will walk by
the side of manhood, turning even the hard realities
of life into beauty by that living well-spring of sweet
* Such is the lot of the beautiful upon earth."
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 49
thoughts and fancies that I see beaming from her
eyes. Look at her now, lanthe, and confess that
surely that countenance breathes more beauty than
chiselled features can give." And certainly, whether
some mesmeric influence from her enthusiastic Fairy
Godmother was working on Hermione's brain, or
whether her own quotation upon the doomed tree
had stirred up other poetical recollections, I know
not; but, as she was retracing her steps homewards,
she repeated to herself, softly, but with much pathos,
Coleridge's lines: *
0 lady, we receive but what we give,
And in our life alone does nature live :
Ours is her wedding-garment, ours her shroud!
And would we aught behold, of higher worth,
Than that inanimate cold world allowed
To the poor, loveless, ever-anxious crowd,
Ah! from the soul itself must issue forth
A light, a glory, a fair luminous cloud
Enveloping the earth-
And from the soul itself must there be sent
A sweet and potent voice, of its own birth,
Of all sweet sounds the life and element!"
And, turning through the little handgate at the
extremity of the wood, she pursued the train of
thought with heightened colour in her cheeks:-
I may not hope from outward forms to win
The passion and the life, whose fountains are within."
And thus Hermione reached her home, her counte-
Coleridge's Dejection: an Ode."
50 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
nance lighted up by the pleasure of success, and the
sweet and healthy musings of her solitary walk.
She entered the library of a beautiful country-
house by the low window that opened on to the lawn,
and found her mother reading.
I cannot tell you how lovely the day is, Mamma,
everything is so fresh, and the shadows and lights
are so good! I have immortalized our poor old
friend, the oak, before they cut him down," added
she, smiling, as she placed the drawing in her
mother's hands. I wish the forest belonged to some
one who had not this cruel taste for turning knotted
oak-trees into fancy work-tables. It is as bad as
what Charles Lamb said of the firs, which look so
romantic alive, and die into desks.'-Die into desks!"
repeated Hermione, musingly, as she seated herself
on the sofa, and took up a book that was before her on
the table; mechanically removing her bonnet from
her head, and laying it down by her side as she spoke.
And here for some time there was a silence,
during which Hermione's mother ceased reading;
and, lifting up her eyes, looked at her daughter with
mingled love, admiration, and interest. I wish I
had her picture so," dreamt the poor lady, as she
gazed; so earnest, and understanding, and yet so
simple, and kind !-There is but one difficulty for
her in life," was the next thought; with such keen
enjoyment of this world, such appreciation of the
beauties, and wonders, and delights of God's creations
on earth-to keep the eye of faith firmly fixed on
the better and more enduring inheritance,' to which
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 01
both she and I, though she, I trust, far behind, are
hastening. Yet, by God's blessing, and with Chris-
tian training, and the habit of active charity, and
the vicissitudes of life, I have few or no fears.
But such capability of happiness in this world is a
great temptation, and I sometimes fancy must there-
fore have been a Fairy gift." And here the no
longer young Mother of Hermione fell into a reverie,
and a long pause ensued, during which Ambrosia
felt very sad, for it grieved her to think that the
good and reasonable Mother should be so much
afraid of Fairy gifts, even when the result had been
A note at length interrupted the prolonged silence.
It was from Aurora, the Beauty, whose Father
possessed a large estate in the neighbourhood, and
who had just then come into the country for a few
weeks. Aurora earnestly requested Hermione and
her Mother to visit her.
I will do as you wish," said Hermione, looking
rather grave; but really a visit to Aurora is a sort
of small misfortune."
I hope you are not envious of her beauty,
Hermione ? Take care."
Nay, you are cruel, Mamma, now. I should
like to be handsome, but not at the expense of being
so very dull in spirits as poor Aurora often is. But
really, unless you have ever spent an hour alone
with her, you can form no idea of how tired one
What of, Hermione ? of her face ?"
52 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
Oh no, not of her face, it is charming; and by
the way, you have just put into my. head how I
may escape from being tired, even if I am left alone
with her for hours !"
Nay, now you really puzzle me, my dear; I
suggested nothing but looking at her face."
Ah, but as she is really and truly such a model
of beauty, what do you think of offering to make a
likeness of her, Mamma ? It will delight her to sit
and be looked at, even by me, in the country; and I
shall be so much pleased to have such a pleasant occu-
pation. I am quite reconciled to the idea of going."
And a note was written, and despatched accord-
But," persisted Hermione, rising to sit near her
Mother, you do not above half know Aurora.
One would think she had been born in what is called
a four want way,' with nothing but cross roads
about her. Nothing is ever right. She is always
either exhausted with the heat of the sun, or frozen
with cold; or the evening is so tedious, she wants
it to be bedtime ; or if there is any unusual gaiety
going on, she quarrels with the same length of
evening, because it is so intolerably short; and, in
short, she is never truly happy but when she is sur-
rounded by admirers, whether men or women. And
this seems to me to be a sad way of' getting her
time over,' as the poor women say of life. Ah,
Mamma, it goes but too quickly."
Aurora is indeed foolish," musingly ejaculated
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 53
Not altogether either, my dear Mother. She
knows much; but the fault is, she cares for nothing.
She has got the carcase, as it were, of knowledge
and accomplishments; but the vivifying spirit is
wanting. You know yourself how well she plays
and sings occasionally, if there is a question of
charming a room full of company. Yet there can
be no sentiment about her music after all, or it would
be an equal pleasure to her at other times. But
really it almost makes me as discontented with life
as herself to hear her talk in unexcited hours.
Turning over my books one day, she said, You can
never be either a poet or a painter, or a Mozart or
a philosopher, Hermione! what is the use of all
your labour and poking ?' What could I say ? I
felt myself colour up, and I laughed out, Vanity
of vanities, saith the preacher, all is vanity!' Yet
certainly God hath set before us the things of earth
in order that we may admire and find them out; and
that is the answer to all such foolish questions !"
And Hermione was turning to leave the room, but
she came back and said-" Do you know, Mamma,
though you will laugh at the idea, I do think
Aurora would be a very nice girl, and very happy,
if she either could grow very ugly all at once, or if
anything in the world could make her forget her
beauty.-And," added she, in a half-whisper, if
there is anything in Fairy lore, I could almost fancy
some cruel Fairy had owed her family a grudge, and
had given her this gift of excessive beauty on pur-
pose to be the plague and misfortune of her life."
54 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
"Enough, enough, and too much," cried Euphro-
syne, impatiently. The matter is now, I think,
concluded. Ianthe and I have failed; and though
you are successful, Ambrosia, even you have not
come off without a rebuff. Now, farewell to earth.
I am weary of it. I do not know your gift, and I
am sick of listening to conversations I cannot under-
stand. Let us be gone. If we delay, they will
begin again. Ah, my sisters, my spirit yearns for
our fairer clime "
And they arose; but yet awhile they lingered on
the velvet lawn before that country-house, for as
they were preparing for flight, the sounds they loved
so well,. of harmonious music, greeted their ears.
Ah, there is the artist's hand again," cried
Ambrosia. I see the lovely sketch before me
And so it was, that it, and the peaceful forest
scene, and the interesting face of Hermione, seemed
to reappear before them all, as they listened to her
music. Tender, and full of sentiment were the
sounds at first, as if the musician were acting the
scene of the opera whence they came.
Lieder ohne Worte," murmured Ambrosia.
But it was to the swelling sounds of a farewell
chorus that they arose into the air, and took their
leave of earth.
Songs without Words.-Mendelssohn.
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
And now, dear Readers, there is but one thing
more to do. To ask if you have guessed the Fairy
The Fairies, you see, had not. What Euphrosyne
had said was true. They had listened to such a
quantity of conversation they could not understand,
and they were so unused to think much about any-
thing, or to hear much beyond their own pretty light
talk and sweet songs, that their poor little brains
had got quite muddled.
Perhaps remaining so long in the earth's atmos-
phere helped to cloud their intelligence. Certain it
is, they returned very pensive, very cross, and rather
dusty to Fairy Land.
They arrived at the beautiful bay I first described,
and floated to a large party of their sisters, who were
dancing on the sands.
There was a clapping of tiny hands, and shouts
of joy as they approached; and, What news?
what news ?" cried many voices.
Ah, what news, Sister Euphrosyne! cried
little Aglaia, floating forward, from the smudgy
old earth ? Is it beauty, riches, or what ? "
I cannot answer your question," said Euphro-
syne, pushing forward.
A circle was now formed round the travellers,
and the details I have given you were made by
lanthe. And she wound up by saying, And what
Ambrosia's gift to Hermione has been we cannot
Then I will tell you 1" cried little Aglaia,
56 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
springing lightly high into the air, and descending
gently on a huge shell at her feet; She likes every-
thing she does, and she likes to be always doing
something." You can't put the meaning into one
word, as you can Beauty and Riches; but still it is
something. Can't you think of some way of saying
what I have told you? Dear me, how stupid you
are all grown. And liking isn't the right word: it
is something stronger than common liking."
Love, perhaps," murmured Leila.
An excellent idea," cried Euphrosyne; dear
me, this delicious air is clearing my poor head.
Sisters, I will express it for you, and Ambrosia shall
say if I am right. It is THE LOVE OF EM-
Ambrosia laughed assent; but a low murmur of
discontent resounded through the Fairy group.
Intolerable! cried Leila; shrugging her
shoulders like a French woman.
It is no Fairy gift at all," exclaimed others;
" it is downright plodding and working."
If the human race can be made happy by nothing
but labour," cried another, I propose we leave
them to themselves, and give them no more Fairy
gifts at all."
Remember," cried Ambrosia, now cVming
forward, this is our first experiment upon human
happiness. Hitherto we have given Fairy gifts, and
never enquired how they have acted. And I feel
sure we have always forgotten one thing, viz. that
poor men and women, living in Time, and only
THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS. 57
having in their power the small bit of it which is
present, cannot be happy unless they make Time
present happy. And there is but one plan for that;
I use Aglaia's words: To like everything you do,
and like to be always doing something.' "
Ambrosia ceased speaking, and the circled group
were silent too. They were not satisfied, however;
but those sweet, airy people take nothing to heart
for long. For a short time they wandered about in
little knots of two and three, talking, and then joined
together in a dance and song, ere night surrounded
them. There was from that time, however, a general
understanding among them that the human race was
too coarse and common to have much sympathy with
Fairies, and even the Godmothers agreed to this,
for they were sadly tired with the unusual quantity
of thinking and observing they had had to undergo.
So if you ever wonder, dear Readers, that Fairy
Gifts and Fairy Godmothers have gone out of
fashion; you may conclude that the adventure of
Ambrosia and Hermione is the reason.
The story is ended; and if any enquiring child
should say, There are no more Fairy gifts, and we
can no more give ourselves love of employment than
beauty or riches;" let me correct this dangerous
error! Wiser heads than mine have shown that
everything we do becomes by HABIT, not only easy,
but actually agreeable.*
Abercrombie. Moral Feelings.
58 THE FAIRY GODMOTHERS.
Dear Children encourage a habit of attention to
whatever you undertake, and you may make that
habit not only easy, but agreeable: and then, I will
venture to promise you, you will like and even love
your occupations. And thus, though you may not
have so many talents as Hermione, you may call all
those you do possess into play, and make them the
solace, pleasure, and resources of your earthly
If you do this, I think you will not feel disposed
to quarrel, as the Fairies did, with Ambrosia's gift;
for increased knowledge of the world, and your own
happy experience, will convince you more and more
that no Fairy Gift is so well worth having, as,
THE LOVE OF EMPLOYMENT.
JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
SHERE was, once upon a time, a little
boy, who, living in the time when
Genies and Fairies used now and then
to appear, had all the advantage of oc-
casionally seeing wonderful sights, and all the dis-
advantageof beingoccasionally dreadfully frightened.
This little boy was one day walking alone by the
sea-side, for he lived in a fishing-town, and as he
was watching the tide, he perceived a bottle driven
ashore by one of the big waves. He rushed for-
ward to catch it before the wave sucked it back
again, and succeeded. Now then he was quite de-
lighted, but he could not get the cork out, for it was
fastened down with rosin, and there was a seal on
the top. So being very impatient, he took a stone
and knocked the neck of the bottle off.
What was his surprise to find himself instantly
suffocated with a smoke that made his eyes smart,
and his nose sneeze, just as much as if a quantity
of Scotch snuff had been thrown over him! He
jumped about and puffed a good deal, and was
bU JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
just beginning to cry, as a matter of course for a
little boy when he is annoyed; when lo! and be-
hold he saw before him such an immense Genie,
with black eyes and a long beard, that he forgot all
about crying, and began to shake with fear.
The Genie told him he need not be afraid, and
desired him not to shake; for, said he, You have
been of great use to me; a Genie, stronger than
myself, had fastened me up in yonder bottle, in a
fit of ill-humour, and as he had put his seal at the
top, nobody could draw the cork. Luckily for me,
you broke the neck of the bottle, and I am free.
Tell me, therefore, good little boy, what shall I do
for you to show my gratitude ? "
But now, before I go on with this, I must tell
you that the day before the little boy's adventure
with the bottle and the Genie, the King of that
country had come to the fishing-town I spoke of, in
a gold chariot drawn by twelve beautiful jet-black
horses, and attended by a large train of officers and
followers. A herald went before, announcing that
the King was visiting the towns of his dominions,
for the sole purpose of doing justice and exercising
acts of charity and kindness. And all people in
trouble and distress were invited to come and lay
their complaints before him. And accordingly they
did so; and the good King, though quite a youth,
devoted the whole day to the benevolent purpose he
proposed; and it is impossible to describe the amount
of good he accomplished in that short time. Among
others who benefited was our little boy's Mother, a
JOACHIM THE MIMIC. l1
widow who had been much injured and oppressed.
He redressed her grievances, and in addition to this,
bestowed valuable and useful presents upon her.
" Look what an example the young King sets," was
the cry on every side! Oh, my son, imitate him!"
exclaimed our poor Widow, as, in a transport of joy
and emotion, she threw her arms around her boy's
neck. I wish I could imitate him, and be like
him!" murmured little Joachim: (such was the
child's name.) My boy," cried the Widow,
" imitate everything that is good, and noble, and
virtuous, and you will be like him!" Joachim
looked earnestly in her face, but was silent. He
understood a good deal that his Mother meant; he
knew he was to try to do everything that was good,
and so be like the young King; but, as he was but
a little boy, I am not quite sure that he had not got
a sort of vague notion of the gold chariot and the
twelve jet-black horses, mixed up with his idea of
imitating all that was good, and noble, and virtuous,
and being like the young King. I may be wrong;
but, at seven years old, you will excuse him if his
head did get a little confused, and if he could not
quite separate his ideas of excessive virtue and
goodness from all the splendour in which the pattern
he was to imitate appeared before his eyes.
However that may be, his Mother's words made
a profound impression upon him. He thought of
nothing else, and if he had been in the silly habit of
telling his dreams, I dare say he would have told
his mother next morning that he had been dreaming
02 JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
of them. Certainly they came into his head the first
thing in the morning; and they were still in his
head when he walked along by the sea-shore, as has
been described; so much so, that even his adven-
ture did not make him forget them; and, therefore,
when this Genie, as I told you before, offered to do
anything he wanted, little Joachim said, Genie, I
want to imitate everything that is good, and noble,
and virtuous, so you must make me able "
The Genie looked very much surprised, and rather
confused; he expected to have been asked for toys,
or money, or a new horse, or something nice of that
sort; but Joachim looked very grave, so the Genie
saw he was in earnest, and he did a most wonderful
thing for a Genie ; he actually sat down beside the
little boy to talk to him. I don't recollect that a
single Genie in the Arabian Nights ever did such a
thing before ; but this Genie did. What is more,
he stroked his beard, and spoke very softly, as fol-
My dear little boy, you have asked a great thing.
I can do part of what you wish, but not all; for you
have asked what concerns the heart and conscience,
and we Genies cannot influence these, for the great
Ruler of all things alone has them under his con-
troul. He allows us, however, power over the intel-
lect-ah now I see you cannot understand me, little
boy !-Well! I mean this ;-I can make your head
clever, but I cannot make your heart good: I can
give you the power of imitation, but as to what you
JOACHIM THE MIMIC. W
imitate, that must depend upon yourself, and the
great Being I dare not name!"
After saying this, the Genie laid his immense fore-
fingers on each side of Joachim's head, just above
his forehead, and then disappeared.
Joachim felt no pain, but when he got up and put
on his cap to go home, his head seemed almost too
large for it.
Perhaps he wanted a new cap, but the phrenolo-
gists would tell you he had got the organ of Imita-
He did not thoroughly understand what the Genie
said, but he was convinced that something had been
done towards making him like to the young King.
As he was dawdling home, his eye was struck by the
sight of a beautiful, because picturesque, dark fish-
ing-boat, which he saw very plainly, because the
red sun was setting behind it. Joachim felt a
strange wish to make something like it; and, taking
up a bit of white chalk he saw at his feet, he drew
a picture of the boat on the tarred side of another
that was near him. While he was so engaged, an
old fisherman came up very angrily. He thought
the child was disfiguring his boat; but, to his sur-
prise, he saw that the little fellow's drawing was so
capital, he wished he could do as much himself.
Why, who taught you to do that, young
Master ?" said he.
Joachim was no great talker at any time, and he
now merely said, Nobody," and smiled.
54 JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
Well, you must draw my boat some day, for
me to hang up; and now here's a luck-penny for
you, for you certainly are a capital hand for such a
Joachim was greatly pleased with the penny, for
it was a curious old one, with a hole through it; and
he told his Mother all about it; but though it may
seem strange, he never mentioned the bottle and the
Genie to her at all. That appeared to him to be a
quite private affair of his own.
He altered very much, however, by degrees. He
had been till then rather a dull, silent boy: now he
talked much more, was more amusing, was always
endeavouring to draw, and after being at church
would try to read the prayers like the parson. His
Mother was delighted. She began to think her son
would grow up a good scholar after all, and being
now well off, owing to the King's kindness, she re-
solved on sending little Joachim to school.
To school, accordingly, he went; and here, my
little readers, there was a great change for him.
Hitherto he had lived very much alone with his
Mother, and being quiet, and somewhat dull by na-
ture, he had never till quite lately had many ac-
quaintances of his own age.
Now, however, he found himself among great
numbers of youths, of all ages, and all characters.
At first he was shy and observant, but this soon
wore off, and he became a favourite. Nobody was
more liked at any time, and he was completely un-
rivalled in the play-ground. He could set all the
JOACHIM THE MIMIC. 65
boys in a roar of laughter, when, hid behind a bush,
he would bark so like a dog that the unhappy
wights who were not in the secret expected to see a
vicious hound spring out upon them, and took to
their heels in fright. He was first in every attempt
at acting, which the boys got up; and there was
not a cat nor a pig in the neighbourhood whose mew
and squeak he could not give with the utmost ex-
actness. If you ask how he got on at lessons, I
must say-well, but not very well. His powers of
entertaining his companions were so great, that I fear
he found their easily-acquired praise more tempting
than the rewards of laborious learning. He could
learn easily enough, it is true ; but while his steadier
neighbours were working hard, he was devising
some new scheme for fun when lessons should be
over, or making some odd drawing on his slate to
induce his companions to an outburst of laughter.
There were many excuses to be made for little
Joachim; and it is always so pleasant to please, that
I do not much wonder at his being led astray by
possessing the power.
Time went on, meanwhile; and Joachim became
aware at last that he possessed a larger share than
usual of the power of imitation. When he first
clearly felt this, he thought of the Genie and his two
forefingers, I believe;-but his school life, and his
funny ways, and the constant diversion of his mind,
quite prevented his thinking of all the serious things
the Genie had spoken. Nay, even his Mother's
words had nearly faded from his mind, and he had
(Wi JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
forgotten the young King, and his own wishes to be
like him. It was a pity it was so; but so it was !
Poor Joachim he was a very good fellow, and kind
also in reality; but first the pleasure of making his
companions laugh, and then the pleasure of being a
sort of little great man among them, were fast mis-
leading him. For instance, though at first he
amused them by imitating dogs, and cats, and pigs,
he next tried his powers at imitating anything queer
and odd in the boys themselves, and, for a time, this
was most entertaining. When he mimicked the
awkward walk of one boy, and the bad drawl of
another, and the loutish carriage of a third, the
school resounded with shouts of laughter, which
seemed to our hero a great triumph,-something like
the cheers which had greeted the good young King
as he left the fishing-town. But certainly the cause
was a very different one By degrees, however, it
must be admitted, that Joachim's popularity began
a little to decrease; for, though a boy has no objec-
tion to see his neighbour laughed at, he does not
like quite so well to be laughed at himself, and there
are very few who can bear it with good humour.
And at last Joachim had given such way to the
pastime, that he was always hunting up absurdities
in his friends and neighbours, and no one felt safe.
It was a long time before Joachim found out the
change that was taking place, for there were still
plenty of loud laughers on his side; but once or
twice he had a feeling that all was not right: for
instance, one day when he mimicked the awkward
JOACHIM THE MIMIC. 07
walker to the boy who spoke badly and stuttered,
and then in the afternoon imitated the stutterer to
the awkward boy, he had a twinge of conscience, for
it whispered to him that he was a sneak, and de-
ceitful; particularly as both these boys had often
helped him in doing his sums and lessons when he
was too idle and too funny to labour at them himself.
In fact, he had been so much helped that he was
sadly behind-hand in his books, for all the school
had been willing to assist that good fellow Joke
him,' as they called him.
At last a crisis came. A new boy arrived at the
school; very big for his age, and rather surly tem-
pered, but a hard-working, persevering lad, who
was striving hard to learn and get on. He had one
defect. He lisped very much, which certainly is an
ugly trick, and sounded silly in a great stout boy,
nearly five feet high: but he had this excuse;-his
mother had died when he was very little, and his
good father had more important business on hand in
supporting his family, of which this boy was the
eldest, than in teaching him to pronounce his S's
better. It is perhaps only mothers who attend to
these little matters. Well;-this great big boy was
two or three days at the school before Joachim went
near him. There was something serious, stern, and
unfunny in his face, and when Joachim was making
the other boys laugh, the great big boy never even
smiled, but fixed his eyes in a rather unpleasant
manner upon Joachim as he raised them from his
books. Still he was an irresistible subject for the
h8 JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
Mimic; for, though he learnt his lessons without a
mistake, and always obtained the Master's praise,
he read them with so strong a lisp, and this was
rendered so remarkable by his loud, deep voice,
that it fairly upset what little prudence Joachim
possessed; and, as he returned one day to his seat,
after repeating a copy of verses in the manner I
have described, Joachim, who was not far off, echoed
the last two lines with such accuracy of imitation,
that it startled even the Master, who was at that
moment leaving the school-room.
But no laugh followed as usual, for all eyes were
suddenly turned on the big boy, who, crimson
with indignation, and yet quite self-possessed in
manner, walked up to Joachim and deliberately
knocked him down on the floor. Great was Joa-
chim's amazement, you may be sure, and severe was
the blow that had levelled him; but still more
severe were the words that followed. Young
rascal," exclaimed the big boy, who has put you
in authority over your elders, that you are to be
correcting our faults and failings, instead of attend-
ing to your own. You are beholden to any lad in
the school who will do your sums, and write your
exercises for you, and then you take upon yourself
to ridicule us if we cannot pronounce our well-learnt
lessons to your fancy You saucy imp, who don't
know what labour and good conduct are, and who
have nothing to boast of, but powers which a
monkey possesses to a greater extent than yourself !"
Fancy Joachim's rage He, the admired wit! the
JOACHIM THE MIMIC. 0u
popular boy nothing better than a monkey He
sprang up and struck his fist into the face of his
antagonist with such fury, that the big boy, though
evidently unwilling to fight one less than himself,
was obliged to bestow several sharp blows before he
could rid himself of Joachim's passion.
At last, however, other boys separated them; but
Joachim, who was quite unused to fighting, and
who had received a very severe shock when he first
fell, became so sick and ill that he was obliged to
go home. His Mother asked what was the matter.
" He had been quizzing a great big boy who lisped,
and the boy knocked him down, and they had
fought." His Mother sighed; but she saw he was
too poorly for talking, so she put him to bed and
nursed him carefully.
Now, you may say, what had this Mother been
about, not to have found out and corrected Joachim's
fault before ? First, he was very little at home, and
as owing to the help of others, his idleness had not
become notorious, she had heard no complaints from
the Masters, and thinking he did his lessons well,
she felt averse to stopping his fun and amusements in
holiday hours. Still, she had latterly begun to have
misgivings, which this event confirmed. In a few
days Joachim was better, and came down-stairs, and
his Aunt and two or three Cousins called to en-
quire after him. Their presence revived Joachim's
flagging spirits, and all the boys got together to talk
and laugh. Soon their voices echoed through the
house. Joachim was at his old tricks again, and
70 JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
the Schoolboys, the Ushers, and the Master all fur-
nished food for mirth. His Cousins roared with
delight. Clever child exclaimed his Aunt,
" what a treasure you are in a house one could
never be dull where you are " Sister, Sister "
cried Joachim's Mother, do, not say so !" My
dear," said the Aunt, are you dull enough to be
unable to appreciate your own child's wit ? oh, I
wish you would give him to me Come here, my
dear Joachim, and do the boy that walks so badly
once more for me; it's enough to kill one to see you
take him off!" Joachim's spirits rose above all
control. Excited by his Aunt's praise, and the
sense of superior ability, he surpassed himself. He
gave the bad walker to perfection; then imitated a
lad who had commenced singing lessons, and whose
voice was at present broken and bad. He even gave
the big boy's lisp once more, and followed on with
a series of pantomimic exhibitions.
All at once, he cast his eyes on his Mother's face
-that face so full of intelligence and the mild sorrow
of years of widowhood, borne with resigned patience.
Her eyes were full of tears, and there was not a
smile on her countenance. Joachim's conscience-
he knew not why-twinged him terribly. He
stopped suddenly; Mother! "
Come here, Joachim He came.
Is that boy whom you have been imitating-
your Aunt says so cleverly-the best walker of all
the boys in your school ? "
JOACHIM THE MIMIC. 71
The best, Mother ? and the puzzled Joachim
could not suppress a smile. His Cousins grinned.
Dear Mother, of course not," continued Joa-
chim, on the contrary, he is the very worst !"
Oh-well, have you no good walkers at your
Oh yes, several; indeed one especially; his
father was a soldier, he walks beautifully."
Does he, Joachim ? Let me see you walk like
him, my dear."
Joachim stepped boldly enough into the middle of
the room, and drew himself up ; but a sudden con-
sciousness of his extreme inferiority to the soldier's
son, both in figure, manner, and mode of walking,
made him feel quite sheepish. There was a pause
Now then said Joachim's Mother.
I cannot walk like him, Mother," said Joachim.
Because he walks so very well!"
Oh,"-said Joachim's Mother.
There was another pause.
Come, Joachim," continued the Widow, I am
very anxious to admire you as much as your Aunt
does. You are not tired; let us have some more
exhibitions. You gave us a song just now horribly
out of tune, and with the screeching voice of a bag-
I was singing like Tom Smith," interrupted
72 JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
Is he your best singer ?" enquired the Mother.
Another laugh followed.
Nay, Mother, no one sings so badly."
Indeed How does the Singing-master sing,
Oh, Mother," cried Joachim, so beautifully,
it would make the tears come into your eyes with
pleasure, to listen to him."
Well, but as I cannot listen to him, let me, at
all events, have the pleasure of hearing my clever
son imitate him," was the reply.
Joachim was mute. He had a voice, though not
a remarkable one; but he had shirked the labour of
trying to improve it by practice. He made one
effort to sing like the Master, but, overpowered by
a sense of incapacity, his voice failed, and he felt
disposed to cry.
Why, Joachim, I thought you were such a
clever creature you could imitate anything," cried
No answer fell from the abashed boy, till a sudden
thought revived him.
But I can imitate the Singing-master, Mother."
Let me hear you, my dear child."
Why it isn't exactly what you can hear," ob-
served Joachim, murmuringly; but when he
sings, you have no idea what horrible faces he
makes. Nay, it's true, indeed, he turns up his
eyes, shuts them, distorts his mouth, and swings
about on the stool like the pendulum of a clock! "
And Joachim performed all the grimaces and con-
JOACHIM THE MIMIC. 70
tortions to perfection, till his Aunt and Cousins were
convulsed with laughter.
Well done," cried his Mother. Now you are
indeed like the cat in the German fable, Joachim !
who voted himself like the bear, because he could
lick his paws after the same fashion, though he could
not imitate either his courage or his strength. Now
let me look a little further into your education.
Bring me your drawing-book." It came, and there
was page after page of odd and ugly faces, strange
noses, stranger eyes, squinting out of the book in
I suppose you will laugh again if I ask you if
these are the beauties of your school, Joachim;-
but tell me seriously, are there no good, pleasant, or
handsome faces among your schoolfellows ?"
Plenty, Mother; one or two the Master calls
models, and who often sit to him to be drawn
Draw one of those faces for me, my dear; I
am fond of beauty." And the Mother placed the
book in his hands, pointing to a blank page.
Joachim took a pencil, and sat down. Now he
thought he should be able to please his Mother; but,
alas, he found to his surprise, that the fine faces he
tried to recall had not left that vivid impression on
his brain which enabled him to represent them. On
the contrary, he was tormented and baffled by visions
of the odd forms and grotesque countenances he had
so often pictured. He seized the indian-rubber and
rubbed out nose after nose to no purpose, for he
74 JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
never could replace them with a better. Drawing
was his favourite amusement; and this disappoint-
ment, where he expected success, broke down his
already depressed heart. He threw the book from
him, and burst into a flood of tears.
Joachim have You drawn him ? What makes
you cry ?"
I cannot draw him, Mother," sobbed the dis-
And why not ? Just look here; here is an ad-
mirable likeness of squinting Joe, as you have
named him. Why cannot you draw the handsome
Because his face is so handsome !" answered
Joachim, still sobbing.
My son," said his Mother, gravely, you have
now a sad lesson to learn, but a necessary and a
wholesome one. Get up, desist from crying, and
listen to me."
Poor Joachim, who loved his Mother dearly,
Joachim! your Aunt, and your Cousins, and
your schoolfellows have all called you clever. In
what does your cleverness consist? I will tell you.
In the reproduction of Deformity, Defects, Failings,
and Misfortunes of every sort, that fall under your
observation. A worthy employment truly! A
noble ambition But I will now tell you the truth
about yourself. You never heard it before, and I
feel sure you will benefit now. You have had be-
stowed upon you, for good or for evil, a great power;
JOACHIM THE MIMIC. 75
and, so far, you have misused it. Do you know what
that power is?"
Joachim shook his head, though he trembled all
over, for he felt as if awaking from a long dream,
to the recollection of the Genie.
It is the power of Imitation, Joachim; I call
it a great power, for it is essential to many great and
useful things. It is essential to the orator, the
linguist, the artist, and the musician. Nature her-
self teaches us the charm of imitation, when in the
smooth and clear lake you see the lovely landscape
around, mirrored and repeated.* What a lesson
may we not read in this sight! The commonest
pond even that reflects the foliage of the tree that
hangs over it, is calling out to us to reproduce for the
solace and ornament of life, the beautiful works of
God. But oh, my son, my dear son, you have
abused this gift of Imitation, which might be such
a blessing and pleasure to you.
You might, if you chose, imitate everything
that is good, and noble, and virtuous, and beautiful;
and you are, instead of that, reproducing every
aspect of deformity that crosses your path, until your
brain is so stamped with images of defects, ugliness,
and uncouthness, that your hand and head refuse
their office, when I call upon you to reproduce the
beauties with which the world is graced."
I doubt if Joachim heard the latter part of his
Mother's speech. At the recurrence to the old sen-
* Schiller.-" Der Kiinstler."
76 JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
tence, a gleam of lightning seemed to shoot across
his brain. Latent memories were aroused as keenly
as if the events had but just occurred, and he sank
at his Mother's feet.
When she ceased to speak, he arose.
Mother," said he, I have been living in a
cloud. I have been very wrong. Besides which,
I have a secret to tell you. Nay, my Aunt may
hear. It has been a secret, and then it has been
forgotten; but now I remember all, and understand
far more than I once did."
Here Joachim recounted to his Mother the whole
story of her words to him, and his adventures with
the Genie and the bottle; and then, very slowly,
and interrupted by many tears of repentance, he
repeated what the Genie had said about giving him
the power of imitation, adding that the use he made
of it must depend on himself and the great Ruler of
the heart and conscience.
There was a great fuss among the Cousins at the
notion of Joachim having talked to a Genie; and, to
tell you the truth, this was all they thought about,
and soon after took their leave. The heart of
Joachim's Mother was at rest, however: for though
she knew how hard her son would find it to alter
what had become a habit of life, she knew that he
was a good and pious boy, and she saw that he was
fully alive to his error.
Oh Mother," said he, during the course of that
evening, how plain I see it all now The boy
that stutters is a model of obedience and tenderness;
JOACHIM THE MIMIC. 77
I ought to have dwelt upon and imitated that, and,
oh I thought only of his stuttering. The boy that
walks so clumsily, as well as the great fellow that
lisps, are such industrious lads, and so advanced in
learning, that the Master thinks both will be dis-
tinguished hereafter; and I, who-(oh, my poor
Mother, I must confess to you)-hated to labour at
anything, and have got the boys to do my lessons
for me;-I, instead of imitating their industry, lost
all my time in ridiculing their defects.-What shall
The next morning poor Joachim said his prayers
more humbly than he had ever before done in his
life; and, kissing his Mother, went to school. The
first thing he did on arriving was to go up to the
big boy, who had beaten him, and beg him to shake
The big boy was pleased, and a grim smile lightened
up his face. But, old fellow," said he, laying
his hand on Joachim's shoulder, take a friend's
advice. There is good in all of us, depend upon it.
Look out for all that's good, and let the bad points
take care of themselves. You won't get any hand-
somer by squinting like poor Joe; nor speak any
pleasanter for lisping like me; norwalk any better for
aping hobbling. But the ugliest of us have some
good about us. Look out for that, my little lad; I
do, or I should not be talking to you I see that you
are honest and forgiving, though you are a monkey!
There now, I must go on with my lessons! You do
78 JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
Never was better advice given, and Joachim took
it well, and bore it bravely; but, oh, how hard it
was to his mind, accustomed for so long to wander
away and seek amusement at wrong times, to settle
down resolutely and laboriously to study. He
made a strong effort, however; and though he had
often to recall his thoughts, he in a measure suc-
After school-hours he begged the big boy to come
and sit by him, and then he requested his old friends
and companions to listen to a story he had to tell
them. They expected something funny, and many
a broad grin was seen; but poor Joachim's eyes
were yet red with weeping, and his gay voice was
so subdued, that the party soon became grave and
wondering, and then Joachim told them everything.
They were delighted to hear about the Genie, and
were also pleased to find themselves safe from
Joachim's ridicule. It could not be expected they
should all understand the story, but the big boy
did, and became Joachim's greatest friend and ad-
That evening our little friend, exhausted with the
efforts and excitement of his almost first day of re-
pentance, strolled out in a somewhat pensive mood
to his favourite haunt, the sea-shore. A stormy sun-
set greeted his arrival on the beach, but the tide was
ebbing, and he wandered on till he reached some
caverns among the cliffs. And there, as had often
been his wont, he sat down to gaze out upon the waste
of waters safe and protected from harm. It is very
JOACHIM THE MIMIC. 79
probable that he fell asleep-but the point could
never be clearly known; for he always said it was
no sleep and no dream he had then, but that, whilst
sitting in the inmost recesses of the cave, he saw
once more his old friend the Genie, who, after re-
proaching him with the bad use he had made of his
precious gift, gave him a world of good advice and
There is no doubt that after that time, Joachim
was seen daily struggling against his bad habits;
and that by degrees he became able to exercise his
mind in following after the good and beautiful,
instead of after the bad and ugly. It was a hard
task to him for many a long day to fix his flighty
thoughts down to the business in hand, and to dis-
miss from before his eyes the ridiculous images that
often presented themselves. But his Mother's wishes,
or the Genie's advice, or something better still, pre-
vailed. And you cannot think of what wonderful
use the Genie's gift was to him then. Once turned
in a right direction, and towards worthy objects, he
found it like a sort of friend at his right hand,
helping him forward in some of the most inter-
esting pursuits of life. Ah! all the energy he
had once bestowed on imitating lisps and stuttering,
was now engaged in catching the sounds of foreign
tongues, and thus taking one step towards the citi-
zenship of the world. And instead of wasting time
in gazing at the Singing-master's face, that he
might ape its unnatural distortions-it was now the
sweet tones of skilful harmony to which he bent his
JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
attention, and which he strove, and not in vain, to
The portfolio which he brought home to his
Mother, at the end of another half-year, was crowded
with laborious and careful copies from the best
models of beauty and grace. And not with those
only, for many a face could be found on its pages in
which the Mother recognized some of her son's old
companions. Portraits, not of the mere formation
of mouths and noses, which, in so many cases, viewed
merely as forms, are defective and unattractive, but
portraits of the same faces, upon which the character
of the inward mind and heart was so stamped that
it threw the mere shape of the features far into the
Thus, with the pursuit of his favourite art, Joachim
combined that most excellent gift of charity;"
for it was now his pride and pleasure to make the
charm of expression from the good points" his old
friend had talked about, triumph over any physical
defects. The very spirit and soul of the best sort
of portrait-painting. And here, my dear young
readers, I would fain call your attention to the fact
of how one right habit produces another. The more
Joachim laboured over seizing the good expression
of the faces he drew from, the more he was led to
seek after and find out the good points themselves
whence the expression arose; and thus at last it
became a Habit with him to try and discover every-
thing that was excellent and commendable in the
characters of those he met; a very different plan
JOACHIM THE MIMIC. 81
from that pursued by many of us, who, in our inter-
course with each other, are but too apt to fasten with
eagle-eye accuracy on failings and faults: which is
a very grave error, and a very misleading one; for
if it does nothing else, it deprives us of all the good
we should get by a daily habit of contemplating
what is worthy our regard and remembrance. And
so strongly did Joachim's Mother feel this, and so
earnestly did she wish her son to understand that a
power which seems bestowed for worldly ends may
be turned to spiritual advantage also, that when his
birthday came round she presented to him, among
other gifts, a little book, called The Imitation of
Jesus Christ." It was the work of an old fellow
called Thomas a Kempis, and though more practical
books of piety have since been written, the idea con-
tained in the title suggests a great lesson, and held
up before Joachim's eyes Him whom one of our
own divines has since called "The Great Exemplar."
This part of our little hero's Lesson of Life "
we can all take to ourselves, and go and do likewise.
And so I hope his story may be profitable, though
we have not all of us a large Genie-gift of Imitation
as he had. With him the excess of this power took
a very natural turn; for though he possessed, through
its aid, considerable facilities for music and the study
of languages also, the course of events led him irre-
sistibly to the use of the pencil and brush. And if
the old dream of the royal chariot and the twelve
jet-black horses was never realized to him, a higher
happiness by far was his, when, some years after,
82 JOACHIM THE MIMIC.
he and his Mother stood in the council-house of his
native town; she looking up with affectionate pride
while he showed her a portrait of the good young
King which had a few hours before been hung up
upon its walls. It was the work of Joachim
DARKNESS AND LIGHT.
The darkness and the light to Thee are both alike.
SAR away to the west, on the borders of
the Sea, there lived a lady and gentle-
man in a beautiful old house built
something like a castle. They had
several children, nice little boys and girls, who were
far fonder of their Sea Castle, as they called it, than
of a very pleasant house which they had in a great
town at some distance off. Still they used to go and
be very merry in the Town House in the winter
time, when the hail and snow fell, and the winds
blew so cold that nobody could bear to walk out by
the wild sea-shore.
But in summer weather the case was quite altered.
Indeed, as soon as ever the sun began to get a little
power, and to warm the panes of glass in the nur-
sery-windows of the Town House, there was a hue
and cry among all the children to be off to their Sea
Castle Home, and many a time had Papa and
Mamma to send them angrily outof the room,because
they would do nothing but beg to set off directly."
They were always sure that the weather was getting
84 DARKNESS AND LIGHT.
quite hot," and it must be summer, for they heard
the sparrows chirping every morning the first thing,"
and they thought they had seen a swallow," and
" the windows got so warm with the sunshine,
Nurse declared they were enough to burn one's
fingers:" and so the poor little things teazed them-
selves and everybody else, every year, in their hurry
to get back to their western home. But I dare say
you have heard the old proverb, One swallow
does not make a summer;" and so it was proved
very often to our friends. For the Spring season is
so changeable, there are often some soft mild days,
and then a cruel frost comes again, and perhaps
snow as well; and people who have boasted about
fine weather, and put off their winter clothes, look
Still Time passes on; and when May was half
over the Town House used to echo with shouts of
noisy delight, and boxes were banged down in the
passages, and there was a great calling out for cords,
and much scolding about broken keys and padlocks,
and the poor Carpenter who came to mend the
trunks, and find new keys to old locks, was at his
wit's and his patience' end too.
But at last the time came when all this bustle was
succeeded by silence in the Town House,for carriages
had rolled away with the happy party, and nobody
was left behind but two or three women-servants to
clean out the deserted rooms.
And now then, my little readers, who are, I hope,
wondering what is coming next, you must fancy to
DARKNESS AND LIGHT. t~
yourselves the old Sea Castle Home. It had two
large turrets; and winding staircases led from the
passages and kitchens underneath the sitting-rooms
up to the top of the turrets, and so out upon the
leads of the house, from which there was the most
beautiful view of the Ocean you ever saw; and, as
the top of the house was battlemented, like the top
of your church-tower, people could walk about quite
safely and comfortably, without any fear of falling
over. Then, though it is a very unusual thing near
the Sea, there were delightful gardens at the place,
and a few very fine old elm trees near the house, in
which a party of rooks built their nests every year;
and the children had gardens of their own, in which
they could dig up their flowers to see if the roots
were growing, to their heart's content, and perform
other equally ingenious feats, such as watering a
plant two or three times a day, or after a shower of
rain, and then wondering that, with such tender care,
the poor thing should rot away and die.
But I almost think the children liked the sands
on the shore as well as the gardens, though they
loved both. Not that there was any amusement
astir by the water-side there, as you have seen
elsewhere, where there are boats and fishermen
and nets, and great coils of ropes, and an endless
variety of entertaining sights, connected with the sea-
faring business, going on. Indeed, in some places,
where there is not a very good shore for landing, it
is an amusement of itself to see each boat or fishing
yawl come in. There is such a contrast between
8 DARKNESS AND LIGHT.
the dark-tarred wood and the white surf that dashes
up all round it, and the fishermen are so clever in
watching the favourable moment for a wave to carry
them over their difficulties, that this is one of the
prettiest sights that can be imagined. But no such
thing was ever seen on the shore by the old Sea
Castle, for there was no fishing there. People
thought the sea was too rough and the landing too
difficult, and so no fishing village had ever been
built, and no boats ever attempted to come within
many miles of the place.
Nobody cared to ask further, or try to account for
the wildness of the sea on that coast; but I can tell
you all about it, although it must be in a sort of
half-whisper-The place was on the borders of
Fairy Land! that is to say, many many unknown
numbers of miles out at sea, right opposite to the
Castle, there was a Fairy Island, and it was the
Fairies who kept the sea so rough all round them,
for fear some adventurous sailor should approach the
island, or get near enough to fish up some of the
pearls and precious stones they kept in a crystal
palace underneath the water.
So now you know the reason why the sea was so
rough, and there was no fishing going on at the Sea
If you want to know whether anybody ever saw
the Fairy Island, I must say, yes; but very seldom.
And never but in the evening when the sun was
setting, and that under particular circumstances-
namely, when he went down into a dark red bank
DARKNESS AND LIGHT.
of clouds, or when there was a lurid crimson hue
over the sky just above the horizon. Then occasion-
ally you might see the dim hazy outline as of a
beautiful mountainous island against the clouds, or
the deep-coloured sky. There is an island sometimes
seen from our western coast, under similar circum-
stances, but which you strain your eyes in vain to
discern by the brighter light of day.*
It is a very ticklish thing to live on the borders
of Fairy Land; for though you cannot get to the
Fairies, they can get to you, and it is not altogether
a pleasant thing to have your private affairs overseen
and interfered with by such beings as they are,
though sometimes it may be most useful and agree-
able. Besides which, there was a Fairy-secret
connected with the family that lived at the Sea
Castle. An Ancestress of the present Mistress had
been a Fairy herself, and though she had accommo-
dated herself to mortal manners, and lived with her
husband quite quietly as well as happily, and so her
origin had been in a great measure forgotten, it was
not unknown to her descendant, the Lady Madeline,
who now lived in the place. And, in fact, soon
after Lady Madeline first came there, a Fairy named
Eudora had appeared to her, declaring herself to be
a sort of distant cousin, and offering and promising
friendship and assistance, whenever asked or even
wished for. In return, she only begged to be allowed
to visit, and ramble at will about the old place which
* Isle of Man from Blackpool.
88 DARKNESS AND LIGHT.
she had known for so many many long years, and
had once had the unlimited run of; and she protested
with tears that the family should never in any way
be disturbed by her. Lady Madeline could not well
refuse the request, but I cannot say she gave her
fairy acquaintance any encouragement; and so poor
Eudora never showed herself to them again. And
Madeline never thought much about her, except
now and then accidentally, when, if they were walk-
ing on the sands, some extraordinarily rare and
beautiful shells would be thrown ashore by a wave at
the children's feet, as if tossed up especially for their
amusement. And it was only in some such kind
little way as this they were ever reminded of the
Lady Madeline's eldest son, Roderick, always
seemed most favoured by the Fairy in the pretty
things she sent ashore, and certainly he was a very
nice boy, and a very good one on the whole-cheer-
ful and honest as the daylight, and very intelligent;
but I cannot tell you, dear readers, that he had no
faults, for that was not at all likely, and you would
not believe it if I said so, even although he is to be
the Hero of my tale.
Now I do not want to make you laugh at him,
but the story requires that I should reveal to you
one of his weak points. Well then, although he
was six years old, he was afraid of being alone in
the dark! Sometimes when he was in the large
dining-room with his Father and Mother at dinner-
time, she would perhaps ask him to fetch something