Infomotions, Inc.The Fairy Godmothers and Other Tales / Gatty, Alfred, Mrs., 1809-1873

Author: Gatty, Alfred, Mrs., 1809-1873
Title: The Fairy Godmothers and Other Tales
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): hermione; joachim; roderick; madeline; fairy; mamma; theodore; aurora; lady madeline; fairies
Contributor(s): Vizetelly, Ernest Alfred, 1853-1922 [Translator]
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Size: 41,731 words (really short) Grade range: 10-12 (high school) Readability score: 63 (easy)
Identifier: etext11319
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, The Fairy Godmothers and Other Tales, by Mrs.
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Title: The Fairy Godmothers and Other Tales

Author: Mrs. Alfred Gatty

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Col miele, e non coll' aceto si piglian le mosche.

_Italian Proverb_.

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

Margaret Gatty.

Ecclesfield Vicarage,
27th March, 1851.


The Fairy Godmothers

Joachim the Mimic

Darkness and Light

The Love of God

The design for the Frontispiece which adorns this volume is by the
pencil of the writer's kind and highly gifted friend, Miss Lucette E.


In 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 light-houses reminding one
painfully 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.

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 behind 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 everything
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

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
conversation 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 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 interested, 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 Ianthe [Fairies are privileged, you know, to have
romantic names] "what do you think of bestowing upon her?" "Why,"
answered Ianthe, "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 seaweeds into a wreath. "I never until this evening
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 unmixed with envy, greeting her as she
sweeps along; everyone 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 Ianthe, make your little lady
handsome, 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
Ianthe, "Beauty it certainly must be."

"Oh, I declare," pursued Ianthe, 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 Ianthe, "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

"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 Ianthe, "we need pursue the subject no further. I am
resolved. My baby is to be beautiful, beautiful as the dawn of the
morning; they shall call her Aurora!"

"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. Nobody spend their lives 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 Ianthe 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 RICHES."

"Men are horribly fond of them, certainly," observed the Fairy from
behind, whose name was Ambrosia. "I can't endure men on that very
account. 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
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," observed Euphrosyne.
"Though the grubs themselves 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 uneducated 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

"You are a complete Solomon," observed Euphrosyne, "but you must know,
my dear, that moderate good health and a mere comfortable competency
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 wholesome) second course, the sweets, the bonbons, the
luscious luxuries of the repast.

"Very few, by comparison, get them. Very few infants you know have
Fairy Godmothers, but we make it a rule that those who have, shall
always be distinguished from the crowd. Other-wise our power would not
be believed in. No, my little Aglaia, all our Godchildren start from
the point you spoke of--'caeteris 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 lumbering 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 not
such bad things. We can hardly judge dispassionately 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 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 Ianthe.

"Too doubtful of success," answered Euphrosyne, "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

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.

"Dear Ianthe, 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." Ambrosia held back--"Your choice,
dear Sister?" asked Euphrosyne.

"Come! we have no time to lose."

"It must remain a secret," was the reply. "Our discourse yesterday
evening was so thoughtful, 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
mortal race."

A murmur of approbation rose, sweet as the vibration 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 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, however, 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 heard to roar, be felt to knock
down every thing 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 very 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. Youth and power 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 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 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
Godmothers, 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 particulars 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 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 swinging 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

Now if you ask about the expression on her face, I must tell you it
was rather languid and "_pensieroso_." Pensieroso is an Italian word
really 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 approved 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 powers of the mind considered apart from
the influence 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 privately, 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 openly.

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 God.

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 constantly spoiling her
comfort from hour to hour. And here, at ten years old, was this little
lady 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 delightful 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 approbation.
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 Ianthe could not 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 untumbled, &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 think her quite as lovely as Mrs. Somebody-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
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
altogether, 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

"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." Ianthe 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 sleep.

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 Ianthe to her companions, as the young girl sprang
about, carolling to herself the while. And so it was, for at that
moment no forecastings into futurity disturbed the comfort of present
pleasure: but an accidental glimpse of her face caught in a
looking-glass as she passed, recalled 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 disturbed
the egotistical amusement, and the charming Aurora frowned--yes,
_frowned!_ and looked cross at the looking-glass before she quitted
the apartment.

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 every thing she did, for it took
away her interest in every thing but herself; and so, though she got
through her lessons respectably, 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 me would have
begged the Fairy Godmother to give her the gift of growing up to be a
young lady very quick indeed, and of learning every thing without any
trouble at all! And so saying, Aurora yawned and laid down her book,
and the poor Governess could hardly keep her temper at such repeated
interruptions to the subject in hand.

"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 donc ma chere!" cried Aurora, flopping her ears with
her hands, and running round the room shaking her long curls
furiously. "Vous me faites absolument fremir! 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 deux Fees," and
the application 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 droll.

A bell rings, a carriage is at the door. Miss Aurora is wanted.
Visiters! Ah! here is happiness again! But it lasts but a short time,
and the reaction is the same as before--drooping eyes, languid
eyelids, and a sigh.

Books, drawing, music, work, even domestic recreations, 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

"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 sleeping
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
furnished with sofas, easy chairs, and every description of luxurious
comfort; and all this for the accommodation 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 watch.

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; the company are expected
to-day at half past six. Has my new frock come home?"

"Yes, Miss."

"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 greatest comfort!"

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 helping themselves.

"Your Julia looks self-satisfied enough," observed Ianthe, "but I do
not see that this is more like real happiness than my Aurora's face
before the party."

"Perhaps," returned Euphrosyne, "the same remark 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
laughing at you does not soon come!"

Julia was dressed at the end of the half-hour, but 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 innocent time of life, was
attractive and pleasant to behold. Oh, that children did but know
wherein the secret of being loveable and beloved lies! In holding fast
the innocence and simplicity of their infant years; in the cheerful
spirit, the universal kindheartedness, the open honesty, the sweet
teachableness and readiness of belief, which are the real
characteristics of childhood and which we so love to 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 intention 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 to the face, of a
little girl? Well, but riches _have_ a tendency that way; and 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 pleasure from knowing that her own dress was far beyond 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 told her that her little
girl should bring to shew her a most beautiful gold fillagree work-box
set with precious 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

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 conquer 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

Oh, what a condition for a child to go to sleep in! Euphrosyne was
greatly annoyed. "They are not 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 Heaven."

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 fort of night-mare 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 other
Fairies as they vanished, and shook, not waved, her wand over the
sleeping child, with a very angry face.

In the morning Julia, like Aurora, awoke in a temporary forgetfulness
of her troubles. The morning 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 possession 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 multiplication sum, and Mademoiselle thought she was bewitched 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 treasures 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 valuable
curiosities than because she cared about them, I fear. For my part,
I wonder very much that the humming birds and shells did not teach
her to be more humble-minded; for no art or jewellery can imitate or
come up to their glorious beauty. Well, she amused herself tolerably
in spite of the visions of the fillagree box and the queen's hair,
which now and then came between her and her usual feeling of

Presently her young friends came--several little girls of various
ages, and now nature once more revived in poor Julia. The children
felt and expressed such hearty pleasure at the sight of her treasures.
There were such joyous exclamations; such bursts of delight; such
springing and jumping about, that Julia became infected with the
general pleasure, and was a happy child herself. Yes! even though the
fillagree box had been shown off and admired. But what do children in
general know about the _value_ of things and how much they cost? Ah,
much more just in their judgments than we elders are apt to be, a bird
of Paradise such as adorned the top of Julia's cabinet, or a peacock's
tail, such as she had in a drawer, is to their unprejudiced eyes more
desirable than the gold of Ophir itself!

So now you see this triumph of simplicity over art, despoiled the
fillagree box of all its horrors, for the innocent children admired
her shells yet more--unsophisticated, and insensible to the long story
about the value of the rubies, the maid of honour, and even the
queen's hairs.

Still the Fairies felt and saw that it was not Euphrosyne's gift, but
rather the forgetfulness of it which caused these hours of happiness
to Julia, and somewhat puzzled as to the result they left the votary
of riches, not quite without a sensation that little Aglaia's proposal
of moderate health and enough riches to be "comfortable without being
puzzled," was about the best thing after all, though not much of a
Fairy gift. And now, my little readers, I am beginning to get rather
tired of my story, and to feel that you may do so too. I think I am
getting rather prosy, so I must try and cut the matter short. Four out
of the five Fairy gifts were like beauty and riches, worldly
advantages. For instance, there was the little girl who was to have
every earthly pleasure at her feet--i.e. she was to have every thing
she wished for--why she was fifty times worse off than either Aurora
or Julia, for I will tell you whom she was like. She was like the
fisherman's wife in Grimm's German popular fairy tales, who had every
thing she wished, and so at last wished to be king of the sun and
moon. I doubt not you remember her well, and how she was in
consequence sent back to her mud cottage. I think, therefore, I need
not describe the young lady who had _that_ Fairy gift.

There was another who was to be _loved_ wherever she went; but nothing
is worth having that is had so easily, and this child got so sick of
being kissed and fondled and loved, that it was the greatest nuisance
to her possible, for disagreeable people loved 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 protegee
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 the company!"

"I don't care about my eyes being red, tho' 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 stocking is gone, and I don't know what to do."
And here she sobbed afresh.

"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. "Hum, hum, hum! 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 ever.

"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 remains 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
exclaimed, "Well to be sure, Miss Hermione, you have such patience as
I never before did see."

[The Fairies exchanged glances.

"It is _Patience_, Ambrosia."

"What a hurry you are in!" was the reply.]

"No I haven't, Nurse, indeed," answered Hermione. "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, its 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 Hermione 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 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

"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 down stairs."

"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 housemaid 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 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 seaweeds or
curiosities. I have a chance then myself. I don't like ladies who say
nothing but 'Pretty little dear, what a nice colour she has,' just to
please Mamma."

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, suddenly felt the round protuberance in her pocket. "Ah you
little rogue, what have you here?" "Its a secret," cried Hermione. "I
think I can unravel your mysterious secret, little girl, you are a
favourite with the housekeeper," added she, whispering in Hermione's
ear, "and she has just given you an orange."

"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 they laughed.

"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
perfect 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 surprize, Hermione only said "Oh thank you, ma'am,"
with a quite smiling face, and going behind the chair, sat down on the
floor to her worsted. 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! what ever 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
Governess; 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
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 yesterday 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 letters.

  "L'industrie ajoute a la beaute."

"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 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 your share."

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 turn back."

"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."

"Upon my word this is a very serious matter, Hermione; who or what has
put this 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 every thing I do do, that every thing is a pleasure
to me. And there is no struggle to do 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 any thing 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
every thing you do, you must practise your self-denial in some other

"How, Mamma?"

"In not being vexed 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."

"Well, Mamma?"

"Why, as you are so fortunate as to be always happy when employed, and
as therefore there is no _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,

"To knit up again the stocking the cat pulled out. I quite dislike the

"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, recommenced the
unlucky grey stocking, and was working assiduously at it when her
young friends arrived.

It was a curious sight to the Fairies to see two 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
happiness in her 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, and 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, Ambrosia," 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 me has got

       *       *       *       *       *

What _is_ the Philosopher's Stone? I hear my little readers exclaim.
There is no such thing, my 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 turning every thing 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 Philosopher'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 Godchildren 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 anything 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 microscope or magnifying glass? If so, you
will remember 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 Hermione. 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 delight. "The good time _coming_, Boys," was her, as well
as many other people's bugbear. She never could feel that (with God's
blessing) _the good time_ is always _come_.

The only time she ever thoroughly enjoyed was the moment of being
excessively admired. But judge for yourselves how long that 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 Russel'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 scene of
her triumph, a ball-room, of feeing her admirers drop off, to amuse
themselves with other people; less handsome perhaps, but more
interesting than herself.

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 happiness.

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 reclining 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 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
every thing by its costliness and magnificence. Of course the milliner
assured her that every thing she took a fancy to from its rarity, was
becoming; and then, oh dear! how the Fairies were amused! for poor
Julia looked downright 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 of affection.

Still, was Julia happy? The Fairies shook their heads. She had
gardens, hot-houses, magnificent collections of curiosities, treasures
that might have softened and opened her heart, if she had made a right
use of them. But riches have a very hardening tendency, and she never
struggled against it.

Then, too, she could get every thing 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 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 protegee,
Hermione. The laughing face of childhood had become sobered and
refined by sentiment and strength, but contentment and even enjoyment
beamed in her eyes as she thoughtfully and earnestly 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 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 English forest.

It is impossible to say how long they might not have staid 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 Schoenen auf der Erde."[1]

[1] "Such is the lot of the beautiful upon earth."

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
loveliness; its inward mysteries. She will never marry but from love,
and one whose heart can sympathise with hers. Ah, Ianthe, 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. Ah, she will walk by the side of manhood, turning
even the hard realities of life into beauty by that living well-spring
of sweet thoughts and fancies that I see beaming from her eyes. Look
at her now, Ianthe, 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:[2]

      "O 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!"

[2] Coleridge's "Dejection: an Ode."

And, turning through the little handgate at the extremity of the wood,
she pursued the train of thought with heightened colour in her

  "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 countenance lighted up by the
pleasure of success, and the sweet and healthy musings of her solitary

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, every thing 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 both she and I, but I trust she, far behind, are hastening. Yet,
by God's blessing, and with Christian 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 therefore 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 so favourable.

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

"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 gets."

"What of, Hermione? of her face?"

"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 occupation. I am
quite reconciled to the idea of going."

And a note was written, and despatched accordingly.

"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 warnt 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
surrounded 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 Mother.

"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 has 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 any
thing in the world could make her forget her beauty.--And," added she,
in a half whisper, "if there is any thing 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 purpose to be the plague
and misfortune of her life."

       *       *       *       *       *

"Enough, enough, and too much," cried Euphrosyne 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
understand. Let us begone. If we de 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 once more!"

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,"[3] murmured Ambrosia.

[3] Songs without Words.--Mendelssohn.

But it was to the swelling sounds of a farewell chorus that they arose
into the air, and took their leave of earth.

And now, dear Readers, there is but one thing more to do. To ask if
you have guessed the Fairy gift?

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 atmosphere 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 Euphrosyne, pushing forward.

A circle was now formed round the travellers, and the details I have
given you were made by Ianthe. And she wound up by saying, "And what
Ambrosia's gift to Hermione has been, we cannot make out."

"Then I will tell you!" cried little Aglaia, 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 EMPLOYMENT."

Ambrosia laughed assent; but a low murmur of discontent resounded
through the Fairy group.

"Intolerable!" cried Leila, shrugging her shoulders like a French

"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 coming 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 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 every thing 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 every thing we do becomes
by HABIT, not only _easy_, but actually _agreeable_.[4]

[4] Abercrombie. Moral Feelings.

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,



There 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 occasionally seeing wonderful sights, and all the
_dis_advantage of being occasionally 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 forward to catch it
before the wave sucked it back again, and succeeded. Now then he was
quite delighted, 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

What was his surprize 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 just beginning to cry, as a matter of
course for a little boy when he is annoyed; when lo! and behold! 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 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 every thing 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 every thing 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

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 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 adventure did not make him forget them; and
therefore, when this Genie, as I told you before, offered to do any
thing he wanted, little Joachim said, "Genie, I want to imitate every
thing that is good, and noble, and virtuous, so you must make me

The Genie looked very much surprized, 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 follows:

"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 control. He allows us,
however, power over the intellect--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 imitate, that must depend upon yourself, and the
great Being I dare not name!"

After saying this, the Genie laid his immense forefingers 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 phrenologists would tell you he
had got the organ of Imitation.

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 fishing-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 surprise, he saw that the little
fellow's drawing was so capital, he wished he could do as much

"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.

"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 youngster."

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 resolved 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 nature, he had never
till quite lately had many acquaintances 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 unrivalled in the play-ground. He could
set all the 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
exactness. 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 common 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 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 misleading him. For instance, though at first he amused them by
imitating dogs, and cats, and pigs, he next tried his powers at
imitating any thing 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 objection 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 now 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 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 deceitful; 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 tempered, 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 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 Joachim'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 attending 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 the powers which a monkey
possesses to a greater extent than yourself!" Fancy Joachim's rage!
_He_, the admired wit! the 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 enquire 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 the Schoolboys, the Ushers and the Master all furnished 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?"

"The _best_, Mother?" and the puzzled Joachim could not suppress a
smile. His Cousins grinned.

"Dear Mother, of course not," continued Joachim, "on the contrary, he
is the very worst!"

"Oh--well, have you no _good_ walkers at your school?"

"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 consciousness 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 of expectation.

"Now then!" said Joachim's Mother.

"I cannot walk like _him_, Mother," said Joachim.

"Why not?"

"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 bagpipe."

"I was singing like Tom Smith," interrupted Joachim.

"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, Joachim?"

"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 any thing," cried the Mother.

No answer fell from the abashed boy, till a sudden thought revived

"But I _can_ imitate the singing-master, Mother."

"Let me hear you, my dear child."

"Why it isn't exactly what you can hear," observed 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 contortions 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 hideous array.

"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 from."

"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 never could replace
them with a better. Drawing was his favourite amusement; and this
disappointment, where he expected success, broke down his already
depressed heart. He threw the book from him, and burst into a flood of

"Joachim! have you drawn him? What makes you cry?"

"I cannot draw him, Mother," sobbed the distressed boy.

"And why not? Just look here; here is an admirable 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, obeyed.

"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. A good or an evil Genie, I know not which, has bestowed
upon you a great power; and 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 along 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 herself
teaches us the charm of _imitation_, when in the smooth and clear lake
you see the lovely landscape around mirrored and _repeated_.[5] 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."

[5] Schiller.--"Der Kuenstler."

"You might, if you chose, _imitate every thing 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 sentence, 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 adventure 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; 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
distinguished hereafter; and I, who--(oh, my poor mother, I must
confess to you)--hated to labour at any thing, 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--what shall I

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 hands.

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 handsomer, by squinting like poor Joe; nor speak
any pleasanter for lisping like me; nor walk any better for apeing
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 yours!"

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

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, the party soon became grave and
wondering, and then Joachim told them every thing. 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 adviser.

That evening our little friend, exhausted with the efforts and
excitement of his almost first day of repentance, strolled out in a
somewhat pensive mood to his favourite haunt, the sea shore. A stormy
sunset 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 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 reproaching 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
dismiss 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, prevailed. 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
interesting 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
citizenship 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
attention, and which he strove, and not in vain, to reproduce.

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 background.

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 from that pursued by
many of us, who in our intercourse 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 contained 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 irresistibly to what is usually called "the fine arts."
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, 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


_The darkness and the light to Thee are both alike_.

Far away to the west, on the borders of the Sea, there lived a lady
and gentleman 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 nursery 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 out of the room,
because they would do nothing but beg to "set off directly." They were
always "sure that the weather was getting 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
themselves 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 very foolish.

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
wits' end 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 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 in other
places where there are boats and fishermen and nets, and great coils
of ropes, and an endless variety of entertaining sights connected with
the seafaring business going on. Nay, 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
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 I think this is one
of the prettiest sights one can see. 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 Castle Home.

If you want to know whether any body 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 of clouds, or when there was a lurid
crimson hue over the sky just above the horizon. Then occasionally 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 circumstances,
but which you strain your eyes in vain to discern by the brighter
light of day.[6]

[6] Isle of Man from Blackpool.

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 agreeable. 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 accommodated 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 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 walking 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
Fairy's existence.

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--cheerful 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 for her from the drawing room which was close by; but, do
you know, if there were no candles in the room, he would look very
silly and refuse to go, even though there were a fire sufficient to
see by. He was too honest to make any false excuses, so he used just
to say that the room was so dark he could not go!

Poor Madeline was very sorry, for she wanted her little boy to be
brave, but somehow or other he had got very silly about his fears of
being in the dark, and she could not succeed in curing him of his

"My dear Roderick," she would say sometimes, "if I send in some
candles, will you go into the drawing room?"

"O yes, Mamma."

"Then do you really mean to say you think _the Candles take care of

"No, Mamma."

"Then why won't you go into the room without; you know there is a

"Because it is so dark, Mamma."

Here was a difficulty indeed; for you see he _would_ come back to the
old point, and would not listen to reason.

One day some conversation of this sort having passed between them,
Madeline, as she was wont to do, asked him if God could not take care
of him by night as well as by day; in the dark as well as in light,
for "the darkness and light are both alike to him."

"Oh yes," cried poor Roderick, with great animation, "and I can tell
you a story about that. There was, once upon a time, a little Boy and
a Nurse who went out walking, and they walked so long they got
benighted in a very dark wood, and because it was so dark the Nurse
screamed and was very much frightened; and the little boy said,
'Nurse, why are you frightened? Don't be frightened; I am not
frightened. God can take care of us in the dark as well as in the

"Oh Roderick! what a pretty story," cried his Mamma.

And so thought Roderick; for his eye glistened and his cheek flushed
as he came to the conclusion.

And here, dear readers, was the worst difficulty of all; for though
Roderick's reason was quite convinced that God could take care of him
in the dark, he still could not bear to be in the dark without the
help of candles besides, though he quite knew they could not take care
of him at all. So you see by this that Reason, though it may convince
a person he is wrong, cannot put him right. There wants some other
help for that. And here let me just stop a moment to beg you to beware
of _bad habits_; for you see they become at last more powerful than
reason itself.

I do not know how Roderick first got into his foolish habit, and it
does not much matter. I know he at one time had a fancy there was
something unpleasant about the pipes that carried the water about the
house, and he would not for a long time go by the pipes alone. Now,
how you laugh! well, but he got out of that nonsense; and I hope to be
able to tell you that he got out of the other too: but at the time I
speak of, he made his Mamma full of sorrow for his want of sense and

It must be admitted that there were one or two excuses to be made for
the child. There was a great contrast between the Town House and the
Sea Castle. The Town House was full of lights. All the sitting rooms
were generally lighted, for a great deal of company came there, and
there were always lights along the passages; and the nursery windows
looked into a square, and the square was lighted up by lamps every
night; and it was one of Roderick's greatest pleasures to watch the
lamplighter running quickly up the tall ladder to the lamps to light
them, and then popping down again equally hurriedly, and running along
(ladder and all) to the next lamp post, and so on, till the square was
brilliant all round; and very often, as Roderick lay in his little bed
watching the glimmering thrown by these pretty lamps on the nursery
wall, he used to think and think of his friend the nimble lamplighter,
till he dropped fast asleep. You see, therefore, he had very little to
try his courage in the Town House, and there was seldom or never any
fuss about his fears till the move to the Sea Castle took place; and
then there were no more lamps and lamplighters, and no more
comfortable glimmerings from his bright pets the lamps after he went
to bed; and he used to get silly directly, and declare that he saw
bears whenever he shut his eyes; and he seemed to expect to find lions
and tigers under the sofas, by the fuss he made when he was asked to
go into the rooms. Certainly there was a grand old fashioned lamp in
the hall of the Sea Castle; but the hall itself was so big, and went
up so high, that the light in one part only seemed to make the shadow
and darkness of the other part look blacker still; so that I must
confess there was something gloomy about the house. Then, too, there
were those two turrets with the winding staircases, and as Roderick
had never dared to do any thing more than peep in at the low entrance
doors below, where he saw nothing but four or five steps going up into
complete blackness, he had got a sort of notion there must be
something horrid about them.

Well; it was soon after this little boy's sixth birthday, that the
family arrived at the Sea-Castle, and it so happened, that, on the day
after their arrival, there was some very stormy and dismal weather.
The wind howled very loudly, and there was a good deal of rain; and
Lady Madeline wished they had waited a week or two longer. The sky was
so charged and heavy, too, that they found the house very dark, even
by day-light; and Roderick, who was a little tired with his journey
the day before, began to fancy all kinds of nonsense; talked more
about seeing bears than ever; and finally cried tremendously at going
to bed, declaring he was sure there was a tiger in the coal-pan. Now
you know, my dears, this was a bit of great nonsense; for Roderick
knew quite well that there are no wild beasts in England but what are
kept in very strong cages; and that the men who take wild-beast shows
round the country can by no means afford to let their tigers sleep in
nursery coal-pans!

Poor Madeline never liked to see any of her children go to bed in
tears. And Roderick was so gay and merry generally, it seemed quite
unnatural in him; but though at last he left off crying, she could not
persuade him to be cheerful, and smile; for he declared that as soon
as ever she took her candle away, he could not help seeing those
unlucky bears. Was there ever any thing so silly before! She reasoned
with him, but to no purpose. He always said he quite believed in God's
presence, and His being able to take care of him; but, as I said
before, his bad habit had got the better of his good sense, and he
finished off every thing that could be said, by seeing bears, and
dreading a tiger in the coal-pan.

"What are we to do with that child?" cried Madeline to her husband, as
they were going to bed. "He is beginning as foolishly as ever this
year, in spite of being a year older. I really shall at last be
inclined to think that in spite of all her fair promises of friendship
and assistance, and of never injuring the family, the Fairy Eudora
must secretly frighten the child in some way we don't know of."

"No such thing, my dear Madeline; I cannot for a moment believe it;"
said her husband. "I have a better opinion of your relations, the
Fairies, than you have yourself. I am sure Eudora would not break her
word for the world; and there is no mystery about Roderick's folly. He
is full of fancies of all sorts,--some pretty, and some silly ones;
and we must do every thing we can to cure him of the silly ones. It
certainly is a very hard matter to accomplish, for I perceive he
admits the truth of every thing you say, and yet is as silly as ever
at the end. I heartily wish the Fairy Eudora _would_ interfere to cure
him of his nonsense!"

"And so do I, if she could, and would," sighed Madeline; "but she has
quite deserted us. Besides, if she were to come, I don't see how she
could possibly do any good. Fairies cannot change little boys' hearts;
and I must confess I never yet got any good myself from having a Fairy
ancestress, and I have no confidence in them.--Still," pursued the
good lady, as she laid her head on her pillow, "I am not able, it
appears, to convince Roderick myself; and therefore I feel, with you,
that I wish the Fairy would come and try."

"I fear it is in vain to say so now, Madeline. We have wished the poor
creature out of the way so often for the last ten years, that it is
not very likely a single wish the other way will bring her to us."

"No, indeed," murmured the Fairy Eudora, who at that moment was
standing on the shore of the Fairy Island; "you are a pretty pair, you
two, to think of such a thing! I begged to be allowed to come about
the place years ago, and you didn't refuse; but you always kept me
away by _wishing_ I mightn't come; and now, because you are puzzled to
know what to do with your silly child, you want me with you for the
first time these ten years! Oh, you selfish people, don't fancy I'll
come near you!" And the justly angry Fairy stamped her foot in
indignation, and retired into private apartments in the palace.

Do not be surprised at what you have just heard, my dear children; for
though you may have never thought about the power and importance of
_wishes_, there is, I assure you, a great deal of both one and the
other belonging to them. Some people talk, indeed, of "mere wishes,"
as if they were trifles light as air; but it is not so. To prove this,
first think what importance is attached to them in the Scriptures.
Wishes are a sort of porch or doorway to actions. In the Tenth
Commandment we are forbidden to _wish_ for what belongs to our
neighbour;--for who is so likely to break the Eighth Commandment, and
steal, as the man who breaks the Tenth, and wishes for any thing that
is not his?

And so, all the evil in the world begins by _wishing_ something wrong;
and if you can cure yourself of wishing wrongly, you will very seldom
_do_ wrong.

Now you see, I am sure, how important wishes are for evil; but they
are equally strong for good. For, if you wish well to any one, you
have opened the first door to doing him a kindness. And if you
heartily wish to be good, you have opened the first gate on the road
of becoming so. Of course, wishes will not do every thing; but they do
a great deal.

And there is another thing. They never fall to the ground unnoticed.
Though you and I cannot look into each other's hearts, or hear the
wishes breathed there, there is One who hears them all. Good wishes,
my dear children, all ascend upwards to the throne of Grace, like
sweet perfume. They are all accepted and remembered; and, I fear I
must add, that bad wishes go up too, and are noted in His book who
takes account of all we do.

Be sure, therefore, that you encourage your hearts in a habit of good,
and kind, and charitable wishes; and if ever the bad ones come into
your head, pray against them, and drive them away.

Meanwhile do not be surprized that in Fairy tales, Fairies are
supposed to hear wishes concerning themselves. And so Eudora heard
those about her coming and curing the child of his folly; and as I
have told you, she was very indignant at the selfishness of both Lady
Madeline and her husband.

A few days after the family had taken up their residence in the Sea
Castle, the weather began to improve; and, though the wind lasted, the
sun came out; and all the children and the nurses went walking on the
sands. As it was the first time that year, you may guess what shouting
and delight there was; how the little spades dug away at holes for the
sea-water to come up in, and how the children caught at the sea-weeds
that were scattered on the lands to carry home to their Mamma; how
they picked up shells, and gambolled about in all directions,
declaring that they had never known the Sea Castle Home so delightful
before. By degrees they had strayed to a considerable distance along
the sands, with the nurses, when, alas! the latter perceived that a
storm was coming on, and it caught them long before they reached home.
A strong wind blew off the sea, and they had difficulty in keeping
their feet, and at last two or three of the children were almost
hidden in a cloud of sand, which a violent gust suddenly drove against
them. All the little party cried lustily, because the sand had blown
into their eyes, and made them smart, and sad work there was in
getting them home again. But they reached home at last, dripping with
wet from hailstones, and their eyes all red and disfigured by the sand
and wind. None, however, were so bad as those I have mentioned, who
had been so covered over by the sand that it had even got down their
necks, and made them uncomfortable all over. Among these was Roderick,
who cried a great deal more than he ought to have done, as the nurses
thought, and did not stop and declare himself comfortable as the rest
did, after the sand had been washed out of his eyes with rose water.
In fact he kept crying more or less all the afternoon, saying his eyes
hurt him so, and at last he could get no relief but by holding them

Now it is just possible you may have heard of a complaint of the eyes
called Ophthalmia, which comes on sometimes in very hot countries,
India for instance; and sometimes in travelling across the deserts of
Arabia, where the sand gets into the eyes, and irritates them very
much; it can very often be cured, but not always, and when it cannot,
it ends in blindness. Lady Madeline knew all about the complaint; and,
therefore, you will not be surprised to hear that when she found her
little boy's eyes did not get better, and that he persisted in keeping
them shut, because they then became easy, she thought it right to send
to some miles' distance for a doctor, who accordingly arrived at the
Sea Castle before nightfall. But when he came he shook his head very
much, for he could not understand what was the matter; and when he
persuaded Roderick to lift up his eyelids, to let him see his eyes, he
could perceive nothing amiss but a little redness, which the wind and
sand quite accounted for. Still the child was uneasy, and would keep
his eyes shut; so the Doctor thought he must try something, and he
used some lotions common in such cases; but, as they did no good, the
kind old gentleman, at Madeline's request, consented to sit by the
little boy's bedside at night; when, all at once, as he was carefully
dabbing his eyes with rosewater, he perceived that the child was fast

The Doctor was delighted, and went to his mother, who was then with
her husband, and said that as Roderick had gone to sleep so nicely, he
had no doubt that his eyes would be well when he awoke in the morning,
and so he took his leave, for he had other patients to visit.

It was then between twelve and one o'clock, and Lady Madeline, much
comforted in heart, went to bed. At an early hour next morning,
however, she went to Roderick's bedside, and perceived he was just

To the question of "How are you, my darling?" his cheerful joyous
voice made answer, "Oh, quite well, Mamma, and I've such a funny dream
to tell you, and my eyes don't hurt me a bit, not a bit! but I'm
afraid to open them for fear they should. I can tell you something so
funny the Doctor said last night, Mamma." "Never mind about the
doctor, you rogue," cried Madeline, "I see you are all right, only
just open your dear old eyes, that I may tell Papa I have seen them
when I go back to dress."

"Then I will, Mamma, to please you!" and up sat the pretty child in
his bed, and opened wide his blue eyes. There was no redness--it was
all gone--but

"Mamma! where are you," cried Roderick, "I have opened my eyes, and
they don't hurt--but it is quite dark: _isn't the night over_?..."

Oh, my dear readers! there was a stream of sunshine on the lovely face
and bright hair of little Roderick as he spoke, and the poor blue eyes
were turned up to his mother, looking vainly for her face. You cannot
wonder if I add that she sank down fainting on the bed; and when
Roderick's scream of terror brought the nurses to them, she was
carried away insensible from the room.

Her darling was utterly blind.

       *       *       *       *       *

And now imagine to yourselves how the afflicted parents sent for the
best doctors the country afforded, and how one thing after another was
tried--but, alas! every thing in vain, for the medical men were all
quite puzzled. Still some people gave them hopes, and in spite of many
disappointments, they went on trying to hope for several months. At
last they settled to leave the sea castle and go to the great town
sooner than usual, thinking some of the doctors there might be
cleverer than the country ones. But they had no better success.
Perhaps now you would like to know how Roderick behaved. When his
Mamma fell on his bed, at first he thought she was dead, and it was
with the greatest difficulty he could be made to believe any thing
else, and he cried, and cried, and was very sad till his Mamma was
well enough for him to be taken to her, and then do you know, poor
fellow, he was so much pleased to hear her speak, and be kissed by
her, that he still had no time to think about himself. Only he begged
to sit close to her, and have hold either of her hand or gown, and
make her say something to him every now and then. And so it was that
the fright and shock he had had about thinking she was dead, had made
so strong an impression on him that for several days the making
himself sure she was alive was a constant occupation and interest; and
so much did he think about it that it was considered best for his
little bed to be brought into the room where his Mamma slept, and put
near hers, so that he could talk to her when he awoke and got
frightened about her again. And thus passed many days in which every
body thought a great deal more about his eyes than he did himself.
Besides from the cheerful things they said to him he quite expected to
be better some day; and so weeks and months passed, and by the time
the hope of recovering his sight began to fade away, and nobody any
longer dared to say they expected it, he was beginning to get used to
his condition, and to find out amusements in new ways. Thus mercifully
does a kind Providence temper people's minds to the afflictions He
sends. They are often more dreadful to think of than to bear; for God
can give patience and cheerfulness and comfort to those that do not
grumble and repine.

Madeline only exacted one promise from her husband, namely, that he
would not allow the doctors to use any very severe and violent
measures with her little boy, and this being settled, she struggled to
bear the trouble with resignation. After the first alternations of
hopes and fears were over, the Mother's mind took a new turn. "It is
our chief duty now," she said, "to make our child's life as happy as
it is possible to be with blindness, and therefore," added she to the
elder children, "we must try our best to teach him to do all the nice
things he can without seeing." That day she asked him to come and hold
worsted for her to wind, and he was quite delighted to find that with
some blunders, and once or twice slipping it off his fingers, he could
manage it very well. Then the children undertook to teach him how to
play at ball, and you cannot think how clever he became. At first
certainly they had always to pick up his ball for him when it fell,
and who was not glad to do it for poor brother Roderick? but by
degrees he could judge by the sound in what direction it had tumbled,
and he would often succeed in finding it before any one could come up
to it. Then there was laughing and scrambling without end. Reading
aloud to him was the easiest thing of all, but the little folks were
not satisfied with that alone. They made a sort of pet of the blind
brother, and were as proud of teaching him to do any thing fresh, as
you would be of teaching your dog to sit up and shake hands, or
perform any wonderful feat. It was their constant amusement; and by
degrees Roderick could play at all sorts of games with them, ay, and
run after them, and catch them too as well as you could do, for he
soon got to remember how the furniture in the great hall and all the
rooms stood, and he could run about without hurting himself in a
wonderful manner. And when it was evening and grew dark, he got on
better than they did, for, if they couldn't see, they were clumsy,
whereas he was learning to do without seeing at all.

Such of my readers as have seen one of those excellent institutions
called "blind schools," will not wonder at any thing I have said, but
on the contrary, will know that I have not told half or a quarter of
what may be done to teach blind children a variety of employments. At
those schools you may see children making beautiful baskets of
various-coloured strips of osier arranged in patterns; and they never
forget on which side of them the different colours are laid, and this
work they can go on with quite fast, even while you stand talking to
them--and they learn to do many many other nice things also besides
basket making.

Of late years too they have begun to read in books made on purpose for
them, with the letters raised above the rest of the paper, so that
they can _feel_ the shapes with their fingers. Is not this wonderful?
And they can be taught all these things much more easily than you
would imagine, for it is really true that when one of the senses has
been taken away, the others by having all the exercise thrown upon
them, become so sharp and acute, they do twice their usual work, if I
may so express it. This is a merciful dispensation of Providence,
which renders the loss of the one that is gone much less hard to bear.
And does it not teach us also, what a valuable thing constant practice
is? Neither you nor I can feel or hear half so clearly as blind people
can, who practise feeling and hearing on so many occasions where we
save ourselves the trouble, by using sight instead.

To return to Roderick. You perhaps expected to hear that he fretted
and petted very much after he was first blind, but really it was not
so; and though occasionally he may have grumbled a little, it was only
when he was slightly peevish, as children will sometimes be, and I
believe he would have found something to grumble about then, even if
he had seen as well as you do.

Besides, as I said before, the knowledge of his misfortune came upon
him by degrees; and after he had got used to it, he did not think much
about it. When the family moved to the great town, Roderick had as it
were to begin his blind lessons over again, for he had to learn to
remember all about the rooms and the furniture there; but with a kind
little brother or sister always at hand to help him he soon became
expert in the town house too, and could run up and down the long
flights of stairs with the nimblest of them. I believe the only
melancholy wish he ever uttered was heard on the first day he reached
the town house. When his Mamma came to see him in the nursery that
evening, she found him kneeling in a chair against one of the
windows--and on going up to him he threw his arms round her neck and
said, "Oh, Mamma, if I could but see the lamplighters!" Do not laugh,
dear readers, if I add that the tears trickled over his cheeks as he
spoke. His mother was much distressed, as she always was when she saw
him thinking of his affliction, but she sat down and said, "Never
mind, dear Roderick, I will tell you all they do to-night." And so she
did, and she made her account so droll, of how the lamplighter ran,
and how he seized his ladder in such a hurry, and all the whole
business, that by the time she got to the end, and said, "and now he
has come to the last lamp-post,--ah, he's up before I can tell you!
and pop! the lamp is lit, and down he runs, and off with his ladder to
the next street--and now the lamps are shining bright all round the
square, and I must go to dinner,"--Roderick was clapping his hands and
laughing as merrily as ever, and he got down from the chair quite
satisfied. Still for a few weeks he used always to get one of the
children to tell him of the lamps lighting, and this was the only sad
little fancy the poor child ever indulged in.

The great town gave him various new amusements. His Parents used every
now and then to take him to some fine conservatory, where flowers are
shown even in winter, and where he could smell various new and rare
ones, and be told all about their beautiful colours. Then sometimes in
the parks and gardens there was a band playing, which was a great
delight. And besides that, they took him occasionally to morning
concerts for an hour or so; for though it is not usual to take
children to those places, he was deprived of so many enjoyments, they
let him have all they could: and especially musical ones, for it is a
very common thing for blind people to become very fond of music, and
Roderick was so, and among other employments learnt to play. I cannot,
however, I am sorry to say, add that the great doctors in the town
were able to do him any good, though they tried very much, and some of
them were so much charmed and interested by his cheerful manner and
sweet disposition, that they got quite fond of him, and would often
have him come and see them, and play with their children, who were
instructed to amuse him in every possible way, and as children are
naturally kindhearted, this was generally a pleasant task, and many of
them quite looked forward to the visits of the little blind boy.

And so passed on a long and rather severe winter, and presently
Roderick's birthday came round, and there was great wondering as to
what Mamma could do to keep it. And when the time came it turned out
that she had got a band of musicians to come and play--and the
children danced, and Roderick among them, for some sister was always
ready to take him under her especial charge. And then some older
children acted a little play, which he could hear and understand, and
his Mamma described to him who came in and went out, and in this
manner he enjoyed it nearly as much as the others.

Well, the spring-time came once more, and with it the season for
returning to the old Sea Castle, and the children went through their
usual round of impatience, and I cannot say that Roderick at all
forbore, for his Papa had promised to teach him to climb a ladder like
the lamplighter when he got back, and he was by that means to go up
one of the very old elm trees, and get on to a great branch there was,
which was curled into a sort of easy chair, and there he was to sit
and play at being judge, and hold trials, and I know not what. There
were besides so many schemes for his instruction and amusement, and
among other things, there was to be a band established in the
neighbouring village, which should come and play to them in the old
Sea Castle--that the child was more wild with hurry and impatience
than ever, and said more absurd things than the rest, for he used
every day to declare the _flies_ were becoming so numerous and
troublesome he was plagued out of his life by their walking over his
face and nose! But as none of his brothers and sisters ever saw the
flies, we are obliged to conclude the tickling he talked of was only
an effect of his excited imagination.

At last, however, they went, and in compliment to Roderick's wishes it
was a week or two sooner than usual. The return to the Sea Castle home
rather oppressed poor Lady Madeline's spirits. The doctors in the
great town had failed--it was now clear that nothing could be done,
and in spite of all her sincere endeavours to be resigned, she could
not help feeling this coming back to the original scene of her
misfortune very much. One day--it was the anniversary of the day on
which her poor child became blind, the Lady Madeline was working in
her sitting-room that faced the Sea,--Mothers' memories are very acute
about anniversaries, and days, and even hours marked by particular
events. They may not talk much about them perhaps, but they recollect
times and circumstances connected with their children very keenly, and
therefore it is not surprizing that on this day the poor lady was
sitting in her room working, or trying to work, but thinking of
nothing in the world but of that day year and her blind child. It was
a beautiful evening, and the window was thrown wide open, and the
fresh but soft breeze from the Sea blew pleasantly on her face as she
sat at her work-table by the casement--but lovely as the scene outside
was, she seldom lifted up her eyes to look at it. She had been all her
life a great admirer of beautiful scenes, and of all the varieties the
changes of day and night produce--but now the sight of any thing
particularly lovely brought so painfully before her mind the fact that
her child's eyes were closed to all these things, that she often
forbore to look again, and so spared herself a repetition of the pang.
Madeline's eyes therefore remained upon her work, or on her knee when
she ceased working,--for ever and anon there was a burst of noise and
merriment about the old house, which startled her from her painful
thoughts. It was, however, the happy voices of her children, and again
and again she sank into her melancholy mood, and so continued till the
red hue of a very red sunset burst as it were suddenly into the room,
and lighted up the portrait of Roderick, which hung over the
mantel-piece. Involuntarily Madeline's eyes glanced from the lovely
countenance of her then bright-eyed boy, thus illuminated, to the sun
beyond the Sea. She was too late, however. He had just descended
behind the waves in a perfect flood of crimson glory, but as she
gazed, (for she could not withdraw-her eyes,) a haze--yes, the softest
and most etherial cloud-like haze, showing the outline of a beautiful
mountainous island, rose in the far off distance, just on the verge of
the horizon. It was the Fairy Island. It recalled to the mother's
remembrance the existence of her Fairy cousin once more. "Cruel, cruel
Eudora," she exclaimed, "you offered me friendship and assistance, and
in the hour of trouble and affliction you have never been near to help
or even to comfort me."

And Madeline, in the bitterness of her heart, closed the window
hastily and angrily, and sat down. Soon, however, the noises she had
several times heard of the children playing, became louder and louder,
and the whole party burst at last into the room. "Mamma, Mamma," they
cried, scarcely able to speak, "guess where Roderick has been." "I
cannot." "Oh, but do, dear Mamma!" cried a little thing with fairy
curls, "do guess." "I cannot." "I'll tell Mamma," cried a stout sturdy
fellow, a little older; "Mamma! he's been up the winding staircase of
one turret, and all along the leads and down the winding staircase of
the other turret, and he has done it three times, and he has seen to
do it better than I can."

Here there was a burst of laughter and a violent clapping of hands at
the little fellow's _Irish_ account.

"But why don't you do it as well?" asked an elder girl, "you that are
going to be a soldier too!"

"Yes; I know I'm going to be a soldier; and I'll try and do it as well
as Roderick;" and off ran the eager child, followed by the rest of the
party, all but Roderick. He lingered behind, and edging his way easily
and quietly as usual to his Mother, having asked her where she was, he
sat down on a footstool at her feet. The slight answer she had
occasion to make, revealed by its tone, to the now acute blind child,
that his Mother's mood was serious, and therefore he did not talk and
laugh of what he had accomplished, as he otherwise might have done.
There was a silence of some minutes: at last, "Mamma," said Roderick
gravely, "a light has broken in upon me to-day."

Lady Madeline started, and with difficulty suppressed a groan.
Roderick felt the start: "Oh Mamma, Mamma," cried he more cheerfully,
"you must not do that! I wasn't thinking about earthly light in the
least, but of a light which I know, when you come to hear of it, you
will say is a great deal better."

"Indeed! dear Roderick," said Lady Madeline, trying to seem

"Yes _indeed_. Mamma. Why, do _you_ remember, (_I_ had never thought
about it till it came into my head to-day;) but do _you_ remember the
silly time when I wouldn't fetch you any thing from the drawing room,
unless there were candles in the room?"

"I recollect something about it," said his Mother.

"Oh, I'm so glad you do; because now you can laugh with me over the
nonsense I used to talk and feel then: I remember I used to tell you I
saw _Bears_ when I shut my eyes, and wouldn't go by the pipes in the
passage, and more such foolish stuff! How odd it seems that I should
never have thought about this before, but I never did, and it never
came into my head distinctly till to-day." And here Roderick fell into
a kind of dream for a few minutes, but he soon began again. "You know
what I have done to-day, Mamma. They told you quite right; but they
forgot to tell you I have been practising walking across the leads for
two or three days, that I might be able to go the great round to-day
on purpose to tell you of it; because I thought you would be so much
pleased to know I could go alone all over the house on the day year
when I was first blind. So now, Mamma, if ever, when I am grown up to
be a man, an enemy comes and attacks the old Sea Castle, I shall be
able to run about and give the alarm, for you know I could hear them,
if I could do nothing else."

There was another pause, for Madeline could not speak: the often
restrained tears for her son's misfortune had this day burst forth,
and could not be kept back; but Roderick did not know, and went on.

"Certainly those old foolish fears were very wrong, Mamma. And I can't
think how it was, for you used to remind me always that God could take
care of us by night as well as by day, in darkness as well as in
light; and still somehow, though I knew it was true, I didn't believe
it,--at least, not so as not to be afraid in the dark: how very wrong
it was! Still I had quite forgotten all about it till this evening.
But, as I was going the last of the three rounds, I sat down on the
leads for a few minutes to enjoy the air. The sun was just setting, I
am sure, for it felt so fresh and cool; and it was, as I sat there,
that it came into my head how strange it was that, since the day I was
first blind, I had never thought any more about being afraid in the
dark! or by night any more than by day! Indeed it has been quite a
play to me ever since to do different things, and find my way about in
all the rooms and all over the house, without seeing; and I have only
known night from day by getting up and going to bed. So that you see,
Mamma, being always in the dark, has quite cured me of being afraid of
it: and is not this a very good thing indeed?"

"Very," murmured Madeline.

"I knew you would say so! But that isn't all I have got to say. A
great deal more than that came into my head when I was out upon the

And Roderick nestled closer to his Mother, and laid his arms across
her lap.

"Something to comfort you still more, Mamma."

She could not speak.

"Mamma, you are crying! I feel your tears on my hand. Do not cry about

"Go on, dear Roderick."

"Don't you think," continued the child, "that people who wont listen
to what is told them, and wont be cured of being foolish and wicked,
are very like the old Jews you told us about yesterday, who had God
among them, and Moses teaching them what God wished them to do, and
still were as disobedient as ever?"

"It is true, Roderick, we are all apt to resemble the Jews in their
journey through the wilderness."

"Yes, Mamma; and particularly people who can't trust in God, though
they know He is everywhere. The Jews knew He was in the cloud and the
pillar, and still were always afraid He couldn't take care of them.
And what came into my head was, that I used to be as bad as those old
Jews once; knowing that God was present everywhere to take care of me,
and still not _feeling_ it so as really to believe it, and not be
afraid. But the blindness has quite cured me, and is it not very
likely that it came on purpose to do so, and to make me trust in God;
for I have done so more and more, dear Mamma, as I groped about this
year, for I have all along hoped He would take care of me, and keep me
from falling; and, therefore, I think the blindness has done me a
great deal of good, and I hope I shall never be like the naughty old
Jews again! This is what I had to say; and I hope you will be as glad
as I am."

"I will try, my darling," cried poor Madeline.

The tenderest love, the bitterest grief, mixed with earnest struggles
for resignation to the will of Heaven, contended in the Mother's
bosom, as she clasped her innocent child to her heart. He was almost
frightened. She lifted him on to her knees, and buried her face on his
shoulder. He put his young arms round her neck, and almost wondered
why she sobbed so bitterly; but he felt he must not speak.

There was a painful pause. Suddenly, however, a strange faint light
began to creep into the room, which had hitherto been gradually
darkening in the twilight. It was a mysterious gleam, like nothing
that is ever seen. It increased in strength and brilliancy, till at
length the whole place became illuminated.

Roderick's head was against his Mother's breast; and, besides, _he_
could not see.

She, however, suddenly started up; the light had become so powerful,
it had forced her from her grief. She sprung up in terror, and a faint
shriek burst from her lips.

"Mamma, what is the matter?" cried Roderick, holding her fast.

"Oh, the light--the light, my child! there is such a light!" answered

"Mother, you are not afraid of _Light_!" exclaimed the bewildered

"Oh, but _this_ light! it is like no other;--it is awful!"

"Mother,--it is not the light of _Fire_, is it," cried poor Roderick,
now at last turning pale. "But even if it is, remember that I can help
you _now_; I can go everywhere,--all over, and fear nothing. I can go
and fetch my brothers and sisters, one by one! Oh, send me; send me,
Mamma! I shall be less afraid than any of you, for I cannot see the
horrid light that frightens you!"

As he finished, a gentle, prolonged "Hush!" resounded through the
room; like the soothing, quieting sound of lullaby to an infant. And
in the midst of the beaming light, the form of the long-forgotten
Fairy Eudora appeared before the eyes of the astonished Madeline.

"The Sea Castle is not on Fire, you dear, brave child," cried the
Fairy; "and your Mother has no cause for fear. I am a friend."

"Cousin!" cried the bewildered Madeline, "why are you here?" and a
terrible suspicion flashed through her mind: and she pointed to her
boy, and added, trembling with agony--

"Is that _your_ doing?"

"What if I say it _is_, Cousin Madeline. There is a long story about
that, but we shall have time for it hereafter.--Dear little Cousin
Roderick," pursued the Fairy, seating herself, and drawing Roderick to
her. "You have been a good boy, and got _light out of darkness_. Mind
you hold it fast. You did not use the light well, though, when you had
it, Cousin Roderick."

"I know I didn't," was his answer.

"If you could live the light time over again, you would be wiser,

"I hope I should indeed," he murmured fervently; "but it is not likely
I shall ever see the light again."

"Little boys shouldn't say things are not likely, when they don't know
any thing about them," cried the Fairy gaily, to cheer them up.

"I dare say, if I were to ask you, you would tell me it was a bit of
sand that got into your eyes last year, that made you blind; but it
was no such thing, clever Master Roderick. Your naughty Cousin Eudora
had something to do with that; but, luckily, she can put her own work
straight again. Cousin Madeline, what do you think of my pretty

"Eudora, it is dreadful."

"Then shut your eyes, poor thing, we don't want to blind you. But
Roderick and I have not done talking yet. Come, little boy, lift up
your face towards me, and open those pretty eyes wide, that I may see
if I can't do them some good. Why, they are as blue as the water round
our island! There, now, they are looking at my face. Mind you tell me
if you think me pretty."

"Eudora!" exclaimed Madeline.

"Sit down, sit down, and shut your eyes, good woman. Now, Roderick,
wont even my Fairy light break through your darkness?"

"I think it will," sighed Roderick; "there is a white light all round
me, as if I had gone up into a bright white cloud. You frighten me,
Fairy! Take away the light, and put me back into the darkness again."

"Not so, my pretty Roderick; but I will soften it a little;" and she
waved her wand, and the brilliancy subsided.

"Fairy, I see you now," screamed Roderick, springing up, for he was
sitting at her feet; "and oh, how beautiful you are!"

"Roderick!" cried a voice from behind him. He turned; and Mother and
Son were locked in each other's arms.

Surely I need say no more about this? though perhaps nobody but a
Mother can quite know how happy and thankful Lady Madeline was. And as
to Roderick, he was delighted too! Not but what he had been very happy
and contented before; but sight was a new pleasure to him now; a sort
of treat, like a birthday or Christmas present, which puts every one
into high spirits. It was so charming to him, poor fellow, (for he was
very affectionate), to actually _see_ his Mamma again; and this put
something else into his head, and off he ran out of the room.

"Eudora," Madeline began, "how am I to thank you! Can you ever forgive
my old unkindness?"

"Cousin Madeline," replied the Fairy, "I bear no malice to any one,
least of all to you, who come of a race I love, and of a family I
consider my own. No, no, good soul. I have never borne you ill-will,
though my kindness has been severe. Look! I know you love me _now_.
Love me always, Cousin Madeline, and let me ramble undisturbed about
your earthly home; but, mind! no more unkind wishes, however slight.
They come like evil winds to our Fairy island. You kept me away long
enough by those; and when you wished me with you, to get your child
out of his folly, I was very angry, and thought I wouldn't come; but
your, and your husband's wish was so strong and earnest, it haunted me
day and night; and I had no comfort till I had resolved to help you.
And here, Madeline, you have something to forgive _me_. My remedy has
been a harsh, a very harsh one for so slight a fault; but at first I
intended it to last only a few days. Afterwards, however, seeing how
it was acting upon him, and upon you all, for good, I let it work its
full effect: and I think it has been greatly blessed! Now, farewell!
Time is flying, and I must begone."

And thus the Fairy and Madeline walked to the window, which the latter
reopened, and there was the full moon sailing in the cloudless sky,
and lighting up the lovely, and, this evening, calm and unruffled sea.

The cousins embraced; and in a few minutes the Fairy had disappeared
in the distance. Madeline lingered awhile at the casement, thinking
tenderly of the gentle-hearted Fairy, and watching the horizon. At
last the outline of the Fairy's home appeared clear and bright against
the dark blue heaven, and then subsided gently by degrees. And
Madeline closed the window, grateful and happy, and went after her
boy. But she had not far to go; for he was coming along the passages
with all his brothers and sisters, wild with delight. And oh, how
Roderick chattered and talked about all their faces, and how he loved
to see the fat cheeks of one near his own age, and how some had grown,
and their noses improved, and what beautiful curls another had! In
short, if he had gone on long they would all have got quite conceited
and fancy, and fancied themselves a set of downright beauties. But you
see it was _love_ that made poor Roderick admire them all so much;
and, above all, he was charmed when they smiled. Ah, how little do
brothers and sisters know how tender their recollections of each
others' faces would become, were a separation to take place among
them! Then all the sweet smiles and pretty looks would be recalled,
that in every day life are seen with such indifference. "Little
children, love one another," during the happy days when you live
together in health and comfort.

Can you guess, dear readers, what a joyous evening it was, that day at
the Sea Castle Home? How the poor Father rejoiced, and how the old
Hall was lighted up for the Servants, to share in the joy by a merry
dance; and how all the children danced too; and how a barrel of good
ale was tapped, for every one to drink to the health and happiness of
Master Roderick, and all the family. But you never _can_ guess how
Roderick teased all his brothers and sisters that evening, by
constantly kissing them. In the midst of a country dance he would run
right across to the ladies, when he ought to be standing still and
polite, and kiss two or three of his sisters as they were waiting to
dance in their turn, and tell them how nice they looked! Or he would
actually run right away from his place, to his Papa and Mamma;--jump
on their knees, and hug them very hard, and then run back again,
perhaps, into the middle of the dance, and put every thing into
confusion. But the happiest scene of all was, when the Father and
Mother thanked God that night for the blessing that had returned to
their little boy.

And do not ask me, I beg, if he ever was afraid of being in the dark
again. No, dear Readers, his temporary misfortune had taught him the



_Van Artevelde_. These are but words.
_Elena_. My lord, they're full of meaning!
     _Van Artevelde_.

Grace had been said, and Mamma was busy carving for the large party of
youngsters who sat around the comfortable dinner-table, when a little
voice from among them called out,

"Mamma, do you think a giant could see a carraway seed?"

Now there was no sweet loaf on the table, nor even on the
sideboard--neither had there been any plum cake in the house for some
time--nor were there any carraway seeds in the biscuits just then.
--In short, there was nothing which could be supposed to have
suggested the idea of carraway seeds to the little boy who made the
enquiry. Still he did make it, and though he went on quietly with his
dinner, he expected to receive an answer.

Had the good Lady at the head of the table not been the mother of a
large family, she might possibly have dropt the carving knife and
fork, in sheer astonishment at the unaccountableness of the question,
but as it was, she had heard so many other odd ones before, that she
did not by outward sign demonstrate the amusement she felt at this,
but simply said,--"_Perhaps he could_"--for she knew that it was out
of her power to speak positively as to whether a Giant could see a
carraway seed or not.

Now dear little readers, what do _you_ think about this very important
affair? Do you think a Giant could see a carraway seed or not?--"Oh
yes," you all cry,--"_of course he could!_"

Nay, my dears, there is no "of course" at all in the matter! Can any
of you, for example, see the creatures that float about and fight in a
drop of water from the Serpentine River? No, certainly not! except
through a microscope. Well, but _why_ not?--you do not know. That I
can easily believe! But then you must never again say that "_of
course_" a Giant could see a carraway seed.

It is entirely a question of _relative proportion_: so now you feel
quite small, and admit your total ignorance, I hope. Yes! it all
depends upon whether the giant is as much bigger than the carraway
seed, as you are bigger than the curious little insects that float
about and fight in the drop of water from the Serpentine river--for if
he is, we may conclude from analogy that a giant could _not_ see a
carraway seed except through a microscope. You see it is a sort of
rule of three sum, but as I cannot work it out, I tell you honestly
that neither do I know whether a giant could see so small an object or
not, and I advise you all to be as modest as I am myself, and never
speak positively on so difficult a point.

But enough of this! Turn we now to another point, about which I _can_
speak positively--namely, that in _one_ sense the world is full of
Giants who cannot see Carraway seeds.

"It must be in the sense of _Non_sense I should think then!" observes
somewhat scornfully the young lady who is reading this story
aloud--"as if we could believe in there being giants now!"

Very wittily remarked! my dear young lady, for your age.--I take you
to be about seventeen, and I see by the compression of your pretty
mouth that you consider yourself quite a judge and an authority. Only
take care you don't grow up into one of those Giants yourself! There
is something very suspicious to me in the glance of your eye.
"Ridiculous!" murmurs the fair damsel in question.

Not at all so: only you travel too fast; by which I mean you speak too
hastily. You learn Italian, I dare say? Oh yes, of course, for you
sing. Well then, _Ombra adorata_ that is "beloved shadow;" _aspetta_
that is, "wait"--"wait, my beloved shadow" (of a charming young lady),
give me breathing time, and I will explain myself. As you are an
Italian student, I presume you have heard of the great Italian poet
Dante. Now Dante in his _Convito_ or "Banquet" tells his readers that
writings may be understood, and therefore ought to be explained in
four different senses or meanings. There is first the literal sense;
secondly, the allegorical; thirdly, the moral; and fourthly, the
_anagorical_. Now I know you can't explain this last word to me, for I
would wager a large sum that you never tasted of Dante's Banquet--no,
not so much as the smallest crumb from it; and therefore how _should_
you know what he means by the anagorical sense? Give me leave to have
the honour of enlightening you, then. The anagorical is what the
dictionaries call the _anagogical_ sense. A sense beyond this world; a
sense above the senses; a spiritual sense making common things divine.
It is hard to be arrived at and difficult of comprehension. Now in the
matter of the nice little boy's question about the Giant and the
carraway seed, (for none but a nice little boy could have excogitated
any thing so comical), I have set my heart upon talking to you about
it in the four above mentioned senses. And having already descanted on
the _literal_ sense, I had just made an assertion which appertained to
the _allegorical_ sense, when you so inopportunely interrupted me, My
Ombra Adorata, with your sharp observation about _non_sense: so now we
will go on in peace and quietness, if you please.

In an allegorical sense the world is full of giants who cannot see
carraway seeds.

For what are Giants but great men and great women? and the world
abounds with people who consider themselves as belonging to that
class. And a great many of them--Giants of Cleverness, Giants of
Riches, Giants of Rank--Giants of I know not how many things besides,
who are walking about the world every day, very often feel themselves
to be quite raised above the point of attending to trifles; so that
you see I may (in an allegorical sense) say strictly of them that they
cannot see carraway seeds. Oh my dears, however elevated you may be,
or may become; however great or rich or learned, beware, I pray you,
of being a Giant who cannot see a carraway seed!

For, as my explanation of the _moral_ sense now goes on to show you;
it is so far from being, as these Giants suppose, a proof of their
_superiority_ that they cannot see or notice things they consider
beneath them--that it is, in fact, an evidence of some imperfection or
defect in either their moral or intellectual structure. Just as it is
a proof of our eyes being imperfect, that we cannot see the little
water insects as well as a great big elephant. I am sure you will
allow there is nothing _to boast of_ in this, and so if the
contemplation of great things makes you incapable of attending to
small ones, do remember that _'tis nothing to boast about or be proud
of_. And take very great care you make no mistakes as to what is great
and what is insignificant. With which warning I close my remarks on
the moral lesson, and proceed to that _anagogical_ or spiritual
meaning, which will I hope be my justification for dwelling so long on
the subject, and my best introduction to a story of a serious though
not of a melancholy character. But first, my dear little readers, let
me call upon you in the words which you hear in church:

  "Lift up your hearts!"

and I would have you answer,

  "We lift them up unto the Lord."

For it is indeed of Him--the Lord of all Lords, that I now wish to
speak to you. He made the Sun and Stars and the great mountains of our
earth; but He made also the smallest insects that crowd the air and
water, and which are invisible to our imperfect eyes.

He rules the nations by His word, and "binds kings in chains, and
nobles with links of iron," as the psalm expresses it; but also not a
sparrow falls to the ground without His knowledge and consent. Angels
and Archangels worship around His throne, but His ears are equally
open to the prayer of the youngest child who lifts up its little heart
to Him!

The universe is at His feet, but the smallest events of our lives are
under His especial superintendence and care. Yes! nothing, however
small and insignificant, that is connected with the present or future
welfare of the smallest and most insignificant of his creatures, is
_beneath the notice of God_!

Ah! here is indeed a lesson for the fancied Giants of the world!--For,
in this picture of Almighty greatness combined with infinite
condescension, we see that real Perfection requires no Pride to
elevate it.

But I said this anagogical sense was hard to be attained to and
difficult of comprehension.

And is it not so? Is it not very difficult to believe thoroughly that
the great God whom we hear about, really and truly cares how we behave
and what we do--really and truly listens to our prayers--really and
truly takes as much interest in us as our earthly Fathers and Mothers

Ah, I am sure it must be very difficult, because so few people do it,
although we should all be both better and happier if we did. We should
say our prayers so much more earnestly, try to keep out of sin and
naughtiness so much more heartily, and, above all, always be contented
with whatever happened; for who could be anxious, and discontented
about their condition or circumstances, if they _quite_ believed that
every thing that happened to them was watched over and arranged for
their good, by the wisest, kindest, and most powerful of Beings? If
you, my dear children, who have been reading the fairy tales in this
book, were to be told that a most wise, most kind, and most powerful
Fairy had suddenly taken you for life under her particular care, and
that she would never lose sight of you by night or by day, how
delighted you would be!

Yet just so are you under the particular care and watchful concern of
Almighty God!

But now, say you, you begin to feel the difficulty of believing it
possible that the great God of the Universe takes this tender interest
in such insignificant and sinful creatures as men and women.

Consider, then, that we are told that "God is Love;" and if He loves
us, there is no difficulty in believing that He feels all this
interest in us. Do not judge Him by earthly Kings and Potentates.
These are Giants who cannot see carraway seeds. We do not blame them,
for it is impossible they should be interested for every body. But
very very different is both the power and the feeling of the King of

Still we have not got over the difficulty yet, for of all the
wonderful truths we are commanded to believe, no one is so wonderful
and so incomprehensible as _the Love of God_ to the sinful human race.

And yet it is a truth, and of all truths the most important and most
comfortable; and therefore it is much to be desired that we should
thoroughly believe it: and _I think_ I can make you understand that it
is possible, _by something which you feel in your own hearts_. I think
God has placed even in our own hearts a witness of the possibility of
this great Truth.

My idea is this. We _know_ that God has been merciful to us--(His very
creation of man was an act of mercy), and _therefore_ we know that He
loves us. _He loves us because He has been merciful to us_. If you
cannot see why this should be, I refer you to the following story, and
advise you to _try for yourselves_. Only be kind to any living
creature, whether a human being, or an irrational animal, and see if
you can keep your heart from _loving_ it! Certainly it does not become
us to try to search out the unsearchable mind of God, but I think it
is permitted us to hope, that the remarkable fast of _Kindness
engendering Love_, which we experience in our own hearts, is intended
to lead us upwards as by a holy guiding thread, to some comprehension
of the Love of that God, who in Christ Jesus actually _gave Himself
for us_.


Lift up the curtain!

In a baronial hall, not of the size and grandeur of that at Warwick
Castle, which those who have never seen should try to see before they
die: but still in a hall as antique and interesting in style, fits a
young man reading.

It is evening, though the sun has not yet set, but it is evening, and
the young man is sitting at a small oak table in a recess in one of
the ancient windows, and before him lies open a book, and on the book,
which he touches not with his hands, but on which his eyes, blinded by
tears, are fixed, there lies a faded primrose.

The book is the Bible, and the faded primrose lies on that verse in
the Psalm, "Oh that men would therefore praise the Lord for his
goodness, and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of
men!" and some hand had placed a slight pencil mark before these

This scene brings before you a story of distress, and yet this young
man is the possessor of a large estate;--the baronial hall and house
are his own, and he is young and amiable, and till within the last few
months had led a life of almost uninterrupted comfort and prosperity
from his cradle upwards. Two years ago he became the betrothed lover
of a young lady no less interesting than himself, and as no obstacle
prevented their union, both had for these two years looked forward to
it, as the one certain and sure event of their lives. The young man's
parents had died when he was very young; but, in compliance with the
wishes of his Guardians, he deferred his marriage till he should have
come of age.

Meanwhile, as the time of probation drew near its close, it had been
his delight to sit up the old place in such a manner as should become
his bride, and the alterations had, in many cases, been made under her
eye and according to her wishes, for she was already by anticipation,
and in the heart of its owner, the mistress of the place.

At last the wedding day was fixed; but a few weeks before the time
came, one of those sad diseases which steal mysteriously into the
vitals of the young and wear away life long before its natural period,
fell upon her:--and _now_, nothing remained to him, who had hoped to
have her as his companion through life, but the Bible she had used
during her sickness, and which was found on the table by her couch
after her death, open and marked at the very place I have told you
about; together with the faded primrose which he had gathered for her
on the last morning of her life.

This was a very sad event for those who were left behind to lament the
loss of one whom they had loved so dearly. The Mother indeed, who had
known other trials of life, bent her head submissively to this one,
and cherishing sweet recollections of her daughter's piety and
goodness, looked forward to a time of reunion in a happier world. But
the poor young man, whose name was Theodore, never having known a care
or a sorrow before, was stupefied and overpowered by this sudden
destruction of all his hopes and happiness. Seeing, however, that
_her_ last thought had been the mercy and goodness of God, he tried to
make it _his_ thought too; and he would sit for hours looking at the
verse which she had marked in the Bible.

But unfortunately he made no effort besides, and having no kind
relatives or friends near him to rouse him from his melancholy stupor
to some of the active duties of life, he spent many many weeks in
listless sorrow, not caring much what became either of himself, his
dependents, or his property. And though he had become, by degrees, so
far resigned as to believe that every thing was for the best--even
_her_ death--he now took up a strange and dismal fancy, that though
the Almighty was a God of goodness and justice, it was quite
impossible that He should _love_ any beings so sinful and ungrateful
as the human race. This vain distinction of a morbid imagination was
the result of that solitude, inactivity, and the constantly dwelling
upon himself and his own troubles, to which he had unfortunately given
himself up, and which had brought his mind into such an unhealthy
state, that he could neither reason nor think properly.

In this condition of feeling, having one day wandered to a
considerable distance from home, he sat down on the greensward to
rest; when lo! after he had remained there for some little time
musing, as usual, he saw approaching him two shining creatures, who
looked like spirits or angels, and as they came up to him they looked
at him very earnestly, and one said to the other,

"He is doubting the goodness of God!?"

Then Theodore shuddered, and said, "I am not! once perhaps I did, but
not now: all things happen for the best." Yet the Spirit repeated, "He
is doubting the goodness of God!" Theodore shuddered again, and cried
out "I am _not!_" for he felt as if it was a heavy accusation.
Whereupon the Spirit continued, "To disbelieve the love of God is to
doubt His goodness."

"No, no," exclaimed Theodore eagerly, "it is not! I do not doubt His
goodness--His compassion even for the wretched creatures whom He
formed out of dust. But I--thoughtless in my youth; self-confident in
prosperity; ungrateful and rebellious under affliction; how can such a
wretch as _I_ have been, believe in the _love_ of God to me! God is
good and just, but do not talk to me of His Love to man, as if it were
possible He could feel for them the tenderness of kind affection! Who
are you?"

Without noticing this question, the Spirit repeated, in emphatic
tones, "To disbelieve the Love of God is to doubt His goodness, and
deny the perfection of His nature!"

"I tell you, No!" shouted Theodore, wildly: "It is _because_ of His
goodness and _because_ of the perfection of His nature, that I
disbelieve the possibility of His Love to the wretched race of man!"

"Judge by your own heart!" exclaimed the Spirit who had not yet

But when Theodore raised his eyes to look upon her, both had
disappeared. He felt grieved, he knew not why. "_My own heart!_" he
murmured; "ah! my own heart has been the witness against me. It has
taught me the dreadful truth."

"Truth never yet was found of him who leads a life of selfish misery,"
whispered a soft voice receding into the distance; "Theodore! Judge by
your own heart. Even it may teach you better things!"

Theodore started up and looked hastily around. He felt as if he could
have followed that soft receding voice into eternity. But there was no
one near. That sound, however, had been like an echo from hopes buried
in the grave; and the poor youth sank to the ground on his knees, and,
hiding his face in his hands, wept bitterly. Suddenly one thought took
possession of him out of what had been said. And it was one (as usual)
of self-reproach. The Spirit had reproached him with leading a life of
selfish misery! Vividly impressed by this idea, he started off
hurriedly for his home, crying aloud--"Oh, the wasted time; the lost
hours; the precious moments that might have been employed in
usefulness!" And thus he pursued his way till he had left the outer
country behind him, and had entered the gates that bounded his
extensive domain when, all at once, his course was stopped by
something he struck against as he was walking quickly along.

Looking down, he perceived that a sickly, hungry-looking child was
stretched across the road asleep, and that by its side sat a woman,
the picture of misery and want. Theodore felt a strong sensation of
compassion seize him as he gazed at the child, and he stooped and
lifted it from the ground.

The woman observed Theodore's eye, and said, "Ay, without help we
shall neither of us be here long!"

"I will help you," said Theodore, "tell me what I can do!"

"What can you or any one do, for a dying woman and a half-starved
child?" groaned the poor creature. "Food, food! medicine and help!"
These words burst from her in broken accents--I am dying!"

"Are you so _very_ ill?" asked Theodore, turning deadly pale; and he
murmured to himself--"Death again! I dare not see it again so soon!
Here!" continued he, thrusting gold into her hand, "now you see that I
will help you! Look, I will send you food, and you shall be brought
to the house: but let me take the child, he cannot do you good, and I
will see to him." "He must not see her die;" was Theodore's inward

"Ay, take him," muttered the woman gloomily, "and send me cordials. No
one wants to go even an hour before their time!"

Theodore obeyed almost mechanically, and lifting up the little boy, he
made a shift to carry him to the house. On arriving there, he called
for his housekeeper and desired her to take food and wine to the woman
he had left, and to bring her to the house. Then he sent another
servant for a doctor, and afterwards undertook himself the care of the
forlorn child. He placed him on a sofa in his study and sat down by

"Are you ill?" was his first question.

"I don't know," was the answer.

"Are you hungry?"


Here Theodore got up and went to the next room, where preparations
were being made for dinner, and fetched bread and gave it to the boy,
who ate it greedily, without once lifting up his eyes. "Poor child,"
thought Theodore, "life has no _mental_ troubles for him!"

"Are you sorry your mother is so ill?" was his next inquiry.

"She's not my mother," muttered the boy.

Theodore started--"What do you mean? Are you not that woman's

"No! She told me I wasn't."

"Who are you, then?"

"I don't know. She told me she had stolen me to beg for her."

"And do you remember nothing about it?"

"No, its too long ago."

Theodore now fetched him more bread, but whilst he was eating it he no
longer sat by him, but walked up and down the room. Every now and then
as he stopped and looked at the thin, sickly looking object he had
brought into the house, he was overtaken by a strong feeling of pity
for his miserable condition.

This child was as desolate as himself, only in another way. Stolen
from his parents to beg for the strange woman, he had lived with her
so long that he had forgotten his real home altogether! Bound by no
ties of kindred and comfort to this world. "He is more desolate than I
am myself!" repeated Theodore, again and again.

After a time he approached the boy again.

"The woman will say you are her child, and make you go back and beg
for her if she gets better, will she not?"

"She doesn't want me now."

"How so?"

"She says, I'm too hungry, and eat all the bread away from her, and
don't get enough for us both."

A curious expression passed across Theodore's face as he turned away
and sat down in his chair once more. It looked like a gleam of
satisfaction. The boy, meanwhile, sat quite still, looking round the
room. He had a grave and somewhat interesting face, but that the dark
eyes looked a little too keen and restless to be quite pleasant.
Still, when he smiled, and he had smiled brightly when he first saw
the bread, his countenance improved; and there was, besides, something
about his open forehead which redeemed the covert expression of his
eye. He was about seven years old, and precocious in quickness of a
particular kind, as is very often the case with vagrant children.

Theodore's reverie was broken at last by the arrival of his good old
housekeeper, who came in, flurried and indignant, to inform him that
the woman she had been in search of was no where to be found. She had
been, "she was sure," up and down all the carriage roads, and made
enquiries at all the lodges, and finally discovered that a beggar
woman had passed out at one of them upwards of an hour before, very
hurriedly, and indeed almost at a running pace.

Theodore glanced at the child, but his countenance never changed. Only
he sat eying the housekeeper as she spoke, apparently indifferent to
the result. The housekeeper now began to ejaculate in broken
sentences, "The base creature! To think that you should have taken all
this trouble, Sir! and had the child actually into the house!
and--gracious me," added she in a half whisper, "hadn't I better call
the butler, Sir; hadn't he" (nodding significantly towards the child)
"better be taken to the workhouse at once, Sir?"

"I think not," answered Theodore slowly--"not yet, I think. The truth
is, I find he's not her own child, but has been stolen; and--and--in
fact, we can send him to the workhouse to-morrow. Perhaps, after all,
the woman may come here for him. But, at any rate, there is time
enough. You see this is an odd affair; and, as the boy is not _hers_,
we don't know who he may not turn out to be some day." And, as
Theodore thus concluded his sentence, he got up and looked at the old
housekeeper with a smile--a melancholy one it is true, but still it
was a smile--the first that had been seen on his face since his
terrible bereavement.

And the faithful servant was so much pleased that she forgot every
thing else in a desire to keep up the interest that had lured her
young master so unaccountably from his misery.

"Well, to be sure, Sir, what you say's quite right, and we can make
the poor thing comfortable for to-night, and then you can do as you
please to-morrow. Shall I take him with me, Sir, and make him clean,
while you dine? I can borrow some tidy clothes from the bailiff's
wife, I dare say; and after he's made respectable, you can see him
again, Sir, if you think proper."

This proposition was more grateful to Theodore's mind than he cared to
acknowledge to himself. Indeed he had no clear ideas of his feelings
about the little accident that had interrupted the dismal course of
his life; and he studiously avoided questioning himself too closely.
Only there came across him, every now and then, a sensation that there
was some special providence about it all, and that there was some
mysterious connection between this adventure and the words of the
apparitions who had spoken to him in the morning.

But "let be, let us see what will happen," was the ruling feeling, and
as he felt less miserable than usual, he did not wish to disturb the
pleasing dream by enquiries, why?

After his solitary dinner, as he was seated alone in his arm chair, he
was relapsing fast into his usual unhappy state of mind, for this was
at all times the most trying part of the day to him, when a knock at
the door aroused him.

Ah, it was the good old housekeeper again! She who, with the acute
instinct of sorrow-soothing which women so eminently possess, had
purposely come at this the young master's "dark hour," to try if it
could be kept back by the charm she had seen working a short time
before. "The little fellow is quite fit to come in now, Sir, if you'd
wish to see him before he's put to bed." And her efforts were rewarded
by seeing a look of interest light up poor Theodore's eye. The boy was
now ushered in, and his improved appearance and cleanliness were very
striking. Theodore took hold of his hand--"There, you need not be
afraid; you may sit down upon that chair. Are you comfortable?" "Yes."
"Have you had plenty to eat?" "Yes, plenty." And the child laughed a

"I hope you are a good boy."

He looked stupid. "Can you say your prayers?"

"What's that?"

"Ah! I was afraid not. You never heard about God?" "Yes; but the woman
used to keep that to herself." "Keep what?"

"Why," _for God's sake_, when she begged. She didn't let me say it, but
she always said it herself; and then, when people wouldn't give us any
thing, she used to say--"

"No, no! I will not hear about that;" interrupted Theodore, "but I
hope some day you will learn about God."

"In the begging? must I say it in the begging next time?"

"No, I don't mean that; not in begging bread of people in the road,
but in praying."

"What's that?" "Begging." "Then I am to beg?" "No, not on the road,
but of a great good Being, who will never refuse what you ask."

"Is that _you_?"

"No, my poor boy; not me, but the great Being, called God, who lives
in the sky. You must beg all you want of Him."

"I don't know Him."

"No; but you will learn to know Him when you have listened to me and
prayed to Him."

"I don't know praying; I know begging."

"Well, then, when you have begged Him--"

"What am I to say?"

"First, you must say, 'Our Father--'"

"Father's dead," interrupted the boy;

"Ah, but I do not mean _that_ father," answered Theodore; "and how do
you know even that _that_ father is dead?"

"The woman said so. One day she told me Father and Mother were both
dead, and there was nobody left to love me, so I must mind her."

"The woman was wrong," cried Theodore compassionately. "You have
another Father, who never dies, and who loves you always!--"

A knock at the door interrupted Theodore's _lesson on the Love of

"It's about time the poor thing was put to bed," suggested the
housekeeper, looking in. "I dare say he's tired."

"I dare say he is," said Theodore mechanically. "Good night, little
boy. What used they to call you?"


"Good night, little Reuben." And he was taken away.

_You have another Father who never dies and who loves you always_!
founded like an echo through the room. Theodore arose and looked
around, but there was no one there. He resumed his feat, and wondered
how he had got involved in teaching the beggar boy religion. He
lamented his awkwardness and unfitness for the talk; but still he
thought he had done right. As to his last assertion, how else could he
make the child comprehend God at all? Besides, how cruel it would be
to infect him with his own miserable convictions. They would come time
enough, perhaps!

Such was the current of his thoughts. The next morning he told the old
housekeeper of the boy's ignorance and his difficulty with him, and
engaged her to help him in his talk, which she readily undertook.

It is not my intention to describe the many endeavours Theodore made
to impress the first great truths of Christianity upon Reuben's mind;
but I can assure you he felt all the better for them himself. How it
was that he never sent the little boy to the workhouse you can guess.
For the first few days he kept him to see (as he said), if the woman
would come back for him. Then he wished him to stay till he and the
housekeeper had sufficiently impressed him by their lessons. And
then--why then--by degrees, all mention of the workhouse ceased, and
better clothes were bought for him; and the housekeeper, who was one
of the by-gone generation of warm-hearted old family servants, became,
for her master's sake, a perfect mother to him; and to Theodore he
involuntarily proved an object of daily increasing interest, and
finally, of strong personal affection.

And thus nearly a year passed over, during which time Theodore's
health and activity in a measure returned; but the cheerfulness of a
happy mind was still wanting. Reuben often lured him temporarily into
it, but he would again relapse, and had never given up his unhappy
theory, though now he dwelt upon it much less frequently than of old.
At the end of the year, however, Theodore was much distressed by
fancying that he detected Reuben in lying; and he was, besides, by no
means sure that little trifles were not taken from him by the child
for his own use and amusement. He communicated his suspicions to the
housekeeper, and alas! found his worst fears confirmed. The pain and
sorrow he felt at this discovery were of a kind totally new to him.
But the strongest feeling of all was, that he would not give up the
boy to vicious habits without a struggle (cost what it might) to save
him! The housekeeper told him, with tears, that she had observed
Reuben's habit of petty lying and taking any thing he fancied, very
soon after his admission to the house; but she confessed that she had
not had the heart to inform her young Master, lest he should send the
boy away who had seemed to take him so out of his trouble! This was
what she most thought about. So she had tried to correct the child
herself, but not with the success she had desired. "How little she
knows the heart," thought Theodore, "his evil propensities would have
been an additional claim upon my kindness!"

I will pass over all that Theodore said to the boy himself. No father
could have been more earnest, more solemn in his warnings, or more
kind in his expostulations. Reuben, by this time, could understand all
he said, and shame and repentance burnt in his face during a painful
interview. It is right to remind you, dear children, of the many
excuses that were to be made for him. He had been brought up, till
seven years old, in total ignorance of God, and without ever having
heard one duty commanded or one sin forbidden. The woman lied daily
and hourly in his sight, and made him do the same; and she took all
she could lay hold of in any way, and beat him if he did not follow
her example; and although Theodore's instructions had opened a new
world on the child's mind, the _evil_ HABITS were not so soon got rid
of. So there the mischief was; and now the great difficulty Theodore
felt, was to know what to do for the best. And, after much
consideration, he decided to send him to school, as the likeliest
means of eradicating the bad habits the boy had acquired. I say
_habits_, rather than dispositions, for there was indeed nothing mean
or sneaking about his character. On the contrary, he was both
courageous and generous in the turn of his mind, and, after his health
improved, his manners partook of the same freedom and candour.

To school therefore poor Reuben went; and Theodore was almost
astonished himself at the blank which his absence created.

But having desired that continued reports should be sent to him of his
conduct, he meanwhile began seriously to think what was to become of
him hereafter. At last it occurred to him that he might employ him in
some way or other about his property; and with a view to this,
Theodore himself began to take more interest in his estate than he had
had the energy to bestow before, and made himself more intimately
acquainted with the wants and modes of life of those under his

Thus another year passed away in quiet but constant occupation; and
the many opportunities Theodore now had of doing good, softened and
cheered his mind. But he was not quite cured. For of all things in the
world whims are the very hardest to cure, because, reason as you will,
people still stick to their whims. Reuben was not allowed to return
once during that year to the old hall. During the last few months,
however, his progress had been most satisfactory, and the Master
considered that the evil was overcome; and so, at the end of the year,
Theodore wrote word to Reuben that he wished him to come "home" for
his holidays. Poor Reuben cried bitterly again when he read the
letter; for, as he said to the Master, "It is _not_ my home, though he
has been very good to me. I have no home!"

Theodore's heart overflowed with pleasure and almost pride when he saw
the boy again. Every turn in the expression of his face was improved;
and when Theodore first took his hand, the lad bent his face over it
and sobbed out an entreaty for pardon for his dreadful wickedness.
"Reuben," cried Theodore, "never say that again. All is forgotten
since your conduct is changed. Forget the past as soon as possible. It
will never be remembered by me."

Time went on during the holidays very happily on the whole. In fact
there was no drawback; but that now and then Theodore, who would often
sit looking at his adopted child's face, noticed a painful expression
which he could not account for. His conduct was irreproachable and his
respect for Theodore seemed, if possible, increased; but he would not
be frank with him, and no encouragement beguiled him into the ease of
trusted affection. Theodore did not choose to notice this for some
weeks, but, as the time of Reuben's return to school drew near, he was
unwilling to let him go without some expostulation.

"Reuben," said he one day, "you are going back to school. Your conduct
has quite satisfied me: but tell me, before you go, why you so often
look unhappy? It is a poor return (though I now touch on this subject
for the first time in my life), it is a poor return for the interest I
have taken in you; and for the real love you know I feel towards you!"

For a moment Reuben's large dark eyes glanced up at Theodore's face;
but they sank again as quickly: his cheeks grew crimson, and tears
rolled over them which he could not conceal.

"What is the matter, Reuben; what is the meaning of this? Am I loving
one who does not love me in return?"

"You _cannot_ love me, Sir!" ejaculated the boy so earnestly that it
quite startled his companion.

"Reuben, what _can_ you mean? Have you forgotten how I have taken you
and acted by you as if I had been your Father. I _cannot love_ you?
What else but _love_ for you has made me do what I have done?"

"That was all your goodness and the kindness of your heart, Sir. You
couldn't love me when you picked me up in the road. It was pity and
kindness, and it has been the same ever since; not _Love_--" and the
tears again struggled to his eyes.

Theodore rushed suddenly from the room and into his private apartment,
and falling on his knees, spread his hands over his head in prayer.
"My Lord and my God!" cried he solemnly, "what means this echo from my
own heart? Am I awake, or do I dream?" A profound silence was around
him; but, as he arose and opened his eyes, he beheld before him,
though fading rapidly from his sight, the angelic visions he had seen
two years before.

       *       *       *       *       *

He returned to Reuben, who was sitting at the table, his face buried
in his arms.

Theodore laid his hand upon him. "Reuben, look up! You are under a
great mistake. You are but a boy, and must not fancy you know the ins
and outs of the human heart. Reuben, I do love you, and have always
loved you."

"You cannot, Sir!"

"Again? and why not?"

"You are too much above me; I am an outcast, and was a beggar. It
wasn't likely you could _love_ me at any time. Besides, there has been
something since."


"You told me to forget it, Sir, but I cannot. After all your kindness
and goodness, and trying to make me happy and do me every good, I was
all along (during the first year), doing what was wrong, deceiving you
and injuring you. I am not only an outcast, but I have been wicked and
ungrateful, and made you unhappy by my misconduct. Indeed I cannot
bear to think of it; but I dare not deceive myself about your _Love_,
Sir! I know you _cannot_ love me; but I am so grateful to you for your
goodness, I hope you will not be angry with me for speaking the truth:
only, though I am grateful and try to be contented, I cannot be as
_happy_ as if you _did_ love me."

As Theodore gazed on poor Reuben's face, he saw standing behind him
the beautiful visions once more.

"Now judge by your own heart!" murmured the Spirits, as smiling they

And Theodore did so. Going up to Reuben, he put his arms around him,
and wept over him tears of love and gratitude for the blessing which
he felt stealing into his own mind. "Reuben," cried he, "my child
Reuben! There have been but two human beings in the world on whom I
have bestowed my love; for, like you, I lost my parents young. These
two were--her I lost and yourself!"

"If I thought you _loved_ me, I would die for you!" cried Reuben,
springing up and gazing earnestly on Theodore's face.

"My God!" murmured Theodore, "may I be able to feel this to Thee!"

       *        *        *        *        *

I think more words are unnecessary. You cannot doubt that Theodore
soon convinced Reuben of his love, nor that Theodore took the lesson
to himself, and now saw that God had placed in the human heart a
witness of the possibility of His love to man. Yes, the clinging
affection we feel for those we have been kind to; our own power of
forgiving _any_ thing to them; is an instinct which has been
mercifully implanted in our hearts to teach us to believe in that Love
of God, which is otherwise so incredible to human reason.

If you care to know what became of Theodore and Reuben, you must in
fancy pass over a few years. Reuben soon had so strong a wish to go to
sea, that he entered the merchant service; and by the time he became
Master of his own vessel and revisited the hall when he came ashore,
Theodore was to be found there with a kind and gentle wife by his
side; and frolicking about the ancient hall were a parcel of noisy
children, to whom the arrival from sea of him whom they always
unaccountably would call "Uncle Reuben," was ever a gala treat. Dear
readers, Farewell!



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