Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

She next wished for a sparkling eye: the water grew yet more pleasant, and her glances were like the beams of the sun.

She could not yet stop; she drank again, desired to be made a perfect beauty, and a perfect beauty she became.

She had now whatever her heart could wish; and making an humble reverence to Lilinet, requested to be restored to her own habitation. They went back, and the fairies in the way wondered at the change of Floretta's form. She came home delighted to her mother, who, on seeing the improvement, was yet more delighted than herself.

Her mother from that time pushed her forward into publick view : Floretta was at all the resorts of idleness and assemblies of pleasure ; she was fatigued with balls, she was cloyed with treats, she was exhausted by the necessity of returning compliments. This life delighted her awhile, but custom soon destroyed its pleasure. She found that the men who courted her to day, resigned her on the morrow to other flatterers, and that the women attacked her reputation by whispers and calumnies, till, without knowing how she had offended, she was shumned as infamous.

She knew that her reputation was destrored by the envy of her beauty, and resolved to degrade herself from the dangerous preeminence. She went to the bush shere she rescued the bird, and called for lady Linet Immediately Lilinet appeared, and discovered by Floresa's dejected look, that she had drunk too much from the alabaster fountain

“Follow me." she cried. * my Floretta, and be wiser for the future

Ther wens to the fountains and Floretta begin to

[graphic]

she withdrew more than once the cup som her mouth: at last she resolutely amk away the perfective of beauty, the sparkling eyes and msy bloem, smile herself caly

She lived for some time with great content; but content is seldom lasting. She had a desire, in a short time, again to taste the waters of joy: she called for the conduct of Lilinet, and was led to the alabaster fountain, where she drank, and wished for a faithful lover.

After her return she was soon addressed by a young man, whom she thought worthy of her affection. He courted, and flattered, and promised; till at last she yielded up her heart. He then applied to her parents ; and, finding her fortune less than he expected, contrived a quarrel, and deserted her.

Exasperated by her disappointment, she went in quest of Lilinet, and expostulated with her for the deceit which she had practised. Lilinet asked her, with a smile, for what she had been wishing; and being told, made her this reply.

“ You are not, my dear, to wonder or complain : you may wish for yourself, but your wishes can have no effect upon another. You may become lovely by the efficacy of the fountain, but that you shall be loved is by no means a eertain consequence ;

for

you cannot confer upon another either discernment or fidelity; that happiness which you must derive from others, it is not in my power to regulate or bestow."

Floretta was, for some time, so dejected by this limitation of the fountain's power, that she thought it unworthy of another visit; but, being on some occasion thwarted by her mother's authority, she went to Lilinet, and drank at the alabaster fountain for a spirit to do her own way.

Lilinet saw that she drank immoderately, and admonished her of her danger; but spirit and her own way gave such sweetness to the water, that she could not prevail upon herself to forbear, till Lilinet, in pure compassion, snatched the cup out of her hand.

When she came home every thought was contempt, and every action was rebellion : she had drunk into herself a spirit to resist, but could not give her mother a disposition to yield ; the old lady asserted her right to

govern; and, though she was often foiled by the impetuosity of her daughter, she supplied by pertinacity what she wanted in violence; so that the house was in a continual tumult by the pranks of the daughter and opposi.. tion of the mother.

In time, Floretta was convinced that spirit had only made her a capricious termagant, and that her own ways ended in errour, perplexity, and disgrace; she perceived that the vehemence of mind, which to a man may sometimes procure awe and obedience, produce to a woman nothing but detestation; she, therefore, went back, and by a large draught from the flinty fountain, though the water was very bitter, replaced herself under her mother's care, and quitted her spirit and her own way.

Floretta's fortune was moderate, and her desires were not larger, till her mother took her to spend a summer at one of the places which wealth and idleness frequent, under pretence of drinking the waters. She was now no longer a perfect beauty, and, therefore, conversation in her presence took its course as in other company, opinions were freely told, and observations made without reserve. Here Floretta first learned the importance of money. When she saw a woman of mean air and empty talk draw the attention of the place, she always discovered upon inquiry that she had so many thousands to her fortune.

She soon perceived that where these golden goddesses appeared, neither birth nor elegance, nor civility had any power of attraction, and every art of entertainment was devoted to them, and that the great and the wise courted their regani.

The desire after wealth was raised yet higher by her mother, who was always telling her how much neglect she suffenu Rir want of fortune, and what distinctions, if she had but a fortune, her good qualities would obtain. Her narrative of the day was alwars that Floretta walked in the US, but was not spusen because she had a SI ANTUS and that Floretta dane at the ball bet

ter than any of them, but nobody minded her for want of a fortune.

This want, in which all other wants appeared to be included, Floretta was resolved to endure no longer, and came home flattering her imagination in secret with the riches which she was now about to obtain.

On the day after her return she walked out alone to meet lady Lilinet, and went with her to the fountain: riches did not taste so sweet as either beauty or spirit, and, therefore, she was not immoderate in her draught.

When they returned from the cavern, Lilinet gave her wand to a fairy that attended her, with an order to conduct Floretta to the Black Rock.

The way was not long, and they soon came to the mouth of a mine in which there was a hidden treasure, guarded by an earthy fairy deformed and shaggy, who opposed the entrance of Floretta till he recognised the wand of the lady of the mountain. Here Floretta saw vast heaps of gold, and silver, and gems, gathered and reposited in former ages, and entrusted to the guard of the fairies of the earth. The little fairy delivered the orders of her mistress, and the surly sentinel promised to obey them.

Floretta, wearied with her walk, and pleased with her success, went home to rest, and when she waked in the morning, first opened her eyes upon a cabinet of jewels, and looking into her drawers and boxes, found them filled with gold.

Floretta was now as fine as the finest. She was the first to adopt any expensive fashion, to subscribe to any pompous entertainment, to encourage any foreign artist, or engage in any frolick of which the cost was to make the pleasure.

She was, on a sudden, the favourite of every place. Report made her wealth thrice greater than it really was, and wherever she came, all was attention, reverence and obedience. The ladies who had formerly slighted her, or by whom she had been formerly carassed, gratified her

pride by open flattery and private murmurs. She sometimes overheard them railing at upstarts, and wondering whence some people came, or how their expenses were supplied. This incited her to heighten the splendour of her dress, to increase the number of her retinue, and to make such propositions of costly schemes, that her rivals were forced to desist from the contest.

But she now began to find that the tricks which can be played with money will seldom bear to be repeated, that admiration is a short-lived passion, and that the pleasure of expense is gone when wonder and envy are no more exeited. She found that respect was an empty form, and that all those who crowded round her were drawn to ber by vanity or interest.

It was, however, pleasant to be able, on any terms, to elevate and to mortify, to raise hopes and fears: and she would still have continued to be rich, had not the ambition of her mother contrived to marry her to a lord, whom she despised as ignorant, and abhorred as profligate

. Her mother persisted in her importunity; and Floretta having now lost the spirit of resistance, had no other refuge than te divest herself of her fairy fortune.

She implored the assistance of Lilinet, who praised her resolution. She drank cheerfally from the flinty fountain, and found the waters Dot extremely bitter. When she returned she went to bed, and in the morning perceived that all her riches had been contered awas she knew not how, exceps a few ornamental jewels which Lilinet bad entend to be carried back, as a reward for ber dignity of mind. She was now almost weary of risting the fountain

, * wabernd best with such annseniais as every day heryn R padace : at last there and in her imaginathen sens desire to become a wit

Me pleasures with which this sex character appeared * om were somerous and se creat, that she was in w on them, and rising bestore the sun. hastened they where she knew the beer fairt patroness was

[graphic]
« IndietroContinua »